Sunday, March 27, 2005

Christ has been raised from the dead

the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead
came also through a human being.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming,
those who belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23

If, each year, we are faithful

in sharing in Christ’s sufferings
during Lent and Holy Week,
each year, too, the celebration of Easter,
the contemplation of the glory
of Jesus triumphant over death,
makes us participate
more fruitfully and more abundantly
in the state of Our Risen Lord;

it increases our detachment
from all that is not God,
and, by grace, faith and love,
it makes the divine life grow within us.

At the same time, it enlivens our hope:
for, says St. Paul, when at the last day Christ,
Who is our Life and our Head, shall appear,
then we also, because we share in His life,
“shall appear with Him in glory" (Apoc. XXI, 4):
Cum Christus apparuerit VITA VESTRA,
tunc et vos apparebitis
CUM IPSO IN gloria
(Col. III, 4).

This hope fills us with joy,
and it is because the mystery of Easter,
being a mystery of life,
strengthens our hope,
that it is also super-eminently
a mystery of joy.

Christ in His Mysteries,
Si Consurrexistis cum Christo
Blessed Columba Marmion

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I sought him

whom my heart loves-

I sought him
but I did not find him.

I will rise then
and go about the city;

in the streets and crossings
I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.

I sought him
but I did not find him.
Song of Songs 3:1b-2

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:

'Dominus vobiscum.'

"Christ answered him:

'Et cum spiritu tuo.'

"Christ took Adam 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.'"

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday
(Office of the Readings)

Friday, March 25, 2005

How precious the gift of the cross!

"How splendid to contemplate!

"In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

"This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny.

"This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature.

"A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree.

"What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory!

"Well might the holy Apostle exclaim:

"Far be it from me to glory
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world!

"The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

"The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past.

"Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn.

"Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal?

"And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people?

"Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

"By the cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life.

"The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints.

"By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self.

"By the cross we, the sheep of Christ,
have been gathered into one flock,
destined for the sheepfolds of heaven."
From a sermon by Saint Theodore the Studite

Thursday, March 24, 2005

For I received from the Lord

what I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus
on the night when he was betrayed

took bread,
and when he had given thanks,
he broke it, and said,
"This is my body which is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me

In the same way also
the cup, after supper, saying,
"This cup
is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me

For as often as you eat this bread
and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death
until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Acclaim, my tongue, the mystery

Of the glorious Body
And of the precious Blood
That, in ransom for the world,
The fruit of a generous womb,
The King of nations, shed.

To us given, for us born
From a Virgin pure,
And, brought into the world
To spread the seed of the Word,
He ended His stay
In a wondrous way.

On the night of the Last Supper,
Reclining with his brothers,
Observing the Law fully,
The food prescribed by Law,
This food to the Twelve
He gave with His own hands.

The Word Made Flesh made true bread
Become flesh at His word,
Made wine the Blood of Christ.
And if our senses fail
To strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone will suffice.

So great a sacrament, therefore,
Let us venerate on our knees
And the old ritual
To the new Rite yield.
May faith supply
What our senses lack.

To the Father and to the Begotten
Praise and jubilation,
Salvation, honor and power
And blessing be;
And to the One who proceeds from Both
Equally be praise.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium,
Fructus ventris generosi,
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus,
Ex intacta Virgine,
Et in mundo conversatus,
Sparso verbi semine
Sui moras incolatus
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte coenae
Recumbens cum fratribus,
Observata lege plene
Cibis in legalibus,
Cibum turbae duodenae
Se dat suis manibus

Verbum caro panem verum
Verbo carnem efficit;
Fit sanguis Christi merum.
Et si sensus deficit,
Ad firmandum cor sincerum
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo sacramentum
Venereumur cernui.
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui.
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio.
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.


S. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Be ye therefore followers of God

as dear children;

And walk in love,
as Christ also hath loved us,
and hath given himself for us
an offering and a sacrifice to God
for a sweetsmelling savour.
Ephesians 5:1-2

The Cross of Christ

"therefore, symbolizes the true altar of prophecy, on which the oblation of man's nature should be celebrated by means of a salvation-bringing Victim.

In the film, The Passion of the Christ, someone asks Jesus,'Why do you embrace your cross?'

"There the blood of the spotless Lamb blotted out the consequences of the ancient trespass:

"There the whole tyranny of the devil's hatred was crushed, and humiliation triumphed gloriously over the lifting up of pride:

"For so swift was the effect of Faith that of the robbers crucified with Christ, the one who believed in Christ as the Son of God entered paradise justified.

"Who can unfold the mystery of so great a boon? Who can state the power of so wondrous a change?

"In a moment of thee the guilt of long evil-doing is done away; clinging to the cross, amid the cruel tortures of his struggling soul, he passes over to Christ; and to him, on whom his own wickedness had brought punishment, Christ's grace now gives a crown....

"Seeing therefore, dearly-beloved,
that God's Mercy is so great,
that He has deigned to justify by faith
many even from among such a nation,
and had adopted into the company of the patriarchs
and into the number of the chosen people
us who were once perishing
in the deep darkness of our old ignorance,
let us mount to the summit of our hopes
not sluggishly nor in sloth;
but prudently and faithfully reflecting
from what captivity
and from how miserable a bondage,
with what ransom we were purchased,
by how strong an arm led out,
let us glorify God in our body:
that we may show Him dwelling in us,
even by the uprightness of our manner of life...

"And because no virtues are worthier or more excellent than merciful loving-kindness and unblemished chastity, let us more especially equip ourselves with these weapons, so that, raised from the earth, as it were on the two wings of active charity and shining purity, we may win a place in heaven.

"And whosoever, aided by God's grace, is filled with this desire and glories not in himself, but in the Lord, over his progress, pays due honour to the Easter mystery. His threshold the angel of destruction does not cross, for it is marked with the Lamb's blood and the sign of the cross. He fears not the plagues of Egypt, and leaves his foes overwhelmed by the same waters by which he himself was saved.

"And so, dearly-beloved,
with minds and bodies purified
let us embrace
the wondrous mystery of our salvation,
and, cleansed from all 'the leaven
of our old wickedness,
let us keep' the Lord's Passover
with due observance:
so that, the Holy Spirit guiding us,
we may be 'separated' by no temptations
'from the love of Christ,'
Who bringing peace by His blood to all things,
has returned to the loftiness
of the Father's glory,
and yet not forsaken the lowliness
of those who serve Him
to Whom is the honour and the glory
for ever and ever.

from a Sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great
for the Wednesday of Holy Week

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

There was given to me

a thorn in the flesh,
the messenger of Satan to buffet me,
lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice,
that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore
will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities,
in reproaches, in necessities,
in persecutions, in distresses
for Christ's sake:
for when I am weak,
then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

That Jesus Christ was crucified

"dead, and buried at the time appointed according to the purpose of His will was not the doom necessary to His own condition, but the method of redeeming us from captivity.

"For 'the Word became flesh' in order that from the Virgin's womb He might take our suffering nature, and that what could not be inflicted on the Son of God might be inflicted on the Son of Man.

"For although at His very birth the signs of Godhead shone forth in Him, and the whole course of His bodily growth was full of wonders, yet had He truly assumed our weaknesses, and without share in sin had spared Himself no human frailty, that He might impart what was His to us and heal what was ours in Himself.

"For He, the Almighty Physician, had prepared a two-fold remedy for us in our misery, of which the one part consists of mystery and the other of example, that by the one Divine powers may be bestowed, by the other human weaknesses driven out. Because as God is the Author of our justification, so man is a debtor to pay Him devotion.

"Therefore, dearly-beloved, by this unspeakable restoration of our health no place is left us for pride or for idleness: because we have nothing which we did not receive, and we are expressly warned not to treat the gifts of God's grace with negligence.

"For He that comes so timely to our aid justly urges us with precept, and He that leads us to glory mercifully incites us to obedience.

"Wherefore the Lord Himself is rightly made our way, because save through Christ there is no coming to Christ.

"But through Him and to Him does he take his way who treads the path of His endurance and humiliation, and on that road you may be sure there are not wanting the heats of toil, the clouds of sadness, the storms of fear, the snares of the wicked, the persecutions of the unbelieving, the threats of the powerful, the insults of the proud are I there;

"And all these things the Lord of hosts and King of glory passed through in the form of our weakness and in the likeness of sinful flesh, to the end that amid the danger of this present life we might desire not so much to avoid and escape them as to endure and overcome them.

"Hence it is that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Head, representing all the members of His body in Himself, and speaking for those whom He was redeeming in the punishment of the cross, uttered that cry which He had once uttered in the psalm,

"'O God, My God, look upon Me:
why hast Thou forsaken Me?'

"That cry, dearly-beloved, is a lesson, not a complaint.

"For since in Christ there is one person of God and man,
and He could not have been forsaken by Him,
from Whom He could not be separated, that He asks why the flesh that is afraid to suffer
it is on behalf of us, trembling and weak ones,
has been unheard.

"For when the Passion was beginning, to cure and to correct our weak fear He had said,

"'Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from Me:
nevertheless not as I will but as Thou;'

"and again,

"'Father, if this cup cannot pass except I drink it,
Thy will be done.'

"As therefore He had conquered the tremblings of the flesh,
and had now accepted the Father's will,
and trampling all dread of death under foot,
was then carrying out the work of His design....

"And thus the very cry of 'Unheard'
is the exposition of a mighty Mystery,
because the Redeemer's power
would have conferred nothing on mankind
if our weakness in Him
had obtained what it sought."

From a sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great

Monday, March 21, 2005

And I, brethren, when I came to you

came not with excellency of speech nor of wisdom,
declaring unto you the testimony of God.

For I determined not to know any thing among you,
save Jesus Christ,
and him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2

The minds of the faithful

"ought indeed, beloved,
always to be occupied with wonder at God's works
and their reasoning faculties
devoted particularly to those reflexions
by which they may gain increase of faith.

"For so long as the pious heart's attention
is directed either to the benefits which all enjoy,
or to special gifts of His grace,
it keeps aloof from many vanities
and retires from bodily cares
into a spiritual seclusion.

"But this must be
the more eagerly and thoroughly done
at the season of the Lord Passion,
that what is then read in the sacred lections
may surely be received with the ears of understanding,
and that the themes which are great in word
may be seen to be yet greater
from the mysterious realities which underlie them."

from a sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hark! my lover

here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills....

My lover speaks; he says to me,
"Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

"For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove

is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom,

give forth fragrance.

"Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!"

Song of Songs 2:8,10-13

Let us go together

"to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives.

"Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation....

"Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish.

"Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us....

"So let us 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....

"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.'"
From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop
(Office of the Readings)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Put on the whole armour of God

that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil.
Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And you, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore,
having your loins girt about with truth,
and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod
with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all,
taking the shield of faith,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench
all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God:
Praying always
with all prayer and supplication
in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto
with all perseverance
and supplication for all saints...
Ephesians 6:11-18

I arise today

Saint Patrick (click for hymn tune)
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength

of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength

of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength

of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength

of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun, Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers

between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power

that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells

of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge

that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me,

Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,

the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation
(St. Patrick's Breastplate)