April 18, 2015

Prayers for the Rogan Family

On the way to deliver their 8th baby, on April 17th, a car struck a deer which was thrown into the van of Mike and Niki Rogan (with their 7 children).  Mike did not survive the accident.  Baby #8 was born shortly after Niki arrived at the hospital.  I don't know this family personally but I guess some of my children have met their children at an Institute of Christ the King summer camp.  But either way, I also don't need to recognize a beautiful family in need.

So first I ask that you please pray for the soul of Mike Rogan, may he be richly rewarded for being open to life in this anti-child world and for his wife who must be suffering a terrible agony in her heart as well as their children ages 15-newborn.

Also, please considering donating, if you are able, to the fund.  

When I first saw this gofundme at a mere $5000 goal I was amazed by such humility, since then, someone has graciously raised the goal so that their totaled van may be replaced and funeral expenses may be covered and, hopefully, some extra to help relieve the monetary stresses of life in a large family.   Niki is a stay-at-home mother who homeschools her children.

May God bless this family, our hearts go out to you.

April 5, 2015

The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ - Easter Sunday

Commentaries by Dom Gueranger
The Gospel does not relate the apparition thus made by Jesus to his Mother, whereas all the others are fully described. It is not difficult to assign the reason: The other apparitions were intended as proofs of the Resurrection; this, to Mary, was dictated by the tender love borne to her by her Son. Both nature and grace required that His first visit should be to such a Mother, and Christian hearts dwell
with delight on the meditation of the mystery. There was no need of its being mentioned in the Gospel; the Tradition of the Holy Fathers, beginning with St. Ambrose, bears sufficient testimony to it; and even had they been silent, our hearts would have told it to us. And why was it that our Saviour rose from the Tomb so Early on the Day He had fixed for His Resurrection? It was, because His filial love was impatient to satisfy the vehement longings of his dearest and most afflicted Mother.
“He is risen: He is not here!” The Corpse, laid by the hands of them that loved their Lord, on the slab that lies in that cave, is risen; and, without removing the stone that closed the entrance, has gone forth, quickened with a life which can never die. No man has helped Him. No prophet has stood over the dead Body, bidding it return to life. It is Jesus Himself, and by His own power, that has risen. He suffered death, not from necessity, but because He so willed; and again, because He willed, He has delivered Himself from its bondage. O Jesus! Thou, that thus mockest death, art the Lord our God!
We reverently bend our knee before this empty tomb, which is now for ever sacred, because, for a few hours, it was the place of Thy abode. Behold the place where they laid Him! Behold the winding-sheet and bands, which remain to tell the mystery of Thy having once been dead! The Angel says to the women: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified! The recollection makes us weep. Yes, it was but the day before yesterday, that His Body was carried hither, mangled, wounded, bleeding. Here, in this cave, from which the Angel has now rolled back the stone — in this cave, which His presence fills with a more than mid-day brightness — stood the afflicted Mother. It echoed with the sobs of them that were at the burial, John and the two disciples, Magdalene and her companions. The sun sank beneath the horizon, and the first day of Jesus’ burial began. But the prophet had said: “In the evening, weeping shall have place; and in the morning, gladness” (Ps. 29: 6). This glorious, happy morning has come, O Jesus! and great indeed

Regina Coeli - Queen of Heaven
Queen of heaven, rejoice. Alleluia.
For He whom thou didst deserve to bear, Alleluia.
Hath risen as He said, Alleluia.
Pray for us to God, Alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia.
Because Our Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.
Let us pray, O God, who by the resurrection of Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, hast vouchsafed to make glad the whole world, grant, we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

April 4, 2015

Easter Vigil

Commentaries by Dom Gueranger
Blessing the New Fire
The first ceremony consists in the blessing of the new fire, which is to furnish light for the whole service. Our Lord said of Himself, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8: 12). Light, then, is an image of the Son of God. Stone, also, is one of the types under which the Scriptures speak to us of the Messiah. St. Peter, and St. Paul, quoting the words of the prophet Isaiah, speak of Jesus as the Corner-Stone. The spark which is struck from the flint (stone) represents our Lord rising from His rock-hewn Sepulchre, through the stone that had been rolled against it.

Let us also notice, that the putting out of all the lights in the church is a symbol of the abrogation of the old Law, which ended with the rending of the veil of the Temple; and that the new fire represents the preaching of the new Law, whereby our Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, fulfilled all the figures of the ancient Covenant.

The Church also blesses the five grains of incense, which are to be used in the Service. They represent the perfumes prepared by Magdalene and her holy companions for embalming the Body of Jesus, as well as the five Wounds received by our Lord upon the Cross.

The Paschal Candle
The Church has provided a torch, which is to spread its light upon us during the whole of this long vigil. It is of an unusual size. It stands alone, and is of a pillar-like form. It is the symbol of Christ. Before being lighted, its scriptural type is the pillar of a cloud, which hid the Israelites when they went out from Egypt; under this form, it is the figure of our Lord, when lying lifeless in the tomb. When lighted, we must see in it both the pillar of fire which guided the people of God, and the glory of our Jesus risen from His grave.

The Exsultet
The candles are lit from the Paschal candle, to signify that Jesus’ Resurrection was made known gradually. It also tells us that our resurrection is to be a consequence and a likeness of that of our Savior, Who opens to us the way, whereby, after having, like Him, passed through the tomb, we shall enter into life everlasting. Thus begins the singing of the Exultet, from which we learn the joys that await us on this wonderful night.

The Prophecies
The First Lesson (Gen. 1: 1-31, 2: 1-2)
This first lesson speaks to us of the Creation, of the Spirit of God moving over the waters, of the separation of light from darkness, and of man’s being made to the likeness of his God. This work of the Creator had been deranged and spoiled by Satan’s malice. The time has come, when it is to recover all its beauty. The Holy Ghost is about to effect this regeneration by water; Christ, our Light, is going to rise from the darkness of the tomb; the image of God is to reappear in man, for he is to be cleansed by the Blood of his Redeemer, who is the new Adam, come down from Heaven, in order to reinstate in all his rights, the old and earthly Adam.

The Second Lesson (Ex. 14: 24-31, 15: 1)
Here we have the great type of Baptism. The people of God, delivered from Pharaoh's tyranny, are saved by the very water that destroys the Egyptian. The catechumens will come forth from the baptismal font freed from satan’s sway; their sins will perish for ever in its saving waters.

Canticle (Ex. 15:1, 2)
Here the Church sings the canticle of Moses. His sister Mary and the daughters of Israel sang it on the shore of the Red Sea, as they looked upon the dead bodies of the Egyptians.

The Third Lesson (Is. 4: 2-6)
Isaiah, the most sublime of the prophets, here invites our catechumens to come to the waters, that their thirst may be quenched; he tells them of the inheritance which God has in store for them; they need not fear their poverty, for the infinitely rich God will overwhelm them with good things.

Canticle (Is. 5: 1, 2, 7)
The Canticle is taken from the same prophet Isaiah, wherein he foretells the favors to be lavished by Christ on His Church, the vineyard, the object of His loving and ceaseless care.

The Fourth Lesson (Deut. 31: 22-30)
The Holy Church instructs the catechumens, by this lesson, upon the obligation they are about to contract with God. The grace of regeneration is not to be conferred upon them, until they have made a solemn promise that they renounce satan, the enemy of their God. Let them be faithful to their promise, and remember that God is the avenger of every infringement of so solemn a vow.

Canticle (Deut. 32: 1-4)
The Canticle is taken from the sublime canticle sung by Moses, before quitting this earth. The whole assembly of Israel was present, and he put before them, in words of earnest zeal, the chastisements which God exercises against those who break the Covenant He vouchsafes to make with them.

First Part of the Litanies

Blessing of Holy Water & the Renewal of Baptismal Promises
Blessing of Holy Water
The blessing of water for Baptism is a reminder that it is from water that we came forth Christians. The early fathers allude to this, when they call Christians the fish of Christ. We cannot be surprised, after this, that the sight of the element that gave us our Spiritual Life should excite us to joy, or that we should pay to this element an honor, which is referred to the Author of all the graces about to be bestowed.

Psalm (Ps. 41: 2-4)
Following the Prophecies and the blessing of the Baptismal Water, the night is far advanced. The stars are brightly shining in the canopy of Heaven, and the air resounds with the melodious chanting. They are singing those verses of the psalm, in which David compares his soul’s pining after God, to the panting of a stag that thirsts for a fount of water. The stag is a figure of the catechumen who longs for Baptism.

Second part of the Litanies

Oh, Glorious Triumph of our Risen Jesus! The hitherto silent bells peal to the glad angelic hymn. The enthusiasm of our Holy Faith has mastered every heart, making it beat with emotion. The choir takes up the heavenly canticle.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
At this moment all mournfulness is at an end. One feels that God has accepted the expiatory works of our Lent; and that, by the merits of His Son now risen from the grave, He pardons our earth, since He permits us to hear once more the song of Heaven.

But something is still wanting to the joy of our Easter. Jesus has risen from the tomb; but, so far, He has not shown Himself to all. His Blessed Mother, Magdalene, and the other holy women, are the only ones who have as yet seen Him; it is not till the evening, that He will appear to His Apostles.

Commentary on the Gospel
While the choir is singing the Psalm to a melody which has something of a mournfulness about it, the priest goes to the ambo, from which he is to chant the Gospel. The acolytes do not accompany him with their torches, but the thurifer goes with him, as usual, with the incense. Here again we have an allusion to the events which took place on this great morning; the women went to the Sepulchre, carrying sweet spices with them, but the light of Faith in the Resurrection was not as yet in their hearts. The incense signifies their spices; the absence of light signifies their want of Faith.

Holy Saturday

 The Body of Christ lay in the tomb. The world was in darkness. 
Mary was the only light still burning on earth.

Commentaries by Don Gueranger from the Liturgical Year

A night has passed over the tomb, wherein lies buried the Body of the Man-God. Death is triumphant in that silent cave, and holds captive Him that gives life to every creature; but death’s Triumph will soon be at an end. The soldiers may watch, as best they will, over that grave: they cannot hold Jesus prisoner, as soon as the moment fixed for His Resurrection comes.  The Holy Angels are there, profoundly adoring the lifeless Body of Him, Whose Blood is to reconcile all things, both on earth, and in Heaven (Col. 1: 20). This Body, though for a brief interval separated from the Soul, is still united to the Person of the Son of God; so likewise the Soul, during its separation from the Body, has not for an instant lost its union with the Word. The Divinity remains also united with the Blood which lies sprinkled on Calvary, and which, at the moment of the Resurrection of the Man-God, is to enter once more into His Sacred Veins.

Let us also return to the Sepulchre, and adore the Body of our buried Jesus. Now, at last, we understand what sin has done: by sin, death entered into the world, and it passed upon all men (Rom. 5: 12). Though Jesus knew no sin (2 Cor. 5: 21), yet has He permitted death to have dominion over Him, in order that He might make it less bitter to us, and by His Resurrection restore unto us that Eternal Life, of which we had been deprived by sin. How gratefully we should appreciate this death of our Jesus! By becoming Incarnate, He became a servant (Phil. 2: 7); His death has a still deeper
humiliation. The sight of this tomb, wherein His Body lies lifeless and cold, teaches us something far more important than the power of death: it reveals to us the immense, the incomprehensible love of God for man. He knew that we were to gain by His humiliations; the greater His humiliations, the greater our exaltation; this was His principle, and it led Him to what seems like an excess! Let us, then, love this Sacred Sepulchre, which is to give us Life. We have thanked Him for having died for us upon the Cross; let us thank Him, but most feelingly, for having humbled Himself, for our sake,
even to the tomb!

And now let us visit the Holy Mother, who has passed the night in Jerusalem, going over, in saddest memory, the scenes She has witnessed. Her Jesus has been a victim to every possible insult and cruelty; He has been crucified; His Precious Blood has flowed in torrents from those five Wounds; He is dead, and now lies buried in yonder tomb, as though He were a mere man, yea the most abject of men. How many tears have fallen, during these long hours, from the eyes of the Daughter of David!  And yet, Her Son has not come back to Her! Near Her is Magdalene; heart-broken by yesterday’s events, she has no words to tell her grief, for Jesus is gone, and, as she thinks, for ever. The other women, less loved by Jesus than Magdalene, yet most dear to Him, stand around the
disconsolate Mother. They have braved every insult and danger in order to remain on Calvary till all was over and they intend returning thither with Magdalene, as soon as the Sabbath is over, to honor the tomb and the Body of Jesus.

John, the adopted son of Mary, and the beloved disciple of Jesus, is oppressed with sorrow. Others, also, of the Apostles and disciples, visit the house of mourning. Peter, penitent and humble, fears not to appear before the Mother of Mercy.  Among the disciples are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We may easily imagine the conversation: it is on the sufferings and death of Jesus, and on the ingratitude of the Jews. The Church, during Tenebrae, represents these men as saying, “Behold! How the Just One dieth, and there is none that taketh it to heart. Iniquity has had its way. He is silent as a lamb under his shearer, and He opened not His mouth. He was taken away from distress and judgment; but His memory shall be in Peace.”

Thus speak the men; the women are thinking of their morrow’s visit to the Sepulchre. The saintliness of Jesus, His Goodness, His Power, His Sufferings, His Death - everything is remembered, except His Resurrection, which they had often heard Him say should certainly and speedily take place. Mary alone lives in expectation of His Triumph. In Her was verified that expression of the Holy Ghost, where, speaking of the valiant woman, He says, “Her lamp shall not be put out in the night.” (Prov. 31: 18) Her courage fails not, because she knows that the Sepulchre must yield up its Dead, and Her Jesus will rise again to Life. St. Paul tells us that our religion is vain, unless we have Faith in the 
Mystery of our Lord’s Resurrection: where was this Faith on the day after our Lord’s death? In one heart only - and that was Mary’s. As it was Her chaste womb that had held within it, Him whom Heaven and earth cannot contain, so, on this day, by Her firm and unwavering Faith, She resumes within her single self, the whole Church. How sacred is this Saturday, which, notwithstanding all its sadness, is such a day of glory to the Mother of Jesus! It is on this account that the Church has consecrated to Mary the Saturday of every week.
Let us devote a few moments to meditating on the mystery of the three days, during which the Soul of our Redeemer was separated from His Body. Let us follow It to the place where It lives during these hours of separation: In the center of the earth, there are four immense regions, into which no one living can ever enter; it is only by Divine Revelation that we know of their existence. The farthest from us is the hell of the damned, the frightful abode where satan and his demons and the reprobate are suffering eternal torments. It is here that the prince of darkness is ever forming his plots against God and His creatures. Nearer to us, is the limbo wherein are detained the souls of children, who departed this world before being regenerated. The opinion which has met most favor from the Church, is that these souls suffer no torment; and that, although they can never enjoy the beatific vision, yet are they enjoying a natural happiness, and one that is proportionate to their desires. Above the abode of these children, is the place of expiation, where souls that have departed this life in the state of grace cleanse themselves from any stains of lesser sins, or satisfy for the debt of temporal punishment still due to Divine Justice. And lastly, still nearer to us, is the limbo where are kept from Heaven the saints, the Just, who died under the old Law: a countless number of His elect, the fruit of four thousand years of His grace. Here are our first parents, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets; the Just Gentiles, such as that great saint of Arabia, Job; and those holy personages who were closely connected with our Lord, such as Joachim and Anne, the parents of His Blessed Mother, Joseph Her Spouse and His own foster-father, and John His precursor, together with his holy parents Zachary and Elizabeth. Until such time as the Gate of Heaven shall have been opened by the Blood of the Redeemer, none of the Just can ascend thither. The limbo of the Just is not one of torment, beyond that of expectation and captivity. The souls that dwell there are confirmed in grace, and are sure of enjoying, at some future period, an infinite happiness; they resignedly bear this long
banishment, which is a consequence of Adam’s sin; and, as they see the time drawing nigh for their deliverance, their joy is beyond all we can imagine.

The Son of God is to open the Gates of Heaven: hence, His Soul, having been separated from His Body by death, was to descend into the depths of the earth and become a companion with the holy exiles there. What must have been the joy of these countless saints! No sooner did our Jesus breathe His last upon the Cross, than the limbo of the saints was illumined with Heavenly Splendor. The Soul of the Redeemer, united to the Divinity of the Word, descended thither, and changed it from a place of banishment into a very Paradise. Thus did He fulfill the promise He made to the good thief, “This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”

The Soul of our Jesus makes its presence felt also by the just who dwell in the abode of expiation. It mercifully alleviates their sufferings, and shortens their purgatory. Many of them are delivered altogether, and numbered with the saints in limbo, where they spend the forty days, between this and the Ascension, in the happy expectation of ascending to Heaven with their Deliverer.

His Soul does not descend into the hell of satan, but He makes His power felt there. The prince of this world is now forced to bend his knee and humble himself. In this Jesus, Whom he has instigated the Jews to crucify, he now recognizes the Son of God. The cross which he had so exultingly prepared for the Just One, has been his overthrow.

April 3, 2015

Urgent Prayers

Please, please, please pray for our friends, the Worleys, whose 3 year old daughter, Beatrice, (known as Daisy here at Trinity Acres blog) was just diagnosed with stomach cancer,

{snipped from an email}

Little Beatrice has been diagnosed with cancer,  called Neuroblastoma.  They found a malignant tumor in her stomach.  She has been ill for quite sometime, but they didn't find out until last night.  She said that Beatrice was getting skinny, while her tummy got bigger, she had not been eating well and wanted to be carried a lot.  

Beatrice with Kili & Marigold

Remembering Beatrice in our good Friday prayers

Good Friday Prayers
O, my Lord Jesus, I hereby bed of Thee, by the merits of Thy Precious Blood, by Thy Divine Heart, and by the intercession of Thy Most Holy Death to assist me in this pressing necessity.
(revealed to St. Bridget, that if said devoutly 33 times on Good Friday, 33 souls will be released from Purgatory; 3 souls on ordinary Fridays.) 

Prayer for Good Friday
I adore Thee, O Holy Cross, which has been adorned with the tender, delicate, and venerable hands and feet of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and immured with the Precious Blood. I adore Thee, my God, nailed to the Cross for me. I adore Thee again, O Holy Cross, for the love of my Lord and Svior Jesus Christ. Amen.

I pierced those sacred Hands and Feet 
That never touched or walked in sin; 
I broke the heart that only beat 
The souls of sinful men to win.

That sponge of vinegar and gall 
Was placed by me upon His tongue; 
And when derision mocked His call, 
I stood that mocking crowd among.

Good Friday

Strangers have risen up against Me, 
and the mighty have sought after My Soul.

Commentaries by Dom Guarenger

Commentary on the First Lesson
The passage from the prophet Osee tells us of the merciful designs of God in favor of His new people, the Gentiles, who were dead, and who, nevertheless, were to rise again in three days with Christ, whom they do not yet so much as know. Ephraim and Juda are to be treated otherwise; their material sacrifices have not been acceptable to God, Who loves mercy above every other gift, and rejects the offerings of those whose hearts are filled with bitterness.

Commentary on the First Tract
The Tract is taken from the canticle of the prophet Habacuc. It foretells the second coming of Christ, when He shall come in glory and majesty to judge them that have crucified Him.

Commentary on the Collect
The Church sums up, in the Collect, the prayers of her children. She reminds our Heavenly Father of His Justice towards Judas and His Mercy towards the good thief, and begs that every remnant of the old man may be removed from us, and we may rise again with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Commentary on the Second Lesson
The second lesson is taken from the Book of Exodus, and describes to us the ancient rite of the Pashal lamb, which was the figure of the reality that is given us today. It is to be a lamb without spot or blemish. Its blood has the power of preserving from death, those whose dwellings are sprinkled with it. It is not only to be immolated; it is to be the food of the wayfarer; and they who partake of it must stand while they eat, like unto men who have no time to lose during this passing life. Its immolation is the signal of the Pasch; the immolation of our Emmanuel, the Lamb of God, is the signal of our Pasch.

Commentary on the Second Tract
In this Tract, the Church represents our Redeemer (who has been betrayed into the hands of His enemies) praying to His Eternal Father.

Reading of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John

The Great Intercessions
Having thus described to us the Passion and Death of her Divine Spouse, the Church would follow the example set her, by this, the Mediator of the world. St. Paul tells us that Jesus, when dying on the Cross, offered up to His Eternal Father, for all mankind, prayers and supplications, with a strong cry and tears. (Heb. 5: 7) Therefore it is that, from the earliest ages, the Church has presented to the Divine Majesty, upon this day, a solemn formula of prayers, in which she intercedes for the necessities of the whole world. How truly is she the mother of all men, and the affectionate bride of Jesus! All, even the Jews, are included in this her intercession, which she makes, under the shadow of the Cross, to the Father of all ages.

 Adoration of of the Cross
Filled with holy indignation at the humiliations heaped upon Jesus, Holy Mother Church invites the faithful to a solemn act of reparation: it is to consist in venerating the Cross which our Divine Lord has borne to the summit of Calvary, and to which He is to be fastened with nails. The Cross is a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1: 23); but to us Christians it is the trophy of Jesus’ Victory, and the instrument of the world’s redemption. It is worthy of our deepest veneration, because of the honor conferred upon it by the Son of God.

The holy ceremony of venerating the Cross on Good Friday was first instituted in Jerusalem, in the fourth century. Owing to the pious zeal of the empress St. Helen, the True Cross had then recently been discovered, to the immense joy of the whole Church. The faithful were desirous of seeing the precious relic, and accordingly, it was exposed every Good Friday. It was about the seventh century, that the practice of publicly venerating the Cross on Good Friday was introduced into other churches.

By this gradual unveiling of the Cross, Holy Mother Church would express to us the contrast of the Jewish and the Christian view. The one finds nothing in Christ crucified, but shame and ignominy; the other discovers in Him the power and the wisdom of God. Honor, then, and veneration to His Cross, now that the veil is removed by Faith! Unveiled let it be upon our altar, for He that died upon it is soon to triumph by a glorious Resurrection!

The Church is not satisfied with showing her children the Cross that has saved them; she would have them approach, and kiss it. The priest leads the way. He has already taken off his chasuble; he now takes off his shoes also, and then advances towards the place where he has put the Crucifix. He makes three genuflections at intervals, and finally kisses the Cross.

During the veneration of the Cross, the choir sings the “Improperia”, that is, the reproaches made by our Savior to the Jews. Each of the first three stanzas of this plaintive hymn is followed by the Trisagion, or prayer to the thrice-holy God, who, as Man, suffers death for us. Oh! Let us fervently proclaim Him to be the Holy, the Immortal! The rest of this beautiful chant contains the comparison made by our Lord between the favors He has bestowed upon the Jewish people, and the injuries He has received from them in return.
 The holy fathers have noticed a circumstance of the Crucifixion, which expresses how this King of the Jews is, indeed, rejected by His chosen people, but will reign all the more gloriously over the nations of the earth, whom the Father has given to Him for His inheritance. The circumstance we allude to is this: the soldiers, when fixing the Cross in the rock, have so placed it that Jesus has His back to Jerusalem, and is stretching out His arms toward the countries of the west. The Sun of truth is setting on the deicide city, and rising upon the new Jerusalem, that proud Rome, which feels that she is destined to be the eternal city, yet knows not that she is to be so, by the Cross."

The Tree of our Salvation, as it falls into the hole prepared for it, strikes against a tomb: it is that of our first parent. The Blood of the Redeemer flows down the Cross and falls upon a skull: it is the skull of Adam, whose sin has called for this great expiation. In His mercy, the Son of God wills that the instrument wherewith He has gained pardon for the guilty world, should rest amidst the very bones of him that first caused its guilt. Thus is satan confounded: the creation is not, as he has hitherto thought, turned by his artifice to the shame of its Creator. The hill on which is raised the Standard of our Salvation, is called Calvary, which signifies a skull. Here, according to the tradition of the Jews, was buried our first parent, the first sinner. Among the holy fathers of the early ages, who have handed down this interesting tradition to us, we may cite St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, St. Epiphanius, and St. Jerome.
 So vividly is the Church impressed with the remembrance of the great Sacrifice offered today on Calvary, that she refrains from renewing on her altars the immolation of the Divine Victim: she contents herself with partaking of the Sacred Mystery by Communion.
 The soul of the holy Mother is pierced by this cruel spear; and they that are with her redouble their sobs and tears. How is this terrible day to end? Who will take the Body of her Jesus from His Cross? Who will enable her to give it a last embrace? The soldiers return to the city, and with them Longinus, he that pierced Jesus’ side, but is already feeling within himself the workings of that faith for which he is one day to lay down his life as a martyr. But lo! Two other men are seen coming towards the Cross; they are not enemies, they are faithful disciples of Jesus: one is the wealthy counsellor, Joseph of Arimathea; the other is Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews. Mary gratefully
welcomes their arrival: they have come to take the Body of Jesus from the Cross, and give It an honorable burial. They have the requisite authorization, for Pilate has given permission to Joseph to take the Body of Jesus.

They lose no time in doing so, for the sun is near to setting, and then begins the Sabbath. Within a few yards from where stands the Cross, at the foot of the hillock which forms the summit of Calvary, there is a garden, and in this garden a sepulchre cut into the rock. No one has yet been buried in this tomb. It is to be Jesus’ Sepulchre. Hither, Joseph and Nicodemus carry the Sacred Body: they lay It upon a slab of stone, near to the Sepulchre. It is here that Mary receives into her arms the Body of her Jesus: She kisses each wound, and bathes It with her tears. John, Magdalene, and all that are present, compassionate the holy Mother. She resigns It into the hands of the two disciples, for they have but a few moments left. Upon this slab which, even to this day, is called the Stone of the Anointing, and designates the thirteenth station of the Way of the Cross, Joseph unfolds a piece of fine linen (Mark 15: 45), and Nicodemus, whose servants have brought a hundered pound weight of myrrh and aloes (John 19: 39), makes every arrangement for the embalming. They reverently wash the Body, for It is
covered with Blood; they remove the crown of thorns from the Head; and after embalming It with their perfumes, they wrap It in the winding-sheet. Mary gives a last embrace to the remains of her Jesus, Who is now hidden under these swathing-bands of the tomb.

Joseph and Nicodemus take the Body into their arms, and enter the Sepulchre. It is the fourteenth station of the Way of the Cross. It consists of two open cells; it is into the one on the right hand that they enter, and there, in a cavity cut into the side of the rock, they lay the Body of Jesus. They then retire; and, with the assistance of their servants, they close up the entrance of the Sepulchre with a large square stone, which Pilate, at the request of the Jews, orders to be fastened with his own seal, and guarded by a patrol of soldiers.

How, O Most Merciful Redeemer, shall we leave Thy holy Sepulchre, without offering Thee the tribute of our adoration and repentance? Death, which is the consequence of sin, has extended its dominion over Thee, for Thou didst submit Thyself to the sentence pronounced against Thee, and wouldst become like to us even to the humiliation of the tomb. It was Thy love for us, that led to all this! What return can we make Thee? Oh! What a bond of love between us and Thee must result from this Sacrifice of Thy life for us! We promise it upon this tomb, which alas! is the handiwork of our sins. We, too, wish to die to sin, and live in grace. Terrible as that last hour is to nature, our faith tells
us that Thy death has merited for it graces rich enough to make it sweet. So, when our body descends into the tomb, our soul shall confidently mount up to Thee, and there blissfully await the day of the resurrection of the flesh, made pure by the humiliation of the grave.
Thou alone art God, crucified for us, 
Whom the ancient sin had delivered over to death: 
And by Thy Wounds, the countless sins
of all men have been healed. 
O loving, crucified Jesus! 
Put us among Thy redeemed. 
Save us, O loving Goodness! 
Our God! Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost 
reignest, one God for ever, yea for ever and ever.

April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday

Therefore, whosoever shall eat this Bread, 
or drink the Chalice of the Lord unworthily, 
shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord.

Commentaries by Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year
After having rebuked the Christians of Corinth for the abuses into which they had fallen at the feasts (called Agape), which had been introduced by a spirit of fraternal charity but were soon abolished, the Holy Apostle relates the history of the Last Supper. His account, which corresponds throughout with that given by the evangelists, rests upon the testimony of our Blessed Savior Himself, Who deigned to appear to him and instruct him in person, after his conversion. The Apostle does not omit to give the words, whereby our Lord empowered His Apostles to renew what He Himself had done: he tells us that, as often as the priest consecrates the Body and Blood of Christ, he shows the death of the Lord, thus expressing the oneness there is between the Sacrifice of the Cross and that of the Altar. The consequence to be drawn from this teaching is evident; it is contained in these words of the Apostle: “Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of the Chalice.” What could be more just, than that, having to be initiated in so intimate a manner to the Mystery of the Redemption and to contract so close a union with the Divine Victim, we should banish from our hearts sin and affection to sin? “He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and
I in Him,” says our Lord. (John 6: 57) Could there be a closer union? God and man abiding in each other? Oh! How carefully ought we to purify our soul, and render our will conformable to the Will of Jesus, before approaching this Divine Banquet, to which He invites us! Let us beseech Him to prepare us Himself, as He did His Apostles by washing their feet. He will grant us our request, not only today, but as often as we go to Holy Communion, provided we are docile to His grace.
 In the Offertory antiphon, the soul, confiding in the promise made to her by Christ that He will feed her with the Bread of Life, gives way to a transport of joy. She praises her God for this Divine Nourishment, which keeps death from them that eat.

We find this act of humble charity practiced in the ages of persecution, and even later. The acts of the saints of the first six centuries, and the homilies and writings of the holy fathers, are filled with allusions to it. Afterwards, charity grew cold, and this particular way of exercising it was confined, and almost exclusively, to monasteries. Today, in every church of any importance, the prelate, or superior, honors our Savior’s condescension, by the ceremony we call the Washing of the Feet. 

 Our Savior’s washing the feet of His disciples before permitting them to partake of His Divine Mystery, conveys an instruction to us. The Apostle has just been telling us, that we should prove ourselves: and here we have Jesus saying to His disciples: “You are clean. It is true,” He adds: “but not all”: just as the Apostle assures us, that there are some who render themselves guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. God forbid we should ever be of the number! Let us prove ourselves; let us sound the depths of our conscience, before approaching the Holy Table. Mortal sin, and the affection to it, would change the Bread of Life into a deadly poison for our souls. But if respect for the Holiness of God, Who is about to enter within us by Holy Communion, should make us shudder at the thought of receiving Him in the state of mortal sin, which robs the soul of the Image of God and gives her that of satan, ought not that same respect urge us to purify our souls from venial sins, which dim the beauty of grace? “He,” says our Savior, “that is washed needeth not but to wash his feet.” The feet are those earthly attachments, which so often lead us to the brink of sin. Let us watch over our senses, and the affections of our hearts. Let us wash away these stains by a sincere confession, by penance, by sorrow, and by humility; that thus we may worthily receive the adorable Sacrament, and derive from it the fullness of its power and grace.
 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: “My Soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with Me.” (Matt. 26: 38)

He leaves them, and goes to a grotto, which is about a stone’s throw distant. There does our Jesus prostrate Himself and pray, saying: “Father! All things are possible to Thee. Remove this chalice from Me: but not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” (Mark 14: 36) While He was thus praying, a sweat of Blood flows from His Body and bathes the ground. It is an agony, that He suffers. God sends help to His sinking frame. 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. 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!” (Luke 22: 42)

Jesus then rises, leaving the earth covered with the Blood of His Agony; it is the first blood-shedding 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?: (Matt 26: 40) This is 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.” (Matt 26: 45, 46)

While He is 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?” (Luke 22: 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. Jesus says to them with all the majesty of a King, “If you see 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 your hands against Me; but this is your hour, and the 
power of darkness.” Then turning to Peter, who has drawn and used his sword, He says to him, “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?” (Matthew 26: 53-54)

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 the torrent in the way.” (Ps. 59: 7)

They reach the city walls. The gate is opened, and the Divine Prisoner enters. The enemies of Jesus have arranged to take Him, in the morning, to Pontius Pilate. 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 most sublime 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.