Tag Archives: Lent

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.

Stabat Mater

May we ponder the mystery of the sorrowful mother who embraces her Son with tender mercy.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:
Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
pœnas mecum divide.
Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.
Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:
Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.
Virgo virginum præclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.
Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;
Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.
Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Lord, It Is For You That I Wait

A priest, in Addis Ababa.

The 7 Penitential Psalms set forth the meaning of the season of Lent which invites us to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Psalm 38

A psalm of David. For remembrance.

LORD, do not punish me in your anger;
in your wrath do not chastise me!

Your arrows have sunk deep in me;
your hand has come down upon me.

There is no wholesomeness in my flesh because of your anger;
there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

My iniquities overwhelm me,
a burden too heavy for me.

Foul and festering are my sores
because of my folly.

I am stooped and deeply bowed;
every day I go about mourning.

My loins burn with fever;
there is no wholesomeness in my flesh.

I am numb and utterly crushed;
I wail with anguish of heart.

My Lord, my deepest yearning is before you;
my groaning is not hidden from you.

My heart shudders, my strength forsakes me;
the very light of my eyes has failed.

Friends and companions shun my disease;
my neighbors stand far off.

Those who seek my life lay snares for me;
they seek my misfortune, they speak of ruin;
they plot treachery every day.

But I am like the deaf, hearing nothing,
like the mute, I do not open my mouth,

I am even like someone who does not hear,
who has no answer ready.

LORD, it is for you that I wait;
O Lord, my God, you respond.

For I have said that they would gloat over me,
exult over me if I stumble.

I am very near to falling;
my wounds are with me always.

I acknowledge my guilt
and grieve over my sin.

My enemies live and grow strong,
those who hate me grow numerous fraudulently,

Repaying me evil for good,
accusing me for pursuing good.

Do not forsake me, O LORD;
my God, be not far from me!

Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my salvation!

Ps 37, Domine Ne in Furore, A. Gabrieli

Stabat Mater

The fresco by Fra Angelico is one of those painted on the walls of the monastery cells in San Marco in Florence.

On Fridays walk the way of the Cross with the Sorrowful Mother accompanying her son Jesus to the Cross.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

The fresco shown above is a detail of this large crucifixion scene (click to enlarge).

The LORD Looked Down from the Holy Heights

In Ethiopia, a woman prays.

In Ethiopia, a woman prays at an outdoor shrine.

The 7 Penitential Psalms set forth the meaning of the season of Lent which invites us to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Psalm 102

The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the LORD.

LORD, hear my prayer; let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn away as in a furnace.
My heart is withered, dried up like grass, too wasted to eat my food.
From my loud groaning I become just skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and moan, like a lone sparrow on the roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me; in their rage, they make my name a curse.
I eat ashes like bread, mingle my drink with tears.
Because of your furious wrath, you lifted me up just to cast me down.
My days are like a lengthening shadow; I wither like the grass.

But you, LORD, are enthroned forever; your renown is for all generations.
You will again show mercy to Zion; now is the time for pity;
the appointed time has come.
Its stones are dear to your servants; its dust moves them to pity.
The nations shall fear your name, LORD, all the kings of the earth, your glory,
Once the LORD has rebuilt Zion and appeared in glory,
Heeding the plea of the lowly, not scorning their prayer.
Let this be written for the next generation, for a people not yet born,
that they may praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from the holy heights, viewed the earth from heaven,
To attend to the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.”
Then the LORD’s name will be declared on Zion, his praise in Jerusalem,
When peoples and kingdoms gather to serve the LORD.

He has shattered my strength in mid-course, has cut short my days.
I plead, O my God, do not take me in the midst of my days.
Your years last through all generations.
Of old you laid the earth’s foundations; the heavens are the work of your hands.
They perish, but you remain; they all wear out like a garment;
Like clothing you change them and they are changed,
but you are the same, your years have no end.
May the children of your servants live on;
may their descendants live in your presence.

Psalm 102 in a setting by Alexander Archangelsk (1846-1924).

Laetare, Ierusalem


Laetare, Ierusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam:
gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis:
ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.
Be joyful, all who were in mourning;
exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.

Stabat Mater

The fresco by Fra Angelico is one of those painted on the walls of the monastery cells in San Marco in Florence.

The fresco by Fra Angelico is one of those painted on the walls of the monastery cells in San Marco in Florence.

On Fridays walk the way of the Cross with the Sorrowful Mother accompanying her son Jesus to the Cross.

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

Follow the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem in this video.

Blessed… In Whose Spirit There Is No Deceit

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this man was sitting on the curb outside the church, following the prayers of the Mass. The Mass is broadcast into the streets so you can follow the prayers,

The 7 Penitential Psalms set forth the meaning of the season of Lent which invites us to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Psalm 32

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to thee,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my trangressions to the Lord”;
then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. Selah
Therefore let every one who is godly
offer prayer to thee;
at a time of distress, in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
Thou art a hiding place for me,
thou preservest me from trouble;
thou dost encompass me with deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not keep with you.
Many are the pangs of the wicked;
but steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Sunday Afterwords: Peter’s Denial

This reflection from Prof René Girard offers acute observations on Peter’s denial and the mob.

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Matthew 26:69-75