Holy Saturday Reflections including “The Most Holy Winding-Sheet”

15 April 2017

“Holy Saturday”

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

The Most Holy Winding-Sheet

Luke xxiii. 53: “And taking Him down, he wrapped Him in fine linen and laid Him in a sepulchre.”

 

The glories of that sacred winding-sheet
Let every tongue record;
Which from the cross received with honour meet
The body of the Lord.
Ah! who, beholding these sad images,
Can tears control?
Can check the throbs of swelling grief that rise
Up from his inmost soul?
O Dear Memorial! on which we see,
In bloody stains impressed,
The form sublime in awful majesty,
Of our Redeemer blest.
Jesu! my sin it was that laid Thee low,
And through Thy death I live;
That life, which to Thy torments sore I owe,
Henceforth to Thee I give.
How doth the grievous sight of Thee recall
Those dying throes to mind,
Which Christ, compassionating Adam’s fall,
Endured for lost mankind.
Glory to Him who to redeem us bore
Such bitter dying pains;
Who with th’ Eternal Father evermore,
And Holy Spirit reigns.

His wounded side, His hands and feet pierced through,
Mirrored in Thee appear;
His lacerated limbs, His gory brow
And thorn-entangled hair.

The particular Circumstances which occurred from our

Lord’s Death to His Resurrection.

He dies

Jesus! all hail, who for my sin
Didst die, and by that death didst win
Eternal life for me;
Send me Thy grace, good Lord! that I
Unto the world and flesh may die,
And hide my life with Thee.
He is buried
Jesus! in spices wrapped, and laid
Within the garden’s rocky shade,
By jealous seals made sure
Embalm me with Thy grace, and hide
Thy servant in Thy wounded side,
A heavenly sepulchre!
His side is pierced through
Jesus! from out Thy open side,
Thou hast the thirsty world supplied
With endless streams of love;
Come ye who would your sickness quell,
Draw freely from this sacred well:
Its heavenly virtues prove.
He descends into Hell
Jesus! who to the spirits went,
And preached the new enfranchisement
Thy recent death had won;
Absolve me, Lord, and set me free
From self and sin, that I may be
Bondsman to Thee alone.
The inscription upon the Cross
Jesus! around Thy sacred head
There is an ominous brightness shed,
The name which Pilate wrote;
Save us, Thou royal Nazarene!
For in Thy Threefold Name are seen
The gifts Thy Passion brought.

The Descent of Jesus Christ to Limbus

“He descended into Hell.”

Thousands of years had come and gone,
And slow the ages seemed to move
To those expectant souls that filled
That prison-house of patient love.
‘Tis God! ’tis Man! the living soul
Of Jesus, beautiful and bright,
The first-born of created things,
Flushed with a pure resplendent light.
It was a weary watch of theirs.
But onward still their hopes would press;
Captives they were, yet happy too,
In their contented weariness.
‘Tis Mary’s Child! Eve saw Him come;
She flew from Joseph’s haunted side,
And worshipped, first of all that crowd,
The soul of Jesus crucified.
As noiseless tides the ample depths
Of some capacious harbour fill,
So grew the calm of that dread place
Each day with increase swift and still.
So after four long thousand years,
Faith reached her end, and Hope her aim,
And from them as they passed away,
Love lit her everlasting flame!
But see! how hushed the crowd of souls!
Whence comes the lift of upper day?
What glorious form is this that finds
Through central earth its ready way?


Good Friday – Extraordinary Form – Videos & Online Missal

14 April 2017


Ordo Missae for Good Friday
from Sancta Missa.org.
Feria VI In Parasceve begins on page 265.


Editor’s Note: Thank you to cathcom (Sacramental Films) on You Tube


Good Friday: Sermon from St Alphonsus di Liguori

14 April 2017

“Good Friday”

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed.–1 Peter 2: 24

On the Number of Sins You Commit
by St. Alphonsus Di Liguori

“Because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evil without fear.”–Eccl. viii. 11.

FIRST POINT.

If God instantly chastised the man who insults him, we certainly should not see Him so much outraged as we do at present. But because the Lord does not instantly punish sinners, but waits for them, they are encouraged to offend Him the more. It is necessary to understand that, though God waits and bears, he does not wait and bear forever.

It is the opinion of many holy fathers –of St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and others–that as God (according to the words of Scripture, Wis. xi. 21–“Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight”) has fixed for each the number of his days, the degrees of health and talent which He will give to him, so He has also determined the number of sins which he will pardon; and when this number is completed, he will pardon no more. And these fathers have not spoken at random, but resting on the sacred Scriptures. In one place the Lord says that He restrained His vengeance against the Amorrhites, because the number of their sins was not as yet filled up– “For as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites are not at the full.” –Gen. xv. 16. In another place He says, “I will not add any more to have mercy on the house of Israel.” –Osee i. 6. Again he says, “All the men who have tempted me ten times . . . . shall not see the land.”–Num. xiv. 22, 23. “Thou hast,” says Job, “sealed up my offences as it were in a bag.” –Job xiv. 17. Sinners keep no account of their sins; but God keeps an account of them, that when the harvest is ripe,–that is, when the number of gins is completed,–he may take vengeance on them. “Put ye in the sickles; for the harvest is ripe.”–Joel iii. 13. In another place he says, “Be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin to sin.”–Eccl. v. 5. As if he said, O sinner! you must tremble even on account of the sins which I have forgiven you; for if you add another, it may happen that this new sin, along with those which have been pardoned, may complete the number, and then there shall be no more mercy for you. ”The Lord waiteth patiently, that, when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fulness of their sins.”–2 Mach. vi. 14. God waits till the measure of iniquities is filled up, and then he chastises the sinner.

Of such chastisements there are many examples in the Scriptures. Saul disobeyed God a second time, and was abandoned. When he entreated Samuel to intercede for him, saying, “Bear, I beseech thee, my sin, and return with me that I may adore the Lord,” (1 Kings xv. 25,) Samuel answered, “I will not return with thee, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee.”–ver. 26. We have also the example of Balthassar, who, after having profaned the vessels of the temple at table, saw a hand writing on the wall, “Mane, Thecel, Phares.” Daniel came, and in explaining these words, among other things, said, “Thou art weighed in the ballnce, and art found wanting.”–Dan, v. 27. By these words he gave the king to understand that in the balance of divine justice the weight of his sins had made the scale descend. “The same night Balthassar, the Chaldean king, was killed.” O, how many miserable sinners meet with a similar fate! They live many years multiplying sins ; but, when the number is filled up, they are struck dead, and cast into hell. “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to hell.”–Job xxi. 13. There are some who spend their time in investigating the number of the stars, the number of the angels, or the number of years which each shall live. But who can discover the number of sins which God will pardon each individual? We should, therefore, tremble. My brother, it may be that God will pardon you no more after the first criminal pleasure which you indulge, after the first thought to which you consent, or after the first sin which you commit.

Affections and Prayers

Ah! my God, I thank thee. How many, for fewer sins than I have committed, are now in hell! For them there is no pardon–no hope. And I am still living; I am not in hell; but, if I wish, I can hope for pardon and for paradise. I am sorry above all things for all my sins, because by them I have offended thee, who art infinite goodness. Eternal Father, look on the face of thy Christ; behold Thy Son dead on the cross for my sake; and through His merits have mercy on me. I wish to die rather than offend Thee any more. When I consider the sins I have committed, and the graces Thou hast bestowed on me, I have just reason to fear that, if I commit another sin, the measure shall be completed, and that I shall be damned. Ah! assist me by Thy grace; from Thee I hope for light and strength to be faithful to Thee. And if Thou seest that I should again offend Thee, take me out of my life, now that I hope to be in a state of grace. My God, I love Thee above all things, and I feel a greater fear of incurring Thy enmity than of death. For thy mercy’s sake do not permit me ever more to become Thy enemy. Mary, my mother, have pity on me; assist me; obtain for me holy perseverance.

SECOND POINT.

Some sinners say, “But God is merciful.” “Who,” I ask, “denies it?” The mercy of God is infinite; but though His mercy is infinite, how many are cast into hell every day! “The Lord hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart.”–Is. Ixi. 1. God heals those who have a good will. He pardons sins, but He cannot pardon the determination to commit sin. These sinners will also say, “I am young.” You are young; but God counts not years, but sins. The number of sins which God pardons is not the same for all; some he pardons a hundred; others a thousand sins; others he sends to hell after the second sin. How many has the Lord condemned to eternal misery after the first sin! St. Gregory relates that a child of five years, for uttering a blasphemy, was condemned to hell. The most holy Virgin revealed to that great servant of God, Benedicta of Florence, that a girl twelve years old was damned after her first sin. A boy of eight years died after his first sin, and was lost. In the Gospel of St. Matthew we find that the Lord instantly cursed the fig-tree the first time he saw it without fruit. “May no fruit grow on thee forever. And immediately the fig-tree withered away.”–Matt, xxi. 19. Another time God said, “For three crimes of Damascus, and for four, I will not convert it.”–Amos i. 3. Perhaps some daring sinner may have the temerity to demand an account of God why He pardons some three sins, but not four. In this we must adore the judgments of God, and say with the apostle, “O depth of the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and unsearchable His ways!”–Rom. xi. 33. The Lord, says St. Augustine, knows whom He spares, and whom He does not spare. To those who receive mercy He gives it gratuitously; from those who do not receive mercy, it is justly withheld.

The obstinate sinner may say, But I have so often offended God, and He has pardoned me; I also hope He will pardon me the sin which I intend to commit. But, I ask, must God spare you forever, because He has not hitherto chastised you? The measure shall be filled up, and vengeance shall come. Samson continued to allow himself to be deluded by Dalila, hoping that, as on former occasions, he would escape from the Philistines. “I will go out, as I did before, and shake myself”–Judges xvi. 20. But at last he was taken, and lost his life. “Say not, I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me? “–Eccl. v. 4. Say not, says the Lord, I have committed so many sins, and God has not chastised me; “for the Most High is a patient rewarder; ” (Ibid.–that is, He will one day come and punish all; and the greater the mercy which He will have shown, the more severe shall be the chastisement which He will inflict. St. Chrysostom says, that God should be dreaded more when He bears with the obstinate sinner, than when He punishes him suddenly. Because, according to St Gregory, if they remain ungrateful, God punishes with the greatest rigor those whom He waits for with the greatest patience. And it often happens, adds the saint, that they whom God has borne with for a long time, die unexpectedly, and without time for repentance. And the greater the light which God will have given, the greater shall be your blindness and obstinacy in sin. “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than, after they have known it, to turn back.”–2 Pet. ii. 21. And St. Paul says, that it is morally impossible for a soul that sins after being enlightened, to be again converted. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gifts, . . . . and are fallen away, to be renewed to penance.”–Heb. vi. 4, 6.

The threats of the Lord against those who are deaf to His calls, are truly alarming. “Because I have called, and you have refused, . . . . I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared.”–Prov. i. 24. Mark the words–I also: they mean that, as the sinner has mocked God by his confessions, by promising fidelity, and afterwards betraying him, so the Lord will mock him at the hour of death. The wise man says, “As a dog that returned to the vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly.”–Prov. xxvi. 11. In explaining this text, Denis the Carthusian says, that as a dog that eats what he has just vomited, is an object of disgust and abomination, so the sinner who relapses into sins which he has detested in the tribunal of penance, renders himself hateful in the sight of God.

Affections and Prayers

Behold me, O my God, at Thy feet. I am that disgusting dog that has so often eaten the forbidden apples, which I before detested. I do not deserve mercy; but, O my Redeemer, the blood which Thou hast shed for me encourages and obliges me to hope for it. How often have I offended Thee, and Thou hast pardoned me! I promised never more to offend Thee, and I have afterwards returned to the vomit; and Thou hast again pardoned me! What do I wait for? Is it that Thou mayst send me to hell, or that Thou mayst abandon me into the hand of my sins, which would be a greater punishment than hell? No, my God, I wish to amend; and in order to be faithful to Thee, I will put all my confidence in Thee. I will, whenever I shall be tempted, always and instantly have recourse to Thee. Hitherto, I have trusted in my promises and resolutions, and have neglected to recommend myself to Thee in my temptations; this has been the cause of my ruin. Henceforth Thou shalt be my hope and my strength, and thus I shall be able to do all things. “I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me.”–Philip, iv. 13. Give me grace, then, O my Jesus, through Thy merits, to recommend myself to Thee, and to ask Thy aid in my wants. I love thee, O Sovereign Good, amiable above every good ; I wish to love Thee alone; but it is from Thee I must receive aid to love Thee. O Mary, my mother, do Thou also assist me by Thy intercession; keep me under Thy protection, and make me always invoke Thee when I shall be tempted. Thy name shall be my defence.

THIRD POINT.

“My son, hast thou sinned? do so no more; but, for thy former sins, pray that they may be forgiven thee.”–Eccl. xxi. 1. Behold, dear Christian, the advice which your good Lord gives you because He desires your salvation. Son, offend me no more; but from this day forward be careful to ask pardon for your past transgressions. My brother, the more you have offended God, the more you should tremble at the thought of offending Him again; for the next sin which you commit shall make the balance of divine justice descend, and you shall be lost. I do not say absolutely that after another sin there shall be no more forgiveness for you; for this I do not know; but I say that it may happen. Hence, when you shall be tempted, say within yourself, “Perhaps God will pardon me no more, and I shall be lost!” Tell me; were it probable that certain food contained poison, would you eat it? If you had reason to think that on a certain road your enemies lay in wait to take away your life, would you pass that way as long as you could find another more free from danger? And what security, or even what probability, have you that, if you relapse into sin, you shall afterwards repent sincerely of it, and that you will not return again to the vomit? What just reason have you to believe that God will not strike you dead in the very act of sin, or that, after your sin, He will not abandon you?

O God! If you purchase a house, you spare no pains to get all the securities necessary to guard against the loss of your money; if you take medicine, you are careful to assure yourself that it cannot injure you; if you pass over a torrent, you cautiously avoid all danger of falling into it; and for a miserable gratification, for a beastly pleasure, you will risk your eternal salvation, saying, “I expect to go to confession after this sin.” But when, I ask, will you go to confession? “Perhaps on Sunday.” And who has promised that you will live till Sunday? Perhaps you intend to go to confession to-morrow. But who promises you to-morrow. How can you promise yourself that you shall go to confession to-morrow, when you know not whether you shall be among the living in another hour? “He,” continues the saint (St. Augustine), “who has promised pardon to penitents, has not promised to-morrow to sinners; perhaps He will give it, and perhaps He will not.” If you now commit sin, God, perhaps, will give you time for repentance, and perhaps He will not; and should He not give it, what shall become of you for all eternity? In the mean time, by consenting to sin, you lose your soul for the sake of a miserable pleasure, and expose yourself to the risk of being lost forever. Would you, for that vile gratification, risk a sum of one thousand ducats? Would you, for that momentary pleasure, expose to danger your all–your money, your houses, your possessions, your liberty and life? Surely you would not. Will you, then, for that wretched delight, lose all–your soul, heaven, and God? Do you believe that heaven, hell, and eternity, are truths of faith, or that they are fables? Do you believe that, if death overtake you in sin, you shall be lost forever? O, what temerity! what folly! to condemn yourself, by your own free act, to an eternity of torments, with the hope of afterwards reversing the sentence of your condemnation. No one is as foolish as to take poison with the hope of being preserved from death; and will you condemn yourself to eternal death, saying, I will, perhaps, be hereafter delivered from it? O folly which has brought, and brings, so many souls to hell! “Thou hast,” says the Lord, “trusted in thy wickedness . . . Evil shall come upon thee, and thou shalt not know the rising thereof.”–Isa. xlvii. 10, 11. You have sinned through a rash confidence in the divine mercy; vengeance shall unexpectedly fall upon you, and you shall not know whence it comes.

Affections and Prayers

Behold, O Lord, one of those fools who have so often lost their souls and Thy grace with the hope of afterwards recovering them. And hadst Thou struck me dead in those nights in which I was in sin, what would have become of me? I thank Thee for Thy mercy, which has waited for me, and which now makes me sensible of my folly. I see that Thou desirest my salvation; and I too wish to save my soul. I am sorry, O infinite Goodness, for having so often turned my back upon Thee. I love Thee with my whole heart. And I hope in the merits of Thy passion, O my Jesus, that I will never again be one of those fools. Pardon me at this moment, and give me the gift of Thy grace. I will never leave Thee again. “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.” Ah no; I hope, O my Redeemer, never more to suffer the misfor tune and confusion of seeing myself deprived of Thy grace and love. Grant me holy perseverance, and give me the grace always to ask it of Thee by invoking Thy holy name and the name of Thy mother, and by saying, “Jesus, assist me; most holy Mary, pray for me.” Yes, my queen, if I have recourse to thee, I shall never be conquered. And when the temptation continues, obtain for me the grace not to cease to invoke thy aid.


Venerable #FultonJSheen – The Last #GoodFriday

14 April 2017
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Venerable Fulton J Sheen – His last Good Friday Homily


Meditations for Each Day of Lent by Saint Thomas Aquinas – Good Friday

14 April 2017

“Good Friday”
14 April 2017 Anno Domini

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Santi de Tito 1593

by St. Thomas Aquinas

Good Friday

The Death of Christ

That Christ should die was expedient.

1. To make our redemption complete. For, although any suffering of Christ had an infinite value, because of its union with His divinity, it was not by no matter which of His sufferings that the redemption of mankind was made complete, but only by His death. So the Holy Spirit declared speaking through the mouth of Caiaphas, It is expedient for you that one man shall die for the people (John xi. 50). Whence St. Augustine says, “Let us stand in wonder, rejoice, be glad, love, praise, and adore since it is by the death of our Redeemer, that we have been called from death to life, from exile to our own land, from mourning to joy.”

2. To increase our faith, our hope and our charity. With regard to faith the Psalm says (Ps. cxl. 10), I am alone until I pass from this world, that is, to the Father. When I shall have passed to the Father, then shall I be multiplied. Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die itself remaineth alone (John xii. 24).

As to the increase of hope St, Paul writes, He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things? (Rom. viii. 32). God cannot deny us this, for to give us all things is less than to give His own Son to death for us. St. Bernard says, “Who is not carried away to hope and confidence in prayer, when he looks on the crucifix and sees how Our Lord hangs there, the head bent as though to kiss, the arms outstretched in an embrace, the hands pierced to give, the side opened to love, the feet nailed to remain with us.”

Come, my dove, in the clefts of the rock (Cant. ii. 14). It is in the wounds of Christ the Church builds its nest and waits, for it is in the Passion of Our Lord that she places her hope of salvation, and thereby trusts to be protected from the craft of the falcon, that is, of the devil.

With regard to the increase of charity, Holy Scripture says, At noon he burneth the earth (Ecclus. xliii. 3), that is to say, in the fervour of His Passion He burns up all mankind with His love. So St. Bernard says, “The chalice thou didst drink, O good Jesus, maketh thee lovable above all things.” The work of our redemption easily, brushing aside all hindrances, calls out in return the whole of our love. This it is which more gently draws out our devotion, builds it up more straightly, guards it more closely, and fires it with greater ardour.


St Alphonsus Liquori’s Most Unique Devotion – The Clock of the Passion

13 April 2017

FOR THE USE OF PERSONS DEVOTED
TO THE PASSION OF OUR LORD
THE CLOCK OF THE PASSION

BY

ST. ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI

hourglass

Sir Anthony van Dyck, Christ Crucified with the Virgin, Saint John, and Mary Magdalene, c. 1628-30

Sir Anthony van Dyck, Christ Crucified with the Virgin, Saint John, and Mary Magdalene, c. 1628-30

St. Alphonsus (1696-1787) devised the Clock of the Passion as a meditation for Passion-tide during Lent to follow Jesus the last twenty-four hours of His life on this earth. His intent was to motivate each person to cherish a tender devotion towards Jesus Christ in His Passion. The events are put in sequence as found in Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

We have assembled beautiful religious art on the Passion of Christ to coincide with St. Aphonsus de Liguori’s time line placed at the top of each painting. In addition, we have added excerpts from approved Church Litanies to encourage prayer as you meditate on the Passion of Our Lord. In addition, new meditations have been added from the book “The Passion Clock” by St. Alphonsus Liguori. The music chosen is Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy on me, O God) by Gregorio Allegri, who was a priest, composer and singer.

The Passion Clock may be utilized at your own pace and the music lasts for over nine minutes and is set on repeat. If you would rather have no music, simply adjust the volume settings on your computer.

Prayer by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

O my Jesus! I pray Thee make me always remember Thy Passion; and grant that I also, a miserable sinner, overcome at last by so many loving devices, may return to love Thee, and to show Thee, by my poor love some mark of gratitude for the excessive love which Thou, my God and my Saviour, hast borne to me. Amen.

Click HERE to begin the Devotion at Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals


Maundy Thursday: Link to (7PM EST) LIVE Mass -In Cena Domini Feria V Missa ‘Nos Autem’

13 April 2017

HolyThursday-sm-trip

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Click the link below for
The Propers  for the Extraordinary Form Mass offered LIVE online by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.

LIVE Link to the Solemn High Mass of the Lord’s Supper (In Cenae Domini) at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, Sarasota, Florida: Please click HEREat 6:50 PM wherein the Livestream will begin in a few minutes.


Complete Missal online to follow the Mass
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and the
Stripping of the Altar


Ordo Missae for Holy Thursday from Sancta Missa.org.
Feria V In Cena Domini begins on page 180.

In Cena Domini Gregorian Chants for the Vesperal Mass of Maundy Thursday from F.S.S.P. North American District (Complete audio to accompany text)


Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) Extraordinary Form Videos & Online Missal

13 April 2017


Complete Missal online to follow the Mass
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and the
Stripping of the Altar


Ordo Missae for Holy Thursday from Sancta Missa.org.
Feria V In Cena Domini begins on page 180.

In Cena Domini Gregorian Chants for the Vesperal Mass of Maundy Thursday from F.S.S.P. North American District (Complete audio to accompany text)


Meditations for Each Day of Lent by Saint Thomas Aquinas – Holy Thursday

13 April 2017

“Maundy Thursday”
13 April 2017 Anno Domini

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Santi de Tito 1593

by St. Thomas Aquinas

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper

It was most fitting that the sacrament of the body of the Lord should have been instituted at the Last Supper.

1. Because of what that sacrament contains. For that which is contained in it is Christ Himself. When Christ in His natural appearance was about to depart from His disciples, He left Himself to them in a sacramental appearance, just as in the absence of the emperor there is exhibited the emperor’s image. Whence St. Eusebius says, “Since the body He had assumed was about to be taken away from their bodily sight, and was about to be carried to the stars, it was necessary that, on the day of His last supper, He should consecrate for us the sacrament of His body and blood, so that what, as a price, was offered once should, through a mystery, be worshipped unceasingly.”

2. Because without faith in the Passion there can never be salvation. Therefore it is necessary that there should be, for ever, among men something that would represent the Lord’s Passion and the chief of such representative things in the Old Testament was the Paschal Lamb. To this there succeeded in the New Testament the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is commemorative of the past Passion of the Lord as the Paschal Lamb was a foreshadowing of the Passion to come.

And therefore was it most fitting that, on the very eve of the Passion, the old sacrament of the Paschal Lamb having been celebrated, Our Lord should institute the new sacrament.

3. Because the last words of departing friends remain longest in the memory, our love being at such moments most tenderly alert. Nothing can be greater in the realm of sacrifice than that of the body and blood of Christ, no offering can be more effective. And hence, in order that the sacrament might be held in all the more veneration, it was in His last leave-taking of the Apostles that Our Lord instituted it.

Hence St. Augustine says, “Our Saviour, to bring before our minds with all His power the heights and the depths of this sacrament, willed, ere He left the disciples to go forth to His Passion, to fix it in their hearts and their memories as His last act.”

Let us note that this sacrament has a threefold meaning :

(i) In regard to the past, it is commemorative of the Lord’s Passion, which was a true sacrifice, and because of this the sacrament is called a sacrifice.

(ii) In regard to a fact of our own time, that is, to the unity of the church and that through this sacrament mankind should be gathered together. Because of this the sacrament is called communion.

St. John Damascene says the sacrament is called communion because by means of it we communicate with Christ, and this because we hereby share in His body and in His divinity, and because by it we are communicated to and united with one another.

(iii) In regard to the future, the sacrament foreshadows that enjoyment of God which shall be ours in our fatherland. On this account the sacrament is called viaticum, since it provides us with the means of journeying to that fatherland.


Maundy Thursday by Fr. Prosper Gueranger 1870

13 April 2017

Holy Thursday popup

THE MORNING.

This is the first day of the Azymes, or Feast of the Unleavened Bread. At sunset, the Jews must eat the Pasch in Jerusalem. Jesus is still in Bethania; but He will return to the City before the hour for the Paschal supper. The Law commands this; and, until He has abrogated the Law by the shedding of His Blood, He wishes to observe its ordinances. He therefore sends two of His Disciples to get everything ready for the Pasch, without, however, telling them the great Mystery, wherewith it is to terminate. We who know it, and that it was at this Last Supper that was instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we can understand why He sends Peter and John, in preference to any of the other Disciples, to prepare what is needed (St. Luke, xxii. 8.). Peter, who was the first to confess the Divinity of Jesus, represents Faith: and John, who leaned upon the breast of the Man-God, represents Love. The mystery, which is to be instituted at tonight’s Supper, is revealed to Love by Faith. It is this that Jesus would have us learn from His choice of the two Apostles; but they themselves see not the intention of their Master.

Jesus, Who knew all things, tells them by what sign they are to know the house, which He intends to honour with His presence: they have but to follow a man, whom they will see carrying a pitcher of water. The house to which this man is going, belongs to a rich Jew, who recognises Jesus as the Messias. The two Apostles apprise him of their Master’s wishes; and immediately he puts at their disposal a large and richly furnished room. It was fitting, that the place, where the most august Mystery was to be instituted, should be something above common. This Room, where the reality was to be substituted for all the ancient figures, was far superior to the Temple of Jerusalem. In it was to be erected the first Altar for the offering up of the clean oblation, foretold by the Prophet (Malach. i. 11): in it was to commence the Christian Priesthood: in it, finally, fifty days later on, the Church of Christ, collected together and visited by the Holy Ghost, was to make herself known to the world, and promulgate the new and universal Covenant of God with men. This favoured sanctuary of our Faith, is still venerated on Mount Sion. The Infidels have profaned it by their false worship, for even they look on it as a sacred place; but as though Divine Providence, which has mercifully preserved unto us so many traces of our Redeemer, would give us an earnest of better days to come, this venerable sanctuary has been recently thrown open to several Priests of the Church, and they have even been permitted to offer up the Holy Sacrifice in the very place where the Eucharist was instituted.

During the course of the day, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, with the rest of his Disciples: He has found all things prepared.

The Paschal Lamb, after being first presented in the Temple, has been brought to the house, where Jesus is to celebrate the Supper: it is prepared, together with the wild lettuce and the unleavened bread. In a few hours, the Divine Master and His Disciples will be standing round the table, their loins girt, and staves in their hands; and, for the last time, they will observe the solemn rite prescribed by God to his people, when they first went forth from Egypt.

But let us wait for the hour of Mass, before going further into the details of this Last Supper. Meanwhile, let us seek edification and instruction in two holy functions, which belong to this great day. The first is the Reconciliation of Penitents, which, although not now in use, needs to be described, in order that our readers may have a proper idea of the Lenten Liturgy. The second is the Consecration of the Holy Oils, which is a ceremony confined to Cathedral Churches, but so interesting to the Faithful, that we should have scrupled to have excluded it from our volume. After having briefly described these, we will return to the history of the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament, and assist at Mass. Then we shall have to speak of the preparation for the Mass of the Presanctified for tomorrow’s service, of the Stripping the Altars, and of the Mandatum, or Washing of the Feet. We proceed, therefore, to explain these several ceremonies, which make Maundy Thursday to be one of the most sacred days of the Liturgical Year.

THE RECONCILIATION OF PENITENTS.

Three solemn Masses were anciently celebrated on this day; and the first was preceded by the absolution of the public Penitents, and their re-admission into the Church. The following was the order of the service for the Reconciliation of Penitents. They presented themselves at the Church-door, clad in penitential garb, and bare-footed. The hair of both head and beard had been allowed to grow from Ash Wednesday, the day on which they had received their penance. The Bishop recited, in the sanctuary, the seven Psalms, in which David expresses his sorrow for having offended God. These were followed by the Litany of the Saints.

During these prayers, the Penitents were prostrate in the porch, for entrance into the Church was forbidden them. Thrice during the Litany, the Bishop deputed some of the clergy to go and visit them, in his name, and bear them words of hope and consolation. The first time, two Sub-Deacons went to them and said: As I live, saith the Lord, I will not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live. The second time, two other Sub-Deacons were sent, with this message: Thus saith the Lord: Do penance; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Finally, a Deacon was coinmissioned to go to them, and say: Lift up your heads; lo! your redemption is nigh.

After these announcements of approaching pardon, the Bishop left the Sanctuary and went towards the Penitents, as far as half way down the centre nave, where was prepared a seat, turned towards the door which led into the porch, where the Penitents were still lying prostrate. The Pontiff being seated the Archdeacon addressed him in these words:

Venerable Pontiff! The acceptable time has come, the day of God’s mercy and of man’s salvation, when death was destroyed, and eternal life began. This is the time, when, in the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth, new plants are to be set, and the detestableness of the old growth is to be pruned away. For though there be no period of time, which is not rich in the goodness and mercy of God, yet now indulgence produces a more abundant remission of sins, and grace yields a more plentiful number of the regenerated. Those that are regenerated add to our ranks; those that return, increase our numbers. There is a laver of water; there is a laver of tears. From the one, there is joy because of the admittance of them that are called; from the other, there is gladness because of them that repent. Therefore it is, that these thy suppliant servants, after having fallen into sundry kinds of sins, by the neglect of the divine commandments, and the transgression of the moral law, humbled and prostrate, cry out to the Lord in these words of the Prophet: We have sinned: we have done unjustly; we have committed iniquity: have mercy on us, O Lord! It has not been in vain, that they have heard the words of the Gospel: Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. As it is written, they have eaten the bread of sorrow; they have watered their couch with tears; they have afflicted their hearts with mourning, and their bodies with fasting, that thus they might recover the health of soul, which they had lost. The grace of penance, therefore, is one; but it profits each one that receives it, and gives help to all in common.

The Bishop then rose, and advanced towards the Penitents. He spoke to them concerning the mercy of God, and how they should live for the time to come. After this exhortation, he thus addressed them: Come, come, come, my children! I will teach you the fear of the Lord. The Choir then sang this Antiphon, taken from the 33rd Psalm: Come ye to him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded. Hereupon, the Penitents got up, and, coming to the Bishop, threw themselves at his feet. The Archpriest then pleaded for them in these words:

Make good in them, O Apostolic Pontiff, all that has been corrupted in them by the temptation of the devil! By the merit of thy prayers and intercession, and by the grace of the divine reconciliation, bring these men nigh unto God. Thus, they who, heretofore, suffered by the sins they committed, may now be happy in the hope, that, having overcome the author of their death, they may please the Lord, in the land of the living.

The Bishop answered: Knowest thou, if they be worthy of reconciliation? The Archpriest replied: I know, and bear witness, that they are worthy. A Deacon then ordered the Penitents to rise. This done, the Bishop took one of them by the hand, who did the same to his neighbour; and thus all, hand in hand, followed the Bishop to the place prepared in the centre of the nave. Meanwhile, the Choir sang the following Antiphons: I say unto you, there is joy to the Angels of God over one sinner doing penance. It behoveth thee, my son, to rejoice; for thy brother was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found. The Bishop then offered up to God this prayer, which he sang to the solemn tone of the Preface.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord: Whom thou, O Almighty Father, didst will should be born among us by an ineffable Birth, that so He might pay to thee, his Eternal Father, the debt contracted by Adam, and put our death to death by His own, and bear our wounds in His own flesh, and cleanse away our stains by his Blood; hereby enabling us, who had fallen by the envy of the old enemy, to rise again by his mercy. Through him, O Lord, we suppliantly beseech and pray thee that Thou mayest graciously hear us making intercession for the sins of others, who are not worthy to plead for our own. Do thou, O most merciful Lord, recall to Thyself, with Thy wonted goodness, these Thy servants, who have separated themselves from Thee by their sins. For neither didst Thou reject the most wicked Achab when he humbled himself before Thee, but didst avert from him the punishment he had deserved. So, likewise, didst thou graciously hear Peter, when he wept, and didst afterwards give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and Thou didst promise the reward of that same kingdom to the Thief when he trusted in thee. Therefore, O most merciful Lord! mercifully welcome back these for whom we offer to Thee our prayers, and restore them to the bosom of the Church, that the enemy may not triumph over them, but that they may be reconciled unto Thee by thy co-equal Son, and by Him be cleansed from their guilt, and graciously admitted by Him to the banquet of Thy most Holy Supper. May He in such wise refresh them by His Flesh and Blood, as to lead them, after this life’s course is run, to the kingdom of heaven.

After this Prayer, all, both clergy and laity, prostrated themselves, together with the Penitents, before the Divine Majesty, and recited the three Psalms which begin with the word Miserere, (that is, the 50th, the 55th, and the 56th). The Bishop then stood up, and said over the Penitents, (who remained prostrate, as did also all the assistants,) six Prayers, from which we select the following sentences.

Give ear, O Lord, to our supplications, and mercifully hear me, though I myself need mercy above all others. Thou hast chosen me to be the minister of this work, not from any merits thou didst see in me, but by the pure gift of Thy grace. Grant me courage to fulfil my office, and do Thou work, by my ministry, the effects of Thine own mercy. It is Thou that didst bring back, on Thy shoulders, the lost sheep to the fold, and that didst mercifully hear the prayers of the Publican: do Thou, also, restore to life these Thy servants, whom Thou wouldst not have die unto Thee. O thou, Who abandonest not them that are gone astray, receive these who have returned to Thee. We beseech Thee, O Lord, let the tearful sighs of these Thy servants move Thee to clemency: heal their wounds: stretch out Thy saving hand to them, and raise them up. Permit not Thy Church to be injured in any of her members: let not Thy flock suffer loss; let not the enemy exult over the destruction of any of Thy family, nor the second death lay hold of them that have been regenerated in the layer of salvation. Pardon, O Lord, these that confess their sins to Thee: let them not fall into the punishments of the future judgment to come; let them never know the horrors of darkness, or the torments of the flames of hell. They have returned from the way of error to the path of justice; let them not be again wounded, but maintain ever within themselves both what Thy grace hath conferred upon them, and what Thy mercy hath reformed within them.

Having said these Prayers, the Bishop stretched forth his hands over the Penitents, and pronounced the Reconciliation, in this solemn formula:

May our Lord Jesus Christ, Who vouchsafed to take away the sins of the whole world by delivering Himself up for us, and shedding His spotless Blood; Who, also, said unto His Disciples: whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven: and Who hath numbered me, though unworthy, among these His ministers: may he deign, by the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, of the blessed Archangel Michael, of holy Peter the Apostle, (to whom he gave the power of binding and loosing,) and of all the Saints, to absolve you, by the merits of His Blood shed for the remission of sins, from all whatsoever you have negligently committed in thought, or word, or action; and, having loosed you from the bonds of sin, may He graciously lead you to the kingdom of heaven. Who, with God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen

The Bishop then advanced towards the Penitents, who were still lying prostrate: he sprinkled them with holy water, and thurified them. Finally, he addressed them in these words of the Apostle: Arise, ye that sleep! arise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten you! The Penitents stood up; and, in order to express the joy they felt at being reconciled with their God, they immediately went and changed their penitential garb for one more in accordance with gladness, and with the Holy Communion they were now to receive together with the rest of the Faithful.

THE MASS OF MAUNDY THURSDAY.

The Church intends, on this day, to renew, in a most solemn manner, the mystery of the Last Supper: for our Lord Himself, on this occasion of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, said to His Apostles: Do this for a Commemoration of Me (St. Luke, xxii. 15). Let us, therefore, resume the Gospel narrative.

Jesus is in the Supper chamber, where the Paschal Lamb is to be eaten. All the Apostles are with Him; Judas is there, also, but His crime is not known to the rest. Jesus approaches the table, on which the Lamb is served. His Disciples stand around him. The ceremonies prescribed by God to Moses are religiously observed. At the beginning of the repast, Jesus speaks these words to His Apostles: With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I suffer (St. Luke, xxii. 15). In saying this, He does not imply that the Pasch of this year is intrinsically better than those that have preceded it; but, that it is dearer to Him, inasmuch as it is to give rise to the institution of the new Pasch, which He has prepared for mankind, and which He is now going to give them as his last gift: for as St. John says, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end (St. John, xiii. 1).

During the repast, Jesus, Who reads the hearts of all men, utters these words, which cause great consternation among the Disciples: Amen I say to you, that one of you is about to betray Me: he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me (St. Matth. xxvi 21, 23.). The sadness, with which He speaks, is enough to soften any heart; and Judas, who knows his Master’s goodness, feels that they imply a merciful pardon, if he will but ask it. But no: the passion of avarice has enslaved his soul, and he, like the rest of the Apostles, says to Jesus: Is it I, Rabbi? Jesus answers him in a whisper, in order not to compromise him before his brethren: Thou hast said it! But Judas yields not. He intends to remain with Jesus, until the hour comes for betraying Him. Thus, the august mystery, which is on the point of being celebrated, is to be insulted by His presence!

The legal repast is over. It is followed by a feast, which again brings the Disciples around their Divine Master. It was the custom in the East, that guests should repose two and two on couches round the table; these have been provided by the disciple, who has placed his house at Jesus’ service. John is on the same couch as Jesus, so that it is easy for him to lean his head upon his Master’s breast. Peter is on the next couch, on the other side of Jesus, Who is thus between the two Disciples, whom he had sent, in the morning, to prepare the Pasch, and Who, as we have already observed, represent Faith and Love. This second repast is a sorrowful one, in consequence of Jesus having told the guests, that one of them is a traitor. The innocent and affectionate John is overwhelmed with grief, and seeks consolation on the Heart of this dear Lord, Whom some one is about to deliver to His enemies.

But the Apostles little expect a third Supper. Jesus has not told them of His intention; but He had made a promise, and He would fulfill it before His Passion. Speaking, one day, to the people, He had said: I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever, and the Bread that I will give, is my Flesh for the life of the world. * * * My Flesh is meat indeed, and my Blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my Flesh and drinketh my Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him (St. John, vi . 51, 52, 54, 56, 57.). The time has come for the fulfilment of this His loving promise. But as it was both His Flesh and His Blood that He promised us, He waited till the time of His sacrifice. His Passion has begun; He is sold to His enemies; His life is already in their hands; he may at once, therefore, offer Himself in sacrifice, and give to His Disciples the very Flesh and Blood of the Victim.

As soon as the second repast was over, Jesus suddenly rises, and, to the astonishment of His Apostles, takes off his upper garment, girds himself, as a servant, with a towel, pours water into a basin, and prepares to wash the feet of the guests. It was the custom, in the East, to wash one’s feet, before taking part in a feast; it was considered as the very extreme of hospitality, when the master of the house himself did this service to his guest. Jesus is about to regale His Apostles with a Divine Banquet; He wishes to treat them with every possible mark of welcome and attention. But in this, as in every other action of His, there is a fund of instruction: He would teach us, by what He is now doing, how great is the purity, wherewith we should approach the Holy Table. He that is washed, says he, needeth not but to wash his feet (Idem, xiii. 10.); as though he would say: “The holiness of this Table is such, that they who come to it, should not only be free from grievous sins, but they should, moreover, strive to cleanse their souls from those lesser faults, which come from contact with the world, and are like the dust that covers the feet of one that walks on the highway.” We will explain further on, the other teachings conveyed by this action of our Lord.

It is with Peter, the future Head of his Church, that Jesus begins. The Apostle protests; he declares that he will never permit his Master to humble Himself so low as this: but he is obliged to yield. The other Apostles, (who, as Peter himself, are reclining upon their couches,) receive the same mark of love: Jesus comes to each of them in turn, and washes their feet. Judas is not excepted: he has just received a second warning from his merciful Master; for Jesus, addressing himself to all the Apostles, said to them: You are clean; but not all (St. John, xiii. 10): but the reproach produced no effect upon this hardened heart. Having finished washing the feet of the Twelve, Jesus resumes His place, side by side with John.

Then taking a piece of the unleavened bread, that had remained over from the feast, He raises His eyes to heaven, blesses the bread, breaks it, and distributes it to his Disciples, saying to them: Take ye, and eat; this is my Body (St. Matth. xxvi. 26.). The Apostles take the bread, which is now changed into the Body of their Divine Master; they eat; and Jesus is, now, not only with them, but in them. But, as this sacred mystery is not only the most holy of the Sacraments, but, moreover, a true Sacrifice; and as a Sacrifice requires the shedding of blood; our Jesus takes the cup, and changing the wine into His own Blood, He passes it round to His Disciples, saying to them: Drink ye, all, of this; for this is My Blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many, unto remission of sins (St. Matth. xxvi. 27, 28). The Apostles drink from the sacred chalice thus proffered them; when it comes to Judas, he too, partakes of it, but he drinks his own damnation, as he ate his own judgment, when he received the Bread of Life (I. Cor. xi. 29). Jesus, however, mercifully offers the traitor another grace, by saying, as He gives the Cup to His Disciples: The hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table (St. Luke, xxii. 21).

Peter is struck by Jesus thus frequently alluding to the crime, which is to be committed by one of the Twelve. He is determined to find out who the traitor is. Not daring himself to ask Jesus, at whose right hand he is sitting, he makes a sign to John, who is on the other side, and begs him to put the question. John leans on Jesus’ breast, and says to Him in a whisper: Lord, who is it? Jesus answers him in an equally suppressed tone: He to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And having taken one of the pieces of bread that remained over from the repast, He dipped it, and gave it to Judas. It was one more grace offered and refused, for the Evangelist adds: And after the morsel, Satan entered into him (St. John, xiii. 27.). Jesus again addresses him, saying: That which thou dost, do quickly (Id. ibid.). The wretch then leaves the room, and sets about the perpetration of his crime.

Such is the history of the Last Supper, of which we celebrate the anniversary on this day. But there is one circumstance of the deepest interest to us, and to which we have, so far, only made an indirect allusion. The institution of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and Sacrifice, is followed by another, the institution of a new Priesthood. How could our Saviour have said: Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his Blood, you shall not have life in you (St. John, vi . 64.), unless He had resolved to establish a ministry upon earth, whereby He would renew, even to the end of time, the great Mystery He thus commands us to receive? He begins it today, in the Cenacle. The twelve Apostles are the first to partake of it: but observe what He says to them: Do this for a commemoration of me (St. Luke, xxii. 19.). By these words, He gives them power to change bread into his Body, and wine into his Blood; and this sublime power shall be perpetuated in the Church, by holy Ordination, even to the end of the world. Jesus will continue to operate, by the ministry of mortal and sinful men, the Mystery of the Last Supper. By thus enriching His Church with the one and perpetual Sacrifice, He also gives us the means of abiding in Him, for He gives us, as He promised, the Bread of heaven. Today, then, we keep the anniversary, not only of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, but, also, of the equally wonderful Institution of the Christian Priesthood.

To offer the Faithful an outward expression of the greatness and the unity of this Supper, which our Saviour gave to his Disciples, and, through them, to us, the Church forbids her Priests to say private Masses on this day, except in cases of necessity. She would have but one Sacrifice to be offered in each church, at which the other Priests are to assist, and receive Holy Communion from the hands of the Celebrant. When approaching the Altar, they put on the Stole, the emblem of their Priesthood.

The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the Year; and although the Feast of Corpus Christi is the day for the solemn honouring the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, still, the Church would have the anniversary of the Last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour. The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Chrismas Day and Easter Sunday; the decorations of the Altar and Sanctuary all bespeak joy: and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mass, which show that the holy Spouse of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient. The Priest entones the Angelic Hymn, Glory be to God in the highest! and the Bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole singing of the heavenly Canticle: but, from that moment, they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mournfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours, of the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year? It is to show us, that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified. Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the Apostles, (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the Bells, whose ringing summons the Faithful to the House of God,) fled from their Divine Master and left him a prey to His enemies.

The Holy Sacrifice continues as usual; but at the solemn moment of the Elevation of the Holy Host and the Chalice of Salvation, the Bell is silent, and, outside the Church, there is not given to the neighbourhood the usual signal of the descent of Jesus upon the Altar. When the time of the Holy Communion is near, the Priest does not give the Kiss of Peace to the Deacon, who, according to the Apostolic tradition, should transmit it, by the Subdeacon, to those that are about to communicate. Our thoughts turn to the traitor Judas, who, on this very day, profaned the sign of friendship by making it an instrument of death. It is out of detestation for this crime, that the Church omits, today, the sign of fraternal charity, it would too painfully remind us of sacrilegious hypocrisy.

Another rite, peculiar to today, is the Priest’s consecrating two Hosts during the Mass. One of these he receives in Communion; the other he reserves, and reverently places it in a Chalice, which he covers with a veil. The reason of this is, that, tomorrow, the Church suspends the daily Sacrifice. Such is the impression produced by the anniversary of our Saviour’s Death, that the Church dares not to renew, upon her Altars, the immolation which was then offered on Calvary: or rather, her renewal of it will be by the fixing all her thoughts on the terrible scene of that Friday Noon. The Host reserved from today’s Mass, will be her morrow’s participation. This rite is called the Mass of the Presanctified, because, in it, the Priest does not consecrate, but only receives the Host consecrated on the previous day. Formerly, as we shall explain more fully further on, the holy Sacrifice was not offered up on Holy Saturday, and yet the Mass of the Presanctified was not celebrated, as it was on the Friday.

But, although the Church suspends, for a few short hours, the oblation of the perpetual Sacrifice, she would not that her Divine Spouse should lose aught of the homage, that is due to Him in the Sacrament of his Love. Catholic piety has found a means of changing these trying hours into a tribute of devotion to the Holy Eucharist. In every Church is prepared a richly ornamented side-chapel or pavilion, where, after today’s Mass, the Church places the Body of her Divine Lord. Though veiled from their view, the Faithful will visit him in this His holy resting place, pay Him their most humble adorations, and present Him their most fervent supplications. Wheresoever the Body shall be, there shall the eagles be gathered together (St. Matth. xxiv. 28). In every part of the Catholic world, a concert of prayer, more loving and earnest than at any other period of the Year, will be offered to our Jesus, in reparation for the outrages he underwent, during these very hours, from the Jews. Around this anticipated Tomb will be united both His long tried and fervent servants, and those who are newly converted, or are preparing for their reconciliation.

THE EVENING.

Judas has left the Cenacle, and, profiting of the darkness, has reached the place where the enemies of his Saviour are assembled. Jesus then turns to his faithful Apostles, and says to them: Now is the Son of Man glorified (St. John, xiii. 31). Yes, His Passion is to be followed by triumph and glory; and the Passion has already begun, for Judas has commenced his work of betraying him. Meanwhile, the Apostles, forgetting the trouble, into which they had been thrown by Jesus’ telling them, that one of the Twelve was about to betray him, begin to dispute among themselves, which of them should seem to be greater (St. Luke, xxii. 24.)? They have not forgotten the words spoken by Jesus to Peter, when He made Him the Rock, on which He would build His Church; and here, at the Supper, they have seen their Divine Master wash the feet of Peter first. On the other hand, John’s affectionate familiarity with Jesus, during this same Supper, has made some of them argue, that he who was most loved, would be most honoured.

Jesus puts an end to this dispute, by giving to these future Pastors of His Church a lesson of humility. There shall, it is true, be a Head among them; but, says our Redeemer, let him that is the greater among you, become as the younger; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. He bids them look at Him: He is their Master, and yet, says He, I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth (St. Luke, xxii. 26, 27.). Then turning towards Peter, He thus addresses him: Simon, Simon! behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy Brethren (Ibid., 31, 32.). This last interview is, as it were, our Saviour’s Testament; He provides for His Church, before leaving her. The Apostles are to be Peter’s Brethren, but Peter is to be their Head. This sublime dignity is to be enhanced by the humility of him that enjoys it: he shall be “The Servant of the Servants of God.” The Apostolic College is to be exposed to the fury of hell; but Peter alone is to confirm his Brethren in the faith. His teaching shall ever be conformable to Divine Truth; it shall be ever Infallible: Jesus has prayed that it may be so. Such a prayer is all-powerful; and thereby, the Church, ever docile to the voice of Peter, shall for ever maintain the doctrine of Christ. Jesus, after having provided for the future of His Church by the words He addressed to Peter, thus speaks affectionately to all the eleven: Little children! yet a little while I am with you. Love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one for another. Peter says to Him: Lord! whither goest thou? Whither I go, answers Jesus, thou canst not now follow me; but thou shalt follow hereafter. Why cannot I follow Thee now? again asks Peter: I will lay down my life for Thee. Wilt thou, replies Jesus, lay down thy life for Me? Amen, amen, I say to thee: the cock shall not crow, till thou deny Me thrice (St. John, xiii. 33-38.). Peter’s love for Jesus had too much of the human about it, for it was not based on humility. Presumption comes from pride: it almost always results in a fall. In order to prepare Peter for his future ministry of pardon, as also to give us a useful lesson, God permits that he, who was soon to be made Prince of the Apostles, should fall into a most grievous and humiliating sin.

But let us return to the instructions contained in the last words spoken by our Jesus before He leaves His disciples. I am, says He, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If you love Me, keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. If you loved Me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father. I will not now speak many things with you, for the prince of this world cometh, and in Me he hath not anything. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given Me commandment, so do I, arise, let us go hence (St. John, xiv.). Deeply impressed by these words, the Disciples arise, and, after the hymn of thanksgiving has been said, they accompany Jesus to Mount Olivet.

He continues His instructions as they go along. He takes occasion from their passing by a Vine to speak of the effect produced by divine grace in the soul of man. I am the true vine, He says, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me, that beareth not fruit, He will take away, and every one that beareth fruit, He will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine; so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing. If any one abideth not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth. You have not chosen Me: but I have chosen you, and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain (St. John, xv.).

He next speaks to them of the persecutions that await them, and of the hatred the world will have of them. He renews the promise he had made them of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and tells them that it is to their advantage that He Himself should leave them. He assures them, that they shall obtain whatever they ask of the Father in His name. The Father, He adds, loveth you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and Am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father. The Disciples say to him: Now we know that Thou knowest all things, and Thou needest not that any man should ask Thee. By this we believe that Thou comest forth from God. Do you now believe? answered Jesus: behold! the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone (St. John, xvi). All you shall be scandalised in Me this night: for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed.” But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee (St. Matth. xxvi. 31, 32.).

Peter again protests that he will be faithful to his Master; the rest may abandon Him, if they will, but he will keep with Him to the last! It should, indeed, be so, for he has received so much more from Jesus than the others have: but he is again humbled by being told of his coming speedy fall. Jesus then calmly raising up His eyes to heaven, says: Father! the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee. I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do; I have manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou hast given Me. They have known that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I pray for them; I pray not for the world. And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father! keep them in Thy name, whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We also are. While I was with them, I kept them in Thy name. Those whom Thou gavest Me, have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture may be fulfilled. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from evil. Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who, through their word, shall believe in Me: that they all may be one, as Thou, Father! in Me, and I in Thee: that they also may be one in Us: that the world may know, that Thou hast sent Me. Father! I will, that where I am, they also, Whom thou hast given Me, may be with Me; that they may see the glory which Thou hast given Me, because thou hast loved Me before the creation of the world. Just Father! the world hath not known Me; but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have made known Thy name to them, and will make it known, that the love, wherewith Thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them (St. John, xvii.).

Such are the out-pourings of the loving Heart of our Jesus, as He crosses the Brook Cedron, and ascends, with His Disciples, the Mount of Olives. Having come as far as Gethsemani, He goes into a garden, whither He had often led His Apostles and rested there with them. Suddenly, His Soul is overpowered with grief; His Human Nature experiences, as it were, a suspension of that beatitude, which results from its union with the Divinity. This His Humanity will be interiorly supported, even to the very last moment of His Passion; but it must bear everything that it is possible for it to bear. Jesus feels such intense sadness, that the very presence of His Disciples is insupportable; He leaves them, taking with Him only Peter, James, and John, who, a short time before, had been witnesses of His glorious Transfiguration: will they show greater courage than the rest, when they see their Divine Master in the hands of His enemies? His words show them what a sudden change has come over Him. He whose language was, a few moments before, so calm, His look so serene, and His tone of voice so sweet, now says to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with Me (St. Matth. xxvi. 38.).

He leaves them, and goes to a grotto, which is about a stone’s throw distant. Even to this day it exists, perpetuating the memory of the terrible event. There does our Jesus prostrate Himself, and prays, saying: Father! all things are possible to Thee. Remove this chalice from Me: but, not what I will, but what Thou wilt (St. Mark, xiv. 36.). Whilst thus praying, a sweat of Blood flows from his body and bathes the ground. It is not merely a swooning, it is an Agony, that He suffers. God sends help to His sinking frame, and it is an Angel that is intrusted with the office. Jesus is treated as man; His Humanity, exhausted as it is, is to receive no other sensible aid than that which is now brought Him by an Angel, (whom tradition affirms to have been Gabriel.) Hereupon He rises, and again accepts the Chalice prepared for Him. But what a Chalice! every pain that body and soul can suffer; the sins of the whole world taken upon Himself, and crying out vengeance against Him; the ingratitude of men, many of whom will make His Sacrifice useless. Jesus has to accept all this, and at the very time, when He seems to be left to His Human Nature. The power of the Divinity, which is in Him, supports Him; but it does not prevent Him from feeling every suffering, just as though He had been mere Man. He begins his Prayer by asking, that the Chalice may be taken from Him; He ends it by saying to His Father: Not My will, but Thine be done (St. Luke, xxii. 42.)!

Jesus then rises, leaving the earth covered with the Blood of His Agony: it is the first Bloodshedding of His Passion. He goes to His three Disciples, and, finding them asleep, says to them: What! could you not watch one hour with Me (St. Matth. xxvi. 40)? This was the beginning of that feature of His sufferings, which consists in His being abandoned. He twice returns to the grotto, and repeats His sorrowful, but submissive, prayer; twice He returns to His Disciples, whom He had asked to watch near Him, but, at each time, finds them asleep. At length, He speaks to them, saying: Sleep ye now, and take your rest! Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Then resuming the energy of His divine courage, He adds: Rise! let us go! Behold, he is at hand that will betray Me (Id. ibid. 46)!

Whilst speaking these last few words, a numerous body of armed men enter the Garden with torches in their hands. Judas is at their head. The betrayal is made by a profanation of the sign of friendship. Judas! dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss (St. Luke, xxii. 48)? These piercing words should have made the traitor throw himself at his Master’s feet, and ask pardon; but it was too late: he feared the soldiers. But the servants of the High Priest cannot lay hands on Jesus, unless He, their Victim, permit them to do so. With one single word, He casts them prostrate on the ground. Then permitting them to rise, He says to them, with all the majesty of a King: If you seek Me, let these go their way. You are come out, as it were against a thief, with swords and clubs. When I was daily with you in the Temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Then turning to Peter, who had drawn and used his sword, He says to him: Thinkest thou, that I cannot ask My Father, and He will give me presently twelve legions of Angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled (St. John, xviii. 8.; St. Luke, xxii. 52, 53.; St . Matth. xxvi. 53.)?

And now, Jesus permits Himself to be led. Whereupon, His Apostles run away in fear. Peter and another disciple follow Him, but as far off as they can. The soldiers lead Jesus by the same road, along which He had passed on the previous Sunday, when the people met Him, with palm and olive branches in their hands. They cross the brook Cedron; and there is a tradition of the Church of Jerusalem, that the soldiers as they passed the bridge, threw Jesus into the water. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of David: He shall drink of the torrent in the way (Ps. cix. 7.).

They reach the City walls. The gate is opened, and the Divine Prisoner enters. It is night, and the inhabitants know not the crime that has been committed. It is only on the morrow, that they will learn, that Jesus of Nazareth, the great Prophet, has fallen into the hands of the Chief Priests and Pharisees. The night is far advanced; but many hours must elapse before the dawn of day. The enemies of Jesus have arranged to take Him, in the morning, to Pontius Pilate, and accuse Him as being a disturber of the peace: but in the meanwhile, they intend to condemn Him as guilty in matters of religion! Their tribunal has authority to judge in cases of this nature, only they cannot pass sentence of death upon a culprit, how guilty soever they may prove Him. They, consequently, hurry Jesus to Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest Caiphas. Here is to take place the first examination. These blood-thirsty men have spent these hours in sleepless anxiety. They have counted the very minutes since the departure of their minions for Mount Olivet. They are not without some doubt as to whether their plot will succeed. At last, their Victim is brought before them, and He shall not escape their vengeance!

Here let us interrupt our History of the Passion, till the morrow shall bring us to the solemn hour, when the great Mystery of our instruction and salvation was accomplished. What a day is this that we have been spending! How full of Jesus’ love! He has given us his Body and Blood to be our Food; He has instituted the Priesthood of the New Testament; He has poured out upon the world the sublimest instructions of His loving Heart. We have seen Him struggling with the feelings of human weakness, as He beheld the Chalice of the Passion that was prepared for Him; but He triumphed over all, in order to save us. We have seen Him betrayed, fettered, and led captive into the holy City, there to consummate His Sacrifice. Let us adore and love this Jesus, Who might have saved us by one and the least of all these humiliations; but whose love for us was not satisfied unless He drank, to the very dregs, the Chalice He had accepted from His Father.

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