Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Tuesday of Passion Week: “the Jews sought to kill Him”

By His own example when persecuted our Lord instructs us as to how to conduct ourselves in times of persecution. 

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John

John 7:1-13 
At that time: Jesus walked in Galilee; for he would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. And so on.

Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.
28th Tract on John 
In this chapter of the Gospel, my brethren, our Lord Jesus Christ hath much commended Himself unto our faith, as touching His Manhood. At the same time, His words and works were alway such as to give us to believe that He is both God and Man, yea, that God Who made us, and that Man Who hath sought us, yea, God the Son, Who, as touching His Godhead, is alway with the Father, John i. 18; iii. 13, and, as touching His Manhood, hath been with us in time. Matth. i. 23. For He had not sought the work of His hands unless He had been made His own work. John i. 14. Keep this well in mind, and let your hearts never forget it, namely, that Christ was not made Man so as to cease to be God. He, Who made the Manhood, took It into that Godhead Which is His from everlasting to everlasting.

While therefore He lay hid in the Manhood, we must not think that He had suffered any lessening of power, but that He was giving example to our weakness. When He willed it, He was taken; when He willed it, He was put to death. John x. 18. But, since He was to have members, that is, His faithful people, who would not have that power over their lives which He, our God, had over His, He hid Himself, He concealed Himself, as if it were to escape being put to death, to show what should be done by those His members in whom He should dwell.
Christ is not the Head of His Church in such sense that He is not in her Body; but the whole Christ is in the Head, and the whole Christ is in the Body. That, then, which His members are is Himself, though That Which He is, That are not therefore His members. For if His members had not been indeed His Own, how had He said unto Saul, Acts ix. 4: Why persecutest thou Me? since Saul was not persecuting Him in Himself, but in His members, that is, in His faithful ones which were upon earth. He said not: Why persecutest thou My holy ones, nor: My servants, no, nor yet called He them by that more honourable name “My brethren”, but, “Why persecutest thou Me?”; that is, the members of My Body, whose Head I am.

Friday, March 24, 2023

The liturgical meaning of Passion Sunday

Image: An ancient mosaic in the Ravenna basilica depicting a crux gemmata, "jeweled cross".

Why will statues in churches be veiled starting this Sunday? Why is this Day of the Lord referred to as "Passion Sunday" and how does it serve as the gateway into Passiontide?

Nothing better to grasp the spirit of the Church than to turn to the liturgical texts. This is most true of Passiontide and Holy Week. The Church’s Year of Grace of Dr. Pius Parsch offers a few points of interest.
  • As the Church enters the period of mourning the divine Bridegroom, she puts on the widow’s garments. The commemoration of Christ’s suffering is expressed in various ways.
  • The last remaining traces of joy are eliminated: the Gloria Patri of the Introit, Lavabo and Breviary responsories. The omission of Psalm 42 at the foot of the altar, as in the Requiem Masses.
  • The prayers and readings relate the theme of suffering to that of baptism. A favorite contrast, the pagan Ninivites (catechumens) do penance while the Jews plan to kill Jesus. Jeremias, a type of Christ, laments over the Jews "who perfidiously leave their Lord, the fountain of living water."
  • One of the most striking changes in the Passiontide is that the crosses and statues are draped, as an outward sign of the Church’s inward sorrow. It is not difficult to understand why the wailing garments are placed over the statues, which could distract us from the meditations of the Passion.

It is however quite enigmatic for the Christians today to understand why the crosses have to be veiled. Why is not the sorrowful Crucifix visible to our eyes so as to draw tears of devotion? Just the contrary would be more intelligible.

In fact, this veiling of the Cross is a relic from an ancient practice. When crosses, without the corpus, shone glorious with gold and precious stones (the crux gemmata), there was deep meaning in the practice of veiling their brilliance during the days when the Bridegroom was taken away. The Church was putting on the widow’s weeds.

This tiny detail is a clear symbol of a very different approach between ancient and modern Christianity. Today, popular piety proceeds to review Holy Week historically; it pictures with great fidelity the various scenes of the "bitter passion," it dissects all the feelings and thoughts of our suffering Savior, it analyzes the virtues displayed by the Lord at every step. "How shall I imitate Him… what can I learn from Him?" are its most important questions. Suffering is the great motive for amendment: "He died on the Cross for me, and I have offended Him so deeply."

The ancient Christians followed a different course. Of course, it also put Christ’s suffering up front but it was aiming too at the purpose of the Passion. By His suffering, Christ redeemed us and made us children of God. And, on what apparently is the most tragic day of the whole year, on Good Friday, we lift our voices in jubilant song: "See, because of this wood joy has come into the whole world!" The early Christians were not so eager to speak of the bitter passion as of the beata passio, the happy or blessed passion.

Perhaps a harmonious blending of the two mindsets is achieved on Good Friday. On that day of the great Sacrifice of the High Priest, the Church abstains from offering the divine sacrifice: instead of the divine Action, the liturgy is mostly commemorative and historical. Yet, with this initial meditation of the historical passion of Our Lord, as the ceremony progresses, it has us rejoice before the unveiled cross, presented as the glorious trophy with the Redeemer having fulfilled His mission. The rite ends with a glorious, joyful song to the Cross, to the Lord’s resurrection:

Thy Cross, Lord, we adore!
We praise and acclaim Thy holy resurrection.
Behold, through the wood of the Cross
Joy has come into the whole world.

Source: "Friends of Tradition"

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Saint Simon of Trent


March 24th 2023, the 2nd day of the Moon, were born into the better life:  


At Trent, the holy child Simeon, most cruelly murdered by the Jews, and who afterwards shone with many miracles, [in the year 1475.] 

- Roman martyrology 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Fourth Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday)

 The Multiplication of Loaves

The Introit, Communion and Tract speak to us of Jerusalem compared to Mount Sinai by St. Paul in the Epistle for today. There, will the Christian people best raise their song of joy:

This song of joy is "Laetare" (Introit, Epistle) on account of the victory won by our Lord on the cross at Jerusalem, and there most easily, will be roused the memory of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose gates have been opened to us by the death of Christ.

It is for this reason, that formerly on this day, it was the custom […] solemnly to bless a rose, the queen of flowers. For, as we are reminded by the forms used for the blessing, in the traditional practice of Christian iconography, heaven is usually represented by a garden beautiful with flowers. For this blessing rose-colored vestments were used, and on this day a priest may celebrate Mass and Office in vestments of this color. Hence this custom was extended to the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete or "rejoicing" Sunday... And in its turn Laetare, also "rejoicing" Sunday, is a halting place in the midst of the Lenten observance.

"Rejoice, rejoice with joy," we are told in the Introit, for having died to sin with our Lord during Lent, we are shortly to rise with Him by the Paschal confession and communion. The Gospel speaks at one and the same time of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, symbols of the Eucharist and of Baptism, which were formerly received on the same occasion at Easter, and in the Epistle allusion is made to our deliverance by the sacrament of Baptism, which the catechumens formerly received at this season. And if we have had the misfortune to grievously offend almighty God, we shall recover our freedom by means of our Easter confession.

Source: Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, OSB, 1945, adapted and abridged.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, intercede for re-paganized Ireland

 Patrick, called the Apostle of Ireland, was born in Great Britain. The name of his father was Calphurnius, and that of his mother Conchessa. She is said to have been a relation of St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. When Patrick was a lad, he was several times taken prisoner by savages, and while being in their hands he was employed as a shepherd, he already showed marks of his saintliness to come. His spirit was filled with faith, and love, and fear of God, so that he would rise before the light, in snow, and frost, and rain, to make his prayers to God, being accustomed to address God in prayer an hundred times every day, and an hundred times every night. After being rescued from his third captivity, he was placed among the clergy, and for a long time exercised himself in sacred learning. To this end he travelled with much labour, through Gaul, Italy, and the islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, but at last being called of God to work for the salvation of the Irish, and, having received from the Blessed Pope Celestine a commission to preach the gospel, and likewise being consecrated a Bishop, he betook himself to Ireland.

Deus, qui ad prædicándam géntibus glóriam tuam beátum Patrícium Confessórem atque Pontíficem míttere dignátus es: eius méritis et intercessióne concéde; ut, quæ nobis agénda prǽcipis, te miseránte adimplére possímus.
Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.
℟. Amen. 

Let us pray.
O God, Who didst send forth thy Blessed Confessor and Bishop Patrick to preach thy glory among the Gentiles, mercifully grant unto us, for his sake and at his petition, whatsoever Thou commandest us to do, to have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
℟. Amen.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Wednesday, Lent III: You “pass over the commandments of God, in order to keep to the traditions of men.”

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

Matt 15:1-20 
At that time, scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying: Why do thy disciples trangress the tradition of the ancients? And so on.

Homily by St. Jerome, Priest at Bethlehem.
Bk. ii Comm. on Matth. xv 
The stupidity of the Pharisees and Scribes is something extraordinary. They rebuke the Son of God because He doth not observe the traditions and commandments of men for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. It behoveth us to cleanse, not the hands of the body, but the hands of the soul, namely, our works, that we may do the commandments of God. But He answered and said unto them Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? He meeteth here their false accusation by a true. “How,” saith He, “do ye, who pass over the commandments of God, in order to keep to the traditions of men, hold that My disciples are to be rebuked, because they deem the tradition of the elders of little moment in comparison with the doing of what they know to be the Laws of God?”

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Tuesday, Lent III: “ if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him”

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

Matt 18:15-22 
At that time, Jesus saith to his disciples: “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone.” And so on.

Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.
16th Sermon on the Words of the Lord, vol. x 
Why tell him his fault? Because he hath made thee smart by trespassing against thee? God forbid. If thou tell him his fault because thou lovest thyself, thou dost nothing. But if thou tell it him because thou lovest him, then dost thou do exceeding well. Hear now, in the words of the Gospel itself, for love of whom, thou oughtest to do it, of thyself, or of him. The Lord saith: If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Therefore it behoveth thee to do it for his sake, that thou mayest gain him; since, if thou so do, haply thou mayest gain him; whereas, if thou do it not, he may haply perish. Why then are there so many who reckon lightly of a trespass against their brother, and say I have done no great offence, for I have trespassed only against my fellow man? Deem it not light; thou hast trespassed, though it be against thy fellow man….

Therefore let no man deem it a light thing when he trespasseth against his brother. For the Apostle Paul saith in a certain place: When ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 1 Cor. viii. 12. We are all members of Christ. How dost thou not trespass against Christ, which trespassest against one of His members?