Category Archives: Lent

Holy Saturday. The King is Asleep.

Sabbato Sancto


“On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on his Descent into Hell, awaiting his Resurrection.” The altar is bare “until after the Solemn Vigil, that is, the anticipation by the night of the Resurrection, when the time comes for paschal joys, the abundance which overflows” through the 50 days of Paschaltide. 

These words of the Roman Missal set the tone for Holy Saturday, which has the special character of an even deeper silence of soul. The church exhorts to preserve in the paschal fast on into the night but it is now a festive fast anticipating the Easter vigil in the Holy Night. The Easter Vigil is the premier celebration of the Resurrection.

How do we prepare ourselves?   The Office of Readings and Morning Prayer  are beneficial. There are books and apps for smartphones for this, but here is a link for a site where you can read or listen to the prayers. Choose the tab for Office of Readings or Morning Prayer.

As Nocent points out in his book The Liturgical Year that even as we meditate on the Lord’s repose in the tomb we are impatient to assemble at the vigil in the holy Night to proclaim the Resurrection.

 

The Sorrowful Mother

640px-Descente_de_croix_du_retable_Stauffenberg_(_détail_),_oeuvre_du_Maître_du_retable_de_Stauffenberg,_actif_au_15ème_siècle_(Musée_d'Unterlinden,_Colmar)On Holy Saturday, there is an image of the Sorrowful Mother in accord with the tradition. The Mother of God, as she waits near the tomb is an icon of the church who keeps vigil at the tomb of her Spouse awaiting the celebration of the resurrection at the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night. At the altar of the Mother of God there will be booklets for the devotion to the Sorrowful Mother. The church is empty as she awaits to be filled with the radiance of the Risen Christ and the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night.

From the Liturgy of the Hours of the Day, the Second Reading:

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

The Lord descends into hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Holy Saturday

Sabbato Sancto

“On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on his Descent into Hell, awaiting his Resurrection.” The altar is bare “until after the Solemn Vigil, that is, the anticipation by the night of the Resurrection, when the time comes for paschal joys, the abundance which overflows” through the 50 days of Paschaltide. 

These words of the Roman Missal set the tone for Holy Saturday, which has the special character of an even deeper silence of soul. The church exhorts to preserve in the paschal fast on into the night but it is now a festive fast anticipating the Easter vigil in the Holy Night. The Easter Vigil is the premier celebration of the Resurrection.

How do we prepare ourselves?   The Office of Readings and Morning Prayer  are beneficial. There are books and apps for smartphones for this, but here is a link for a site where you can read or listen to the prayers. Choose the tab for Office of Readings or Morning Prayer.

As Nocent points out in his book The Liturgical Year that even as we meditate on the Lord’s repose in the tomb we are impatient to assemble at the vigil in the holy Night to proclaim the Resurrection.

 

The Sorrowful Mother

640px-Descente_de_croix_du_retable_Stauffenberg_(_détail_),_oeuvre_du_Maître_du_retable_de_Stauffenberg,_actif_au_15ème_siècle_(Musée_d'Unterlinden,_Colmar)On Holy Saturday, there is an image of the Sorrowful Mother in accord with the tradition. The Mother of God, as she waits near the tomb is an icon of the church who keeps vigil at the tomb of her Spouse awaiting the celebration of the resurrection at the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night. At the altar of the Mother of God there will be booklets for the devotion to the Sorrowful Mother. The church is empty as she awaits to be filled with the radiance of the Risen Christ and the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night.

From the Liturgy of the Hours of the Day, the Second Reading:

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

The Lord descends into hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Celebration of the Passion of the Lord

Celebratio Passionis Domini

The Liturgy of this day is marked with bold simplicity and austerity of sight and sound. In fact the church in accord with ancient tradition does not celebrate the sacraments at all except anointing of the sick and penance.

When you enter into the church it will be completely bare.  The altar that was stripped the night before is completely bare: without a cross, without candles and without clothes. Why? The church is bare so the words of the Gospel tract resonate deeply:

Christus factus est pro nobis obœdiens usque ad mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltávit illum: et dedit illi nomen quod est super omne nomen.
Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name. – Phil 2:8-9

The church gathers at three o’clock. Why? This is the hour the Lord handed over his spirit and died.

The priest will approach the altar in silence and make a solemn prostration, and he prays, omitting the invitation “Let us Pray.” Why ? Once again the austerity and silence point out the bold simplicity with which we commemorate the Passion of the Lord.

The priest according to the Roman Missal is to remove his shoes for the Adoration. Why? It reminds us that our adoration is a penitential procession during which we bring all our sins to the cross to proclaim the mercy of God incarnate in Jesus. In the early days of the Roman Church the Pope on Good Friday would walk barefoot through the streets of Rome from the Lateran to the church of the Holy Cross and there he would adore the cross.

We come and adore the Cross by a simple genuflection and another sign of veneration such as a kiss. Why? Egeria narrates that in the fourth century in Jerusalem, the people would pass one by one and bow down and kiss the cross.

The celebration of the Lord’s Passion is very simple and thus preparation is of utmost importance. The church invites us to sustain the Paschal Fast so may we be sparse in the food we take and restrained in the words we speak, and be so bold as not to even turn on the TV or radio or even be concerned about the news, because the world as we know it is passing away. Today let us lay aside all earthly cares and focus on Jesus.  Consider praying the Office of Readings and the Morning Prayer of the church. Read the readings and prescribed chant of the Solemn Commemoration. All these efforts that require intention and perseverance ready us to adore the Cross of the Savior through whom we have forgiveness of sins through no merit of our own.

 

The Solemn Celebration

The commemoration of the Passion of the Lord consists of three parts, namely, the Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Cross and Holy Communion. The priest enters the church in silence and following ancient Roman practice makes a solemn prostration before the altar. Everyone kneels in silent prayer.  The readings prescribed are Is. 52:13-53:12, Ps. 31:2,6,12-13,15-16,17,25; Heb. 4:14-16;5:7-9; and Jn. 18:1-19:42, and the Passion according to Saint John is proclaimed. The Lord addresses us in the proclamation of the Word and then we who have been transformed by that proclamation offer ten Solemn Intercessions.

The second part of the Liturgy is the Adoration of the Holy Cross. Once again Egeria, the fourth century pilgrim to Jerusalem is our first witness to this custom. The Deacon accompanied by the ministers with lighted candles goes to the front door of the church.  The cross is veiled and is carried through the church to the altar.   The priest uncovers a little of its upper part and elevates it while beginning the chant:

Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pepéndit.
Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.

To which the people respond:  Venite adoremus.

At the end of the singing . all kneel and for a brief moment adore in silence. The priest then uncovers the right arm of the cross and chants: Ecce Lignum and then finally uncovers the entire cross entirely and chants once again Ecce Lignum.

Venerating the CrossAfter the priest has  venerated the cross, all follow in a procession to show reverence to the cross.

During the adoration, the Improperia are joined to the Trisagion, a practice that can be found as early as the ninth century.  The Trisagion:

Holy is God, Holy and Strong, Holy and living forever!

has been chanted each Lenten Sunday before the Gospel and it culminates on this day. The church chants the Trisagion in Greek and Latin on this day.

Hagios o Theos, Sanctus Deus, Holy is God,
Hagios Ischyros, Sanctus Fortis, Holy and Mighty,
Hagios Athanatos, eleison himas. Sanctus immortális, miserére nobis. Holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us.

Imbedded in the Missal are beautiful chants that express our faith so beautifully and merit contemplation.  For example the Crucem Tuam inspired from the Byzantine tradition:

Crucem tuam adoramus Domine,
resurrectionem tuam laudamus Domine.
Laudamus et glorificamus.
resurrectionem tuam laudamus Domine.

We adore your Cross, O Lord,
we praise and glorify your holy Resurrection,
for behold, because of the wood of a tree
joy has come to the whole world.

then there is the beautiful Crux Fidelis.

 

After the adoration is completed, the altar is prepared for the third part of the Liturgy, holy communion.  This communion on Good Friday of our union with Our Lord in his glorious passion. So at the end of this solemn commemoration we bow our heads and the priest prays:

May abundant blessing, O Lord, we pray,
descend upon your people,
who have honored the Death of your Son
in the hope of their resurrection:
may pardon come,
comfort be given,
holy faith increase,
and everlasting redemption be made secure.
Through Christ our Lord.

For an amazing view of what Christ perhaps saw from the Cross, please see Monsignor Lane’s blog post, A Blessed Good Friday.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The Last Supper. Fresco by Ghirlandaio, in San Marco, in Venice.

The Last Supper. Fresco by Ghirlandaio, in San Marco, in Venice.

To think of a three-day commemoration of the death of the Lord, his repose in the tomb and his resurrection, when it has become commonplace to speak of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday takes a little adjustment in our minds on how to calculate the time in such a way that we see the unity of the Triduum, and not disconnected celebrations. One way to see the unity of the Triduum is to calculate time from sunset to sunset. From the sunset on Thursday to the sunset on Friday is one day, the first day of the Triduum: the day of the death of the Lord. This helps us to see our celebration in the context of Saint Augustine who sees the three days as Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Adrian Nocent in his book The Liturgical Year points out that “in anticipation of the Eucharist celebration that will be the climax of the Paschal Vigil, the Church reminds us on Holy Thursday evening of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.” The sacrament makes really present in time and space the one sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and his victory over death through his Resurrection.

The Collect points out a great mystery in that Christ is already celebrating at the Last supper, something that will take place only later on. As Nocent says, the Supper was truly a rendering present of what was going to happen later on the Cross. “Thus the Last Supper and our celebration of the Eucharist are alike in that they actualize the Good Friday event; they differ in that the Supper actualized what was yet to come, while our Eucharist actualize an event now past.”

Be attentive to the various signs and rituals of the Mass that point out he uniqueness of this night.

    • First of all there will be no holy water in the font. Why? The fonts are waiting to be filled with the Easter water to be blessed at the Great Vigil.
    • The tabernacle will be open and emptied with no sanctuary lamp lit. Why? These signs point once again to the Great Vigil when the sanctuary lamp will be lit from the newly-blessed Paschal Candle on the night all things are made new.
    • Bells are rung during the Gloria. Why? Because the bells await to be rung at the Gloria in excelsis at the Great Vigil. Even the organ may only be used to support singing and then with great restraint until the Gloria at the Great Vigil.
    • At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the signs and rituals are already pointing us to the Great Vigil of Easter, the premier Liturgy of the ancient Christian Church. The priest will not give a blessing at the end of Mass. Why? Once again it points the Great Vigil when he will conclude the Mass with the priestly blessing.

All these simple signs and gestures points out that on Thursday evening we begin a Liturgy that extends over the three days and concludes with the blessing at the Great Vigil.

  • After Mass even all the crosses are removed from the church and if they cannot be removed they are to be veiled. Why? To prepare us to receive the cross into the church for our adoration on Good Friday.

All the signs and symbols continue to move us forward and ever more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of which the Introit proclaims:

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.

This text from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians keeps the unity of the Paschal Triduum in clear focus. We should GLORY! in the cross of Christ who was obedient unto death that God raised him on high to draw us into union with him.

The church calls us to ponder many mysteries this evening, namely the institution of the Eucharist and of the priestly order and the commandment of the Lord concerning fraternal charity. This invitation to charity is reflected in the prescribed hymn for the evening: Ubi Caritas (text, music) and the Mandatum, that is the washing of the feet. This ritual can be traced by to Jerusalem as early as the fifth century. This gesture is oriented to Christ who took the part of the servant of which the prophet Isaiah (53:11) speaks and a prophecy that will be proclaimed at the Good Friday Liturgy:

Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

The church offers such a rich fare of readings that we can derive even greater spiritual benefit if we read them in the context of the prayers and ponder them before we come to the Church.
http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/roman_missal/readings/Ex12;1-8,11-14.htm
http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/roman_missal/responsorialpsalms/116;12-13,15-16bc,17-18.htm
http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/roman_missal/readings/1Cor11;23-26.htm
http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/roman_missal/readings/Jn13;1-15.htm

  • Most striking this evening is the transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament to the altar of the Mother of God accompanied by the chant Pange Lingua ( music, text ) for adoration until Midnight.  Why Adoration?  Through adoration we are drawn into a deeper union with Our Lord.

Even if you cannot remain until Midnight, you can continue to remain in prayer and keep watch with Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. A wonderful way to keep watch is to to read what Our Lord spoke to his apostles and the Last supper as they walked to Gethsemane. Begin to read at John 13:16 and continue to read to John 18:1 where the Passion account to be read at Good Friday will begin.  As we approach the Adoration of the Cross at 3 pm on Friday, may the words of the Introit of the Mass echo in our minds and hearts:

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.

Try to maintain a spirit of reflection and adoration in your homes this evening. Refrain from TV or radio and minimize social media so this night can be a night to wait and watch with the Lord until midnight when the Lord is taken and his trial begins through the night.

in med

In medieval times it was thought that a mother pelican, in a time of famine, would pierce her own breasts to feed and sustain her chicks with her own blood. Thus the pelican is a symbol of Christ, who shed his blood so that we would live.

Spy Wednesday

The Betrayal of Jesus. From a fresco in Bulgaria.

The Betrayal of Jesus. From a fresco in Bulgaria.

Third Song of the Suffering Servant
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled, have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together.
Who disputes my right? Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?
Is.50:4-9a

Tuesday of Holy Week

From Great Saint Martin church in Cologne.

Second Song of the Suffering Servant
Hear me, coastlands, listen, distant peoples.
Before birth the LORD called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword, concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow, in his quiver he hid me.

He said to me, You are my servant, in you, Israel, I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength!

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Is. 492:1-6

Monday of Holy Week

In the Kaiserdom, Frankfurt.

In the Kaiserdom, Frankfurt.

First Song of the Suffering Servant
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased.
Upon him I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry out, nor shout, nor make his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.
He will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not grow dim or be bruised until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and its produce,
Who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it:

I, the LORD, have called you for justice, I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
Is. 42:1-7

The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem

The Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem. A fresco from Bulgaria.

On Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, the church gathers throughout the whole world to recall the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem to proclaim Hosanna to the Son Of David! After we hear the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord’s entrance from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 21], we unite our voices with jubilant voices of the children of the Hebrews who spread garments on the road.

As we wave our branches in the air and proclaim Jesus is Lord, we recognize that we are called to, in the words of St. Andrew of Crete, “spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.”

This Sunday marks in the words of the exhortation of the Liturgy, we have since Ash Wednesday prepared our hearts for a fruitful celebration of the paschal mystery, this:

Therefore, with all faith and devotion,
let us commemorate
the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation,
following his footsteps,
so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,
we may also have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.

Our simple and bold procession affirms the unity of faith in that we learn from the diary of Egeria, a nun and a pilgrim of the late 4th century, that “Christians in Jerusalem used to gather in the early afternoon on the Mount of Olives for a lengthy liturgy of the word. Then, toward evening, they would go in procession into Jerusalem, carrying palm branches or olive branches.” As for the hymn we sing, Bishop Theodulph of Orleans (d. 821) composed Gloria Laus et Honor, which we sing in translation today, “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” which has this beautiful verse, “To Thee, before Thy passion, They sang their hymns of praise; To Thee, now high exalted, Our melody we raise.”

The hymn commemorates joy, and we have the jubilant incensation of the altar; but the tone quickly changes from jubilation to sober reality: the Messiah must suffer and die. We go straightaway into the first reading from Isaiah, one of the Songs of the Suffering Servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me.” [Isaiah 50:4-7] The suffering servant songs can be the core of our Holy Week meditation: Palm Sunday: Isaiah 50:4-7, Monday: Isaiah 42:1-7, Tuesday: Isaiah 49:1-6, Wednesday: Isaiah 50:4-9, culminating with the final Servant Song on Good Friday, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The ancient prophecies set forth that the Messiah must suffer and die, a Messiah who in words of the second reading from Philippians, “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christus Factus est, as the cantor chants before the proclamation of the Passion, a proclamation with neither candles nor incense, only setting forth that our salvation has been purchased with the costly shedding of the blood of Christ. When Jesus cries out in a loud voice and hands over his spirit we kneel to humble ourselves before so great a mystery.

As we leave we take palms home. James Monti in his book, “The Week of Salvation,” says the palms are “a tangible reminder of the mysteries they [the people] have commemorated in union with the whole Church on this day. Throughout the upcoming week these palms will serve to direct their hearts and minds to the unfolding of the Paschal Mystery, from the Last Supper to the cross and onward to the empty tomb of Easter morning.”

The palms you carried today are now sacramentals. You may wish to place them behind a crucifix on the wall, or weave them into a small cross. As you see them this holy week, remember that we must follow our Lord’s footsteps. Let us pray in the words of the prayer after Communion today, “so by his Resurrection you may lead us to where you call.”

Holy Week is rich in music as well. At this link is a collection of videos of music for Holy Week.