Holy Saturday ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger



A night has passed over the Tomb, wherein lies the 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 his 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. 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 that 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. Though Jesus knew no sin, 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 ; his Death was 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 sakes, 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 but 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 honour 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, in the 7th Responsory of to-day’s 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 was 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. 1 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 Saviour’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.

But it is time to repair to the House of God. The Bells are still silent : our faith must speak to us, and make us eager to assist at the grand Mysteries, which the Liturgy is about to celebrate. Surely, the christian sentiment must be dead in them who can be willingly absent from the Church on such a morning as this. No, it cannot be, that we, who have followed the celebration of the Mysteries of our Religion thus far, can flag now, and lose the graces of this morning’s magnificent Service.



It was the practice of the Church, and one that had been handed down from the earliest Ages, that the Sacrifice of the Mass should not be offered up either yesterday or to-day. Yesterday, the anniversary of Jesus’ Death, was exclusively devoted to the remembrance of the Mystery of Calvary, and a holy fear kept the Church from renewing that Sacrifice upon her Altars. For the same reason, she abstained to-day, also, from its celebration. The Burial of Christ is a sequel of his Passion : and during these hours when his Body lay lifeless in the Tomb, it was fitting that the Sacrifice, wherein he is offered as the glorious and Risen Jesus, should be suspended.

Even the Greek Church, which never fasts on the Saturdays of Lent, follows the practice of the Latin Church for this Saturday : she not only fasts, but she even omits the celebration of the Mass of the Pre-sanctified.

Such, we repeat, was the discipline of the Latin Church for nearly a thousand years : but about the 11th century, an important change began to be introduced with regard to the celebration of Mass on Holy Saturday. The Mass which, hitherto, had been celebrated during the Night preceding Easter Sunday, — then began to be anticipated, on the Saturday ; but it was always considered as the Mass of the hour of our Lord’s Resurrection, and not as the Mass of Holy Saturday. The relaxations, that had been introduced with regard to Fasting, were the occasion of this change in the Liturgy. In the first ages, the Faithful watched the whole night in the Church, awaiting the hour when our Lord rose triumphant from the Tomb. They also assisted at the solemn administration of Baptism to the Catechumens, which so sublimely expressed the passing from spiritual death to the life of grace. There was no other Vigil in the whole Year, which was so solemnly observed as this : but it lost a great portion of its interest, when the necessity of baptising Adults was removed by Christianity having triumphed wheresoever it had been preached. The Orientals have kept up the ancient tradition to this day : but in the West, dating from the 11th century, the Mass of the Resurrection Hour has been gradually anticipated, until it has been brought even to the morning of Holy Saturday. Durandus of Menda, who wrote his Rational of the Divine Offices, towards the close of the 13th century, tells us, that in his time, there were very few Churches which observed the primitive custom: even these soon conformed to the general practice of the Latin Church.

As a result of this change, there is an apparent contradiction between the mystery of Holy Saturday and the Divine Service which is celebrated upon it ; Christ is still in the Tomb, and yet we are celebrating his Resurrection : the hours preceding Mass are mournful, — and before mid-day, the paschal joy will have filled our hearts. We will conform to the present order of the Holy Liturgy, thus entering into the spirit of the Church, who has thought proper to give her children a foretaste of the joys of Easter. We will give a general view of the solemn Service, at which we are going to assist ; afterwards, we will explain each portion, as it comes.

The great object of the whole of to-day’s Service, and the centre to which every one of the ceremonies converges, — is the Baptism of the Catechumens. The Faithful must keep this incessantly before them, or they will be at a loss how to understand or profit by the Liturgy of to-day. First of all, there is the Blessing of the new Fire, and the Incense. This is followed by the Blessing of the Paschal Candle. Immediately after this, are read the Twelve Prophecies, which have reference to the mysteries of today’s Service. As soon as the Prophecies are finished, a procession is formed to the Baptistery, and the Water is blessed. The matter of Baptism thus prepared, the Catechumens receive the Sacrament of Regeneration. Confirmation is then administered to them by the Bishop. Immediately after this, the Holy Sacrifice is celebrated in honour of our Lord’s Resurrection, and the Neophytes partake of the Divine Mysteries. Finally the joyous Vesper-Office comes in, and brings to a termination the longest and most trying Service of the Latin Liturgy. In order to assist our readers to enter fully into its spirit, we will go back a thousand years, and imagine ourselves to be celebrating this solemn Eve of Easter in one of the ancient Cathedrals of Italy, or of our own dear land.

At Rome, the Station is at St. John Lateran, the Mother and Mistress of all Churches. The Sacrament of Regeneration is administered in the Baptistery of Constantine. The sight of these venerable Sanctuaries carries us back in thought to the 4th century ; there, each year, holy Baptism is conferred upon some adult ; and a numerous Ordination adds its own to the sacred pomp of this day, whose liturgy, as we have just said, is the richest of the whole year.


Last Wednesday, the Catechumens were told to present themselves at the Church, for the hour of toay’s Tierce, (that is, nine o’clock in the morning.) It is the final scrutiny. The Priests are there to receive them ; they who have not previously been examined upon the Symbol, are now questioned. The Lord’s Prayer, and the biblical attributes of the four Evangelists, having been explained, one of the Priests dismisses the Candidates for Baptism, bidding them spend the interval in recollection and prayer.

At the hour of None, (our three o’clock in the afternoon,) the Bishop and all the Clergy repair to the Church, and Holy Saturday Vigil begins from this moment. The first ceremony consists in the blessing of the new fire, which is to furnish light for the whole Service. It was the daily custom, in the first Ages of the Church, to strike a light from a flint, before Vespers : from this the lamps and candles were lighted for the celebration of that Hour, and the light thus procured was kept up in the Church till the Vespers of the following day. The Church of Rome observed this custom with great solemnity on Maundy Thursday morning, and the new fire received a special blessing. We learn from a letter written, in the 8th century, by Pope St. Zachary to St. Boniface, Archbishop of Mayence, — that three lamps were lighted from this fire, which were then removed to some safe place, and care was taken that their light was kept in. It was from these lamps that the light for Holy Saturday Night was taken. In the following century, under St. Leo the Fourth, whose Pontificate lasted from 847 to 855, the custom of every day procuring new fire from a flint was extended also to Holy Saturday.

It is not difficult to understand the meaning of this ceremony, which is now not observed by the Latin Church save on this day. Our Lord said of himself : I am the Light of the world. Light, then, is an image of the Son of Good. Stone, also, is one of the types under which the Scriptures speak to us of the Messias. St. Peter, and St. Paul, quoting the words of the Prophet Isaias, speak of Jesus as the Comer- Stone. The spark which is struck from the flint represents our Lord rising from his rock-hewn Sepulchre, through the Stone that had been rolled against it.

It is fitting, therefore, that this fire which is to provide light for the Paschal Candle, as well as for those that are upon the Altar, should receive a special blessing, and be triumphantly shown to the Faithful. All the Lamps in the Church have been extinguished ; formerly, the Faithful used to put out the fires in their houses, before going to the Church : they lighted them, on their return, with light taken from the blessed Fire, which they received as a symbol of our Lord’s Resurrection. Let us not here omit to 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.

In order to help our readers to enter more fully into the mystery of the ceremony we are describing, we will here mention a miracle which was witnessed for many centuries. The clergy and people of Jerusalem assembled for the Service of Easter Eve in the Church of Holy Sepulchre. After waiting for some time in silence, one of the lamps that were suspended over our Lord’s Tomb, was miraculously lighted. The other lamps and torches throughout the Church were lighted from this, and the Faithful took its holy flame with them to their homes. It would seem, that this annual miracle first began after the Saracens had taken possession of Jerusalem ; God so ordaining, that it might be a proof to these Infidels, of the Divinity of the Christian Religion. The historians of those times, who have written upon the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, all speak of this miracle as of an incontestable fact ; and when Pope Urban the Second went to France, there to preach the first Crusade, he brought forward this miracle as one of the motives, which should inspire the Faithful with zeal for the defence of the Sepulchre of Christ. When our Lord, in the unsearchable ways of his justice, permitted Jerusalem to be re-conquered by the Infidels, the Miracle ceased, nor has it ever been witnessed from that time. Our readers have no doubt heard of the scandalous scene, which is now repeated every Holy Saturday in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem : we allude to the deception practised by the schismatic Greek Priests, whereby they persuade their deluded people that their ingenious trick for lighting a lamp is the continuation of the Miracle.

The Church also blesses the five grains of Incense which are to be used in this Morning’s Service. They represent the perfumes prepared by Magdalene and her holy companions for the embalming the Body of Jesus. The Prayer said by the Bishop, when blessing the Incense, not only shows us the connection there is between it and the Light, but it also teaches us what is the power these several sacred objects have against the wicked spirits.

The Bishop and his attendants go, in procession, from the Church to the place where he is to bless the Fire and Incense. The Fire, as we have already said, is the symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ ; and the Sepulchre, whence he is to rise to life, is outside the walls of Jerusalem. The holy Women and the Apostles, when they go to the Sepulchre, will have to go forth from the City.

The Bishop, having come to the appointed place, blesses the Fire by the following Prayers.



The sun is setting, and our earth will soon be mantled in darkness. 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. Our holy Mother the Church, would have us enthusiastically love this glorious symbol, and speaks its praises to us in all the magnificence of her inspired eloquence. As early as the beginning of the 5th century, Pope St. Zozimus extended to all the Churches of the City of Rome, the privilege of blessing the Paschal Candle, although Baptism was administered no where but in the Baptistery of St. John Lateran. The object of this grant was, that all the Faithful might share in the holy impressions which so solemn a rite is intended to produce. It was for the same intention that, later, every Church, even though it had no Baptismal Font, was permitted to have the Blessing of the Paschal Candle.

The Deacon proclaims the Easter Solemnity to the people, whilst chanting the praises of this sacred object : and whilst celebrating the glory of Him, whose emblem it is, he becomes the herald of the Resurrection. The Altar, the Sanctuary, the Bishop, all are in the colour of the Lenten rite ; the Deacon alone is vested in white. At other times, he would not presume to raise his voice as he is now going to do, in the solemn tone of a Preface : but this is the Eve of the Resurrection, and the Deacon, as the interpreters of the Liturgy tell us, represents Magdalene and the holy women, on whom our Lord conferred the honour of being the first to know his Resurrection, and to whom he gave the mission of preaching to the very Apostles, that he had risen from the dead, and would meet them in Galilee.


The Torch of the Resurrection now sheds its light from the Ambo throughout the holy place, and gladdens the hearts of the Faithful. How solemn a preparation for what is now to engage our attention, — the Baptism of the Catechumens, whose instruction and progress in good works we have followed with such interest during the past forty days ! They are assembled together under the outward porch of the Church. The Priests are performing over them the preparatory rites, which embody such profound teaching, and were instituted by the Apostles. First of all, the sign of the cross is made upon their foreheads ; and then, the Priest, imposing his hand upon the head of each Catchumen, adjures Satan to depart from this soul and body, and give place to Christ. Imitating thus our Redeemer, the Priest then touches the ears with his spittle, saying : ” Be ye opened ! ‘ : He does the same to the nostrils, and says : ” Breathe ye in the sweetness of fragrance ! ” The Neophyte is next anointed, on the breast and between the shoulders, with the Oil of Catechumens : but, as this ceremony expresses his having to fight the spiritual combat, the Priest first receives from him the promise to renounce Satan, with his works and pomps.

These rites are performed first over the men, and then over the women. The children of Christian parents are also admitted to take their place among the Catechumens. If any of these latter be labouring under any sickness, and have notwithstanding come to the Church in order to receive, to-night, the grace of Regeneration, — a Priest says over them a prayer, in which he fervently begs of God to heal them, and confound the malice of Satan.

These ceremonies, which are called the Catechisation, occupy a considerable portion of time, on account of the great number of the aspirants to Baptism. It is for this reason, that the Bishop came to the Church at the hour of None (three o’clock in the afternoon), and that the great Vigil began so early. Whilst these rites are being administered to the Catechumens, the rest of the Faithful are listening to appropriate passages from the Scripture, which are being read from the Ambo, and which are the complement of the Lenten Instructions.

These Lessons are twelve in number : but in the venerable Basilica, where we are now supposing ourselves to be, we may say they are twenty-four, since each of the Twelve is read in Latin first, and then in Greek. In order to fix the attention, and excite the devotion of her children to what she reads to them, the Church, after each Lesson, recites a Prayer, which sums up the doctrine expressed in the preceding Prophecy. To some of them is added an appropriate Canticle from the Old Testament, and it is sung, by the whole assembly, to the well known melody of the Tract. The aspirants to Baptism, as soon as they have received the ceremonies of Catechisation, are allowed to enter the Church, where, in the place assigned to them, they listen to the Lessons, and join in the Prayers : — how could they better continue their preparation for the great Sacrament ? And yet, there is an aspect of mournfulness about this portion of the Service, which tells us that the longed-for hour is not yet come. Frequent genuflections, and the sombre coloured Vestments, strongly contrast with the beautiful flame of the Paschal Torch, which sheds its silent beams of light upon the Faithful. Their hearts are still throbbing with the emotions excited within them by the Exsaltet : they are impatient to see their Jesus’ Resurrection fulfilled in the Baptism of the Catechumens.


Good Friday ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger



The sun has risen upon Jerusalem. But the Priests and Scribes have not waited all this time without venting their rage upon Jesus. Annas, who was the first to receive the divine Captive, has had him taken to his son-in-law Caiphas, the High Priest. Here he is put through a series of insulting questions, which disdaining to answer, he receives a blow from one of the High Priest’s servants. False witnesses had been already prepared : they now come forward, and depose their lies against Him who is the very Truth: — but their testimony is contradictory. Then, Caiphas, seeing that this plan for convicting Jesus of blasphemy is only serving to expose his accomplices, turns to an other. He asks him a question, which will oblige our Lord to make an answer ; and in this answer, he Caiphas, will discover blasphemy, and blasphemy would bring Jesus under the power of the Synagogue. This is the question : I adjure thee, by the living God, that thou tell us, if thou be the Christ the Son of God ? l Our Saviour, in order to teach us that we should show respect to those who are in authority, breaks the silence he has hitherto observed, and answers : Thou hast said it : I am : and hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Hereupon, the impious Pontiff rises, rends his garments, and exclaims : He hath blasphemed ! What further need have we of ‘witnesses ? Behold ! now ye have heard the blasphemy : what think ye ? The whole place resounds with the cry : He is guilty of death !

The Son of God has come down upon the earth, in order to restore man to Life ; and yet, here we have this creature of death daring to summon his Divine Benefactor before a human tribunal, and condemning him to Death ! And Jesus is silent ! and bears with these presumptuous, these ungrateful, blasphemers ! Well may we exclaim, in the words, wherewith the Greek Church frequently interrupts to-day’s reading of the Passion : ” Glory be to thy Patience, Lord ! ”

Scarcely have the terrible words, He is guilty of death, been uttered, than the servants of the High Priest rush upon Jesus. They spit upon him, and blindfolding him, they strike him, saying : Prophesy ! who is it struck thee ? Thus does the Synagogue treat the Messias, who, they say, is to be their glory ! And yet, these outrages, frightful as they are, are but the beginning of what our Redeemer has to go through.

But there is something far more trying than all this to the heart of Jesus, and it is happening at this very time. Peter has made his way as far as the court of the High Priest’s Palace ! He is recognised by the bystanders as a Galilean, and one of Jesus’ Disciples. The Apostle trembles for his life ; — he denies his Master, and affirms, with an oath, that he does not even know him. What a sad example is here of the punishment of presumption ! But, Jesus has mercy on his Apostle. The servants of the High Priest lead him to the place, near where Peter is standing ; he casts upon him a look of reproach and pardon ; Peter immediately goes forth, and weeps bitterly. From this hour forward he can do nothing but lament his sin ; and it is only on Easter Morning, when Jesus shall appear to him after his Resurrection, that he will admit any consolation to his afflicted heart. Let us make him our model, now that we are spending these hours, with our holy Mother the Church, in contemplating the Passion of Jesus. Peter withdraws, because he fears his own weakness ; let us remain to the end, for what have we to fear ? May our Jesus give us one of those looks, which can change the hardest and worst of hearts !

Meanwhile, the day-dawn breaks upon the City, and the Chief Priests make arrangements for taking Jesus before the Roman Governor. They themselves have found him guilty ; they have condemned him as a Blasphemer, and according to the Law of Moses, a Blasphemer must be stoned to death : but they cannot apply the law : Jerusalem is no longer free, or governed by her own laws. The power over life and death may only be exercised by her conquerors, and that in the name of Caesar. How is it, that these Priests and Scribes can go through all this, and never once remember the prophecy of Jacob, — that the Messias would come, when the sceptre should be taken away from Juda P 1 They know off by heart, they are the appointed guardians of those Prophecies, which describe the death to which this Messias is to be put, — and yet, they are the very ones who bring it about ! How is all this ? — They are blind, and it is jealousy that blinds them.

The rumour of Jesus’ having been seized during the night, and that he is on the point of being led before the Roman Governor, rapidly spreads through the City, and reaches Judas’ ear. This wretched man had a passion for money, but there was nothing to make him desire the death of his Divine Master. He knew Jesus’ supernatural power. He perhaps flattered himself that he who could command nature and the elements, would easily escape from the hands of his enemies. But now when he sees that he does not escape, and that he is to be condemned to death, — he runs to the Temple, and gives back the thirty pieces of silver to the Chief Priests. Is it that he is converted, and is about to ask his Master to pardon him ? Alas ! no : despair has possession of him, and he puts an end to his existence. The recollection of all the merciful solicitations made to him, yesterday, by Jesus, both during the Last Supper, and in the Garden, gives him no confidence ; it only serves to increase his despair. Surely, he well knew what a merciful Saviour he had to deal with ! And yet, he despairs, and this at the very time when the Blood, which washes away the sins of the whole world, is about to be shed ! He is lost, because he despaired.

The Chief Priests, taking Jesus with them, present themselves at the Governor’s Palace, demanding audience for a case of importance. Pilate comes forward, and peevishly asks them : What accusation bring you against this man ? — They answered : If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. It is very evident from these first words, that Pilate has a contempt for these Jewish Priests ; it is not less evident that they are determined to gain their cause. Take him you, says Pilate, and judge him according to your Law. — The Chief Priests answered : It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.

Pilate leaves the Hall, in order to speak with these men. He returns, and commands Jesus to be brought in. The son of God and the representative of the pagan world are face to face. Pilate begins by asking him : Art thou the King of the Jews ? — To this Jesus thus replies : My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But, now, my kingdom is not from hence. — Art thou a King, then ? says Pilate. — Thou sayest, answers Jesus, that I am a King. Having, by these last words, confessed his august dignity, our Lord offers a grace to this Roman ; he tells him, that there is something worthier of man’s ambition than earthly honours. For this, says Jesus, was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the Truth. Every one that is of the Truth, heareth my voice. — What is Truth ? asks Pilate ; but without waiting for the answer, he leaves Jesus, for he is anxious to have done with this case. He returns to the Jews, and says to them : I find no cause in him. — Pilate fancies that this Jesus must be a leader of some Jewish sect, whose teachings give offence to the Chief Priests, but which are not worth his examining into them : yet at the same time, he is convinced that he is a harmless man, and that it would be foolish and unjust to accuse him of disturbing the state.

Scarcely has Pilate expressed his opinion in favour of Jesus, than a long list of accusations is brought up against him by the Chief Priests. Pilate is astonished at Jesus’ making no reply, and says to him : Dost thou not hear how great testimonies they allege against thee ? l — These words are kindly meant, but Jesus still remains silent : they, however, excite his enemies to fresh fury, and they cry out : He stirreth Up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, even to this place? This word Galilee suggests a new idea to Pilate. Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee, happens to be in Jerusalem at this very time. Jesus is his subject ; he must be sent to him. Thus Pilate will get rid of a troublesome case, and this act of courteous deference will reestablish a good understanding between himself and Herod.

The Saviour is therefore dragged through the streets of Jerusalem, from Pilate’s house to Herod’s palace. His enemies follow him with relentless fury ; but Jesus still observes his noble silence. Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist, insults him, and ordering him to be clothed in a white garment, as a Fool, he sends him back to Pilate. Another plan for ridding himself of this troublesome case, now strikes the Roman Governor. At the feast of the Pasch, he had the power of granting pardon to any one criminal the people may select. They are assembled together at the court-gates. He feels sure, that their choice will fall upon Jesus, for it is but a few days ago that they led him in triumph through the City : besides, he intends to make the alternative one who is an object of execration to the whole people ; he is a murderer, and his name Barabbas. Whom will you that I release to you ? says Pilate : Barabbas, or Jesus, that is called the Christ ? — He has not long to wait for the answer : the crowd exclaim : Not this man, but Barabbas ! — What then, replies Pilate, shall I do with Jesus, that is called the Christ? — Crucify him? — Why, what evil hath he done ? I will chastise him, therefore, and let him go. But they growing irritated at this, cry out so much the louder : Crucify him ! Crucify him ! Pilate’s cowardly subterfuge has failed, and left him in a more difficult position than he was before. His putting the innocent on a level with a murderer was in itself a gross injustice ; and yet, he has not gone far enough for a people that is blind with passion. Neither does his promise to chastise Jesus satisfy them : they want more than his Blood : they insist on his death !

Here let us pause, and offer our Saviour a reparation for the insult he here receives. He is put in competition with a murderer, and the murderer is preferred ! Pilate makes an attempt to save Jesus : but, on what terms ! — he must be put on a footing with a vile wretch, and, even so, be worsted ! Those very lips that, a few days back, sang ” Hosannah to the Son of David,” now clamour for his Crucifixion !

The City Magistrate and Governor pronounces him innocent ; and yet, he condemns him to be scourged, because he fears a disturbance !

Jesus is made over to the soldiers, to be scourged. They rudely strip him of his garments, and tie him to the pillar, which is kept for this kind of torture. Fiercely do they strike him ; the blood flows down his sacred Body. Let us adore this the second Bloodshedding of our Jesus, whereby he expiates for the sins we and the whole world have committed by the flesh. This Scourging is by the hands of Gentiles : the Jews delivered him up to be punished, and the Romans were the executioners : — thus have we all had our share in the awful deicide !

At last, the soldiers are tired ; they loosen their Victim ; — but it is not out of anything like pity. Their cruelty is going to rest, and their rest is derision. Jesus has been called “King of the Jews : ” a King, say they, must have a Crown ! Accordingly they make one for the Son of David ! It is of Thorns. They press it violently upon his head, and this is the third Bloodshedding of our Redeemer. Then, that they may make their scoffing perfect, the soldiers throw a scarlet cloak over his shoulders, and put a reed, for a sceptre, into his hand ; and bending their knee before him, they thus salute him : Hail, King of the Jews ! — This insulting homage is accompanied with blows upon his face ; they spit upon him ; and, from time to time, take the reed from his hand, wherewith to strike the Thorns deeper into his head.

Here, the Christian prostrates himself before his Saviour, and says to him with a heart full of compassion and veneration : ” Yes ! my Jesus ! Thou art King of the Jews ! Thou art the Son of David, and therefore our Messias and our Redeemer ! Israel, that hath so lately proclaimed thee King, now unkings thee ; the Gentiles scoff at thy Royalty, making it a subject for keener insult : — but reign thou must and over both Jews and Gentiles : over the Jews, by thy justice, for they are soon to feel the sceptre of thy revenge ; over the Gentiles, by thy mercy, for thine Apostles are soon to lead them to thy feet. Receive, dearest King ! our homage and submission ! Reign now and for ever over our hearts, yea, over our whole being!”

Thus mangled and bleeding, holding the reed in his hand, and with the scarlet tatters on his shoulders, Jesus is led back to Pilate. It is just the sight that will soften the hearts of the people ; at least, Pilate thinks so ; and taking him with him to a balcony of the palace, he shows him to the crowd below, saying; Behold the Man! Little did Pilate know all that these few words conveyed ! He says not : “Behold Jesus ! ” — nor, “Behold the King of the Jews ! ” he says : Behold the Man ! — Man ! — the Christian understands the full force of the word thus applied to our Redeemer. Adam the first Man, rebelled against God, and, by his sin, deranged the whole work of the Creator : as a punishment for his pride and intemperance, the flesh tyrannised over the spirit ; the very earth was cursed, and thorns were to be its growth. Jesus, the New Man, comes into this world, bearing upon him, not the reality, but the appearance, the likeness, of sin : in him, the work of the Creator regains its primeval order ; but the change was not wrought without violence. To teach us, that the flesh must be brought into subjection to the spirit, Jesus’ Flesh was torn by the scourges : to teach us, that pride must give way to humility, the only Crown that Jesus wears is made of Thorns. Yes, — Behold Man ! — the triumph of the spirit over the flesh, the triumph of humility over pride.

Like the tiger that grows fiercer as he sees blood, so is Israel at the sight of Jesus after his scourging. Crucify him ! Crucify him ! — the cry is still the same. — Take him you, says Pilate, and crucify him ; for I find no cause in him. And yet, he has ordered him to be scourged enough to cause his death ! Here is another device of the base coward ; but it, too, fails. The Jews have their answer ready : they put forward the right granted by the Romans to the nations that are tributary to the Empire. We have, say they, a law, and according to the law he ought to die ; because he made himself the Son of God. Disconcerted by the reply, Pilate takes Jesus aside into the hall, and says to him : Whence art thou ? Jesus is silent ; Pilate was not worthy to hear the answer to his question. This silence irritates him. Speahest thou not to me ? says he. Knoweth thou not, that I have ‘power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee ? Here Jesus deigns to speak ; and he speaks, in order to teach us that every power of government, even where pagans are in question, comes from God, and not from a pretended social compact : Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore, he that hath delivered me to thee, hath the greater sin.

This dignified reply produces an impression upon Pilate : he resolves to make another attempt to save Jesus. But the people vociferate a threat which alarms him : If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend; for whosoever maketh himself a King, speaketh against Caesar. Still, he is determined to try and pacify the crowd. He leaves the hall, sits upon the judgment-seat, orders Jesus to be placed near him, and thus pleads for him : Behold your King ! as though he would say, “What have you or Caesar to fear from such a pitiable object as this ? ‘ : The argument was unavailing, and only provokes the cry : Away with him ! Away with him ! Crucify him ! As though he did not believe them to be in earnest, Pilate says to them : Shall I crucify your King ? This time the Chief Priests give the answer : We have no king but Caesar} When the very Ministers of God can talk thus, religion is at an end. No king but Caesar ! — then, the sceptre is taken from Juda, and Jerusalem is cast off, and the Messias is come !

Pilate, seeing that nothing can quell the tumult, and that his honour as Governor is at stake, decides on making Jesus over to his enemies. Though against his own inclination, he passes the Sentence, which is to cause him such remorse of conscience that he will afterwards seek relief in suicide. He takes a tablet, and with a style, writes the Inscription which is to be fastened to the Cross. The people demand that two thieves should be crucified at the same time, — it would be an additional insult to Jesus : this, too, he grants, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaias : And with the wicked was he reputed. Having thus defiled his soul with the most heinous of crimes, Pilate washes his hands before the people, and says to them : I am innocent of the blood of this just man ; look ye to it ! They answer him with, this terrible self-imprecation : His blood be upon us and upon our children! The mark of Parricide here fastens on this ungrateful and sacrilegious people ; Cain-like, they shall wander fugitives on the earth. Eighteen hundred years have passed since then ; slavery, misery, and contempt, have been their portion ; but the mark is still upon them. Let us Gentiles, — upon whom this Blood of Jesus has fallen as the dew of heaven’s mercy, — let us return fervent thanks to the goodness of our heavenly Father, who hath so loved the world, as to give it his Only Begotten Son. Let us give thanks to the Son, who, seeing that our iniquities could not be blotted out save by his Blood, shed it, on this day, even to the very last drop.

Here commences ” The Way of the Cross ;” the House of Pilate, where our Jesus receives the sentence of Death, is the First Station. Our Redeemer is consigned, by the Governor’s order, into the hands of the Jews. The Soldiers seize him, and drag him from the Court. They strip him of the scarlet cloak and bid him clothe himself with his own garments as before the Scourging. The Cross is ready and they put it on his wounded shoulders. The place where the new Isaac loads himself with the wood of his sacrifice, is the Second Station. To Calvary ! — this is the word of command, and it is obeyed : soldiers, executioners, priests, scribes, people, — these form the procession. Jesus moves slowly on ; but after a few paces, exhausted by the loss of Blood and by his Sufferings, he falls under the weight of his Cross. It is the first fall, and marks the Third Station.

He falls, not so much by the weight of his Cross, as by that of our sins ! The Soldiers roughly lay their hands on him, and force him up again. Scarcely has he resumed his steps, than he is met by his afflicted Mother. The Valiant Woman, whose love is stronger than death, was not to be absent at such an hour as this. She must see her Son, follow him, keep close to him, even to his last breath. No tongue could tell the poignancy of her grief. The anxiety she has endured during the last few days has exhausted her strength. All the sufferings of Jesus have been made known to her by a divine revelation ; she has shared each one of them with him. But, now, she cannot endure to be absent, and makes her way through the crowd. The Sacrifice is nigh its consummation ; no human power could keep such a Mother from her Jesus. The faithful Magdalene is by her side, bathed in tears ; John, Mary, (the mother of James the Less) and Salome, (the mother of John,) are also with her : they weep for their Divine Master, she for her Son. Jesus sees her, but cannot comfort her, for all this is but the beginning of what he is to endure. Oh ! what an additional suffering was this for his loving Heart, — to see his Mother agonizing with sorrow ! The executioners observe the Mother of their Victim, but it would be too much mercy in them to allow her to speak to him ; she may follow, if she please, with the crowd ; it is more than she could have expected, to have been allowed this Meeting, which we venerate as the Fourth Station of the Way of the Cross.

But from this to the last there is a long distance, for there is a law, that criminals are to be executed outside the City Walls. The Jews are afraid of Jesus’ expiring before reaching the place of Sacrifice. Just at this time, they behold a man coming from the country ; his name is Simon of Syrene ; they order him to help Jesus to carry his Cross. It is out of a motive of cruelty to our Lord, but it gives Simon the honour of sharing with him the fatigue of bearing the instrument of the world’s salvation. The spot where this happens is the Fifth Station.

A little farther on, an incident occurs which strikes the executioners themselves with astonishment. A woman makes her way through the crowd, and setting the soldiers at defiance, comes close up to Jesus. She holds her veil in her hands, and with it respectfully wipes the Face of our Lord, for it is covered with blood, sweat, and spittle. She loves Jesus, and cares not what may happen to her, so she can offer him this slight comfort. Her love receives its reward : — she finds her Veil miraculously impressed with the likeness of Jesus’ Face. This courageous act of Veronica marks the Sixth Station of the Way of the Cross.

Jesus grows weaker at each step : — he falls a second time : it is the Seventh Station. Again do the soldiers violently raise him up, and push him along the road. It is easy to follow in his footsteps, for a streak of Blood shows where he has passed. A group of women is following close behind the soldiers; they heed not the insults heaped upon them ; their compassion makes them brave. But the last brutal treatment shown to Jesus is more than they can bear in silence ; they utter a cry of pitiful lamentation.

Our Saviour is pleased with these women, who, in spite of the weakness of their sex, are showing more courage than all the men of Jerusalem put together. He affectionately turns towards them, and tells them what a terrible chastisement is to follow the crime they are now witnessing. The chief Priests and Scribes recognise the dignity of the Prophet that had so often spoken to them : they listen with indignation, and, at this the Eighth Station of the Great “Way, they hear these words : Daughters of Jerusalem ! weep not over me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days shall come, wherein they will say : Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains : Fall upon us! And to the hills: Cover us ! ”

At last, they reach the foot of the hill. Calvary is steep ; but is the place of Jesus’ Sacrifice. He begins the ascent, but falls a third time : the hallowed spot is counted as the Ninth Station. A third time the soldiers force Jesus to rise and continue his painful journey to the summit of the hill, which is to serve as the Altar for the holocaust that is to surpass all others in holiness and power. The executioners seize the Cross and lay it upon the ground, preparatory to their nailing the Divine Victim to it. According to a custom, practised both by the Romans and the Jews, a cup containing wine and myrrh is offered to Jesus. This drink, which had the bitterness of gall, was given as a narcotic, in order to deaden, in some degree, the feeling of the criminal, and lessen his pain. Jesus raises to his lips the cup, which was proffered him rather from custom than from any idea of kindness ; but he drinks not its contents, for he wishes to feel the full intensity of the sufferings he accepts for our sakes. Then the executioners, having violently stripped him of his garments, which had fastened to his wounds, lead him to the Cross. The place where he was thus stripped of his garments, and where the cup of bitter drink was presented to him, is venerated as the Tenth Station of the Way of the Cross. The first nine, from Pilate’s hall to the foot of Calvary, are still to be seen in the streets of Jerusalem ; but the Tenth and the remaining four are in the interior of the Church of Holy Sepulchre, whose spacious walls inclose the spot where the last mysteries of the Passion were accomplished.

But we must here interrupt our history : we have already anticipated the hours of this great Friday, and we shall have to return, later on, to the hill of Calvary. It is time to assist at the service of our holy Mother the Church, in which she celebrates the Death of her Divine Spouse. We must not wait for the usual summons of the Bells ; they are silent ; we must listen to the call of our faith and devotion. Let us, then, repair to the House of God.


The ” Prayers” are ended. The charity and zeal of the Church have embraced the whole universe of men, invoking upon them the merciful effusion of that precious Blood, which is now flowing from the Wounds of her Crucified Lord. She turns next to her faithful Children. Filled with holy indignation at the humiliations heaped upon her Jesus, she invites us to an act of solemn reparation : it is to consist in our venerating that 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; 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 honour conferred upon it by the Son of God : — he consecrated it by his own Blood, he worked our salvation by its means. No time could be more appropriate than this for the honouring it with the humble tribute of our veneration.

The holy ceremony of venerating the Cross on Good Friday was first instituted at Jerusalem, in the 4th 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, as might be expected, were desirous to see the precious Relic, and, accordingly, it was exposed every Good Friday. This brought a very great number of pilgrims to Jerusalem ; and yet how few, comparatively, could hope to have the happiness of such a visit, or witness the magnificent ceremony ? An imitation of what was done, on this day, at Jerusalem, was a natural result of these pious desires. It was about the 7th century, that the practice of publicly venerating the Cross on Good Friday was introduced into other Churches. True, it was but an image of the True Cross that these other Churches could show to the people ; but as the respect that is paid to the True Cross refers to Christ himself, the Faithful could offer him a like homage of adoration, even though not having present before their eyes the sacred Wood which had been consecrated by the Blood of Jesus. Such was the origin of the imposing ceremony, at which holy Church now invites us to assist.

The Celebrant takes off the Chasuble, which is the badge of the Priesthood ; it is in order that the Reparation, which he is to be the first to offer to our outraged Jesus, may be made with all possible humility. He then stands on the step near the Epistle side of the Altar, and turns his face towards the people. The Deacon takes down the Cross from the Altar, and gives it to the Celebrant, who then unveils the upper part as far as the arms. He raises it a little, and sings these words : Ecce lignum Crucis ; Behold the wood of the Cross : Then he continues, joined by the Deacon and Subdeacon : on which hung the salvation in quo salus mundi pepen dit. The people then kneel down, and venerate the Cross, while the Choir sings these words : Come, let us adore. Venite, adoremus.

This first exposition, which is made at the side of the Altar, and in a low tone of voice, represents the first preaching of the Cross, that, namely, which the Apostles made, when, for fear of the Jews, they dared not to speak of the great Mystery except to the few faithful Disciples of Jesus. For the same reason, the Priest but slightly elevates the Cross. The homage here paid to it is intended as a reparation for the insults and injuries offered to our Redeemer in the house of Caiphas.

The Priest then comes to the front of the step, and is thus nearer to the people. He unveils the right arm of the Cross, and holds up the holy Sign of our Redemption higher than the first time. He then sings, and on a higher note : Behold the wood of the Ecce lignum Crucis ; Cross ; Then he continues, joined by the Deacon and Subdeacon : on which hung the salvation in quo salus mundi pepen of the world. The people then fall upon their knees, and continue in that posture, whilst the Choir sings : Come, let us adore. Venite adoremus.

This second elevation of the holy Cross signifies the Apostles’ extending their preaching the mystery of our Redemption to the Jews, after the descent of the Holy Ghost ; by which preaching they made many thousand converts, and planted the Church in the very midst of the Synagogue. It is intended as a reparation to our Saviour, for the treatment he received in the Court of Pilate.

The Priest then advances to the middle of the Altar, and, with his face still turned towards the people, he removes the veil entirely from the Cross. He elevates it more than he did the two preceding times, and triumphantly sings on a still higher note : Ecce lignum Crucis ; Behold the wood of the Cross ; The Deacon and Subdeacon here unite their voices with his : in quo salus mundi pepen- on which hung the salvation dit. of the world. The people fall down upon their knees, and the Choir sings : Venite adoremus. Come, let us adore.

This third and unreserved manifestation represents the mystery of the Cross being preached to the whole earth, when the Apostles, after being rejected by the majority of the Jewish people, turned towards the Gentiles, and preached Jesus Crucified, even far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. It is intended as a Reparation to our Lord for the outrages offered to him on Calvary.

There is also another teaching embodied in this ceremony of holy Church. By this gradual unveiling of the Cross, she 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. Honour, then, and veneration to his Cross. 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 ! Yea, let every Crucifix in our Church be unveiled, and every Altar beam once more with the vision of the glorious Standard !

But 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. The Deacon and Sub-deacon follow him, then the clergy, and lastly the people.

The chants which are used during this ceremony are exceedingly fine. First of all, there are the Improperia, that is, the Reproaches made by our Saviour 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 ! This form of prayer was used at Constantinople, so far back as the fifth Century. The Roman Church adopted it, retaining even the original Greek words, to which, however, she adds a Latin translation. The rest of this beautiful chant contains the comparison made by our Lord, between the favours he has bestowed upon the Jewish people, and the injuries he has received from them in return.



Holy Church will soon be calling us once more to join with her in the holy Offices : meanwhile, let us, as it behoves us, keep our hearts and thoughts upon our Redeemer, for these are the very Hours when he wrought our Salvation. Our morning’s meditation brought us to Calvary, where we were considering how the executioners stripped Jesus of his clothes, preparatory to their nailing him to the Cross. Let us reverently assist at the consummation of the Sacrifice, which he offers, for us, to the Justice of his Eternal Father.

The executioners led Jesus to the spot where the Cross is lying on the ground : it is the Eleventh Station. Like a lamb destined for a holocaust, he lays himself on the wood that is to serve as the Altar. They violently stretch his hands and feet to the places marked for them, and fasten them with nails to the wood. The Blood gushes forth from these four life-giving founts, wherein our souls are to find their purification. This is the fourth Bloodshedding. Mary hears the strokes of the hammer, and every blow wounds her heart. Magdalene’s grief is intensified by her incapability of helping her tortured Master. Jesus is heard to speak : it is his first Word on Calvary : Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ! O infinite goodness of our Creator ! He has come into this world, which is the work of his hands, and men nail him to a Cross : and on that Cross he prays for them, and in his prayer he seems to excuse them !

The Victim is fastened to the wood, whereon he is to die. But the Cross is not to be left, as it is, lying on the ground. Isaias has foretold that the Root of Jesse is to be raised up as a Standard of all nations. Yes, our Crucified God must be raised up, and, by that elevation, purify the polluted atmosphere of this world, infested as it is by the spirits of wickedness. He is the Mediator between God and men ; he is our High Priest ; our Intercessor ; — he is lifted up between earth and heaven, making reconciliation between them. Not far from the spot where the Cross now lies on the ground, they have made a hole in the rock, wherein to fix it, so that all may have a sight of Him that hangs upon it. It is the Twelfth Station. It needs a great effort to raise and plant the Tree of the world’s Redemption. The soldiers lift it up, and then, with impatient vehemence, let it fall into the hole. The shock tears the four wounds. Oh ! see him now exposed naked before the multitude, this good Jesus who is come to clothe the nakedness that sin has caused in us ! — The soldiers have done their work, and now they claim his Garments.

They tear them into four lots, and each takes a share : but a strange feeling induces them to respect his Tunic, which was without a seam, and, as we are told by a pious tradition, was woven by the hand of his Blessed Mother. Let us not cut it, say they, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be. It is a symbol of the unity of the Church, which is never to be broken under any pretext whatsoever. Above our Redeemer’s head there are written these words, in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin : Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews. The people read this Inscription, and say it to each other ; without wishing it, they are once more proclaiming the Royalty of the Son of David. The enemies of Jesus are quick enough to perceive this : they hasten to Pilate, and beseech him to have the Title changed. The only answer he deigns to make them is : What I have written, I have written. 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 tha.t he 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 towards 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 : — and the Tomb 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 own 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, St. Jerome. Origen, too, who had such opportunities of knowing the Jewish traditions, mentions this among the number. At a very early period, Christian Art introduced the custom of placing a human skull at the feet of Jesus’ image on the Cross : it was done to commemorate the great fact, to which we have been alluding.

But let us look up and see this Jesus of ours, whose life is so soon to end upon this instrument of torture. Here we behold him exposed to the view of the Jewish people, as the Serpent was, of old, lifted up, by Moses, in the desert. His enemies pass before him, making insulting gestures, and saying : Wah ! thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it, — save thine own self! If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. The Chief Priests and the Ancients continue the blasphemy, but adding their own emphasis to it : He saved others ; himself he cannot save ! If he be King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him now deliver him, if he will have him ; for he said : I am the Son of God. The two thieves, who were crucified with him, insulted him in like manner.

Never had God conferred on his creatures a blessing comparable to this : and yet, never did man so boldly insult his God ! Let us Christians, who adore Him whom the Jews blaspheme, offer him, at this moment, the Reparation he so infinitely deserves. These impious men cite his own words, and turn them against him : — let its reverently remind our Jesus of an expression he once deigned to use, which should fill us with hope : And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself? Sweet Jesus the time is come : thou art lifted up from the earth : fulfil thy promise, — draw us to thyself ! Alas ! this earth has such hold upon us, we are chained fast to it by so many ties ; self-love fetters us ; and when we attempt to fly towards thee, our flight is checked. Oh ! break our chains, and draw us to thyself, that we may at length reach thee, and thou be consoled by the conquest of our souls !

It is the Sixth hour, or, as we call it, mid-day. The sun immediately withdraws his light, and darkness covers the face of the earth. The stars appear in the heavens, and a gloomy silence pervades throughout the world. It is said, that the celebrated Denys the Areopagite of Athens, who was afterwards a disciple of St. Paul, exclaimed, on witnessing this awful eclipse : ” Either the God of nature is suffering, or the world is coming to an end.” Phlegon, a pagan author, who wrote a century after, tells us, that this sudden darkness spread consternation throughout the Roman Empire, and that the Astronomers owned it baffled all their calculations.

So terrible an indication of the wrath of heaven produced, a panic of fear among the spectators on Calvary. Blasphemers are struck dumb, and the blasphemies of them, that were just now insulting our Redeemer, cease. All is silent as death. The Thief, whose cross was at the right of Jesus’, feels himself touched with repentance and hope. Turning to his companion, he upbraids him for what he had been saying : Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation ? And we, indeed, justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds : but this Man hath done no evil. Jesus defended by a Thief, at the very time that he is being insulted by them who boast that they know every iota of (rod’s Law, and are sitting in the Chair of Moses ! Nothing could give us a clearer idea of the blindness, to which the Synagogue has voluntarily brought itself. This poor criminal, whose name is Dimas, represents the Gentile world, which now is steeped in ignorance and crime, yet is soon to be cleansed from all its abominations by confessing Jesus Crucified to be the Son of God. Turning his head towards our Saviour’s Cross, he thus prays to him : Lord ! remember me, when thou shalt come into thy kingdom I He believes Jesus to be King ; and the Chief Priests and Ancients were, but a moment ago, making jests with this King! Dimas sees the divine calmness and dignity of the innocent Victim : it is evidence enough ; he gives him his faith, and begs a remembrance from him when the day of his glory comes. Grace has made him a true Christian : and who can doubt, but that the grace was asked and obtained for him by Mary, the Mother of Mercy, who is now uniting herself in sacrifice together with her Jesus ? Jesus is pleased to find in this poor criminal the faith he had vainly sought for from Israel : he thus grants his humble prayer: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise? It is the second of Jesus’ Words on the Cross. The happy penitent is filled with joy, and awaits in patient silence the blissful moment when death shall set him free.

Meanwhile, Mary draws near to the Cross, whereon hangs her Son. She recognises him, in spite of all the darkness ; her love was her light. The eclipse has dispersed the crowd ; all is silent ; and the soldiers can find no reason for keeping the afflicted Mother from approaching her Son. Jesus looks with tenderest affection upon Mary ; the sight of her sorrow is a new grief to his sacred Heart. He is dying, and his Mother cannot console or embrace him. Magdalene, too, is there, distracted with grief. Those feet, which, a few days before, she had anointed with her most precious perfumes, are now pierced through with nails, and the Blood is clotting round the wounds. They are near enough to the ground for her to reach and bathe them with her tears ; but her tears cannot stay the pain. She is come to see the Death of Him that forgave her all her sins. John, the Beloved Disciple, the only Apostle that has followed Jesus to Calvary, is overwhelmed with sorrow. He thinks of the favour bestowed upon him last night, when he rested his head on the Breast of this dear Master, — and the remembrance intensifies his grief. He grieves for the Son, he grieves for the Mother. He little knows the reward he is soon to receive for this his love ! Mary of Cleophas has followed the Holy Mother up to the foot of the Cross. At some distance off, there stands a group of women, who loved Jesus, and had ministered unto him during his life.

The silence is again broken : Jesus speaks his third Word, and it is to his Mother : but he does not call her by that dear name, for it would redouble her pain : Woman ! he says, behold thy son ! Then looking upon John, he says to him Son ! behold thy Mother ! What an exchange was here for Mary ! but, oh ! what a blessing it brought upon John, and through him to all mankind ! — -the Mother of God was made our Mother ! This was the subject of our meditation on the Friday of Passion Week : let us, to-day, gratefully receive this last Testament of our Jesus, who, having by his Incarnation made us the adopted Children of his Heavenly Father, now, in his dying moments, makes us Children of his own Blessed Mother.

It is close upon the Ninth hour, — the third hour after mid-day, — and it is the one fixed by the eternal decree of God for the Death of Jesus. The feeling of abandonment, which had caused our Redeemer to suffer an Agony in the garden, now returns. He has taken upon himself the sins of mankind : the whole weight of God’s justice now presses on his soul. The bitter Chalice of God’s anger, which he is drinking to the very dregs, extorts from his lips this plaintive cry : My God ! My God ! Why hast thou forsaken me ? l It is the fourth Word. He does not say My Father ! He speaks as though he were but a poor Sinner, trembling before the judgment-seat of God. A burning thirst elicits from him the fifth Word : I thirst. Whereupon, one of the soldiers presents to his dying lips a sponge full of vinegar ; and this is all the refreshment he receives from that earth, on which he daily pours a heavenly dew, and to which he has given ever-flowing fountains and rivers.

The moment is at length come, when Jesus is to yield up his Soul to his Father. He has fulfilled every single prophecy that had been foretold of him, even that of his receiving vinegar when parched with thirst. He therefore speaks this his sixth Word : It is consummated. He has, then, but to die ; his Death is to put the finishing stroke to our Redemption, as the Prophet assures us. But he must die as God. This man, worn out by suffering, exhausted by his three hours’ agony, whose few words were scarce audible to them that stood round his Cross, — now utters a loud cry, which is heard at a great distance off, and fills the Centurion, who commands the guard, with fear and astonishment : — Father ! into thy hands I commend my spirit ! This is his seventh and last Word ; after which he bows down his head, and dies.

At this awful moment, the sun re-appears in the heavens, and darkness ceases : but the earth is shaken by an earthquake, and the rocks are split. The space between the Cross of Jesus and that of the bad Thief is violently rent asunder, and the opening is shown to this day. The Jewish Priests, who are in the Temple, are terrified at seeing the veil, which hides the Holy of Holies, torn from top to bottom : the time for figures and types is over, the great realities are come. Many holy personages arise from their graves, and return to life. But it is in hell itself that the Death of Jesus is most felt. Satan now sees who He is, against whom he has excited all this persecution. He sees, that the Blood which he has caused to be shed, has saved mankind and opened the gates of heaven. This Jesus, whom he dared to tempt in the desert, he now recognises as the Son of God, whose precious Blood has purchased for men a Redemption that was refused to the rebel Angels !

Jesus ! Son of the Eternal Father ! we adore thee now lying dead on the wood of thy Sacrifice. Thy bitter Death has given us Life. Like those Jews who saw thee expire, and returned to Jerusalem striking their breasts, — we, also, confess that it is our sins have caused thy Death. Thou hast loved us, as none but a God could love. Henceforth, we must be thine, and serve thee, as creatures redeemed at the infinite price of thy Blood. Thou art our God ; we are thy people. Accept, we beseech thee, our most loving thanks for this final proof of thy goodness towards us. Thy holy Church now silently invites us to celebrate thy praise. We leave Calvary for a time ; but will soon return thither, to assist at thy holy Burial. Mary, thy Mother, remains immoveable at the foot of thy Cross. Magdalene clings to thy feet. John and the holy women stand around thee. Once more, dearest Jesus ! we adore thy sacred Body, thy precious Blood, and thy holy Cross, that have brought us Salvation.


Let us return to Calvary, and there close this mournful day. We left Mary there, with Magdalene and other holy women, and the Beloved Disciple John. An hour has scarcely elapsed since Jesus died, when a troop of soldiers, led on by a Centurion, come up the hill, breaking the silence with their tramp and voices. They are sent by Pilate. The Chief Priests lost no time in returning to the Governor’s house : and he, at their request, has sent these men to break the legs of the three Crucified, detach them from their crosses, and bury them before night. The Jews count the days of their week from sunset ; so that the great Sabbath-Day is close upon them. The soldiers come to the Crosses ; they begin with the two thieves, and put an end to their sufferings and life by breaking their legs. Dimas dies in saintly dispositions, for the promise made to him by Jesus is his consolation : his companion dies blaspheming. The soldiers now advance towards Jesus : — Mary’s heart sinks within her : — what fresh outrage are these men about to offer to the lifeless and bleeding body of her Son ? On inspection, they find that he is dead ; but, that no doubt may be left, and no blame for neglect of orders fall upon them, one of the company raises up his spear and thrusts it into the right Side of the divine Victim, even to the Heart ; and when he draws his spear out, there gushes forth a stream of Water and Blood. This is the fifth Bloodshedding, and the fifth Wound inflicted on our Jesus upon the Cross. The Church honours this mystery on the Feast of the Sacred Heart ; let us reserve our reflections till then. 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 shall 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 are come to take the body of Jesus from the Cross, and give it an honourable burial. They have the requisite authorisation, 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 linen, and Nicodemus, whose servants have brought a hundred pound weight of myrrh and aloes, makes every arrangement for the embalming. They reverently wash the Body, for it was 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 he fastened with his own seal, and guarded by a patrol of soldiers.

The sun is just setting ; the great Sabbath, with its severe legal prescriptions, is just about to begin. Magdalene and the other women carefully notice the place where Jesus’ Body has been laid, and return with all speed to Jerusalem, that they may have time to purchase and prepare a quantity of materials for a more careful embalming of the Body early on the Sunday morning, that is, immediately after the Sabbath is over. The holy Mother takes a farewell-look at the Tomb wherein lies her Jesus, and then follows the rest into the City. John, her adopted son, keeps close to her. He is the guardian of Her, who, without ceasing to be Mother of God, has been made, also, Mother of men. But oh ! how much this second Maternity cost her ! She was standing at the Foot of the Cross, seeing her Jesus die, when she received us as her children. Let us imitate St. John, and keep our Blessed Mother company during these trying hours which she has to pass before her Son is risen from the grave.

How, 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 ? The holy Angels stand around thy Body, thus lying in its rocky grave. They are lost in amazement at thy having loved, to such an excess as this, thy poor ungrateful creature, — man. Thou hadst made them, as well as us, out of nothing, and they loved thee with all the intensity of their mighty spirits ; but the sight of thy Tomb reveals to them a fresh abyss of thine infinite goodness : — thou hast suffered death, not for their fallen fellow- angels, but for us men, who are so inferior to the Angels ! — Oh ! what a bond of love between us and thee must result from this Sacrifice of thy Life for us ! Thou hast died, Jesus, for us ! — we must, henceforth, live for thee. We promise it upon this Tomb, which, alas ! is the handiwork of our sins. We, too, wish to die to sin, and live to grace. For the time to come, we will follow thy precepts and thine examples ; we will avoid sin which has made us accomplices in thy Passion and Death. We will courageously bear, in union with thine own, the crosses of this life : they are indeed light compared with thine, but our weakness makes them heavy. And our death, too, — when the moment comes for us to undergo that sentence which even thou didst submit to, — we will accept it with resignation. 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. Thy Death, dearest Jesus ! has made our death become but a passing into life : and as, now, we leave thy holy Sepulchre with the certain hope of speedily seeing thee glorious in thy Resurrection ; 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.


MAUNDY THURSDAY ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger






This is the first day of the Azymes, or Feast of the Unleavened Bread. At sun-set, the Jews must eat the Pasch in Jerusalem. Jesus is still in Bethania ; but he will return to the City before the hour for the Paschal supper. The Law commands this ; and, until he has abrogated the Law by the shedding of his Blood, he wishes to observe its ordinances. He therefore sends two of his Disciples to get everything ready for the Pasch, without, however, telling them the great Mystery, wherewith it is to terminate.

We who know it, and that it was at this Last Supper that was instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we can understand why he sends Peter and John, in preference to any of the other Disciples, to prepare what is needed. Peter, who was the first to confess the Divinity of Jesus, represents Faith : and John, who leaned upon the breast of the Man-God, represents Love. The mystery, which is to be instituted at to-night’s Supper, is revealed to Love by Faith. It is this that Jesus would have us learn from his choice of the two Apostles ; but they themselves see not the intention of their Master.

Jesus, who knew all things, tells them by what sign they are to know the house, which he intends to honour with his presence : they have but to follow a man, whom they will see carrying a pitcher of water. The house to which this man is going, belongs to a rich Jew, who recognises Jesus as the Messias. The two Apostles apprise him of their Master’s wishes ; and immediately he puts at their disposal a large and richly furnished room. It was fitting, that the place, where the most august Mystery was to he instituted, should he something above the common. This Room, where the reality was to he substituted for all the ancient figures, was far superior to the Temple of Jerusalem. In it was to be erected the first Altar for the offering up of the clean oblation, foretold by the Prophet : l in it was to commence the Christian Priesthood : in it, finally, fifty days later on, the Church of Christ, collected together and visited by the Holy Ghost, was to make herself known to the world, and promulgate the new and universal Covenant of God with men. This favoured sanctuary of our Faith, is still venerated on Mount Sion. The Infidels have profaned it by their false worship, for even they look on it as a sacred place ; but as though Divine Providence, which has mercifully preserved unto us so many traces of our Redeemer, would give us an earnest of better days to come, — this venerable sanctuary has been recently thrown open to several Priests of the Church, and they have even been permitted to offer up the Holy Sacrifice in the very place where the Eucharist was instituted.

During the course of the day, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, with the rest of his Disciples : he has found all things prepared.

The Paschal Lamb, after being first presented in the Temple, has been brought to the house, where Jesus is to celebrate the Supper : it is prepared, together with the wild lettuce and the unleavened bread. In a few hours, the Divine Master and his Disciples will be standing round the table, their loins girt, and staves in their hands ; and, for the last time, they will observe the solemn rite prescribed by God to his people, when they first went forth from Egypt.

But let us wait for the hour of Mass, before going further into the details of this Last Supper. Meanwhile, let us seek edification and instruction in two holy functions, which belong to this great day. The first is the Reconciliation of Penitents, which, although not now in use, needs to be described, in order that our readers may have a proper idea of the Lenten Liturgy. The second is the Consecration of the Holy Oils, which is a ceremony confined to Cathedral Churches, but so interesting to the Faithful, that we should have scrupled to have excluded it from our volume. After having briefly described these, we will return to the history of the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament, and assist at Mass. Then we shall have to speak of the preparation for the Mass of the Presanctified for to-morrow’s service, of the Stripping the Altars, and of the Mandatum, or Washing of the Feet. We proceed, therefore, to explain these several ceremonies, which make Maundy Thursday to be one of the most sacred days of the Liturgical Year.

Three solemn Masses were anciently celebrated on this day ; and the first was preceded by the absolution of the public penitents, and their re-admission into the Church. The following was the order of the service for the Reconciliation of Penitents. They presented themselves at the Church-door, clad in penitential garb, and bare-footed. The hair of both head and beard had been allowed to grow from Ash Wednesday, the day on which they had received their penance. The Bishop recited, in the sanctuary, the seven Psalms, in which David expresses his sorrow for having offended Cod. These were followed by the Litany of the Saints.

During these prayers, the Penitents were prostrate in the porch, for entrance into the Church was forbidden them. Thrice during the Litany, the Bishop deputed some of the Clergy to go and visit them, in his name, and bear them words of hope and consolation. The first time, two Sub-Deacons went to them and said : As I live, saith the Lord, I will not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live. The second time, two other Sub-Deacons were sent, with this message : Thus saith the Lord : Do penance ; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Finally, a Deacon was commissioned to go to them, and say : Lift up your heads ; lo ! your redemption is nigh.

After these announcements of approaching pardon, the Bishop left the Sanctuary and went towards the Penitents, as far as half way down the centre nave, where was prepared a seat, turned towards the door which led into the porch, where the Penitents were still lying prostrate. The Pontiff being seated, the Archdeacon addressed him in these words : Venerable Pontiff ! The acceptable time has come, the day of God’s mercy and of man’s salvation, when death was destroyed, and eternal life began. This is the time, when, in the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth, new plants are to be set, and the detestableness of the old growth is to be pruned away. For though there be no period of time, which is not rich in the goodness and mercy of God, yet now indulgence produces a more abundant remission of sins, and grace yields a more plentiful number of the regenerated. Those that are regenerated add to our ranks ; those that return, increase our numbers. There is a laver of water ; there is a laver of tears. From the one, there is joy because of the admittance of them that are called ; from the other, there is gladness because of them that repent. Therefore it is, that these thy suppliant servants, — after having fallen into sundry kinds of sins, by the neglect of the divine commandments, and the transgression of the moral law, — humbled and prostrate, cry out to the Lord in these words of the Prophet : We have sinned : we have done unjustly ; we have committed iniquity : have mercy on us, Lord ! It has not been in vain, that they have heard the words of the Gospel : Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be comforted. As it is written, they have eaten the bread of sorrow ; they have watered their couch with tears ; they have afflicted their hearts with mourning, and their bodies with fasting, that thus they might recover the health of soul, which they had lost. The grace of penance, therefore, is one ; but it profits each one that receives it, and gives help to all in common.

The Bishop then rose, and advanced towards the Penitents. He spoke to them concerning the mercy of God, and how they should live for the time to come. After this exhortation, he thus addressed them : Come, come, come, my children ! I will teach you the fear of the Lord. The Choir then sang this Antiphon, taken from the 33rd Psalm : Come ye to him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded. Hereupon, the Penitents rose up, and, coming to the Bishop, threw themselves at his feet. The Archpriest then pleaded for them in these words : Make good in them, O Apostolic Pontiff, all that has been corrupted in them by the temptation of the devil ! By the merit of thy prayers and intercession, and by the grace of the divine reconciliation, bring these men nigh unto God. Thus, they who, heretofore, suffered by the sins they committed, may now be happy in the hope, that, having overcome the author of their death, they may please the Lord, in the land of the living.

The Bishop answered : Knowest thou, if they be worthy of reconciliation ? The Archpriest replied : I know, and bear witness, that they are worthy. A Deacon then ordered the Penitents to rise. This done, the Bishop took one of them by the hand, who did the same to his neighbour ; and thus all, hand in hand, followed the Bishop to the place prepared in the centre of the nave. Meanwhile, the Choir sang the following Antiphons : I say unto you, there is joy to the Angels of God over one sinner doing penance. It behoveth thee, my son, to rejoice ; for thy brother was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found. The Bishop then offered up to Grod this prayer, which he sang to the solemn tone of the Preface.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord : Whom thou, Almighty Father, didst will should be born among us by an ineffable Birth, that so he might pay to thee, his Eternal Father, the debt contracted by Adam, and put our death to death by his own, and bear our wounds in his own flesh, and cleanse away our stains by his Blood ; hereby enabling us, who had fallen by the envy of the old enemy, to rise again by his mercy. Through him, O Lord, we suppliantly beseech and pray thee that thou mayest graciously hear us making intercession for the sins of others, who are not worthy to plead for our own. Do thou, O most merciful Lord, recal to thyself, with thy wonted goodness, these thy servants, who have separated themselves from thee by their sins. For neither didst thou reject the most wicked Achab when he humbled himself before thee, but didst avert from him the punishment he had deserved. So, likewise didst thou graciously hear Peter, when he wept, and didst afterwards give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and thou didst promise the reward of that same kingdom to the Thief when he trusted in thee. Therefore, most merciful Lord ! mercifully welcome back these for whom we offer to thee our prayers, and restore them to the bosom of the Church, that the enemy may not triumph over them, but that they may be reconciled unto thee by thy co-equal Son, and by Him be cleansed from their guilt, and graciously admitted by Him to the banquet of thy most Holy Supper. May he in such wise refresh them by his Flesh and Blood, as to lead them, after this life’s course is run, to the kingdom of heaven.

After this Prayer, all, both clergy and laity, prostrated themselves, together with the Penitents, before the Divine Majesty, and recited the three Psalms which begin with the word Miserere, (that is, the 50th, the 55th, and the 56th). The Bishop then stood up, and said over the Penitents, (who remained prostrate, as did also all the assistants,) six Prayers, from which we select the following sentences.

Give ear, Lord, to our supplications, and mercifully hear me, though I myself need mercy above all others. Thou hast chosen me to be the minister of this work, not from any merits thou didst see in me, but by the pure gift of thy grace. Grant me courage to fulfil my office, and do thou work, by my ministry, the effects of thine own mercy. It is thou that didst bring back, on thy shoulders, the lost sheep to the fold, and that didst mercifully hear the prayers of the Publican : do thou, also, restore to life these thy servants, whom thou wouldst not have die unto thee. thou, who abandonest not them that are gone astray, receive these who have returned to thee. We beseech thee, Lord, let the tearful sighs of these thy servants move thee to clemency : heal their wounds : stretch out thy saving hand to them, and raise them up. Permit not thy Church to be injured in any of her members : let not thy flock surfer loss ; let not the enemy exult over the destruction of any of thy family, nor the second death lay hold of them that have been regenerated in the laver of salvation. Pardon, O Lord, these that confess their sins to thee : let them not fall into the punishments of the future judgment to come ; let them never know the horrors of darkness, or the torments of the flames of hell.

They have returned from the way of error to the path of justice ; let them not be again wounded, but maintain ever within themselves both what thy grace hath conferred upon them, and what thy mercy hath reformed within them.

Having said these Prayers, the Bishop stretched forth his hands over the Penitents, and pronounced the Reconciliation, in this solemn formula : May our Lord Jesus Christ, who vouchsafed to take away the sins of the whole world by delivering himself up for us, and shedding his spotless Blood ; who, also, said unto his Disciples : whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven ; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven : and who hath numbered me, though unworthy, among these his ministers : may he deign, by the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, of the blessed Archangel Michael, of holy Peter the Apostle, (to whom he gave the power of binding and loosing,) and of all the Saints, to absolve you, by the merits of his Blood shed for the remission of sins, from all whatsoever you have negligently committed in thought, or word, or action ; and, having loosed you from the bonds of sin, may he graciously lead you to the kingdom of heaven. Who, with God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.

The Bishop then advanced towards the Penitents, who were still lying prostrate : he sprinkled them with holy water, and thurified them. Finally, he addressed them in these words of the Apostle : Arise, ye that sleep ! arise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten you ! The Penitents stood up ; and, in order to express the joy they felt at being reconciled with their God, they immediately went and changed their penitential garb for one more in accordance with gladness, and with the Holy Communion they were now to receive together with the rest of the Faithful.

This Reconciliation of Penitents has given rise to the magnificent ceremony, which takes place at Rome on this day, — the Papal Benediction. After Mass, the Sovereign Pontiff, vested in cope, and wearing the tiara, goes to the balcony over the centre door of the Vatican Basilica. In the Piazza of Saint Peter’s there stands an immense crowd of people, come from every country of the world, awaiting the appearance of the Vicar of Christ, who is about to grant them the remission of the punishment due to their sins. One of the Prelates, who surround the Pope’s throne, recites the usual form of the Confession of Sins ; he recites it in the name of the assembly below, whom one and the same holy Faith has thus brought before the Father of the Christian World. After a few seconds of silence, the Pontiff beseeches God to show the riches of his Mercy upon the multitude, who have already purified their conscience in the Tribunal of reconciliation ; he invokes upon them the assistance of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul ; and then rising, he raises up his hands to heaven, as though to draw thence the treasures of eternal indulgence ; and immediately lowering them, he blesses the assembled multitude. This Blessing, which grants a Plenary Indulgence to all that have fulfilled the requisite conditions, was, originally, given only on Maundy Thursday ; afterwards, it was given also on Easter Sunday ; and again, later on, was extended to two other days in the year, namely, the Ascension (at Saint John Lateran), and the Assumption (at Saint Mary Major).




The second Mass which used, formerly, to be said on Maundy Thursday, was that of the Blessing of the Holy Oils. This holy function, which takes place but once each year, requires a Bishop as the consecrator. For now many centuries, this great ceremony is celebrated at the single Mass, which is said, on this day, in commemoration of our Lord’s Supper. As this Blessing only takes place in Cathedral Churches, we will not enter into each detail ; and yet we would not deprive our readers of what they ought to know with regard to the Holy Oils. Faith teaches us, that, as we are regenerated by water, so are we confirmed and fortified by oil ; and that Oil is one of the chief elements chosen by the Divine Author of the Sacraments, whereby to signify and produce grace in our souls.

The reason of the Church’s selecting Maundy Thursday for the Blessing of the Holy Oils, was that It is incorrectly called a Blessing TJrbi et Orbi, inasmuch as it is only given to the Faithful who are present at it they would be so muoh needed for the Baptism of the neophytes on Easter Eve. It behoves the Faithful to understand the mystery of those sacred elements. We will, therefore, briefly explain it to them, in order that we may excite their hearts to gratitude to our Blessed Lord, who has made material things the instruments of grace, and, by his Blood, has given them the sacramental power which resides within them.

The first of the Holy Oils, that is, the first that is blessed by the Bishop, is the one called the Oil of the Sick. It is the matter of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. It takes away, from the dying Christian, the remnants of sin ; it strengthens him in his last combat ; and, by the supernatural power it possesses, sometimes restores to him the health of the body. Formerly, it used to be blessed on any day of the year, as often as required : but, later on, its Blessing was fixed for this day, that thus the three Oils might be blessed all together. The Faithful should assist with much devotion, at this ceremony ; for the element that is thus sanctified, is one day to anoint and purify their bodies, sinking under sickness. Let them, as they see it being blessed, think upon their last hour, and praise the infinite goodness of their Saviour, “whose blood streams so plentifully through ” this precious fluid.”

The noblest of the three Oils is the Chrism, and its consecration is more solemn, and fuller of mystery, than those of the other two. It is by the chrism that the Holy Ghost imprints his indelible seal on the Christian, that has already been made a member of Christ by Baptism. The Water gives us our spiritual birth ; the Chrism gives us strength ; and, until such time as we have received its holy anointing, we have not as yet the perfect character of a Christian.

Anointed with this holy Oil, the Faithful has a visible sign given him of his being a member of the Man-God, whose name of Christ signifies the unction he has received both as King and Pontiff. This consecration of a Christian by Chrism is so much in accordance with the spirit of our holy Religion, that, immediately after Baptism, the child receives upon its head an anointing, (though it is not a sacramental one,) of this Oil, to show that he is already a sharer of the kingly character of Jesus Christ.

In order to express, by an outward sign, the sacredness of Chrism, an Apostolic tradition requires the Bishop to mix Balm with it. This Balm represents what the Apostle calls the good odour of Christ, of whom it is written : We will run after thee, to the odour of thy ointments. The scarcity and high price of other perfumes has obliged the Latin Church to be content with Balm alone in the mixture of holy Chrism : but in the Eastern Church, where the climate is more favourable than ours, three and thirty species of precious perfumes are put into the Oil, and it thus becomes an ointment of exquisite fragrance.

The holy Chrism, besides its sacramental use in Confirmation, and its being put upon the head of the newly baptised, is also used by the Church in the consecration of her Bishops, in the consecration of Chalices and Altars, in the blessing of Bells, and in the Dedication of a Church, in which last most imposing ceremony, the Bishop pours out the Chrism on the twelve crosses, which are to attest to all succeeding ages, the glory of God’s House.

The third of the holy Oils is that which is called the Oil of Catechumens. Though it be not the matter of any Sacrament, it is, nevertheless, an Apostolic institution. Its blessing is less solemn than that of the Chrism, but more so than that of the Oil of the Sick. The Oil of Catechumens is used in the ceremonies of Baptism, for the anointing the breast and shoulders. It is also used for the anointing a Priest’s hands in Ordination, and for the coronation of a King or Queen.

These few words of explanation will give the Faithful some idea of the importance of the Blessing of the holy Oils. By this threefold Blessing, says St. Fortunatus, (in the beautiful Hymn, which is used during the ceremony,) the Bishop acquits the debt he owes, and which none but he can pay.

The holy Church seldom employs such pomp as she does on this occasion. Twelve Priests, seven Deacons, and seven Subdeacons, are present. The Roman Pontifical tells us, that the twelve Priests assist as witnesses and co-operators of the holy Chrism. The Mass commences, and goes on as far as the Prayer of the Canon, which immediately precedes the Pater noster. The Bishop then leaves the Altar, and goes to the place prepared for the Blessing. The first phial of Oil that is brought to him, is that which is intended for the sick. He prefaces the blessing, by pronouncing the words of exorcism over this oil, in order to drive from it the influence of the wicked spirits, who, out of hatred for man, are ever seeking to infest the creatures given to us for our use. This done, he blesses it in these words : We beseech thee, O Lord, send forth from heaven thy Holy Spirit the Paraclete upon this rich juice of the olive, which thou hast graciously produced from the green wood, for the solace of both mind and body. By thy holy blessing, may all they that are anointed with this ointment of heavenly virtue, receive help to mind and body ; may it remove from them all pains, all infirmities, and all sickness of mind and body, for it was with oil that thou didst anoint thy Priests, Kings, Prophets, and Martyrs. May this, being blessed by thee, O Lord, become unto us an ointment of perfection, and abide within our whole being. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the seven Subdeacons then carries the phial back, and the Bishop returns to the Altar, and continues the Mass. As soon as he has given Holy Communion to the Clergy, he returns to the place prepared for the blessing of the Oils. The twelve Priests, the seven Deacons, and the seven Subdeacons, repair to the place where the other two phials have been put. One contains the oil, which is to become the Chrism of salvation ; the other, the oil which is to be sanctified as the oil of Catechumens. The procession is soon seen returning towards the Pontiff. The two phials are carried by two Deacons ; a Subdeacon carries the vase of Balm. The Bishop begins by blessing the Balm : he calls it “the fragrant ” tear of dry bark, — the oozing of a favoured branch, ” that gives us the priestly unction.” Before proceeding to bless the oil of the Chrism, he thrice breathes upon it, in the form of a cross. The twelve Priests do the same. The Gospel tells us that our Blessed Saviour used this same ceremony over his Apostles. It signifies the power of the Holy Ghost, and expresses his name, which is The Spirit. This Holy Spirit is about to make this oil become an instrument of his Divine power. The Bishop first prepares it for the heavenly dignity, by exorcising it. He then celebrates the praises of the Chrism, by this magnificent Preface, which has been handed down to us from the earliest ages of our faith. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God : who, in the beginning, among the rest of thy bounteous gifts, didst command the earth to yield fruitbearing trees, among which should be the olive, which produces this most rich liquor, and whose fruit was to serve for the making holy Chrism. Hence it was, that David, foreknowing, by a prophetic spirit, the Sacraments of thy grace, sang that our faces were to be made glad with oil : and when the sins of the world were expiated of old, by the deluge, a dove announced that peace was restored to the earth, by bearing an olive branch, the type of the gift to come, which has been manifested in these latter ages ; for after the waters of Baptism have washed away the sins of men, this anointing of oil gave us joy and calm. Hence, too, thou didst command thy servant Moses to ordain his brother Aaron priest, by pouring oil upon him, after he had been cleansed with water. A greater honour still was, that when thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, bade John baptise him in the waters of the Jordan, thou didst send upon him the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove ; that thus by a voice that bore testimony, thou mightest designate thine Only Begotten Son, in whom thou wast well pleased, and mightest prove, beyond all doubt, that this was the fulfilment of what the Prophet David had foretold, when he sang, that he was to be anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. “We, therefore, beseech thee, Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, that thou vouchsafe to sanctify, by thy blessing, this thy creature oil, and infuse into it the virtue of the Holy Ghost, through the co-operating power of Christ, thy Son, from whose name it hath borrowed its own of Chrism, and wherewith thou didst anoint the Priests, Kings, Prophets, and Martyrs. Raise this Chrism into a Sacrament of perfect salvation and life, to them that are to be renewed by the spiritual laver of Baptism. That thus, the corruption of their first birth being absorbed by the infusion of this holy anointing, they may become a holy temple, redolent with the fragrance of the innocence of holy living. According to what thou hast appointed in this mystery, bestow upon them the honour of kings, priests, and prophets, by vesting them in the robe of incorruption. May this oil be to them, that are born again from water and the Holy Ghost, a Chrism of salvation, making them partakers of life everlasting, and co-heirs of heavenly glory.

The Bishop then takes the Balm ; and having mixed it, on a paten, with a little oil, he pours it into the Phial. The consecration of the Chrism thus completed, he salutes it with these words : Hail, Holy Chrism ! This he does with the intention of honouring the Holy Ghost, who is to work by this sacramental oil. The same is done by each of the twelve Priests.

The Bishop then proceeds to bless the Oil of Catechumens. After having breathed upon it, and pronounced the exorcism, (as before, in the blessing of the holy Chrism,) he says this Prayer : O God, the rewarder of every spiritual increase and growth. ! who strengthenest the beginnings of weakly souls by the power of the Holy Ghost : we beseech thee, O Lord, that thou vouchsafe to pour out thy blessing upon this oil, and grant to them, that come to the laver of holy regeneration, the cleansing of soul and body, by the anointing they receive from this thy creature ; that so, if there should be any stains fixed upon them by their spiritual enemies, they may be effaced by the touch of this holy oil. May the wicked spirits find no room there ; may the powers, that have been put to flight, have no further sway ; may there be no lurking place left to insidious evil ones. May thy servants that come to the faith, and are to be cleansed by the operation of thy Holy Spirit, find in this anointing a preparation for that salvation, which they are to receive in the Sacrament of Baptism, by the Birth of a heavenly regeneration. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who is to come to judge the living, and the dead, and the world by fire. Amen.

The Bishop then salutes the Oil, on which he has conferred these wonderful prerogatives, saying : Hail, holy Oil ! The same act of reverence is repeated by each of the Priests. One of the deacons takes the Chrism, an other the Oil of Catechumens, and a procession is again formed for taking them to the place prepared for them. They are covered with veils of silk ; — the holy Chrism, with white : the Oil of Catechumens, with purple.


The Church intends, on this day, to renew, in a most solemn manner, the mystery of the Last Supper : for our Lord himself, on this occasion of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, said to his Apostles : Do this for a Commemoration of me} Let us, therefore, resume the Jesus is in the Supper chamber, where the Paschal Lamb is to be eaten. All the Apostles are with him ; Judas is there, also, but his crime is not known to the rest. Jesus approaches the table, on which the Lamb is served. His Disciples stand around him. The ceremonies prescribed by God to Moses are religiously observed. At the beginning of the repast, Jesus speaks these words to his Apostles : With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I suffer? In saying this, he does not imply that the Pasch of this year is intrinsically better than those that have preceded it ; but, that it is dearer to him, inasmuch as it is to give rise to the institution of the new Pasch, which he has prepared for mankind, and which he is now going to give them as his last gift ; for as St. John says, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. During the repast, Jesus, who reads the hearts of all men, utters these words, which cause great consternation among the Disciples : Amen I say to you, that one of you is about to betray me : — he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me. The sadness, with which he speaks, is enough to soften any heart ; and Judas, who knows his Master’s goodness, feels that they imply a merciful pardon, if he will but ask it. But no : the passion of avarice has enslaved his soul, and he, like the rest of the Apostles, says to Jesus : Is it I, Rabbi ? Jesus answers him in a whisper, in order not to compromise him before his brethren : Thou hast said it. But Judas yields not. He intends to remain with Jesus, until the hour comes for betraying him. Thus, the august mystery, which is on the point of being celebrated, is to be insulted by his presence !

The legal repast is over. It is followed by a feast, which again brings the Disciples around their Divine Master. It was the custom in the East, that guests should repose two and two on couches round the table ; these have been provided by the disciple, who has placed his house at Jesus’ service. John is on the same couch as Jesus, so that it is easy for him to lean his head upon his Master’s breast. Peter is on the next couch, on the other side of Jesus, who is thus between the two Disciples, whom he had sent, in the morning, to prepare the Pasch, and who, as we have already observed, represent Faith and Love. This second repast is a sorrowful one, in consequence of Jesus having told the guests, that one of them is a traitor. The innocent and affectionate John is overwhelmed with grief, and seeks consolation on the Heart of his dear Lord, whom some one is about to deliver to his enemies.

But the Apostles little expect a third Supper, Jesus has not told them of his intention ; but he had made a promise, and he would fulfil it before his Passion. Speaking, one day, to the people, he had said : I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven : if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever, and the Bread that I will give, is my Flesh for the life of the world. My Flesh is meat indeed, and my Blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my Flesh and drinketh my Blood, abideth in me, and I in him. The time has come for the fulfilment of this his loving promise. But as it was both his Flesh and his Blood that he promised us, he waited till the time of his sacrifice. His Passion has begun ; he is sold to his enemies ; his life is already in their hands ; — he may at once, therefore, offer himself in sacrifice, and give to his Disciples the very Flesh and Blood of the Victim.

As soon as the second repast was over, Jesus suddenly rises, and, to the astonishment of his Apostles, takes off his upper garment, girds himself, as a servant, with a towel, pours water into a basin, and prepares to wash the feet of the guests. It was the custom, in the East, to wash one’s feet, before taking part in a feast ; it was considered as the very extreme of hospitality, when the master of the house himself did this service to his guest. Jesus is about to regale his Apostles with a Divine Banquet ; he wishes to treat them with every possible mark of welcome and attention. But in this, as in every other action of his, there is a fund of instruction : he would teach us, by what he is now doing, how great is the purity, wherewith we should approach the Holy Table. He that is washed, says he, needeth not but to wash his feet ; as though he would say : ” The holiness of ” this Table is such, that they who come to it, should ” not only be free from grievous sins, but they should, ” moreover, strive to cleanse their souls from those “lesser faults, which come from contact with the ” world, and are like the dust that covers the feet of ” one that walks on the high- way.” We will explain further on, the other teachings conveyed by this action of our Lord.

It is with Peter, the future head of his Church, that Jesus begins. The Apostle protests ; he declares that he will never permit his Master to humble himself so low as this : but he is obliged to yield. The other Apostles, (who, as Peter himself, are reclining upon their couches,) receive the same mark of love : Jesus comes to each of them in turn, and washes their feet. Judas is not excepted : he has just received a second warning from his merciful Master ; for Jesus, addressing himself to all the Apostles, said to them : You are clean ; but not all : l but the reproach produced no effect upon this hardened heart. Having finished washing the feet of the Twelve, Jesus resumes his place, side by side with John.

Then taking a piece of the unleavened bread, that had remained over from the feast, he raises his eyes to heaven, blesses the bread, breaks it, and distributes it to his Disciples, saying to them : Take ye, and eat ; this is my Body. The Apostles take the bread, which is now changed into the Body of their Divine Master : they eat ; — and Jesus is, now, not only with them, but in them. But, as this sacred mystery is not only the most holy of the Sacraments, but, moreover, a true Sacrifice ; and as a Sacrifice requires the shedding of blood ;— our Jesus takes the cup, and changing the wine into his own Blood, he passes it round to his Disciples, saying to them : Drink ye, all, of this ; for this is my Blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many, unto remission of sins. The Apostles drink from the sacred chalice thus proffered them ; when it comes to Judas, he too, partakes of it, but he drinks his own damnation, as he ate his own judgment, when he received the Bread of Life. Jesus, however, mercifully offers the traitor another grace, by saying, as he gives the Cup to his Disciples : The hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table?

Peter is struck by Jesus thus frequently alluding to the crime, which is to be committed by one of the Twelve. He is determined to find out who the traitor is. Not daring himself to ask Jesus, at whose right hand he is sitting, he makes a sign to John, who is on the other side, and begs him to put the question. John leans on Jesus’ breast, and says to him in a whisper : Lord, who is it ? Jesus answers him in an equally suppressed tone : He to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And having taken one of the pieces of bread that remained over from the repast, he dipped it, and gave it to Judas. It was one more grace offered and refused, for the Evangelist adds : And after the morsel, Satan entered into him Jesus again addresses him, saying : That which thou dost, do quickly. The wretch then leaves the room, and sets about the perpetration of his crime.

Such is the history of the Last Supper, of which we celebrate the anniversary on this day. But there is one circumstance of the deepest interest to us, and to which we have, so far, only made an indirect allusion. The institution of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and Sacrifice, is followed by another, — the institution of a new Priesthood. How could our Saviour have said : Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his Blood, you shall not have life in you? — unless he had resolved to establish a ministry upon earth, whereby he would renew, even to the end of time, the great Mystery he thus commands us to receive ? He begins it to-day, in the Cenacle. The twelve Apostles are the first to partake of it : but observe what he says to them : Do this for a commemoration of me? By these words, he gives them power to change bread into his Body, and wine into his Blood ; and this sublime power shall be perpetuated in the Church, by holy Ordination, even to the end of the world. Jesus will continue to operate, by the ministry of mortal and sinful men, the Mystery of the Last Supper. By thus enriching his Church with the one and perpetual Sacrifice, he also gives us the means of abiding in him, for he gives us, as he promised, the Bread of heaven. To-day, then, we keep the anniversary, not only of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, but, also, of the equally wonderful Institution of the Christian Priesthood.

To offer the Faithful an outward expression of the greatness and the unity of this Supper, which our Saviour gave to his Disciples, and, through them, to us, — the Church forbids her Priests to say private Masses on this day, except in cases of necessity. She would have but one Sacrifice to be offered in each church, at which the other Priests are to assist, and receive Holy Communion from the hands of the Celebrant. When approaching the Altar, they put on the Stole, the emblem of their Priesthood.

The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the Year ; and although the Feast of Corpus Christi is the day for the solemn honouring the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, — still, the Church would have the anniversary of the Last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour. The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Christ- mas Day and Easter Sunday ; the decorations of the Altar and Sanctuary all bespeak joy : and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mass, which show that the holy Bride of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient. The Priest entones the Angelic Hymn, Glory be to God in the highest ! and the Bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole singing of the heavenly Canticle : but, from that moment, they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mouringfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours of the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year ? It is to show us, that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified. Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the Apostles, (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the Bells, whose ringing summons the Faithful to the House of God,) fled from their Divine Master and left him a prey to his enemies.

The Holy Sacrifice continues as usual ; but at the solemn moment of the Elevation of the Holy Host and the Chalice of Salvation, the Bell is silent, and, outside the Church, there is not given to the neighbourhood the usual signal of the descent of Jesus upon the Altar. When the time of the holy Communion is near, the Priest does not give the Kiss of Peace to the Deacon, who according to the Apostolic tradition, should transmit it, by the Sub-deacon, to those who are about to communicate. Our thoughts turn to the traitor Judas, who, on this very day, profaned the sign of friendship by making it an instrument of death. It is out of detestation for this crime, that the Church omits, to-day, the sign of fraternal charity, — it would too painfully remind us of sacrilegious hypocrisy.

Another rite, peculiar to to-day, is the Priest’s consecrating two Hosts during the Mass. One of these he receives in Communion ; the other he reserves, and reverently places it in a Chalice, which he covers with a veil. The reason of this is, that, tomorrow, the Church suspends the daily Sacrifice. Such is the impression produced by the anniversary of our Saviour’s Death, that the Church dares not to renew, upon her Altars, the immolation which was then offered on Calvary : — or rather, her renewal of it will be by the fixing all her thoughts on the terrible scene of that Friday Noon. The Host reserved from to-day’s Mass, will be her morrow’s participation. This rite is called the Mass of the Presanctifled, because, in it, the Priest does not consecrate, but only receives the Host consecrated on the previous day. Formerly, as we shall explain more fully further on, the holy Sacrifice was not offered up on Holy Saturday, and yet the Mass of the Presanctified was not celebrated as it was on the Friday.

But, although the Church suspends, for a few short hours, the oblation of the perpetual Sacrifice, — she would not that her Divine Spouse should lose aught of the homage, that is due to him in the Sacrament of his Love. Catholic piety has found a means of changing these trying hours into a tribute of devotion to the Holy Eucharist. In every Church is prepared a richly ornamented side- chapel or pavilion, where, after to-day’s Mass, the Church places the Body of her Divine Lord. Though veiled from their view, the Faithful will visit him in this his holy resting-place, pay him their most humble adorations, and present him their most fervent supplications. Wheresoever the Body shall be, there shall the eagles be gathered together. 1 In every part of the Catholic world, a concert of prayer, more loving and earnest than at any other period of the Year, will be offered to our Jesus, in reparation for the outrages he underwent, during these very hours, from the Jews. Around this anticipated Tomb will be united both his long-tried and fervent servants, and those who are newly converted, or are preparing for their reconciliation.

At Rome, the Station is in the Lateran Basilica. The metropolitan Church both of the Holy City and the World was deservedly chosen for this great Day of the Reconciliation of Sinners and the Consecration of the Chrism. The Papal function, however, now takes place at the Vatican ; and, as we have already stated, the Apostolic Benediction is given by the Sovereign Pontiif from the loggia of Saint Peter’s.



As soon as Vespers are over, the Celebrant returns to the Sanctuary, assisted by the Deacon and Subdeacon. He goes to the Altar, and takes off the cloths and ornaments. This ceremony signifies the suspension of the Holy Sacrifice. The Altar should be left in this denuded state, until the daily offering can be again presented to the Divine Majesty ; that is, when the Spouse of the holy Church shall arise from the Grave, the Conqueror of Death. He is now in the hands of his enemies, the Jews, who are about to strip him of his garments, just as we strip the Altar. He is to be exposed naked to the insults of the rabble : and for this reason, the Psalm selected to be recited during this mournful ceremony is the 21st, wherein the Messias speaks of the Roman soldiers’ dividing his garments among them.


After having, on this day, washed the feet of his Disciples, Jesus said to them : Know ye what I have done to you ? You call me Master and Lord : and you say well, for so I am. If then, being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet ; you, also, ought to wash one another } s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. Although the meaning of these words is, that after the example of our Divine Master, we should practise works of fraternal charity towards our neighbour, — yet the literal imitation of this our Saviour’s act has always been observed in the Church.

At the commencement, it was almost a daily practice. St. Paul, when mentioning the qualities which should adurn the Christian Widow, includes that of washing the feet of the Saints, 2 that is, of the Faithful. We find this act of humble charity practised 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, almost exclusively, to Monasteries. Still, from time to time, it was practised elsewhere. We occasionally find Kings and Queens setting this example of humility. The holy King Robert of France, and, later, St. Louis, used frequently to wash the feet of the poor. The holy Queens, St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, did the same. The Church, with that spirit which makes her treasure up every recommendation of her Divine Lord, has introduced this act of humility into her Liturgy, and it is to-day that she puts the great lesson before her children. In every Church of any importance, the Prelate, or Superior, honours our Saviour’s condescension by the ceremony, called the Washing of the Feet. The Bishops throughout the world follow the example set them by the Sovereign Pontiff, who performs this ceremony in the Vatican. Yea, there are still to be found Kings and Queens who, on this day, wash the feet of the poor, and give them abundant alms.

The Twelve Apostles are represented by the twelve poor, who according to the most general practice, are chosen for this ceremony. The Pope, however, washes the feet of thirteen Priests of as many different countries ; and this is the reason of the Ceremonial requiring this number for Cathedral Churches. But, why thirteen ? Some have interpreted it thus : that it represented the full number of the Apostolic College, which is thirteen, for St. Matthias was elected in Judas’ place, and our Lord himself, after his Ascension, called St. Paul to be an Apostle. Other authors, however, among whom the learned Pope Benedict the Fourteenth, assert, that the reason of this number being chosen was the miracle related in the life of St. Gregory the Great. This holy Pope used, every day, to wash the feet of twelve poor men, whom he afterwards invited to his own table. One day, a thirteenth was present : — it was an Angel, whom God had sent, that he might thereby testify how dear to him was the charity of his servant.

The Ceremony of the Washing of the Feet is, also, called the Mandatum, from the first word of the first Antiphon. After the Deacon has chanted the Gospel of the Mass of Maundy Thursday (page 378,) the Celebrant takes off the Cope, girds himself with a towel, and, kneeling down, begins to wash the feet of those who have been chosen. He kisses the right foot of each one, after having washed it.



At a late hour in the afternoon, the Night Office of Good Friday is anticipated, as was done yesterday. The Faithful repair to the Church at the time specified. Let them remember, that the Bells are not rung from this till Saturday.


Judas has left the Cenacle, and, profiting of the darkness, has reached the place where the enemies of his Saviour are assembled. Jesus then turns to his faithful Apostles, and says to them : Now is the Son of Man glorified} Yes, his Passion is to be followed by triumph and glory ; and the Passion has already begun, for Judas has commenced his work of betraying him. Meanwhile, the Apostles, — forgetting the trouble, into which they had been thrown by Jesus’ telling them, that one of the Twelve was about to betray him, — begin to dispute among themselves, which of them should seem to be greater. They have not forgotten the words spoken by Jesus to Peter, when he made him the Rock, on which he would build his Church ; and here, at the Supper, they have seen their Divine Master wash the feet of Peter first. On the other hand, John’s affectionate familiarity with Jesus, during this same Supper, has made some of them argue, that he who was most loved, would be most honoured.

Jesus puts an end to this dispute, by giving to these future Pastors of his Church a lesson of humility. There shall, it is true, be a Head among them, but, says our Redeemer, let him that is the greater among you, become as the younger ; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. He bids them look at him : he is their Master, and yet, says he, I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth? Then turning towards Peter, he thus addresses him : Simon, Simon ! behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not : and thou, being once converted, confirm thy Brethren} This last interview is, as it were, our Saviour’s Testament ; he provides for his Church, before leaving her. The Apostles are to be Peter’s Brethren, but Peter is to be their Head. This sublime dignity is to be enhanced by the humility of him that enjoys it : he shall be ” The Servant of the Servants of God.” The Apostolic College is to be exposed to the fury of hell ; but Peter alone is to confirm his Brethren in the faith. His teaching shall ever be conformable to Divine Truth ; it shall be ever Infallible: Jesus has prayed that it may be so. Such a prayer is all-powerful ; and thereby, the Church, ever docile to the voice of Peter, shall for ever maintain the doctrine of Christ.

Jesus, after having provided for the future of his Church by the words he addressed to Peter, thus speaks affectionately to all the eleven : Little children ! yet a little while I am with you. Love one an other. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples , if ye have love one for another. Peter says to him : Lord ! whither goest thou ? — Whither I go, answers Jesus, thou canst not now follow me ; but thou shalt follow hereafter. — Why cannot I follow thee now ? again asks Peter : ” will lay down my life for thee. — Wilt thou, replies Jesus, lay down thy life for me ? Amen, amen, I say to thee : the cock shall not crow, till thou deny me thrice. Peter’s love for Jesus had too much of the human about it, for it was not based on humility. Presumption comes from pride : it almost always results in a fall. In order to prepare Peter for his future ministry of pardon, as also to give us a useful lesson, God permits that he, who was soon to be made Prince of the Apostles, should fall into a most grievous and humiliating sin.

But let us return to the instructions contained in the last words spoken by our Jesus before he leaves his disciples. I am, says he, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If you love me, keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. I will not leave you orphans ; I will come to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you : not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father. I will not now speak many things with you, for the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not anything. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I, — arise, let us go hence. Deeply impressed by these words, the Disciples arise, and, after the hymn of thanksgiving has been said, they accompany Jesus to Mount Olivet.

He continues his instructions as they go along. He takes occasion from their passing by a Vine to speak of the effect produced by divine grace in the soul of man. I am the true vine, he says, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away, and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine ; so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the Vine, you are the branches : he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit : for without me you can do nothing. If any one abideth not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burned. You have not chosen me : but I have chosen you, and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain.

He next speaks to them of the persecutions that await them, and of the hatred the world will have of them. He renews the promise he had made them of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and tells them that it is to their advantage that he himself should leave them. He assures them, that they shall obtain whatever they ask of the Father in his name. The Father, he adds, loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again I leave the world, and I go to the Father. The Disciples say to him : Now -we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou comest forth from God. — Do you now believe ? answered Jesus : behold ! the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone. All you shall be scandalised in me this night : for it is written : “I” will strike the shepherd, “and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed.” But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee?

Peter again protests that he will he faithful to his Master ; the rest may abandon him, if they will, but he will keep with him to the last ! It should, indeed, be so, for he has received so much more from Jesus than the others have : but he is again humbled by being told of his coming speedy fall. Jesus then calmly raising up his eyes to heaven, says : Father ! the hour is come ; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee. I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do ; I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me. They have known that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them ; I pray not for the world. And now I am not in the world, and these are in the ivorld, and I come to thee. Holy Father ! keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me ; that they may be one, as we also are. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me, have kept ; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture may be fulfilled. I have given them thy word ; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil. Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who, through their word, shall believe in me : that they all may be one, as thou, Father ! in me, and I in thee : that they also may be one in us : that the world may know, that thou hast sent me. Father, I will that where I am, they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me ; that they may see the glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world. Just Father ! the world hath not known thee ; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have made known thy name to them, and will make it known, that the love, wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.

Such are the out-pourings of the loving Heart of our Jesus, as he crosses the Brook of Cedron, and ascends, with his Disciples, the Mount of Olives. 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 over-powered 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. He whose language was, a few moments before, so calm, his look so serene, and his tone of voice so sweet, — now says to them : My soul is sorrowful even unto death : stay you here, and watch with me.

He leaves them, and goes to a grotto, which is about a stone’s throw distant. Even to this day it exists, perpetuating the memory of the terrible event. There does our Jesus prostrate himself, and prays, saying : Father ! all things are possible to thee. Remove this chalice from me : — but, not what I will, but what thou wilt. Whilst thus praying, a Sweat of Blood flows from his body and bathes the ground. It is not merely a swooning, — it is an Agony, that he suffers. God sends help to his sinking frame, and it is an Angel that is intrusted with the office. 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. Jesus has to accept all this, and at the very time, when he seems to be left to his Human Nature. The power of the Divinity, which is in him, supports him : but it does not prevent him from feeling every suffering, just as though he had been mere Man. 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 !

Jesus then rises, leaving the earth covered with the Blood of his Agony : — it is the first Bloodshedding 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 ? l This was 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 !

Whilst 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. 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. But the servants of the High Priest cannot lay hands on Jesus, unless he, their Victim, permit them to do so. With one single word, he casts them prostrate on the ground. Then permitting them to rise, he says to them, with all the majesty of a King : If you seek 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 forth your hands against me : but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Then turning to Peter, who had drawn and used his sword, he says to him : Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently twelve legions of Angels ? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled ? l 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 of the torrent in the way?

They reach the City walls. The gate is opened, and the divine Prisoner enters. It is night, and the inhabitants know not the crime that has been committed. It is only on the morrow, that they will learn, that Jesus of Nazareth, the great Prophet, has fallen into the hands of the Chief Priests and Pharisees. The night is far advanced ; but many hours must elapse before the dawn of day. The enemies of Jesus have arranged to take him, in the morning, to Pontius Pilate, and accuse him as being a disturber of the peace : but in the meanwhile, they intend to condemn him as guilty in matters of religion ! Their tribunal has authority to judge in cases of this nature, only they cannot pass sentence of death upon a culprit, how guilty soever they may prove him. They, consequently, hurry Jesus to Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest Caiphas. Here is to take place the first examination. These blood-thirsty men have spent these hours in sleepless anxiety. They have counted the very minutes since the departure of their minions for Mount Olivet. They are not without some doubt as to whether their plot will succeed. 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 sublimest 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.

Spy Wednesday ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger


The Chief Priests and the Ancients of the people, are met to-day, in one of the rooms adjoining the Temple, for the purpose of deliberating on the best means of putting Jesus to death. Several plans are discussed. Would it be prudent to lay hands upon him at this season of the Feast of the Pasch, when the City is filled with strangers, who have received a favourable impression of Jesus from the solemn ovation given to him three days back? Then, too, are there not a great number of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who took part in that triumph, and whose enthusiastic admiration of Jesus might excite them to rise up in his defence? These considerations persuade them not to have recourse to any violent measure, at least for the present, as a sedition among the people might be the consequence, and its promoters, even were they to escape being ill-treated by the people, would be brought before the tribunal of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. They, therefore, come to the resolution of letting the Feast pass quietly over, before apprehending Jesus.

But these blood-thirsty men are making all these calculations as though they were the masters. They are, if they will, shrewd assassins, who put off their murder to a more convenient day: but the Divine decrees, – which, from all eternity, have prepared a Sacrifice for the world’s salvation, — have fixed “ttiAa very year’s Pasch as the day of the Sacrifice, and, to-morrow evening, the holy City will re-echo with the trumpets, which proclaim the opening of the Feast. The figurative Lamb is now to make way for the true one; the Pasch of this year will substitute the reality for the type; and Jesus’ Blood, shed by the hands of wicked priests, is soon to flow simultaneously with that of victims, which have only been hitherto acceptable to God, because they prefigured the Sacrifice of Calvary. The Jewish priesthood is about to be its own executioner, by immolating Him, whose Blood is to abrogate the Ancient Alliance, and perpetuate the New one.

But how are Jesus’ enemies to get possession of their divine Victim, so as to avoid a disturbance in the City? There is only one plan that could succeed, and they have not thought of it: it is treachery. Just at the close of their deliberations, they are told that one of Jesus’ Disciples seeks admission. They admit him, and he says to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?^ They are delighted at this proposition: and yet, how is it, that they, doctors of the law, forget that this infamous bargain between themselves and Judas has all been foretold by David, in the 108th Psalm? They know the Scriptures from beginning to end; — how comes it, that they forget the words of the Prophet, who even mentions the sum of thirty pieces of silver.^ Judas asks them what they will give him; and they give him thirty pieces of silver! All is arranged: to-morrow, Jesus will be in Jerusalem, eating the Pasch with his Disciples. In the evening, he will go, as usual, to the Garden on Mount Olivet. But how shall they, who are sent to seize him, be able to dis- tinguish him from his Disciples? Judas will lead the way; he will show them which is Jesus, by going up to him and kissing him!
^ 8t Matth. xxvi. 15. • Icfem, xxvii. 9. Zach. xi. 12.

Such is the impious scheme devised on this day, within the precincts of the Temple of Jerusalem. To testify her detestation at it, and to make atonement to the Son of God for the outrage thus offered him, the Holy Church, from the earliest ages, consecrated the Wednesday of every week to penance. In our own times, the Fast of Lent begins on a Wednesday; and when the Church ordained that we should commence each of the four Seasons of the year with Fasting, Wednesday was chosen to be one of the three days thus consecrated to bodily mortification.

On this day, in the Roman Church, was held the sixth Scrutiny, for the admission of Catechumens to Baptism. Those, upon whom there had been previous doubts, were now added to the number of the chosen ones, if they were found worthy. There were two Lessons read in the Mass, as on the day of the great Scrutiny, the Wednesday of the fourth Week of Lent. As usual, the Catechumens left the Church, after the Gospel; but, as soon as the Holy Sacrifice was over, they were brought back by the Door- Keeper, and one of the Priests addressed them in these words: ” On Saturday next, the Eve of Easter, ” at avAih an hour, you will assemble in the Lateran “Basilica, for the seventh Scrutiny; you will then ” recite the Symbol, which you must have learned; “and lastly, you will receive, by God’s help, the ” sacred laver of regeneration. Prepare yourselves, “zealously and humbly, by persevering fasts and ” prayers, in order that, having been buried, by this ” holy Baptism, together with Jesus Christ, you may ” rise again with him, unto life everlasting. Amen.”

At Rome, the Station for to-day is in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Lot us compassionate with our Holy Mother, whose Heart is filled with poignant grief at the foresight of the Sacrifice, which is preparing.


The Church commences her chants with one to the glory of the Holy Name of Jesus, outraged as it is, on this day, by them that plot his Death. This Name, which was given him by heaven, and signifies that he is our Saviour, is now being blasphemed by his enemies: in a few hours, their crime will bring its full meaning before us, for his Death will have worked the Salvation of the world.
In nomine Jesu omne At the name of Jesus every
genu flectatur, coelestium, knee should bow, of those
terrestrium, et inferno- that are in heaven, on earth,
rum: quia Dominus factus and under the earth; because
est obediens usque ad mor- the Lord became obedient
tem, mortem autem crucis: unto death, even the death of
ideo Dominus Jesus Chris- the cross: therefore the Lord
tus in gloria est Dei Patris. Jesus Christ is in the glory of
God the Father.
Ps, Domine, exaudi ora- P5. O Lord, hear my prayer,
tionem meam: et clamor and let my cry come unto
mens ad te veniat. thee.
In nomine. At the name, dtc.
In the first Collect, the Church acknowledges to God, that her children have sinned against him: but she reminds him of the Passion, endured for their sakes, by his Only Begotten Son, and this revives her hope.
Flectamus genua. ^. Let us keeel down.
Levate. B. Stand up again.
Praesta, qusesumus, omni- Grant, we beseech thee, O
potens Deus: ut qui nostris Almighty God, that we, who
excessibus ineessanter affli- continually are punished for
ghnuT, per unigeuiti Filii our excesses, may be de-

liyered by the Passion of thy tui Passionem liberemur.
Only Begotten Son. Who Qui tecum, liveth, <kc.
Lesson from Isaias the Lectio Isaise prophetae. Prophet.
Ch. LXII. and LXIII. Cap. LXIL et LXIIl.
Thus saith the Lord God: Haec dicit Dominus Deus: Tell the daughter of Sion: Dicite filiae Sion: Ecce Behold thy Saviour cometh. Salvator tuus venit, ecce Who is this that cometh from merces ejus cum eo. Quis Edom, with dyed garments est iste^ qui venit de f rom Bosra, this beautiful one Edom, tinctis vestibus de in his robe, walking in the Bosra] late formosus in greatness of his strength ] I, stola sua, gradiens in mul- that speak justice, and am a titudine fortitudinis suae, defender to save. Why then Ego, qui loquor justitiam: is thy apparel red, and thy et propugnator sum ad sal- ^rments like them that tread vandum. Quare ergo ru- in the wine- press] I have brum est indumentum tuum, trodden the wine-press alone, et vestimenta tua sicut and of the Gentiles there is calcantium in torcularil not a man with me; I have Torcular calcavi solus: et trampled on them in my in- de gentibus non est vir dignation, Mid have trodden mecum. Calcavi eos in them down in my wrath, and furore meo: et conculcavi their blood is sprinkled upon eos in ira mea. Et asper- my garments, and I have sus est sanguis eorum su- stained all my apparel. For per vestimenta mea, et the day of vengeance is in my omnia indumenta mea in- heart, the year of my redemp- (juinavi. Dies enim ultionis tion is come. I looked about, in corde meo: annus re- and there was none to help; demptionis mese venit. Cir- I sought, and there was none cumspexi, et non erat auxi- to give aid; and my own arm liator: et quaesivi, et non hath saved me, and my indig- fuit qui adjuvaret. Et nation itself hath helped me. salvavit mini brachium And I have trodden down the meum: et indignatio mea people in my wrath, and made ipsa auxiliata est mihi. Et them druuK in my indigna- conculcavi populos in furore tion, and have brought down meo: et mebriavi eos in their strength to the earth. I indignatione mea, et de- will remember the tender traxi in terram virtutem mercies of the Lord, the praise eorum. Miserationem Do- of the Lord, for all the things mini recordabor, laudem

282 ‘ HOLY WEEK.
Domini super omnibus, that the Lord hath bestowed
J use reddidit nobis Dominus on us. )eus noster.

How terrible is this our Defender, who tramples his enemies beneath his feet, as they that tread in the wine-press; so that their hlood is sprinkled upon his garments! But is not this the fittest time for us to proclaim his power, now that he is being treated with ignominy, and sold to his enemies by one of his Disciples? These humiliations will soon pass away; he will rise in glory, and his might will be shown by the chastisements, wherewith he will crush them that now persecute him. Jerusalem will stone them that shall preach in his name; she will be a cruel step-mother to those true Israelites, who, docile to the teaching of the Prophets, have recog- nised Jesus as the promised Messias. The Synagogue will seek to stifle the Church in her infancy; but no sooner shall the Church, shaking the dust from her feet, turn from Jerusalem to the Gentiles, than the vengeance of Christ will fall on the City, which bought, betrayed, and crucified him. Her citizens will have to pay dearly for these crimes. We learn from the Jewish historian, Josephus, (who was an eye-witness to the siege,) that the fire which was raging in one of the streets, was quenched by the torrents of their blood. Thus were fulfilled the threats pronounced by oar Lord against this faith- less City, as he sat on Mount Olivet, the day after his triumphant Entry.
And yet, the destruction of Jerusalem was but a faint image of the terrible destruction which is to befal the world at the last day. Jesus, who is now despised and insulted by sinners, will then appear on the clouds of heaven, and reparation will be made for all these outrages. Now he suffers himself to be betrayed, scoffed at, and spit upon; but, when the



day of vengeance is come, happy they that have served him, and have compassionated with him in his humiliations and sufferings! Wo to them, that have treated him with contempt I Wo to them, who not content with their own refusing to bear his yoke, have led others to rebel against him! For he is King; he came into this world that he might reign over it; and they that despise his Mercy, shall not escape his Justice.
The Gradual, which immediately follows upon this sublime passage from Isaias, is a prayer addressed by Jesus to his Eternal Father: the words are taken from one of the Psalms.

Turn not away thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
^. Save me, O God, for the waters are come in even unto my soul; I stick fast in the mire of the deep, and there is no sure standing.

Ne avertas faciem tuam a puero tuo, quoniam tribu- lor: velociter exaudi me.
^. Salvum me fac, Deus, quoniam intraverunt aquae usque ad animam meam: infixus sum in limo pro- fundi, et non est substantia.

In the second Collect, the Church again reminds our Heavenly Father of the Death, which his Divine Son deigned to suffer, in order to set us free from the yoke of Satan; she prays that we may have a share in the glorious Resurrection of this our Redeemer.
O God, who wouldst have Deus, qui pro nobis Fi-
thy Son suflfer on the Cross, Hum tuum Crucis patibu-
to deliver us from the power lum subire voluisti, ut
of the enemy; grant that we inimici a nobis expelleres
thy servants, may obtain the potestatem: concede nobis
f:ace of his resurrection, famulis tuis, ut resurrec-
hrough the same, dhc, tionis gratiam consequamur.
Per eumdem.
For the other Collects, see page 246.



Lectio Isaiae ProphetaB. Lesson from Isaias the
Cap, LTII. Ch. LIU.
In diebus illis: Dixit In those days: Isaias said: Isaias: Domine, quis credit Who hath believed onr report % auditui nostro; et brachium and to whom is the arm of the Domini cui revelatum est ] Lord revealed % And he shall Et ascendet sicut virgultum grow up as a tender plant be- coram eo: et sicut radix de lore him, and as a root out of terra sitienti Non est spe- a thirsty ground. There is no cies ei, neque decor. Et beauty in him, nor comeli- vidimus eum: et non erat ness. And we have seen him, aspectus, et desideravimus and there was no sightliness eum: despectum, et novis- that we should be desirous of simum virorum, virum do- him; despised, and the most lorum, et scientem infirmi- abject of men, a man of sor- tatem. Et quasi abscon- rows, and acquainted with in- ditusvultus ejus, et despec- firmity. And his look was as tus: unde nee reputavimus it were hidden and despised; eum. Vere languores nos- whereupon we esteemed him tros ipse tulit: et dolores not. Surely he hath borne nostros ipse portavit. Et our infirmities, and carried nos putavimus eum quasi our sorrows. And we have leprosum, et percussum a thought him as it were a le- Deo, et humiliatum. Ipse per, and as one struck by God autem vulneratus est prop- and afflicted. But he was ter iniquitates nostras: at- wounded for our iniquities, he tritus est propter scelera was bruised for our sins; the nostra: disciplina pacis chastisement of our peace was nostras super eum: et upon him, and by his bruises livore ejus sanati sumus. we are healed. All we like Omnes nos quasi oveserravi- sheep have gone astray, every mus: unusquisque in viam one hath turned aside into suam declinavit: et posuit his own way; and the Lord Dominus in eo iniquitatem hath laid upon him the iniqui- . omnium nostrum. Oblatus ty of us all He was offered est, quia ipse voluit: et non because it was his own will, aperuit os suum. Sicut ovis and he opened not his mouth, ad occisionem ducetur; et He shall be led as a sheep to quasi agnus coram tondente the slaughter, and shall be se, obmutescet: et non dumb as a lamb before his aperiet os suum. De angus- shearer; and he shall not open


his mouth. He was taken tia, et de judicio sublatoa away from distress, and from est Generationem ejus quia judgment Who shall declare enarrabit ] Quia abscissus liis generation 1 because he is est de terra viyentium. cut off out of the land of the Propter scelus populi met living. For the wickedness percussi eum. Et oabit im- of my people have I struck pios pro sepultura, et divi- hiuL And he shall ^ve the tem pro morte sua: eo quod ungodly for his burial, and iniquitatem non fecerit, ne- the rich for his death; because c^ue dolus inventus fuerit he hath done no iniquity, nei- in ore ejus. £t Dominus ther was there deceit in his voluit conterere eum in mouth. And the Lord was infirmitate. Siposueritpro pleased to bruise him in infir- peccato animam suam, vide- mity. If he shall lay down bit semen lon^aevum: et vo- his life for sin. he shall see luntas Dommi in mana a longlived seed, and the will ejus dirigetur. Pro eo of the Lord shall be pros- quod laboravit anima ejus, perous in his hand. Because videbit, et saturabitur. Li his soul hath laboured, he shall scientia sua justificabit ipse see and be filled; by his know- Justus servus mens muitos: ledge shall this my just servant et iniquitates eorum ipse jusSfy many, and he shall bear portabit Ideo dispertiam their iniquities. Therefore ei plurimos, et fortium divi- will I distribute to him very det spolia: pro eo quod many, and he shall divide the tradioit in mortem animam spoils of the strong, because suam, et cum sceleratis re- he hath delivered his soul unto putatus est. Et ipse pecca- deathj and was reputed with ta multorum tulit: et pro the wicked; and he hath borne transgressoribus rogavit j the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.
Again it is Isaias that instructs us, not indeed upon the triumph which our Emmanuel is to win over his enemies, but upon the sufiFerings of ths Man of Sorrows, So explicit is his description of our Lord’s Passion, that the holy Fathers have called him the fifth Evangelist. What could be more sublimely plaintive than the language here used by the son of Amos? And we, after hearing both the Old and New Testament upon the sufferings which Jesus went through for our sins, — how shall we suflBciently love this dear Redeemer, who bore our infirmiti^

and carried our Sorrows, so as to look as a leper, and as one struck by Ood, and gffiicted?
We are healed by his bruises! O heavenly Phy- sician, that takes upon himself the sufiFerings of them he comes to cure! But not only was he bruised for our sins; he was also slaughtered as a lamb: and this not merely as a Victim submitting to the inflexible justice of his Father who hath laid upon him tlce iniquity of us all, but, (as the Prophet here assures us,) because it was his own will. His love for us, as well as his submission to his Father, led him to the great Sacrifice. Observe, too, how he refuses to de- fend himself before Pilate, who could so easily deliver him from his enemies: He shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearers, and he shall not open his Tnouth. Let us love and adore this divine Silence, which works our Salvation. Let us not pass over an iota of the devotedness which Jesus shows us, — a devotedness which never could have existed, save in the Heart of a God. Oh! how much he has loved us, — his children, the purchase of his Blood, his Seed, as the Prophet here calls us. O Holy Church! thou long-lived Seed of Jesus, that laid down his life! — thou art dear to him, for he bought thee at a great price. Faithful Souls! give him love for love. Sinners! be converted to this your Saviour; his Blood will restore you to life, for if we have all gone astray like sheep, remember what is added: The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. There is no sinner, however great may be his crimes; there is no heretic, or infidel, who has not his share in this precious Blood, whose infinite merit is such, that it could redeem a million worlds, more guilty even than our own.
The Tract, which follows this Lesson, is taken from the 101st Psalm, in which the Royal Prophet expresses the sufferings of body and mind endured by Jesus^ in his human Nature.

Hear, O Lord, my prayer, Doinine,exaudiorationem
and let my cry come unto meam, et clamor mens ad
thee. te veuiat.
^. Tnm not away thy face ^, Ne avertas faciem
from me, in the day when I tuam a me, in quacumque
am in trouble, incline thine die tribulor, inclina ad me
ear to me. aurem tuam.
y. In what day soever I ^, In quacumque die in-
shall call upon thee, hear me vocavero, velociter exaudi
speedy. m^
If. For my days are van- y. Quia defecerunt sicut ished like smoke: and my fumus dies mei: et ossa bones are as if they were fried mea sicut in f rixorio con- in a frying-pan. f rixa sunt.
^. I am smitten as grass, ^. Percussus sum sicut
and my heart is withered, be- f oenum. et aruit cor meum,
cause I forgot to eat my bread, quia o olitus sum mandu-
care panem meum.
Jt, Thou, Lord, arising, ^. Tu exsurgens, Domine,
t have mercy on Sion, for misereberis Sion, quia ve-
the time to have mercy on her nit tempus miserendi ejus, is come.
The Church then gives us the history of the Pas- sion according to St. Luke. This Evangelist men- tions several details not given by Saints Matthew and Mark, which will assist us to a fuller under- standing of the divine mystery of the Sufferings and Sacrifice of the Man-God.


The Passion of our Lord Passio Domini nostri Jesu Jesus Christ according to Christi secundum Lucam. Luke.
Ch. XXII, and XXIIL Cap, XX IL et XXIII.
At that time: The feast of In illo tempore: Appro- Unleavened Bread, which is pinquabat dies festus Azy- called the Pasch, was at hand, morum, qui dicitur Pas- And the chief priests and the cha: et quaerebant princi- Bcribes sought now they might pes sacerdotum et scribse.

quomodo Jesum interfice- put Jesus to death; but they rent: timebant vero pie- feared the people. And Satan bem. Intravit autem Sata- entered into Judas, who was nas in Judam, ^ui cognomi- sumamed Iscariot, one of the nabatur Iscanotes, unum twelve; and he went, and dis- de duodecim; et abiit et coursed with the chief priests locutus est cum principi- and the magistrates, how he bus sacerdotum et magis- might betray him to them, tratibus, quemadmodum And they were glad, and cove- ilium traderet eis. Et gavisi nanted to give him money, sunt: et pacti sunt pecu- And he promised; and he niam ill! dare. Et spopondit. sought opportunity to betray Et quserebat opportunita- him in the absence of the mul- tem ut traderet ilium sine titude. turbis.
Venit autem dies Azymo- And the day of the un- rum, in qua necesse erat leavened bread came, on which occidi Pascna. Et misit Fe- it was necessary that the trum et Joannem, dicens: Pasch should be killed. And Euntes parate nobis Pas- he sent Peter and John, say- cha, ut manducemus. At ing: Go and prepare us the illi dixerunt: Ubi vis pare- Pasch, that we may eat. But mus] Et dixit adeos: Ecce they said: Where wilt thou introeuntibus vobis in civi- that we prepare ] And he tatem, occurret vobis homo said to them: Behold, as you quidam amphoram aquae go into the city, there shall
Sortans; sequimini eum in meet you a man carrying a omum, in quam intrat, et pitcher of water; follow him dicetis patrifamilias domus: into the house where he en- Dicit tibi Magister: Ubi est tereth in, and you shajl say to diversorium, ubi Pascha the good man of the house: cum discipulis meis man- The Master saith to thee: ducem] Et ipse ostendet Where is the guest-chamber, vobis coenaculum magnum where I may eat the Pasch stratum, et ibi parate. with my disciples] and he will
shew you a large dining-room furnished; and there prepare. Euntes autem invene- And they going, found as runt sicut dixit illis: et pa- he had said to them, and they raverunt Pascha. Et cum made ready the Pasch; and facta esset hora, discubuit, when the hour was come, he et duodecim Apostoli cum sat down, and the twelve apos- eo: et ait illis: Desiderio ties with him. And he said desideravi hoc Pascha man- to them: With desire I have ducare vobiscum, ante- desired to eat this Pasch with quam patiar. Dico enim you before I suffer. For I say vobis: quia ex hoc non to you, that from this time i
will not eat it, till it be ful- manducabo illud, donee tilled in the kingdom of God. impleatur in regno Dei Et And having taken the chalice accepto calice, gratias egit, he cave thanks, and said: Take et aizit: Accipite, et di* ana divide it among you. For vidite inter voa Dico enim I say to yoxL that I will not vobis: c{xiod non bibam de drink of the fruit of the vine, generatione vitis, donee reg- till the kingdom of God come, num Dei veniat. £t accep- And taking bread, he gave to pane, gratias egit, et thanks, and brake, and gave fregit, et dedit eis, (ucens: to them, saving: This is my Hoc est corpus meum, quod Body, widen is given to you: pro vobis datur. Hoc f acite do this for a commemoration m meam commemoratio- of me. In like manner the nem. Similiter et calicem, chalice also, after he had postquam coenavit, dicens: supped^ saying: This is the Hie est calix novum testa- chance, the new testament mentum in sanguine meo, of my Blood, which shall be qui pro vobis fundetur. shed for you. But yet be- Yerumtamen ecce manus hold, the hand of him that be- tradentis me, mecum est trayeth me is with me on the in mensa. Et quidem Fi- table. And the Son of Man lius hominis, secundum indeed goeth according to that quod definitum est, vadit: which is determined; but yet verumtamen vse homini illi^ wo to that man by whom he per quern tradetur. Et ipsi shall be betrayed. And they coeperunt quaerere inter se, began to enquire among them- quis esset ex eis, qui hoc scdves which of them it was facturus esset that should do this thing.
And there was also a strife Facta est autem et con- amongst them, which of them tentio inter eos, c^mib eorum should seem to be greater, videretur esse major. Dixit And he said to them: The autem eis: Keges gentium kings of the Gentiles lord it dominantur eorum: et qui over them; and they that have potestatem habent super power over them, are called eos, benefici vocantur. Vos beneficent. But you not so; autem non sic: sed qui but he that is the greater major est in vobis iiat sicut among you, let him be as the minor; et qui praecessor est, vounger; and he that is the sicut ministrator. Nam quis leader, as he that serveth. major est, qui recumbit, an For wnich is greater, he that qui ministrat 1 Nonne qui sitteth at table, or he that recumbit? Ego autem in servelh? Is not he that sit- medio vestrum sum, sicut tethat table 1 But I am in the qui ministrat: vos autem midst of you, as he that serv- estis, qui pennansistis me- eth; and you are they who cum in tentationibus mds.
Et ego dispono vobis, sicut have continued with me in my disposuit mihi Pater mens temptation s. And I dispose regnum: ut edatis et biba- to you, as my Father hath dis- tis super mensam meam in posed to me, a kingdom: regno meo, et sedeatis super that you ma^ eat and drink thronos, judicantes duode- at my table in my kingdom; cim tribus Israel. Aitautem and may sit upon thrones Dominus: Simon, Simon, judging the twelve tribes of ecce Satanas expetivit vos, Israel. And the Lord said: ut cribraret sicut triticum. Simon, Simon, behold Satan Ego autem rogavi pro te, ut hath desired to have you, that non deficiat fides tua: et tu he may sift you as wheat, aliquando conversus, confir- But I have prayed for thee ina fratres tuos. Qui dixit that thy faitn fail not: and ei: Domine, tecum paratus thou, being once converted, sum, et in carcerem et in confirm thy brethren. Who mortem ire. At ille dixit: said to him: Lord, I am ready Dico tibi Petre, non canta- to go with thee, both into bit hodie gallus, donee ter prison, and to death. And he abneges nosse me. Et dixit said: I say to thee, Peter, the eis: Quando misi vos sine cock shall not crow this day, sacculo et pera et calcea- till thou thrice deniest that mentis, numquid aliquid thou knowest me. And he defuit vobis 1 At illi dixe- said to them: When I sent runt: Nihil. Dixit ergo eis: you without purse, and scrip, Sed nunc, qui habet, saccu- and shoes, did you want any lum toUat similiter et pe- thiug 1 But they said: No- ram. Et qui non habet, ven- thing. Then said he to them: dat tu nicam suam et emat But now he that hath a purse, gladium. Dico enim vobis, let him take it, and likewise a quoniam adhuc hoc, quod scrip: and he that hath no scriptum est, oportet im- sword, let him sell his coat, pleri in me: Et cum iniquis and buy one. For I say to deputatus est. Etenim ea you, that this that is written quae sunt de me, finem ha- must yet be fulfilled in me, bent. At illi dixerunt: Do- ” And he was reckoned among mine, ecce duo gladii hie. ” the wicked:” for the things At ille dixit eis: Satis est. concerning me have an end.
But they said: Lord, here are
two swords. And he said to
them: It is enough.
Et egressus ibat secun- And going out, he went ac-
dumconsuetudineminmon- cording to his custom to the
tem Olivarum: secuti sunt mount of Olives. And his
autem ilium et discipuli. Et disciples also followed him.
cum pervenisset ad locum. And when he was come to the
dixit iUis: Orate, ne intretis place, he said to them: Pray,
lest yon enter into temptation, in tentatiouem. Et ipse And he was withdrawn away avulsus est ab eis, quantum from them a stone’s cast; and jactus est lapidis, et positis kneeling down he prayed, say- genibus orabat, dicens: ing: Father, if thou wilt, re- Pater, si vis, transfer cali- move this chalice from me; cem istum a me: verumta- but yet not my will, but thine men non mea voluntas, sed be done. And there appeared tua fiat. Apparuit autem to him an Angel from heaven, illi Angelus ae coelo, con- strengthening him. And being fortans eum. Et f actus in in an agony, he prayed the agonia, prolixius orabat. Et longer. And his sweat became f actus est sudor ejus sicut as drops of blood trickling guttse sangiiinis decurrentis down upon the ground. And in terram. Et cum surrexis- when he rose up from prayer, set ab oratione, et venisset and was come to his disciples, ad discipulos suos, invenit he foimd them sleeping for sor- eos dormientes prae tristitia^ row. And he said to them: et ait iUis: Quid dormitis 1 Why sleep you 1 Arise, pray, Surgite, orate, ne intretis in lest you enter into temptation, tentationem.
As he was yet speakmg, be- Adhuc eo lojiuente, ecce hold a multitude; and he that turba: et qui vocabatur was called Judas, one of the Judas, unus de duodecim, twelve, went before them, and antecedebat eos: et appro- drew near to Jesus to kiss him. pinquavit Jesu, ut osculare- And Jesus said to him: Judas, tur eum. Jesus autem dixit dost thou betray the Son of illi: Juda, osculo Filium Man with a kiss 1 And they hominis tradis 1 Videntes that were about him, seeing autem hi, qui circa ipsum what would follow, said to erant, quod futurum eratj him: Lord, shall we strike dixerunt ei: Domine, si with the sword 1 And one of percutimus in gladio 1 Et them struck the servant of the percussit unus ex illis ser- High Priest, and cut off his vum principis sacerdotum: right ear. But Jesus answer- et amputavit auriculam ejus ing, said: Suffer ye thus far. dexteram. Respondens au- And when he had touched his tem Jesus, ait: Sinite usque ear, he healed him. And Jesus hue. Et cum tetigisset au- said to the chief priests and riculam ejus, sanavit eum. magistrates of the temple, and Dixit autem Jesus ad eos the ancients that were come to qui venerant ad se, principes him: Are you come out, as sacerdotum et magistratus it were against a thiei. with Templi, et seniores: Quasi swords and clubs 1 When I ad latronem existis cum gla- was daily with you in the diis et fustibus. Cum quoti- temple, you did not stretch die vobiscum fuerim in Tera- fortn your hands against me. plo, non extendistis manus

in ma Sed lisec est hora ves- But this is your hour, and the
tra, etpotestas tenebrarum. power of darkness.
Comprehendentes autem And apprehending him,
eum, duxerunt ad domum they led nim to the High
principis sacerdotum. Pe- Priest’s house: but Peter
trus vero sequebatur a longe. followed afar off. And when
Accensoautemigne in medio they had kindled a fire in the
atrii, et circumsedentibus midst of the hall, and were
‘iUis, erat Petrus in medio sitting about it, Fet&c was in
eoruHL Quern cum vidisset the midst of them. Whcwn
ancilla quaedam sedentem when a certain servant maid
ad lumen, et eum fuisset had seen sitting at the light,
intuita, dixit: Et hie cum and had earnestly beheld him,
illo erat. At ille negavit she said: This man also was
eum, dicens: Mulier, non with him. But he denied,
novi ilium. Et i)ost pusU- saying: Woman, 1 know him
lum alius videnseum, dixit: not. And after a Httle while,
Et tu de illis es. Petrus vero another seeing ihim. said:
ait; O homo, non sum. Et Thou also art one oi them,
intervallo facto quasi horse But Peter said: man, I am
unius, alius quidam affir- not. And after the space as
mabat, diesis: Vere et hie it were of one hour, another
cum illo erat: nam et certain man afi&rmed, saying:
Galilaeus est. Et ait Petrus: Of a truth this man was also
Homo, nescio quid dicis. Et with him: for he is also a
continue, adhuc illo loquen- Galilean. And Peter said:
te, cantavit gallus. Et con- Man, I know not what thou
versus Dominus- respexit sayest. And immediately as
Petrum. Et recordatus est he was yet speaking, the
Petrus verbi Domini, sicut cock crew. And the Lord
dixerat: Quia priusquam turning looked on Peter. And
f alius cantet, ter me negabis. Peter remembered the word
it egressus foras Petrus, of the Lord, as he had said:
flevit amare. Before the cock crow, thou
shalt deny me thrice. And Peter going out wept bitterly.
Et viri qui tenebant And the men that held him,
eum, illudebant ei, caBden- mocked him. and struck him.
tes. Et velaverunt eum: et And they blindfolded him,
percutiebant faciem ejus, et and smote him on the face,
interrogabant eum, dicen- And they asked him, saying:
tes: Prophetiza, quis est Prophesy, who is it that struck
qui te percussiti Et alia theel And blaspheming,
multa biasphemantes dice- many other things they said
bant in eum. Et ut factus against him. And as soon as
est dies, convenerunt se- it was day, the ancients of the
niores plebis, et principes people, and the chief priests,

auid scribes came togetHeF, 8acerdotumet8crib8e,etdax«
and they brought him into enint ilium in concilium
their council, saying: If thou suum, dicentes: Si tu es
be the Christ, tell us. And Christus, die nobis. Et ait
he said to them: If I shall illis: Si vobis dixero, noa
tell yoo, you will not believe credetis mihi: si autem et
me; and if I shall also ask interrogavero, non respond*
yon, you will not answer me, ebiti3mihi,n^uedimittetis.
nor let me go. But hereafter Ex hoc autem erit Filius
the Son of man shall be hominis sedens a dextria
sitting on the right hand of virtutis Dei Dixerunt au-
the power of Gbd. Then said tern omnes: Tu ergo es Fi-
they all: Art thou the Son of lius Dei ) Qui ait: Yos di-
God) And he said: You say citis, quia ego sum. At illi
that I am. And they said: dixerunt: Quid adhuc desi-
What need we any further deramus testimonium? Ipsi
testimony? For ourselves enim audivimus de ore ejus. have heard it from his own moutL
And the whole multitude of Et surgens omnis multitu- them rose up, and led him do eorum, duxerunt ilium away to Pilate. And they ad Pilatum. Coeperunt au- began to accuse him, saying: tem ilium accusare,dicentes: We have found this man per- Hunc invenimus subverten- verting our nation, and for- temgentemnostram,et pro- bidding to give tribute to hibentem tributa dare C»- CsBsar, and saying that he is sari, et dicentem se Chris- Christ the Kin^. And Pilate tum regem essa Pilatuji asked him, saying: Art thou autem interrogavit eum, di- the King of the Jews? But he cans: Tu es Rex Judseo- answering, said: Thou sayest rum) At ille respondens, it. But Pilate said to the ait: Tu dicis. Ait autem chief priests and to the Pilatus ad principes j^er- multitude: I find no cause dotum et turbas: Nihil in- in this man. But they venio causae in hoc homine. were more earnest, Siiying: At illi invalescebant, di- He stirreth up the peome, centes: Commovet popu- teaching throughout all Ju- lum, docens per universam dea^ beginning from Galilee Judseam, incipiens a Gali- to tnis place. But Pilate hear- Idea usque hue. Pilatus au- ing Galilee, asked if the man tem audiens G^lilaeam, in- were of Galilee 1 And when he terrogavit, si homo Gali- understood that he was of laeus esset. Et ut cognovit, Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent quod de Herodis potestate him away to Herod, who him- esset, remisit eum ad He- self was also at Jerusalem rodem, qui et ipse Jeroso- in those days. And Herod lymis erat illis diebus. He-

rodes autem viso Jesu, ga- seeing Jesus was very glad,
visus est valde. Erat enim for lie was desirous of a long
cupiens ex multo tempore time to see him. because he
viaere eum, eo quod au- had heard many tilings of him:
dierat multa de eo: et spe- and he hoped to see some
rabat signum aUquod vi- sign wrougnt by Him. And
dere ab eo fieri Interroga- he questioned him with many
bat autem eum multis ser- words. But^he answered him
monibus. At ipse nihil iUi nothing. And the chief priests
respondebat. Stabant au- and the scribes stood by,
tem principes sacerdotum earnestly accusing him. And
et scnbae constanter accu- Herod with his army set him
santes eum: sprevit ‘autem at naught, and mocKed him,
ilium Herodes cum exerci- putting on him a white gar-
tu suo: et illusit indutum ment, and sent him back to
veste alba, et remisit ad Pilate. And Herod and Pilate
Pilatum. Et f acti sunt amici were made friends that same
Herodes et Pilatus in ipsa day; for before they were
die: nam antea inimici enemies to one another. Then
erant ad invicem, Pilatus Pilate calling together the
autem convocatis principi- chief priests, and the magis-
bus sacerdotum, et magis- trates, and the pe^le, said to
tratibus, et plel^, dixit ad them: You have brought this
illos: Obtulistis mihi hunc man to me as one that per-
hominem, quasi avertentem verteth the people: and,
populum: et ecce ego co- behold I, having examined
ram vobis interrogans nul- him before you, find no cause
lam causam inveni in ho- in this man touching those
mine isto ex his, in quibus things wherein- you accuse
eum accusatis. Sed neque him. No, nor Herod neither.
Herodes: nam remisi vos ad For I sent you to him, and
ilium: et ecce, nihil dignum behold, nothing worthy of
morte actum est ei. Emen- death is done to him. I will
datum ergo ilium dimittam. chastise him therefore and
release him.
Necesse autem habebat Now of necessity he was to
dimittere els, per diem fes- release unto them one upon
tum, unum. Exclamavit the feast day. But the wnole
autem simul universa tur- multitude together cried out
ba, dicens: ToUe hunc, et at once, saying; Away with
dimitte nobis Barabbam. this man, and release unto us
Qui erat, propter seditio- Barabbas. Who, for a certain
nem quamaam f actam in sedition made in the city, and
civitate et homicidium, for a murder, was cast into
missus in carcerem. Ite- prison. And Pilate again
rum autem Pilatus locutus spoke to them, desiring to re-
est ad eos, volens dimittere lease Jesus. But they cried

out again, saving: Crucify Jesum. At illi succlama-
him, crucify nira. And he bant, dlcentes: Crucifige,
said to them the third time: cracifige eum. Ille autem
Why, what evil hath this man tertio dixit ad illos: Quid
done ] I find no cause of enim mali fecit iste 1 Nul-
death in him. I will chastise lam causam mortis invenio
him therefore, and let him go. in eo. Corripiam ergo il-
But they were instant with lum, et dimittam. At illi
loud voices requiring that he instabant vocibus magnis
might be crucified; and their postulantes, ut crucifigere-
voices prevailed. And Pilate tur: et invalescebant voces
gave sentence that it should eorum. Et PUatus adjudi-
be as they required. And he cavit fieri petitionem eorum.
released unto them him who Dimisit autem Ulis eum,
for murder and sedition had qui propter homicidium et
been cast into prison, whom seditionem missus fuerat in
they had desired: but Jesus carcerem, quern petebant:
he delivered up to their wilL Jesum vero tradiait volun-
tati eorum.
And as they led him away, Et cum ducerent enm,
they laid hold on one Simon apprehenderunt Simonem
of Cyrene, coming from the quemdam Cyrenensem ve-
country: and they laid the nientem de villa, et impo-
cross on him to carry after suerunt illi crucem port re
Jesus. And there followed post Jesum. Sequebatur
him a great multitude of peo- autem ilium multa turba
plCj and of women, who be- populi, et mulierum, quaa
wailed and lapaented him. plangebant et lamentaban-
But Jesus turning to them, tur eum. Con versus autem
said: Daughters of Jerusa- ad illas Jesus, dixit: FiH»
lem, weep not over me, but Jerusalem, nolite flere su-
weep for yourselves, and for per me: sed super vos
your children. For behold the ipsas flete, et super filios
days shall come, wherein they vestros. Quoniam ecce ve-
wiU say, Blessed are the bar- nient dies, in quibus di-
ren, and the wombs that have cent: Beatae steriles, et ven-
not borne, and the paps that tres qui non genuerunt,
have not given suck. Then et ubera quae non lactave-
shall they begin to say to the runt. Tunc incipient dicere
mountains: Fall upon us; and montibus: Cadite super
to the hills: Cover us. For nos: et collibus: Operite
if in the green wood they do nos. Quia si in viridi ligno
these things, what shall be hsec faciunt; in arido quid
done in the dry 1 And there fiet 1 Ducebantur autem et
were also two other malefac- alii duo nequam cum eo, ut
tors led with him, to be put interficerentur. to death.

Et postquam -VBnenmt in And when they were come
locum, qui vocatur Calva- to the place which is called
lise, ibi cracifixerunt eum: Calvary, they crucified Um
et latrones unum a dextris, tiiere; and me roDbers, one
et alterum a sinistii& Je- on the right hand, and the
BUS autem dicebat: Pater, other on the left. And Jesus
dimitte illis: non enim said: Father forgive them,
sciunt quid faciunt. Di- for they know not what thejr
Yidentes vero vestimenta do. But they dividing his
ejus, miserunt sortes. Et garments, east lots. And the
stabat populus spectans, et people stood beholdiug, and
deridebant eum principes the rulers with them derided
cum eis^ dicentes: Alios sal- him, saying: He saved others;
vos fecit: se salvum faciat, let him save himself, if he be
si hie est Christus, Dei e\ec- Christ, the elect of God. And
tus. Bludebant autem ei et the soldiers also mocked him,
milites, accedentes, et ace- coming to him, and offering
tum offerentes ei et dicen- him vinegar, and saving: If
tes: Si tu es Eez Judseo- thou be the King of the Jews,
rum, salvum te fac Erat save thyself. And there was
autem et superscriptio scrip- iJso a superscription written
ta suj)er eum litteris graeas, over him in letters of Greek,
et latinis, et hebraicis: Hie and Latin, and Hebrew: This
est Hex Juda&orum. is the King of the Jews.
Unus autem de his, qui And one of the robbers who
pendebant, latronibus, bias- were hanged, blasphemed him,
phemabat eum, dicens: Si saying: If thou be Christ, save
tu es Christus, salvum fac thyseS and us. But the other
temetipsum, et nos. Be- answering, rebuked him, say-
spondens autem alter, incre- ing: Neitner dost thou fear
pabat eum, dicens: Neque God, seeing thou art under the
tu times Deum, quod in same condemnation. And we
eadem damnatione es. Et indeed justly, for we receive
nos quidem juste, nam dig- the due reward of our deeds;
na factis recipimus: hie ve- but this man hath done no
ro nihil mali gessit Et di- eviL And he said to Jesus:
cebat ad Jesum: Domine, Lord, remember me when thou
memento mei, cum veneris shalt come into thy kingdom,
in reguum tuum. Et dixit And Jesus said to him: Amen
Uli Jesus: Amen dico tibi: I say to thee, this day thou
Hodie mecum eiis in Para- shalt be with me in paradise, diso.
Erat autem fere hora sex- And it was almost the sixth
ta: et tenebrse factse sunt hour; and there was darkness
in universam terram, usque^ over all the earth until the
in horam nonam. Et obscur ninth hour. And the sun was
ratus est sol: et velum Tern- darkened; and the veil of the

Temple was rent in the midst pli scissnm est medium. Et
And Jesus ciyinff with a loud damans voce magna Jesim
Yoice, said: Fatner, into thy ait: Pater, in manus tuas
hands I commend my spirit, commendo spihtum meum.
And saying this, he gave up Et haec dicens, exspiravit. the ghoNst.
Here, a pause is made, as on Palm Sunday. All kneel down, and if such be the custom of the place, they prostrate and kiss the ground.
Now the centurion seeing Videns autem centurio
what was done, glorified God, quod factum f uerat, gloriti-
saying: Indeed this was a cavit Deum, dicens: Vere
just man. And all the multi- hie homo I’ustus erat. Et
tude of them that were come omnis turoa eorum, qui
together to that sight, and saw simul aderant ad spectacu-
the things that were done, re- lum istud, et videbant quae
turned striking their breast, fiebant, percutientes pec-
^d all his acquaintance, and tora sua, revertebantur^
the women that had followed Stabant autem omnes not!
him from Galilee, stood afar ejus a longe et mulieres,
off, beholding these things. quae secutae eum erant a
Galilaea, haec yidentes. •
Here, the Deacon oflfers the Incense to the Priest, that he may bless it; and, having himself received a blessing, he concludes the history of the Passion, observing the ceremonies used for singing the Gospel at High Mass.
And behold there was a Et ecce vir nomine Jo- man named Joseph, who was seph, qui erat decurio, vir a counsellor, a good and just bonus et Justus; hie non man, (the same had not con- consenserat consilio et ac- sented to their counsel and tibus eorum: ab Arima- doing,) oi Arimathea, a city tJiaea civitate Judaese: qui of Judea, who also himseH exspectabat et ipse regnum looked for the kingdom of Dei Hie accessit ad Fila- G^od. This man went to Pi- tum, et petiit corpus Jesu. late and begged the body of Et depositum involvit sin- Jesus. And taking him down done: et posuit eum in he wrapped him in fine linen, muntimento excise, in <pio

nondum quisquam positus and laid him in a sepulchre fuerat. that was hewed in stone,
wherein never yet any man
had been laid.
The words of the Oflfertory are those of Jesus, suppliantly beseeching his Eternal Father not to turn away his face from his own Son, who is a prey to every suflfering, both of body and mind.
Domine, exaudi oratio- Hear, O Lord, my prayer;
nem meam: et clamor mens and let my cry come to thee:
ad te perveniat: ne avertas turn not away thy face from
faciem tuam a me. me.
In the Secret, the Church prays that we may have a tender devotion for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass^ in which the Passion of our Saviour is daily com- memorated.


Suscipe, quaesumus. Do- Accept, O Lord, we beseech
mine, munus oblatum, et thee, tne offerings we have
dignanter operare: ut quod made; and mercifully grant
Passionis illii tui Domini that we may receive, with
nostri mysterio gerimus, pious sentiments, what we
piis affectibus consequa- celebrate in the mystery of
mur. Pereumdem. the Passion of our Lord.
Through the same, (S:c,
For the other Secrets, see page 254.

The Church takes her Communion- Anthem from the same Psalm, which supplied her with the Tract and Offertory, namely the 101st.


Potum meiim cum fletu I mingled my drink with weeping; for having lifted me np, thon hast thrown me down, and I am withered like grass; but thou, Lord, endurest for ever: thou shalt arise, and have mercy on Sion; because the time to have mercy on her is come.

temperabam: quia elevans allisisti me: et ego sicut foe- num ami: tu autem, Do- mine, in aetemum perma- nes: tu exsurgens misere- beris Sion, quia venit tem- pus miserendi ejus.

The Death of Jesus should be to us an unceasing motive for confidence in the divine mercy. This confidence is one of the first conditions of our salva- tion. The Church asks it for us in the Postcom-



Grant, O Almighty God, that we may have a lively hope, that thou hast given us eternal life by the temporal death of thy Son, represented in these adorable mysteries. Through the same, ^c.

Largire sensibus nostris, omnipotens Deus: ut, per temporalem Filii tui mor- tem, quam mysteria vene- randa testantur, vitam te nobis dedisse perpetuam confidamus. Per eumdem.

See the other Postcommunions in the Mass for Monday, page 255.



Bow down your heads to Humiliate capita vestra
God. Deo.
Look down, O Lord, we Kespice, quaesumus. Do- beseech thee, on this thv mine, super hanc famiHam family, for which our Lord tuam: pro qua Dominus Jesus Christ hesitated not to noster Jesus Christus non be delivered into the hands dubitavit manibus tradi no- of wicked men, and undergo centium, et crucis subire the punishment of the Cross, tormentum. Qui tecum. Who liveth, dbc.


On this and the two following days, the Church anticipates the Night-Office; she celebrates it on the previous evening of each day, and this in order that the Faithful may be present at it. The Matins and Lauds of Maundy Thursday are, therefore, said this afternoon. The Faithful should make every effort to assist at this solemn Office, seeing it is on their account that the Church has changed her usual hours. As to the merit there is in joining in it, there can be no doubt, but that it is to be preferred to any private devotions. The surest means for obtaining favours from God, and winning him to our requests, is to approach him through the Church. And as regards the feelings of devotion wherewith we ought to celebrate the mysteries of these three great Days, the Offices of the Church are, ordinarily speaking, a surer and richer source than the Exercises of Piety composed by men. The soul that feeds on the words and ceremonies of the holy Liturgy, will be all the more disposed to profit by the private devotions she practises at home. The prayer of the Church will thus become the basis, whereon is built the edifice of christian piety during these glorious Anniversaries of our Redemption; and we shall be imitating our forefathers who lived in the Ages of Faith, and who were such admirable Christians, because they lived the life of the Church, by means of the sacred Liturgy.

The Office of Tenebrae for to-day is given below, on Maundy Thursday; the ” Night Office”.

As an appropriate exercise for the close of this day, we offer our readers the following stanzas from a Hymn of the Greek Liturgy: they allude to the mysteries we have been explaining.


(In Parasceve.)

On this day, Judas leaves Hodie Jadas Magistrum ids Master, and takes the devil derelinquit, et dJabolum for his guide. The love of 88sumit:obcaBcatur passions money blinds him. He fell amoris pecuniae; decidit from the light, he became a lumine, obscuratus est darkened; for how could he ille. Quomodo namoue vi- be said to see^ who sold the dere poterat ille qui Lumi- light for thirty pieces of nare vendidittrigintaargen- fiilverl But to us he has teis? Sed nobis exortus risen, he that suffered for the est ille, qui passus est pro world: let us thus cry out mundo. Ad quem dame* unto him: Glory be to thee, mus: Qui passus, et com* that didst endure thy Passion, passus es hominibus, gloria and hadst compassion, for tibi mankind!
What was it, O Judas! that Qusenam te ratio, Juda, led thee to betray Jesus 1 Had Salvatoris proditorem effe- te cut thee off from the num- cit 1 Numquid ille ab Apos- ber of his Apostles 1 Had he tolorum te chore segregavit? deprived thee of the gift of Numquid sanitatum te healing the sick ] When he gratia privavit 1 Numquid supped with his Apostles, did cum coenaret una cum ulis, be drive thee from table 1 a mensa te expulit 1 Num- When he washed their feet, quid aliorum cum lavisset, did he pass thee byl And pedes tuos ne^exitl O yet, thou wast unmindful of quantorum factus es imme- these great favours! Thy un- nior beneficiorum! et tuum grateful plot has branded thee sane consilium ingratum in- with infamy: but his incom- famia notatur: iUius autem parable patience and great praedicatur incomparalalis mercy are worthy of praise. patientia et misericordia
Say, O ye unjust ones! what Dicite iniqui quidnam a
is it ye have heard from our Salvatore nostro audistis i
Saviour 1 Did he not ex- Nonne Legem ac documen-
pound unto you the Law and ta Prophetarum exposuit i
the Prophets] Why, there- Quomodo ergo Verbum
fore, have ye plotted how to quod ex Deo est, et nosr
tras animas redimit, Pilato deliver up to Pilate the Word
tradere cogitasfis ) that is from God, and that
came to redeem our souls?
Crucifigatur, clamabant ii They that had enjoyed thy
?[ui tuis semper muneribus unceasing gifts cried out: Let
uerant delectati; petebant- him he crucified! These mur-
que ut malefactorem acci- derers of such as were inno-
pereut pro benefactore cent, sought thee, that they
mterfectores illi justorum. might treat thee, their bene-
Sed tacebas, Christe, eorum factor, as an evil-doer. But
I)roterviam sustinens: vo- thou, O Christ! didst bear
ens pati, nosque salvare, their wickedness with silence,
ut hominum amans. for thou being the lover of
mankind, didst desire to suffer
for and save us.
Loquendi libertatem non We are prevented from
habemus propter multa speaking by the multitude of
peccata nostra; tu ex te our sins: do thou, O Virgin-
genitum exora, Virgo Dei- Mother of Gk)d! pray for us
Sara: multum enim valet to Him that was bom of thee,
eprecatio Matris apud cle- for the Mother’s prayer avails
mentiam DominL J^e de- much with the mercy of our
spicias peccatorum suppli- Lord. Despise not, O most
cationes, o castissima; quia pure Virgin! the prayers of
misericors est et potens ad sinners, for he that refused
salvandum, is qui pro nobis not even to suffer for us, is
etiam pati sustmuit merciful, and is able to save us.

We subjoin the following beautiful Preface from the Ambrosian Missal: it expresses, in a most touching manner, the sentiments which a Christian should have within him on this vigil of our Lord’s Supper.


Dignum et justum estj It is meet and just, right
sequum et salutare, nos tibi and available to salvation,
semper hie et ubique gra- that we should ever, here and
tias agere, Domine sancte, in all places, give thanks to
Pater omnipotens, seteme thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty
Deus, per Cnristum Domi- Father, Eternal God, through
num nostrum, qiii innocens Christ our Lord: who, being
pro impiis voluit pati, et innocent, willed to suffer for
pro sceleratis indebite con- sinners, and be unjustly con
demned for the guilty. His demuari. Gums mors de- Death wiped away our crimes, licta nostra detersit, et re- and his Itesurrection opened surrectio Paradisi fores for ns the gates of heaven, nobis reseravit. Per quern Through him we beseech thy tuam pietatem supphciter clemency, that, to-day, thou exoramus; ut nos hodie a cleanse us from our sins, and, peccatis emacules; eras vero to-morrow, feed us on the venerabilis Coenae dapibus banquet of the venerable saties; hodie acceptes nos- Supper; that, to-day, thou trorum confessionem de- receive the confession of our lictorum: eras vero tribuas faults, and, to-morrow, grant spiritualium incrementa do- ns the increase of spiritual norum; hodie jejuniorum gifts; that, to-day, tnou re- nostrorum vota suscipias; ceive the offering of our fasts, eras vero nos ad sanctissimsd but. to-morrow, introduce us Coenae convivium intro- to tne feast of the most holy ducas. Per eumdem Chris- Supper. Through the same tum Dominum nostrum. Christ our Lord. Amen. Amen.

March 25th: Creation, Annunciation, & Calvary

In his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger writes about the connection between creation, the cross and Christ’s conception:

“Jewish tradition gave the date of March 25 to Abraham’s sacrifice, this day was also regarded as the day of creation, the day when God’s word decreed: ‘Let there be light.’ It was also considered, very early on, as the day of Christ’s death and eventually as the day of his conception. The mysterious words in Revelation 13:8 about the ‘Lamb slain from the beginning of the world’ could also perhaps be interpreted in the same way. … These cosmic images enabled Christians to see, in an unprecedented way, the world-embracing meaning of Christ.”

According to this tradition, the date of the Annunciation coincided with a number of significant events in salvation history. March 25 was not only the day on which Christ was conceived in Our Lady’s womb; it was also the day of the creation of the world, the day Adam and Eve fell, the day Abraham (nearly) sacrificed his son Isaac, the day the Israelites were set free from Egypt, and the day of the crucifixion.

In the Roman Martyrology, both the Annunciation and the feast of the Good Thief are assigned to March 25. Feast days for saints are usually assigned on the day of death, the day of the Good Thief’s crucifixion. Because that is the solemn feast of the Annunciation, the Good Thief’s feast day is never observed — one might say that it is “stolen” from him every year.

In the third chapter of the Gospel, Luke gives his version of Jesus’ genealogy, which begins with Jesus and works its way backward through His ancestors. This genealogy ends with the words “the son of Adam, the son of God.” In calling Jesus the “Son of God,” then, Luke is not only pointing to Christ’s relationship with the Father; he is also portraying Christ as the New Adam.

This interpretation of Luke’s Gospel goes as far back as the second century Church Father St. Irenaeus. In his Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus shows how not only Christ, but also Mary played a central role in undoing the sin of Adam and Eve:

In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin… Wherefore also Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was He who regenerated them into the Gospel of life, and not they Him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith. (Adv. Haer. 3.22.4)

This traditional interpretation of the Annunciation as a reversal of the Fall also found its way into the arts. Many of Blessed Fra Angelico’s paintings of the Annunciation, for example, include a depiction of Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden, reminding us of the plight to which the incarnation is the solution.

St. Dionysius of Alexandria had earlier emphatically quoted mystical justifications for the choice of March 25 as the start of the year:

March 25 was considered to be the anniversary of Creation itself. It was the first day of the year in the medieval Julian calendar and the nominal vernal equinox (it had been the actual equinox at the time when the Julian calendar was originally designed). Considering that Christ was conceived at that date turned March 25 into the Feast of the Annunciation which had to be followed, nine months later, by the celebration of the birth of Christ, Christmas, on December 25.

The Alexandrian Era of March 25, 5493 BC was adopted by Church Fathers such as St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Theophanes the Confessor

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom says clearly in his Homily “On the Cross and the Thief“, that Christ: “opened for us today Paradise, which had remained closed for some 5000 years.”[24]

St. Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian writes in a Homily that before Christ: “For five thousand years five hundred and some years God left Adam (i.e. man) to labor on the earth.”[25]

St. Augustine

St Augustine writes in the City of God (written AD 413-426):

“Let us omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race…They are deceived by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousands of years, though reckoning by the sacred writings we find that not 6,000 years have passed.”[26]

Augustine goes on to say that the ancient Greek chronology “does not exceed the true account of the duration of the world as it is given in our documents (i.e. the Scriptures), which are truly sacred.”

St. Hippolytus

St. Hippolytus of Rome (ca.170-235) maintained on Scriptural grounds that the Lord’s birth took place in 5500 AM, and held that the birth of Christ took place on a Passover day, deducing that its date was March 25. He gave the following intervals:

“…from Adam to the flood 2242 years, thence to Abraham 1141 years, thence to the Exodus 430 years, thence to the passover of Joshua 41 years, thence to the passover of Hezekiah 864 years, thence to the passover of Josiah 114 years, thence to the passover of Ezra 107 years, and thence to the birth of Christ 563 years.”

In his Commentary on Daniel, one of his earlier writings, he proceeds to set out additional reasons for accepting the date of 5500 AM:

First he quotes Exod. xxv. 10f. and pointing out that the length, breadth and height of the ark of the covenant amount in all to 5 1/2 cubits, says that these symbolize the 5,500 years from Adam at the end of which the Saviour was born. He then quotes from Jn. xix. 14 ‘it was about the sixth hour ‘ and, understanding by that 5 1/2 hours, takes each hour to correspond to a thousand years of the world’s life[27]

Around AD 202 Hippolytus held that the Lord was born in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus[28] and that he was born in 5500AM. In his Commentary on Daniel he did not need to establish the precise year of the Lord’s birth; he is not concerned about the day of the week, the month-date, or even the year; it was sufficient for his purpose to show that Christ was born in the days of Augustus in 5500 AM.




This is a great day, not only to man, but even to God Himself; for it is the anniversary of the most solemn event that time has ever witnessed. On this day, the divine Word, by whom the Father created the world, was made flesh in the womb of a virgin, and dwelt among us. [St John i. 14.] We must spend it in joy. Whilst we adore the Son of God who humbled Himself by thus becoming Man, let us give thanks to the Father, who so loved the world, as to give His only-begotten Son; [Ibid. iii. 16] let us give thanks to the Holy Ghost, whose almighty power achieves the great mystery. We are in the very midst of Lent, and yet the ineffable joys of Christmas are upon us: our Emmanuel is conceived on this day, and, nine months hence, will be born in Bethlehem, and the angels will invite us to come and honour the sweet Babe.

During Septuagesima week, we meditated upon the fall of our first parents, and the triple sentence pronounced by God against the serpent, the woman, and Adam. Our hearts were filled with fear as we reflected on the divine malediction, the effects of which are to be felt by all generations, even to the end of the world. But in the midst of the anathemas then pronounced against us, a promise was made us by our God; it was a promise of salvation, and it enkindled hope within us. In pronouncing sentence against the serpent, God said that his head   should one day be crushed, and that, too, by a woman.

The time has come for the fulfilment of this promise. The world has been in expectation for four thousand years; and the hope of its deliverance has been kept up, in spite of all its crimes. During this time, God has made use of miracles, prophecies, and types, as a renewal of the engagement He has entered into with mankind. The blood of the Messias has passed from Adam to Noe; from Sem to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; from David and Solomon to Joachim; and now it flows in the veins of Mary, Joachim’s daughter. Mary is the woman by whom is to be taken from our race the curse that lies upon it. God has decreed that she should be Immaculate; and has thereby set an irreconcilable enmity between her and the serpent. She, a daughter of Eve, is to repair all the injury done by her mother’s fall; she is to raise up her sex from the degradation into which it has been cast; she is to co-operate, directly and really, in the victory which the Son of God is about to gain over His and our enemy.

A tradition, which has come down from the apostolic ages, tells us that the great mystery of the Incarnation was achieved on the twenty-fifth day of March. [St. Augustine, De Trinitate. Lib. iv. cap. v.] It was at the hour of midnight, when the most holy Virgin was alone and absorbed in prayer, that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her, and asked her, in the name of the blessed Trinity, to consent to become the Mother of God. Let us assist, in spirit, at this wonderful interview between the angel and the Virgin: and, at the same time, let us think of that other interview which took place between Eve and the serpent. A holy bishop and martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the apostles, shows us that Nazareth is the counterpart of Eden. [Adv. haereses. Lib. v. cap. xix.]

In the garden of delights there is a virgin and an angel; and a conversation takes place-between them. At Nazareth a virgin is also addressed by an angel, and she answers him; but the angel of the earthly paradise is a spirit of darkness, and he of Nazareth is a spirit of light. In both instances it is the angel that has the first word. ‘Why,’ said the serpent to Eve, ‘hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?’ His question implies impatience and a solicitation to evil; he has contempt for the frail creature to whom he addresses it, but he hates the image of God which is upon her.

See, on the other hand, the angel of light; see with what composure and peacefulness he approaches the Virgin of Nazareth, the new Eve; and how respectfully he bows himself down before her: ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women!’ Such language is evidently of heaven: none but an angel could speak thus to Mary.

Eve imprudently listens to the tempter’s words; she answers him; she enters into conversation with one that dares to ask her to question the justice of God’s commands. Her curiosity urges her on. She has no mistrust in the serpent; this leads her to mistrust her Creator.

Mary hears what Gabriel has spoken to her; but this most prudent Virgin is silent. She is surprised at the praise given her by the angel. The purest and humblest of virgins has a dread of flattery; and the heavenly messenger receives no reply from her, until he has fully explained his mission by these words: ‘Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.’

What magnificent promises are these, which are made to her in the name of God! What higher glory could she, a daughter of Juda, desire, knowing, as she does, that the fortunate Mother of the Messias is to be the object of the greatest veneration? And yet it tempts her not. She has for ever consecrated her virginity to God, in order that she may be the more closely united to Him by love. The grandest possible privilege, if it is to be on the condition of violating this sacred vow, would be less than nothing in her estimation. She thus answers the angel: ‘How shall this be done? because I know not man.’

The first Eve evinces no such prudence or disinterestedness. No sooner has the wicked spirit assured her that she may break the commandment of her divine Benefactor and not die; that the fruit of her disobedience will be a wonderful knowledge, which will put her on an equality with God Himself: than she immediately yields; she is conquered. Her self-love has made her at once forget both duty and gratitude: she is delighted at the thought of being freed from the twofold tie which binds her to her Creator.

Such is the woman that caused our perdition. But how different is she that was to save us! The former cares not for her posterity; she looks but to her own interests: the latter forgets herself to think only of her God, and of the claims He has to her service. The angel, charmed with this sublime fidelity,, thus answers the question put to him by Mary, and reveals to her the designs of God: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren; because no word shall be impossible with God.’ This said, he is silent, and reverently awaits the answer of the Virgin of Nazareth.

Let us look once more at the virgin of Eden. Scarcely has the wicked spirit finished speaking than Eve casts a longing look at the forbidden fruit: she is impatient to enjoy the independence it is to bring her. She rashly stretches forth her hand; she plucks the fruit; she eats it, and death takes possession of her: death of the soul, for sin extinguishes the light of life; and death of the body, which, being separated from the source of immortality, becomes an object of shame and horror, and finally crumbles into dust.

But let us turn away our eyes from this sad spectacle, and fix them on Nazareth. Mary has heard the angel’s explanation of the mystery; the will of heaven is made known to her, and how grand an honour it is to bring upon her! She, the humble maid of Nazareth, is to have the ineffable happiness of becoming the Mother of God, and yet the treasure of her virginity is to be left to her! Mary bows down before this sovereign will, and says to the heavenly messenger: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.’

Thus, as the great St. Irenaeus and so many of the holy fathers remark, the obedience of the second Eve repaired the disobedience of the first: for no sooner does the Virgin of Nazareth speak her fiat, ‘be it done,’ than the eternal Son of God (who, according to the divine decree, awaited this word) is present, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, in the chaste womb of Mary, and there He begins His human life. A Virgin is a Mother, and Mother of God; and it is this Virgin’s consenting to the divine will that has made her conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost. This sublime mystery puts between the eternal Word and a mere woman the relations of Son and Mother; it gives to the almighty God a means whereby He may, in a manner worthy of His majesty, triumph over Satan, who hitherto seemed to have prevailed against the divine plan.

Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat than that which this day befell Satan. The frail creature, over whom he had so easily triumphed at the beginning of the world, now rises and crushes his proud head. Eve conquers in Mary. God would not choose man for the instrument of His vengeance; the humiliation of Satan would not have been great enough; and therefore she who was the first prey of hell, the first victim of the tempter, is selected to give battle to the enemy. The result of so glorious a triumph is that Mary is to be superior not only to the rebel angels, but to the whole human race, yea, to all the angels of heaven. Seated on her exalted throne, she, the Mother of God, is to be the Queen of all creation. Satan, in the depths of the abyss, will eternally bewail his having dared to direct his first attack against the woman, for God has now so gloriously avenged her; and in heaven, the very Cherubim and Seraphim reverently look up to Mary, and deem themselves honoured when she smiles upon them, or employs them in the execution of any of her wishes, for she is the Mother of their God.

Therefore is it that we, the children of Adam, who have been snatched by Mary’s obedience from the power of hell, solemnize this day of the Annunciation. Well may we say of Mary those words of Debbora, when she sang her song of victory over the enemies of God’s people: ‘The valiant men ceased, and rested in Israel, until Debbora arose, a mother arose in Israel. The Lord chose new wars, and He Himself overthrew the gates of the enemies.’ [Judges v. 7, 8.] Let us also refer to the holy Mother of Jesus these words of Judith, who by her victory over the enemy was another type of Mary: ‘Praise ye the Lord our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in Him. And by me, His handmaid, He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel; and He hath killed the enemy of His people by my hand this night. … The almighty Lord hath struck him, and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman, and hath slain him.’ [Judith xiii. 17. 18; xvi. 7.]



When the Annunciation falls on any other day than Monday, the first Vespers of this feast are sung before midday, according to the rule prescribed for fast-days of Lent: but when it falls on a Monday, this Office is celebrated at the ordinary time of Vespers, and only a commemoration is made of the Sunday by the Magnificat antiphon and the prayer.

The Office of first Vespers is always the commencement of a feast. The antiphons of the Vespers, at which we are going to assist, are taken from the Gospel of St. Luke, where the evangelist reveals to us the sublime interview between the angel and the Virgin. The psalms are those which tradition has consecrated to the celebration of Mary’s glories. We have elsewhere [see our volume for Advent, in the Vespers of December 8.] shown how each of the five refers to the Mother of God.

Ant. Missus est Gabriel angelus ad Mariam Virginem desponsatam Joseph. Ant. The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a Virgin espoused to Joseph.

PSALM 109.

Dixit Dominus Domino meo: * Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: * scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion: * dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum: * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: * Tu es Sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis: * confregit in die irae suae reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: * conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
De torrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.
The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.
Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.
O Christ! the Lord thy Father, will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the Saints: For the Father hath said to thee: From the womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the God-Man: Thou art a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
Therefore, O Father, the Lord, thy Son, is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall also judge among nations: he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
He cometh now in humility: he shall drink, in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore, shall he lift up the head.
Ant. Missus est Gabriel angelus, ad Mariam Virginem desponsatam Joseph.

Ant. Ave, Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus.

Ant. The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a Virgin, espoused to Joseph.

Ant. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

PSALM 112.

Laudate, pueri, Dominum: * laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum: * ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum: * laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus: * et super coelos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat:* et humilia respicit in coelo et in terra?
Suscitans a terra inopem: * et de stercore erigens pauperem.
Ut collocet eum cum principibus: * cum principibus populi sui.
Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo: * matrem filiorum laetantem.
Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord: from henceforth, now and for ever.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
The Lord is high Above all nations: and his glory above the heavens.
Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: and looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth, nay, who cometh down amidst us?
Raising up the needy from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.
That he may place him with princes: with the princes of his people.
Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.
Ant. Ave, Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus.Ant. Ne timeas, Maria; invenisti gratiam apud Dominum: ecce concipies, et paries filium. Ant. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.Ant. Fear not, Mary; thou hast found grace with God: behold thou shalt conceive, and shalt bring forth a Son.

PSALM 121.

Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: * In domum Domini ibimus.
Stantes erant pedes nostri:  * in atriis tuis Jerusalem.
Jerusalem quae aedificatur ut civitas: * cujus participatio ejus in idipsum.
Illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini: * testimonium Israel ad confitendum Nomini Domini.
Quia illic sederunt sedes in judicio: * sedes super domum David.
Rogate quae ad pacem sunt Jerusalem: * et abundantia diligentibus te.
Fiat pax in virtute tua: * et abundantia in turribus tuis.
Propter fratres meos et proximos meos: * loquebar pacem de te.
Propter domum Domini Dei nostri: * quaesivi bona tibi.
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem! Our heart loves and confides in thee, O Mary.
Mary is like to Jerusalem, that is built as a city; which is compact together.
For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.
Because seats sat there in judgment; seats upon the house of David, and Mary is of a kingly race.
Pray ye, through Mary, for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and may abundance be on them that love thee, O Church of our God!
The voice of Mary: Let peace be in thy strength, O thou new Sion! and abundance in thy towers.
I, a daughter of Israel, for the sake of my brethren and of my neighbours, spoke peace of thee.
Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.
Ant. Ne timeas, Maria: invenisti gratiam apud Dominum; ecce concipies et paries filium.

Ant. Dabit ei Dominus sedem David patris ejus, et regnabit in aeternum.

Ant. Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God: behold thou shalt conceive, and shalt bring forth a Son.

Ant. And the Lord shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign for ever.

PSALM 126.

Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum: * in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam.
Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem: * frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere: * surgite post quam sederitis, qui manducatis panem doloris.
Cum dederit dilectis suis somnum; * ecce haereditas Domini, filii: merces, fructus ventris.
Sicut sagittae in manu potentis: * ita filii excussorum.
Beatus vir, qui implevit desiderium suum ex ipsis: * non confundetur cum loquetur inimicis suis in porta.
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth’ it.
It is vain for you to rise before light; rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat of the bread of sorrow.
When he shall give sleep to his beloved: behold the inheritance of the Lord are children; the reward, the fruit of the womb.
As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.
Blessed is the man that hath filled his desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.
Ant. Dabit ei Dominus sedem David patris ejus, et regnabit in aeternum.Ant. Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. Ant. And the Lord shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign for ever.Ant. Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.

PSALM 147.

Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum: * lauda Deum tuum, Sion.
Quoniam confortavit seras portarum tuarum: * benedixit filiis tuis in te.
Qui posuit fines tuos pacem, * et adipe frumenti satiat te.
Qui emittit eloquium suum terrae: * velociter currit sermo ejus.
Qui dat nivem sicut lanam: * nebulam sicut cinerem spargit.
Mittit crystallum suam sicut buccellas: * ante faciem frigoris ejus quis sustinebit?
Emittet verbum suum, et liquefaciet ea: * flabit spiritus ejus, et fluent aquae.
Qui annuntiat verbum suum Jacob: * justitias, et judicia sua Israel.
Non fecit taliter omni nationi: * et judicia sua non manifestavit eis.
Praise the Lord, O Mary, thou true Jerusalem: O Mary, O Sion ever holy, praise thy God.
Because he hath strengthened against sin the bolts of thy gates: he hath blessed thy children within thee.
Who hath placed peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the fat of corn, with Jesus, who is the Bread of life.
Who sendeth forth, by thee, his Word to the earth: his word runneth swiftly.
Who giveth snow like wool; scattereth mists like ashes.
He sendeth his crystal like morsels; who shall stand before the face of his cold?
He shall send forth his Word by Mary, and shall melt them: his Spirit shall breathe, and the waters shall run.
Who declareth his word to Jacob: his justices and his judgments to Israel.
He hath not done in like manner to every nation: and his judgments he hath not made manifest to them.
Ant. Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. Ant. Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.

(Is. vii.)

Ecce virgo concipiet et pariet filium, et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel. Butyrum et mel comedet, ut sciat reprobare malum, et eligere bonum. Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.


Ave, maris stella!
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix coeli porta.Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Hevae nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse matrem,
Sumat per te preces,
Qui pro nobis natus
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos, culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut, videntes Jesum,
Semper collaetémur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spirítui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.

Hail, star of the sea! blessed Mother of God, yet ever a Virgin! O happy gate of heaven!

Thou that didst receive the Ave from Gabriel’s lips, confirm us in peace, and so let Eva be changed into an Ave of blessing for us.

Loose the sinner’s chains, bring light to the blind, drive from us our evils, and ask all good things for us.

Show thyself a Mother, and offer our prayers to him, who would be born of thee, when born for us.

O incomparable Virgin, and meekest of the meek, obtain us the forgiveness of our sins, and make us meek and chaste.

Obtain us purity of life, and a safe pilgrimage; that we may be united with thee in the blissful vision of Jesus.

Praise be to God the Father, and to the Lord Jesus, and to the Holy Ghost: to the Three one selfsame praise. Amen.

V. Ave, Maria, gratia plena.
R. Dominus tecum.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace.
R. The Lord is with thee.

In monastic churches it is preceded by this responsory:
R. breve. Angelus Domini * Nuntiavit Mariae. Angelus. V. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto. * Nuntiavit. Gloria Patri. Angelus.



Spiritus Sanctus in te descendet, Maria, et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, O Mary, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.


Deus, qui de beatae Mariae Virginis utero, Verbum tuum, angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: praesta supplicibus tuis: ut qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, ejus apud te intercessionibus adjuvemur. Per eumdem.
Let us pray.
O God, who wast pleased that thy Word, when the angel delivered his message, should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, give ear to our humble petitions, and grant that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her prayers. Through the same, &c.



The Church has taken most of the chants of today’s Mass from the forty-fourth Psalm, wherein the royal prophet celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation. In the Introit, she greets Mary as the Queen of the human race, to whom every creature should pay respectful homage. It is her virginity that fitted Mary to become the Mother of God. This virtue will be imitated in the Church, and each generation will produce thousands of holy virgins, who will walk in the footsteps of her who is their Mother and their model.


Vultum tuum deprecabuntur omnea divites plebis: adducentur Regi virgines post eam: proximae ejus adducentur tibi in laetitia et exsultatione.
Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi.
V. Gloria Patri. Vultum tuum.
All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King; her neighbours shall be brought to thee in joy and gladness.
Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King.
V. Glory,& c. All the rich.

In the Collect, the Church glories in her faith in the divine maternity; she puts it forward as a claim to Mary’s interceding for her with God, who is her Son. This dogma of Mary’s being the Mother of God is founded on the mystery of the Incarnation, which is the basis of our faith, and which was accomplished on this twenty-fifth of March.


Deus, qui de beatae Mariae Virginis utero, Verbum tuum, angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: praesta supplicibus tuis: ut qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, ejus apud te intercessionibus adjuvemur. Per eumdem. O God, who wast pleased that thy Word, when the angel delivered his message, should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, give ear to our humble petitions, and grant that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her prayers. Through the same, &c.

To this is added the Collect for the feria of Lent.


Lectio Isaiae Prophetae.Cap. vii.
In diebus illis: Locutus est Dominus ad Achaz, dicens: Pete tibi signum a Domino Deo tuo, in profundum inferni, sive in excelsum supra. Et dixit Achaz: Non petam, et non tentabo Dominum. Et dixit: Audite ergo domus David: Numquid parum vobis est, molestos esse hominibus, quia molesti estis et Deo meo? Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum. Ecce Virgo concipiet, et pariet filium: et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel. Butyrum et mel comedet, ut sciat reprobare malum et eligere bonum.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias.Ch. vii.
In those days: the Lord spoke unto Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God, either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above. And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord. And he (Isaias) said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil and to choose the good.

The prophet is speaking to a wicked king, who refused to accept a miraculous proof of God’s merciful protection over Jerusalem; and he makes this an opportunity for announcing to Juda the great portent which we are celebrating to-day: A Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son. And when was it, that God fulfilled the prophecy? It was in an age, when mankind seemed to have reached the highest pitch of wickedness, and when idolatry and immorality reigned throughout the whole world. The fulness of time came, and the tradition, which had found its way into every country, that a Virgin should bring forth a Son, was exciting much interest. This is the day on which the mystery was accomplished; let us adore the power of God, and the fidelity wherewith He fulfils His promises. The Author of the laws of nature suspends them; He acts independently of them: virginity and maternity are united in one and the same creature, for the Child that is to be born is God. A Virgin could not bring forth other than God Himself: the Son of Mary is therefore called Emmanuel, that is, God with us.

Let us adore this God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, who thus humbles Himself. Henceforth, He will have every tongue confess, not only His Divinity, but also His human Nature, which He has assumed in order that He might redeem us. From this day forward He is truly the Son of Man. He will remain nine months in His Mother’s womb, as other children. Like them, He will, after His birth, be fed on milk and honey. He will sanctify all stages of human life, from infancy to perfect manhood, for He is the New Man, who has come down from heaven that He might restore the old. Without losing aught of His Divinity, He shares in our weak finite being, that He may make us partakers of the divine nature. [2 St. Peter i. 4.]

In the Gradual, the Church unites with David in praising the beauty of the Emmanuel, His kingdom and His strength; for He comes in humility, that He may rise again in glory; He comes to give battle that He may conquer and triumph.


Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis; propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum.
V. Propter veritatem, et mansuetudinem, et justitiam; et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua.
Grace is spread on thy lips; therefore hath the Lord blessed thee for ever.
V. For thy truth, meekness and righteousness, shall thy right hand lead thee on wonderfully.

The Church continues the same canticle in the Tract, but it is in praise of Mary, the Virgin and Mother. The Holy Ghost loves her for her incomparable beauty; it is on this day that He overshadows her and she conceives the Word. Where is there a glory like that of Mary, who is an object of complacency to the three Persons of the Trinity? God could create nothing more exalted than the Mother of God. David foretells how this, his daughter, was to receive homage from the great ones of the earth, and how she was to be surrounded by holy virgins, who would follow her as their Queen and model. This day is also the triumph of her virginity, for it is raised to the dignity of divine maternity! Her triumph frees her sex from slavery, and renders it capable of everything that is honourable and great.


Audi, filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit Rex speciem tuam.
V. Vultum tuum deprecabuntur omnes divites plebis: filiae regum in honore tuo.
V. Adducentur Regi virgines post eam: proximae ejus afferentur tibi.
V. Adducentur in laetitia et exsultatione: adducentur in templum Regis.
Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: for the King is taken with thy beauty.
V. All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance: the daughters of kings shall honour thee.
V. Virgins shall be brought in her retinue to the King: the virgins, her companions, shall be presented to thee.
V. They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the King.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.Cap. i.
In illo tempore: Missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilaeae, cui nomen Nazareth, ad virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David: et nomen virginis, Maria. Et ingressus angelus ad eam, dixit: Ave, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus. Quae cum audisset, turbata est in sermone ejus: et cogitabat qualis esset ista salutatio. Et ait angelus ei: Ne timeas, Maria: invenisti enim gratiam apud Deum. Ecce concipies in utero, et paries filium: et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum. Hic erit magnus: et Filius Altissimi vocabitur. Et dabit illi Dominus Deus sedem David patris ejus: et regnabit in domo Jacob in aeternum; et regni ejus non erit finis. Dixit autem Maria ad angelum: Quomodo fiet istud? quoniam virum non cognosco. Et respondens angelus, dixit ei: Spiritus sanctus superveniet in te; et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi. Ideoque et quod nascetur ex te sanctum, vocabitur Filius Dei. Et ecce Elisabeth cognata tua: et ipsa concepit filium in senectute sua. Et hic mensis sextus est illi, quae vocatur sterilis; quia non erit impossible apud Deum omne verbum. Dixit autem Maria: Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.Ch. i.
At that time: the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Moat High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.

By these last words of thine, O Mary! our happiness is secured. Thou consentest to the desire of heaven, and thy consent brings us our Saviour. O Virgin-Mother! Blessed among women! we unite our thanks with the homage that is paid thee by the angels. By thee is our ruin repaired; in thee is our nature restored; for thou hast wrought the victory of man over Satan! St. Bernard, in one of his homilies on this Gospel, thus speaks: ‘ Rejoice, O thou our father Adam! but thou, O mother Eve, still more rejoice! You were our parents, but you were also our destroyers; and, what is worse, you had wrought our destruction before you gave us birth. Both of you must be consoled in such a daughter as this: but thou, O Eve, who wast the first cause of our misfortune, and whose humiliation has descended upon all women, thou hast a special reason to rejoice in Mary. For the time has now come, when the humiliation is taken away; neither can man any longer complain against the woman, as of old, when he foolishly sought to excuse himself, and cruelly put all the blame on her, saying: “The woman, whom Thou gavest me, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Go, Eve, to Mary; go, mother, to thy daughter; let thy daughter take thy part, and free thee from thy disgrace, and reconcile thee to her father: for, if man fell by a woman, he is raised up by a woman.

‘What is this thou sayest, Adam? “The woman, whom Thou gavest me, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”‘ These are wicked words; far from effacing thy fault, they aggravate it. But divine Wisdom conquered thy wickedness, by finding in the treasury of His own inexhaustible mercy a motive for pardon, which He had in vain sought to elicit by questioning thee. In place of the woman, of whom thou com-plainest, He gives thee another: Eve was foolish, Mary is wise; Eve was proud, Mary is humble; Eve gave thee of the tree of death, Mary will give thee of the Tree of life; Eve offered thee a bitter and poisoned fruit, Mary will give thee the sweet Fruit she herself is to bring forth, the Fruit of everlasting life. Change, then, thy wicked excuse into an act of thanksgiving, and say: ” The Woman, whom Thou hast given me, O Lord, hath given me of the Tree of life, and I have eaten thereof; and it is sweeter than honey to my mouth, for by it Thou hast given me life.”‘ [St. Bernard. Homil. II. super Missus est.]

In the Offertory, the Church addresses Mary in the words spoken to her by the Archangel, to which she also adds those used by Elizabeth, when she saluted the Mother of her God.


Ave, Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

In the Secret, the Church renews her profession of faith in the mystery of the Incarnation; she confesses the reality of the two Natures, divine and human, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Son of Mary.


In mentibus nostris, quaesumus, Domine, verae fidei sacramenta confirma: ut, qui conceptum de Virgine Deum verum et hominem confitemur, per ejus salutiferae resurrectionis potentiam, ad aeternam mereamur pervenire laetitiam. Per eumdem. Strengthen, we beseech thee, O Lord, in our soul, the mysteries of the true faith: that we who confess him, that was conceived of a Virgin, to be true God and true Man, may, by the power of his saving resurrection, deserve to come to eternal joys. Through the same, &c.

To this is added the Secret for the feria of Lent. The greatness of the solemnity obliges the Church to substitute, for the Lenten Preface, the one she uses on our Lady’s feasts.


Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus: Et te in Annuntiatione beatae Mariae semper Virginis collaudare, benedice re, et praedicare. Quae et Unigenitum tuum sancti Spiritus obumbratione concepit, et virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen aeternum mundo effudit Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Coeli coelorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: and that we should praise, bless, and glorify thee, on the Annunciation of the blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, conceived thy only-begotten Son, and the glory of her virginity still remaining, brought forth to the world the eternal Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee, glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying: Holy! Holy! Holy!

The Communion-anthem repeats the prophetic words of the Epistle. It is a Virgin that has conceived and brought forth Him, who, being God and Man, is also the living Bread that came down from heaven, whereby God is with us, and in us.


Ecce Virgo concipiet, et pariet filium: et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel. Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

In the Postcommunion, the Church gratefully recalls to mind all the mysteries which God has achieved for our salvation, and which are the consequences of the one we honour to-day. After the Incarnation, which unites the Son of God to our human nature, we have had the Passion of this our divine Redeemer; and His Passion was followed by His Resurrection, whereby He triumphed over our enemy death.


Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde: ut, qui angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus; per Passionem ejus et crucem, ad Resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem. Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by his Passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through the same, &c.

To this is added the Postcommunion of the feria of Lent.



The antiphons, psalms, hymn, and versicle, are the same as in the first Vespers, above. The Magnificat antiphon alone is changed, and is as follows:


Gabriel angelus locutus est Mariae dicens: Ave, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus. The angel Gabriel spoke unto Mary, saying: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.


Deus, qui de beatae Mariae Virginis utero, Verbum tuum, angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: praesta supplicibus tuis: ut qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, ejus apud te intercessioni bus adjuvemur. Per eumdem.
Let us pray.
O God, who wast pleased that thy Word, when the angel delivered his message, should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, give ear to our humble petitions, and grant that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her prayers. Through the same, &c.


Let us now bring together the different liturgies, and hear them celebrate the great mystery of this glad feast. First of all, let us listen to the Church of Rome, who, in her Office of Matins, thus proclaims the praises of Mary, the Mother of God:


Quem terra, pontus, sidera
Colunt, adorant, praedicant,
Trinam regentem machinam,
Claustrum Mariae bajulat.Cui luna, sol et omnia
Deserviunt per tempora,
Perfusa coeli gratia,
Gestant puellae viscera.

Beata Mater munere,
Cujus, supernus artifex
Mundum pugillo continens,
Ventris sub arca clausus est.

Beata coeli nuntio,
Foecunda sancto Spiritu,
Desideratus gentibus
Cujus per alvum fusus est.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine;
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

He, whom earth, and sea, and the firmament, worship, adore, and praise; he, the King of the triple kingdom, is carried in Mary’s womb.The womb of a Virgin, who has been filled with heavenly grace, bears him, whom the moon, and sun, and all creatures serve in the order marked for them.

O Mother, blessed in her great office! He, the sovereign Creator, who holds the world in the palm of his hand, is en closed in the tabernacle of her womb.

The angelic messenger proclaims her blessed; the holy Spirit makes her fruitful; and the Desired of nations is born of her.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus, that wast born of the Virgin! and to the Father, and to the Spirit of love, for everlasting ages. Amen.

Many of the Latin Churches, in the middle ages, used to recite, in the Mass of the Annunciation, the following sequence, which is thought to have been composed by Peter Abelard.


Mittit ad Virginem
Non quemvis Angelum,
Sed Fortitudinem
Suum Archangelum,
Amator hominis.Fortem expediat
Pro nobis nuntium,
Naturae faciat
Ut praejudicium
In partu Virginis.

Naturam superet
Natus Rex gloriae:
Regnet et imperet,
Et zyma scoriae
Tollat de medio.

Terat fastigia:
Colla sublimium
Calcet vi propria,
Potens in proelio.

Foras ejiciat
Mundanum principem:
Secumque faciat
Matrem participem
Patris imperii.

Exi qui mitteris,
Haec dona dissere:
Revela veteris
Velamen litterae
Virtute nuncii.

Accede, nuncia:
Die: Ave, cominus,
Die: Plena gratia,
Die: Tecum Dominus,
Et die: Ne timeas.

Virgo suscipias
Dei depositum,
In quo perficias
Casta propositum,
Et votum teneas.

Audit et suscipit
Puella nuntium:
Credit et concipit,
Et parit Filium,
Sed admirabilem.

Humani generis:
Deum et nominem,
Et Patrem posteris,
In pace stabilem.

Cujus stabilitas
Nos reddat stabiles,
Ne nos labilitas
Humana labiles
Secum praecipitet.

Sed dator veniae
Concessa venia,
Per matrem gratiae
Obtenta gratia,
In nobis habitet.

Qui nobis tribuat
Peccati veniam:
Reatus deleat,
Donet et patriam
In arce siderum.

God, the lover of man, sends to the Virgin no less an angel than him who is called God’s Strength, the Archangel Gabriel.May this strong messenger be speedily at his work; may he stay the rights and laws of nature in the Virgin’s delivery.

May the King of glory, when born, triumph over nature; may he reign and command; may he take away from the midst of men all leaven and rust.

May he humble proud heads; may this God, mighty in war, trample in his power on the necks of the haughty.

May he cast forth the prince of this world; and make his Mother share with him the empire which his Father has given him.

Go forth, messenger of God, announce these gifts: lift up, by the virtue of thy Annunciation, the veil of the ancient Scripture.

Approach, tell thy announcement: say, when thou art in her presence, ‘Hail!’ Say: ‘O full of grace!’ Say: ‘The Lord is with thee!’ And then: ‘Fear not!’

Receive, O Virgin! the divine deposit; by him fulfil thy chaste purpose, and keep thy vow.

The Maid hears and accepts the announcement; she believes and conceives, and brings forth a Son, but he is the Admirable.

The Counsellor of mankind, God and Man, Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace.

May his firmness render us firm, lest human frailty should make us stumble into the abyss.

But may the giver of pardon, granting us pardon and grace, obtained by the Mother of grace, dwell within us.

May he that grants us pardon of our sins, wipe away all our guilt, and give us the country in the starry heaven. Amen.

The Ambrosian liturgy gives us this fine Preface, which is used in its celebration of to-day’s mystery.


Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare: nos tibi, Domine Deus omnipotens, gratias agere, et cum tuae invocatione virtutis, beatae Mariae Virginis festa celebrare: de cujus ventre fructus effloruit, qui panis angelici munere nos replevit. Quod Eva voravit in crimine, Maria restituit in salute. Distat opus serpentis et virginis: inde fusa sunt venena discriminis; hinc egressa mysteria Salvatoris. Inde se praebuit tentantis iniquitas; hinc Redemptoris est opitulata majestas. Inde partus occubuit; hinc Conditor resurrexit, a quo humana natura, non jam captiva, sed libera restituitur; quod Adam perdidit in parente, Christo recepit auctore. It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should give thanks to thee, O Lord God almighty: and that we should, whilst invoking thy power, celebrate the feasts of the blessed Virgin Mary; from whose womb came the Fruit, which has filled us with the Bread of angels. That Fruit, which Eve took from us, when she sinned, Mary hath restored to us, and it hath saved us. Not as the work of the serpent, is the work of Mary. From the one, came the poison of our destruction; from the other, the mysteries of salvation. In the one, we see the malice of the tempter; in the other, the help of the divine Majesty. By the one, came death to the creature; by the other the resurrection of the Creator, by whom human nature, now not captive but free, is restored: and what it lost by its parent Adam, it regained by its Maker, Christ.

The Mozarabic liturgy (which, as we have already observed, keeps the feast of the Annunciation on December 18) has several admirable prayers touching this mystery: we select the following:


Gratiam plenam habere te credimus, o Virgo Christi genitrix, et humani generis reparatrix, gloriosa Maria, quae tanta nobis gaudia pariendo contulisti, ut fructus ventris tui, qui est Christus Filius Dei, a dominio in nos saevientis eriperet inimici, et in regno aeterno consortia faceret sibimetipsi. Proinde, quaesumus, te rogamus, ut adsis patrona nobis, ut et merito tuo nos filius tuus a delicto exsules reddat, et post in regno suo perenniter habitaturos introducat. Praesta nobis, ut qui te concupiscens sibi advocavit in Matrem, nobis concupiscentiae suae opulentam largiatur dulcedinem. Amen. We believe thee to be full of grace, O glorious Mary, Virgin Mother of Christ, and reparatrix of mankind! Great indeed are the blessings thou hast conferred on us by giving him birth: for the Fruit of thy womb, Christ the Son of God, hath delivered us from the tyranny of our cruel enemy, and hath made us his companions in the eternal kingdom. Be thou, therefore, we beseech thee, our advocate; that, through thy merits, thy Son may set us free from our sins, and, after this life, give us to reign for ever in his kingdom. Grant that he, who out of love for thee called thee to be his Mother, may grant unto us the rich sweetness of his love. Amen.

The Greek liturgy, with its wonted abundance, celebrates the glory of Mary in the Incarnation of the Word. We give the following hymn, which comes in the Office of the vigil of the Annunciation. In our opinion, it is finer than the one on the feast itself.

(Die XXIV. Martii)

Terra, quae magno hactenus dolore spinas germinasti, jam nunc age choreas et salta: ecce enim immortalis agricola, qui te a spinis maledictionis expurget, nunc appropinquat.Sed et tu intaminata, o Virgo, tamquam vellus plane divinum, te praepara excipiendo Numini, quod in te velut imber descendat, ut torrentes transgressionis praeceptorum exsiccet.

Esto paratus, o divinae munditiae liber; quippe tibi sancti Spiritus digito inscribetur Sapientia divina sed incarnata, quae insipientiae mete praevaricationem e medio tollat.

O aureum item candelabrum, ignem recipe divinitatis; ut per te illuceat mundo, unaque nequitiarum nostrarum tenebras dissipet.

O magni Regis palatium, Virgo, aurium tuarum divina vestibula pande: jamjam enim ingredietur ad te ipsa Veritas Christus, ut habitet in medio tui.

O Agna incontaminata, Agnus Dei nostri, qui tollit peccata nostra, uterum tuum festinat intrare. Mystica etiam virga brevi germinabit florem divinum, de radice Jesse palam exortum, ut loquitur Scriptura.

O vitis quoque Maria, compara te, ut per angelicam vocem foecundata, botrum quoque maturum, neque corruptioni obnoxium procrees.

O denique mons salve, uem Daniel praevidit in Spiritu, ex quo lapis ille spiritalis abscindetur, qui inanimata daemonum sculptilia conteret.

O ratione praedita Arca, quam verus legislator amore singulari prosecutus inhabitare nunc ceu incola statuit, impleat te jucunditas mentis: per te enim innovabit destructos.

Quin et vatum chorus divina dare praesagia doctus, tanquam pacatum in te Redemptoris ingressum praesentiret exclamat: Cunctorum salve Redemptio, salve unica hominum salus.

O aerea divini luminia nubes, orituro mox soli te para. Nam ecce sol inaccessus de sedibus tibi coelestibus explendescet, ut in te aliquantum absconditus, illuceat mundo, et improbitatis tenebras dissipet.

Ille qui a dextera Patris nunquam digressus, substantiam omnem transcendit, in te sibi diversorium delecturus adventat: ut te a dextris constituat suis, tamquam reginam dignitate sibi propinquam, et excellenti pulchritudine praditam, utque te velut dexteram suam omnibus lapsis ad surgendum extendat.

Inter angelos autem primarius Dei minister, vocem ad te laetabundam emittit, ut ex te corporandum significet magni consilii Angelum.

O Verbum divinum, coelos inclina, et nunc jam ad nos descende. Modo enim uterus Virginis praeparatus est tibi ceu thronus, in quo tamquam rex splendidissimus sedeas, opus dexterae tuae a ruina sustollens.

Tu quoque, o Virgo, ceu terra numquam seminata, accingere nunc ad recipiendum sub angeli verbo Verbum coeleste, frumento per quem frugifero simile, quod ex te germinans semina enutriet in panem intelligentiae.

O Earth! that heretofore hast, with much sorrow, brought forth thorns, now dance and leap with joy; for lo! the immortal Husbandman, who will cleanse thee from the thorns of the curse, is at hand.And thou, too, O spotless Virgin! as a divine fleece, prepare thyself to receive thy God, who is about to come down upon thee as the Dew, that he may dry up the torrent of iniquity.

Hold thyself in readiness, O book of heavenly purity! for, by the finger of the Holy Ghost, there shall be written in thee the divine Wisdom made Incarnate, who is to take away the foolishness of my sin.

Receive, O golden candlestick! the flame of the Godhead; that by thee he may enlighten the world, and scatter the darkness of our sins.

O Virgin! Palace of the great King, throw open the holy portals of thine ears; for Christ, the very Truth, is about to enter into thee, that he may dwell in thy midst.

O spotless sheep, the Lamb of our God, who taketh away the sins of the world, longs to enter thy womb. The mystic branch, as the Scripture saith, shall soon bud forth the Flower divine, which is to spring from Jesse’s root.

O Mary, thou vine, prepare thyself to receive, by the angel’s words, the ripe Grape-Bunch, that knoweth not corruption.

Hail, O mountain! that wast foreseen in the Spirit by Daniel, and from whence shall be hewn that living Stone, which is to destroy the dead idols of the demons.

O intellectual Ark! dear above all to the true Lawgiver, and which he has chosen for the place of his abode! Rejoice exceedingly, for, by thee, he will restore what hath been destroyed.

The choir of the prophets, skilled in announcing divine mysteries, foresaw the peaceful entrance of the Redeemer within thee, and they exclaimed: Hail, Redemption of the world! Hail, thou the only salvation of mankind!

O cloud of the divine Light, prepare thyself for the Sun that is about to rise. For lo! the inaccessible Sun shall shine on thee from his heavenly throne, that, after he has been for a while hid in thee, he may shed his light upon the world, and scatter the darkness of iniquity.

He that hath never left the right hand of the Father, and is above all, has chosen thee as his dwelling-place, and is coming unto thee: he will set thee on his right hand, as a Queen whose throne is near his own, and whose beauty surpasses that of all creatures: he will use thee, as his own right hand, to help the fallen to rise.

He that is the chief among the angels to minister unto God, addresses his joyous words to thee, telling thee, that the Angel of the great Counsel is to take flesh from thee.

O divine Word, bow down the heavens, and now descend unto us; for the Virgin’s womb ia prepared for thee as a throne, whereon thou the all-glorious King mayst sit, and raise up from ruin the work of thy right hand.

Do thou, also, O Maiden, as a virgin soil, prepare thyself to receive, at the angel’s word, the heavenly Word, which, like unto most fruitful wheat, shall bud forth its seed from thee, and produce the bread of the spirit.

O Emmanuel, God with us! who, as Thy Church says in her hymn, ‘being to take upon Thee to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb,’ the whole human race gives thanks to Thee on this day, for Thy merciful coming. O eternal Word of the Father! it was not enough for Thee to have drawn man out of nothing by Thy power; Thine exhaustless love would follow him even to the abyss of misery into which he had fallen. By sin man had forfeited the dignity Thou hadst given him: that he might regain it, Thou didst come in person and assume his nature, so to raise him up again to Thyself. In Thee, from this day forward unto all eternity, God is made man, and man is made God. Thy Incarnation is the fulfilment of the promises made in the canticle; Thou unitest Thyself to human nature, and it is in the virginal womb of a daughter of David that Thou celebratest these ineffable espousals. O incomprehensible humiliation! O ineffable glory! The humiliation is for the Son of God, the glory is for the Son of man. Thus hast Thou loved us, O divine Word, thus hast Thou removed from us the degradation of our fall! The rebel angels fell, and Thou didst leave them in the abyss; we fell, and Thou hadst mercy on us. A single look of Thy pity would have sufficed to save us; but it would not satisfy Thy love: therefore didst Thou descend into this world of sin, take upon Thyself the form of a slave, [Phil. ii. 7.] and lead a life of humiliation and suffering. O Word made Flesh, who comest not to judge, but to save, [St. John xii. 47.] we adore Thee, we praise Thee, we love Thee. Make us worthy of all that Thy love has led Thee to do for us.

We salute thee, O Mary, full of grace, on this day whereon thou didst receive thy sublime dignity of Mother of God. Thy incomparable purity drew down upon thee the love of the great Creator, and thy humility drew Him into thy womb; His presence within thee increased the holiness of thy spirit and the purity of thy body. What must have been thy happiness in knowing that this Son of God was living by thy life, and was taking from thine own substance the new being, which His love for us induced Him to assume! Between thee and Him is formed that ineffable union which is granted to none else but to thee: He is thy Creator, and thou art His Mother; He is thy Son, and thou art His creature. Every knee bows down before Him, O Mary! for He is the great God of heaven and earth; but every creature reveres thee, also, for thou hast carried Him in thy womb, thou hast fed Him at thy breast; thou alone canst say to Him, as does His heavenly Father: ‘Thou art my Son!’ O Mother of Jesus! thou art the greatest of God’s works: receive the humble homage of mankind, for thou art most dear to us, seeing that thou art of the same flesh and blood as ourselves.

Thou art a daughter of Eve, but without her sin. By thy obedience to the divine decrees, thou savest thy mother find her race; thou restorest Adam and his children to the innocence they had lost. Jesus, whom thou bearest in thy womb, is our pledge that all these blessings are to be ours; and it is by thee that He comes to us. Without Jesus, we should abide in death; without thee, we should not have had Him to redeem us. It is from thy virginal womb that He receives the precious Blood which is to be our ransom, that Blood whose purity He protected in thy Immaculate Conception, and which becomes the Blood of God by the union, that is consummated in thee, of the divine with the human Nature.

Today, O Mary! is fulfilled in thee the promise made by God after Adam’s sin, that He would put enmity between the woman and the serpent. Up to this time, the human race had not the courage to resist the enemy; it was subservient to him, and everywhere were altars raised up in his honour; but, on this day, his head is crushed beneath thy foot. Thy humility, thy purity, thy obedience, have conquered him; his tyranny is checked. By thee we are delivered from his sway; and nothing but our own perversity and ingratitude could again give him the mastery. Let not this be, O Mary! Come to our assistance. During this season of repentance, we humbly acknowledge that we have abused the grace of God; we beseech thee, on this the feast of thy Annunciation, intercede for us with Him, who, on this day, became thy Son. Holy Mother of God! by the salutation addressed to thee by the angel Gabriel, by thy virginal fear, by thy fidelity to God, by thy prudent humility, by thy consent, obtain for us conversion of heart, and sincere repentance; prepare us for the great mysteries we are about to celebrate. These mysteries are so full of sorrow to thy maternal heart; and yet thou wouldst have us rejoice on this day, as we think on the ineffable happiness which filled thy soul at the solemn moment when the Holy Ghost overshadowed thee, and the Son of God became thine. Yes, blessed Mother of Jesus! we will spend the whole of this day near thee, in thy humble dwelling at Nazareth. Nine months hence, we will follow thee to Bethlehem, and there, in company with the shepherds and the angels, we will prostrate ourselves in adoration before the Infant-God, our Saviour: we will join our voices with those of the heavenly host, and we will thus express our gladness: ‘ Glory be to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will!’

Palm Sunday ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger


Hodie si vocem Domini audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra. To-day, if ye shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.

Early in the morning of this day, Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, leaving Mary His Mother, and the two sisters Martha and Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus, at Bethania. The Mother of sorrows trembles at seeing her Son thus expose Himself to danger, for His enemies are bent upon His destruction; but it is not death, it is triumph, that Jesus is to receive to-day in Jerusalem. The Messias, before being nailed to the cross, is to be proclaimed King by the people of the great city; the little children are to make her streets echo with their Hosannas to the Son of David; and this in presence of the soldiers of Rome’s emperor, and of the high priests and Pharisees: the first standing under the banner of their eagles; the second, dumb with rage.

The prophet Zachary had foretold this triumph which the Son of Man was to receive a few days before His Passion, and which had been prepared for Him from all eternity. ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion! Shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy King will come to thee; the Just and the Saviour. He is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.’ [Zach. ix. 9]. Jesus, knowing that the hour has come for the fulfilment of this prophecy, singles out two from the rest of His disciples, and bids them lead to Him an ass and her colt, which they would find not far off. He has reached Beth phage, on Mount Olivet. The two disciples lose no time in executing the order given them by their divine Master; and the ass and the colt are soon brought to the place where He stands.

The holy fathers have explained to us the mystery of these two animals. The ass represents the Jewish people, which had been long under the yoke of the Law; the colt, upon which, as the evangelist says, no man yet hath sat [St. Mark xi. 2], is a figure of the Gentile world, which no one had ever yet brought into subjection. The future of these two peoples is to be decided a few days hence: the Jews will be rejected, for having refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messias; the Gentiles will take their place, to be adopted as God’s people, and become docile and faithful.

The disciples spread their garments upon the colt; and our Saviour, that the prophetic figure might be fulfilled, sits upon him [Ibid. 7, and St. Luke xix. 35.], and advances towards Jerusalem. As soon as it is known that Jesus is near the city, the holy Spirit works in the hearts of those Jews, who have come from all parts to celebrate the feast of the Passover. They go out to meet our Lord, holding palm branches in their hands, and loudly proclaiming Him to be King [St. Luke xix. 38]. They that have accompanied Jesus from Bethania, join the enthusiastic crowd. Whilst some spread their garments on the way, others cut down boughs from the palm-trees, and strew them along the road. Hosanna is the triumphant cry, proclaiming to the whole city that Jesus, the Son of David, has made His entrance as her King.

Thus did God, in His power over men’s hearts, procure a triumph for His Son, and in the very city which, a few days later, was to clamour for His Blood. This day was one of glory to our Jesus, and the holy Church would have us renew, each year, the memory of this triumph of the Man-God. Shortly after the birth of our Emmanuel, we saw the Magi coming from the extreme east, and looking in Jerusalem for the King of the Jews, to whom they intended offering their gifts and their adorations: but it is Jerusalem herself that now goes forth to meet this King. Each of these events is an acknowledgment of the kingship of Jesus; the first, from the Gentiles; the second, from the Jews. Both were to pay Him this regal homage, before He suffered His Passion. The inscription to be put upon the cross, by Pilate’s order, will express the kingly character of the Crucified: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Pilate, the Roman governor, the pagan, the base coward, has been unwittingly the fulfiller of a prophecy; and when the enemies of Jesus insist on the inscription being altered, Pilate will not deign to give them any answer but this: ‘What I have written, I have written.’ To-day, it is the Jews themselves that proclaim Jesus to be their King: they will soon be dispersed, in punishment for their revolt against the Son of David; but Jesus is King, and will be so for ever. Thus were literally verified the words spoken by the Archangel to Mary, when he announced to her the glories of the Child that was to be born of her: ‘The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David, His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.’ [St. Luke i. 32]. Jesus begins His reign upon the earth this very day; and though the first Israel is soon to disclaim His rule, a new Israel, formed from the faithful few of the old, shall rise up in every nation of the earth, and become the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom such as no mere earthly monarch ever coveted in his wildest fancies of ambition.

This is the glorious mystery which ushers in the great week, the week of dolours. Holy Church would have us give this momentary consolation to our heart, and hail our Jesus as our King. She has so arranged the service of to-day, that it should express both joy and sorrow; joy, by uniting herself with the loyal hosannas of the city of David; and sorrow, by compassionating the Passion of her divine Spouse. The whole function is divided into three parts, which we will now proceed to explain.

The first is the blessing of the palms; and we may have an idea of its importance from the solemnity used by the Church in this sacred rite. One would suppose that the holy Sacrifice has begun, and is going to be offered up in honour of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, even a Preface, are said, as though we were, as usual, preparing for the immolation of the spotless Lamb; but, after the triple Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! the Church suspends these sacrificial formulas, and turns to the blessing of the palms. The prayers she uses for this blessing are eloquent and full of instruction; and, together with the sprinkling with holy water and the incensation, impart a virtue to these branches, which elevates them to the supernatural order, and makes them means for the sanctification of our souls and the protection of our persons and dwellings. The faithful should hold these palms in their hands during the procession, and during the reading of the Passion at Mass, and keep them in their homes as an outward expression of their faith, and as a pledge of God’s watchful love.

It is scarcely necessary to tell our reader that the palms or olive branches, thus blessed, are carried in memory of those wherewith the people of Jerusalem strewed the road, as our Saviour made His triumphant entry; but a word on the antiquity of our ceremony will not be superfluous. It began very early in the east. It is probable that, as far as Jerusalem itself is concerned, the custom was established immediately after the ages of persecution. St. Cyril, who was bishop of that city in the fourth century, tells us that the palm-tree, from which the people cut the branches when they went out to meet our Saviour, was still to be seen in the vale of Cedron [Cateches. x. versus fin.] Such a circumstance would naturally suggest an annual commemoration of the great event. In the following century, we find this ceremony established, not only in the churches of the east, but also in the monasteries of Egypt and Syria. At the beginning of Lent, many of the holy monks obtained permission from their abbots to retire into the desert, that they might spend the sacred season in strict seclusion; but they were obliged to return to their monasteries for Palm Sunday, as we learn from the life of Saint Euthymius, written by his disciple Cyril [Act. SS. Jan. 20]. In the west, the introduction of this ceremony was more gradual; the first trace we find of it is in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, that is, at the end of the sixth, or the beginning of the seventh, century. When the faith had penetrated into the north, it was not possible to have palms or olive branches; they were supplied by branches from other trees. The beautiful prayers used in the blessing, and based on the mysteries expressed by the palm and olive trees, are still employed in the blessing of our willow, box, or other branches; and rightly, for these represent the symbolical ones which nature has denied us.

The second of to-day’s ceremonies is the procession, which comes immediately after the blessing of the palms. It represents our Saviour’s journey to Jerusalem, and His entry into the city. To make it the more expressive, the branches that have just been blessed are held in the hand during it. With the Jews, to hold a branch in one’s hand was a sign of joy. The divine law had sanctioned this practice, as we read in the following passage from Leviticus, where God commands His people to keep the feast of tabernacles: And you shall take to you, on the first day, the fruits of the fairest tree, and branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God [Lev. xxiii. 40]. It was, therefore, to testify their delight at seeing Jesus enter within their walls, that the inhabitants, even the little children, of Jerusalem, went forth to meet Him with palms in their hands. Let us, also, go before our King, singing our hosannas to Him as the conqueror of death, and the liberator of His people.

During the middle ages, it was the custom, in many churches, to carry the book of the holy Gospels in this procession. The Gospel contains the words of Jesus Christ, and was considered to represent Him. The procession halted at an appointed place, or station: the deacon then opened the sacred volume, and sang from it the passage which describes our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. This done, the cross which, up to this moment, was veiled, was uncovered; each of the clergy advanced towards it, venerated it, and placed at its foot a small portion of the palm he held in his hand. The procession then returned, preceded by the cross, which was left unveiled until all had re-entered the church. In England and Normandy, as far back as the eleventh century, there was practised a holy ceremony which represented, even more vividly than the one we have just been describing, the scene that was witnessed on this day at Jerusalem: the blessed Sacrament was carried in procession. The heresy of Berengarius, against the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, had been broached about that time; and the tribute of triumphant joy here shown to the sacred Host was a distant preparation for the feast and procession which were to be instituted at a later period.

A touching ceremony was also practised in Jerusalem during to-day’s procession, and, like those just mentioned, was intended to commemorate the event related by the Gospel. The whole community of the Franciscans (to whose keeping the holy places are entrusted) went in the morning to Bethphage. There, the father guardian of the holy Land, being vested in pontifical robes, mounted upon an ass, on which garments were laid. Accompanied by the friars and the Catholics of Jerusalem, all holding palms in their hands, he entered the city, and alighted at the church of the holy sepulchre where Mass was celebrated with all possible solemnity.

This beautiful ceremony, which dated from the period of the Latin kingdom in Jerusalem, has been forbidden, for now almost two hundred years, by the Turkish authorities of the city.

We have mentioned these different usages, as we have done others on similar occasions, in order to aid the faithful to the better understanding of the several mysteries of the liturgy. In the present instance, they will learn that, in to-day’s procession, the Church wishes us to honour Jesus Christ as though He were really among us, and were receiving the humble tribute of our loyalty. Let us lovingly go forth to meet this our King, our Saviour, who comes to visit the daughter of Sion, as the prophet has just told us. He is in our midst; it is to Him that we pay honour with our palms: let us give Him our hearts too. He comes that He may be our King; let us welcome Him as such, and fervently cry out to Him: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

At the close of the procession a ceremony takes place, which is full of the sublimest symbolism. On returning to the church, the doors are found to be shut. The triumphant procession is stopped; but the songs of joy are continued. A hymn in honour of Christ our King is sung with its joyous chorus; and at length the subdeacon strikes the door with the staff of the cross; the door opens, and the people, preceded by the clergy, enter the church, proclaiming the praise of Him, who is our resurrection and our life.

This ceremony is intended to represent the entry of Jesus into that Jerusalem of which the earthly one was but the figure – the Jerusalem of heaven, which has been opened for us by our Saviour. The sin of our first parents had shut it against us; but Jesus, the King of glory, opened its gates by His cross, to which every resistance yields. Let us, then, continue to follow in the footsteps of the Son of David, for He is also the Son of God, and He invites us to share His kingdom with Him. Thus, by the procession, which is commemorative of what happened on this day, the Church raises up our thoughts to the glorious mystery of the Ascension, whereby heaven was made the close of Jesus’ mission on earth. Alas! the interval between these two triumphs of our Redeemer are not all days of joy; and no sooner is our procession over, than the Church, who had laid aside for a moment the weight of her grief, falls back into sorrow and mourning.

The third part of to-day’s service is the offering of the holy Sacrifice. The portions that are sung by the choir are expressive of the deepest desolation; and the history of our Lord’s Passion, which is now to be read by anticipation, gives to the rest of the day that character of sacred gloom, which we all know so well. For the last five or six centuries, the Church has adopted a special chant for this narrative of the holy Gospel. The historian, or the evangelist, relates the events in a tone that is at once grave and pathetic; the words of our Saviour are sung to a solemn yet sweet melody, which strikingly contrasts with the high dominant of the several other interlocutors and the Jewish populace. During the singing of the Passion, the faithful should hold their palms in their hands, and, by this emblem of triumph, protest against the insults offered to Jesus by His enemies. As we listen to each humiliation and suffering, all of which were endured out of love for us, let us offer Him our palm as to our dearest Lord and King. When should we be more adoring, than when He is most suffering?

These are the leading features of this great day. According to our usual plan, we will add to the prayers and lessons any instructions that seem to be needed.

This Sunday, besides its liturgical and popular appellation of Palm Sunday, has had several other names. Thus it was called Hosanna Sunday, in allusion to the acclamation wherewith the Jews greeted Jesus on His entry into Jerusalem. Our forefathers used also to call it Pascha Floridum, because the feast of the Pasch (or Easter), which is but eight days off, is to-day in bud, so to speak, and the faithful could begin from this Sunday to fulfil the precept of Easter Communion. It was in allusion to this name, that the Spaniards, having on the Palm Sunday of 1513, discovered the peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico, called it Florida. We also find the name of Capililavium given to this Sunday, because, during those times when it was the custom to defer till Holy Saturday the baptism of infants born during the preceding months (where such a delay entailed no danger), the parents used, on this day, to wash the heads of these children, out of respect to the holy chrism wherewith they were to be anointed. Later on, this Sunday was, at least in some churches, called the Pasch of the competents, that is, of the catechumens, who were admitted to Baptism; they assembled to-day in the church, and received a special instruction on the symbol, which had been given to them in the previous scrutiny. In the Gothic Church of Spain, the symbol was not given till to-day. The Greeks call this Sunday Baïphoros, that is, Palm-bearing.


It begins with the chanting of the following antiphon, which serves as an Introit.


Hosanna filio David! Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. O Rex Israel! Hosanna in excelsis! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. O King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!

The priest then sums up, in the following prayer, the petitions of the faithful. This is what he asks for his people: that after this short life is over, they may come to that eternal kingdom, which has been prepared for them by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.OREMUS.
Deus quem diligere et amare, justitia est, ineffabilis gratiae tuae in nobis dona multiplica; et qui fecisti nos in morte Filii tui sperare quae credimus, fac nos eodem resurgente pervenire quo tendimus. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.LET US PRAY
O God, whom to love is true righteousness, multiply in our hearts the gifts of thy holy grace; and since, by the death of thy only Son, thou hast made us to hope for those things which we believe, grant that, by his resurrection, we may arrive at the happy end of our journey. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
R. Amen.

After this prayer, the subdeacon chants a passage from the Book of Exodus, which relates how the people of God, after they had gone forth from Egypt, pitched their tents at Elim, beneath the shade of seventy palm-trees, where also were twelve fountains. While here, they were told by Moses that God was about to send them manna from heaven, and that, on the very next morning, their hunger would be appeased. These were figures of what is now given to the Christian people. The faithful, by a sincere conversion, have separated themselves from the Egypt of a sinful world. They are offering the palms of their loyalty and love to Jesus, their King. The fountains typify the Baptism, which, a few days hence, is to be administered to our catechumens. These fountains are twelve in number; the twelve articles of the symbol of our faith were preached to the world by the twelve apostles. And finally, on the morning of Easter day, Jesus, the Bread of life, the heavenly Manna, will arise from the tomb, and manifest His glory to us.

Lectio libri Exodi.Cap. xv
In diebus illis: Venerunt filii Israel in Elim, ubi erant duodecim fontes aqua rum, et septuaginta palmae: et castrametati sunt juxta aquas. Profectique sunt de Elim: et venit omnis multitudo filiorum Israel in desertum Sin, quod est inter Elim et Sinaï: quintodecimo die mensis secundi, postquam egressi sunt de terra Aegypti. Et murmuravit omnis congregatio filiorum Israel contra Moysen et Aaron in solitudine. Dixeruntque filii Israel ad eos: Utinam mortui essemus per manum Domini in terra Aegypti, quando sedebamus super ollas carnium: et comedebamus panem in saturitate. Cur induxistis nos in desertum istud, ut occideretis omnem multitudinem fame? Dixit autem Dominus ad Moysen: Ecce ego pluam vobis panes de coelo. Egrediatur populus, et colligat quae sufficiunt per singulos dies: ut tentem eum, utrum ambulet in lege mea, an non. Die autem sexto parent quod inferant: et sit duplum, quam colligere solebant per singulos dies. Dixeruntque Moyses et Aaron ad omnes filios Israel: Vespere scietis, quod Dominus eduxerit vos de terra Aegypti: et mane videbitis gloriam Domini.
Lesson from the book of Exodus.Ch. xv
In those days, the children of Israel came into Elim, where there were twelve fountains of water, and seventy palm-trees; and they encamped by the waters. And they set forward from Elim; and all the multitude of the children of Israel came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, the fifteenth day of the second month after they came out of the land of Egypt. And all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them: Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat over the flesh pots, and ate bread to the full. Why have you brought us into this desert, that you might destroy all the multitude with famine? And the Lord said to Moses: Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; let the people go forth, and gather what is sufficient for every day, that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law, or no. But the sixth day let them provide for to bring in, and let it be double to that they were wont to gather every day. And Moses and Aaron said to the children of Israel: In the evening you shall know that the Lord hath brought you forth out of the land of Egypt: and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.

After this lesson, the choir sings one of the two following responsories, which commemorate the Passion of our Lord.


R. Collegerunt pontifices et pharisaei concilium, et dixerunt: Quid facimus, quia hic homo multa signa facit? Si dimittimus eum sic, omnes credent in eum: * Et venient Romani, et tollent nostrum locum et gentem.
V. Unus autem ex illis, Caiphas nomine, cum esset anni illius, prophetavit dicens: Expedit vobis, ut unus moriatur homo pro populo, et non tota gens pereat. Ab illo ergo die cogitaverunt interficere eum dicentes: * Et venient Romani, et tollent nostrum locum et gentem.R. In monte Oliveti oravit ad Patrem: Pater, Si fieri potest, transeat a me calix iste. * Spiritus quidem promptus est: caro autem infirma: fiat voluntas tua.
V. Vigilate et orate, ut non intretis in tentationem. * Spiritus quidem promptus est: caro autem infirma: fiat voluntas tua.
R. The chief priests therefore and the pharisees gathered a council, and said: What are we doing, for this man performeth many wonders? If we let him go on thus, all will believe in him. * And the Romans will come and destroy both our country and people.
V. But one of them, named Caiphas, being the high priest of that year, said to them: It is for your interest that one man should die for the people, and not the whole nation perish. Therefore from that day they devised to kill him, saying: * And the Romans will come and destroy both our country and people.R. Jesus prayed unto his Father on Mount Olivet: O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. * The spirit indeed is ready, but the flesh is weak. Thy will be done.
V. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. * The spirit indeed is ready, but the flesh is weak. Thy will be done.

The deacon then chants, from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, the history of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The palms of the new Testament entwine with those of the old, in honour of the Man-God, who is the connecting link of both.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.Cap. xxi.
In illo tempore: Cum appropinquasset Jesus Jerosolymis et venisset Bethphage, ad montem Oliveti; tunc misit duos discipulos, dicens eis: Ite in castellum, quod contra vos est: et statim invenietis asinam alligatam, et pullum cum ea: solvite, et adducite mihi. Et si quis vobis aliquid dixerit, dicite quia Dominus his opus habet: et confestim dimittet eos. Hoc autem totum factum est, ut adimpleretur quod dictum est per prophetam dicentem: Dicite filiae Sion: Ecce Rex tuus venit tibi mansuetus, sedens super asinam, et pullum filium subjugalis. Euntes autem discipuli, fecerunt sicut praecepit illis Jesus. Et adduxerunt asinam, et pullum: et imposuerunt super eos vestimenta sua, et eum desuper sedere fecerunt. Plurima autem turba straverunt vestimenta sua in via. Alii autem caedebant ramos de arboribus, et sternebant in via. Turbae autem quae praecedebant, et quae sequebantur, clamabant, dicentes: Hosanna filio David! benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini!
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.Ch. xxi.
At that time: When Jesus drew nigh to Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, he sent two disciples, saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you. and immediately you shall find an ass tied and a colt with her; loose them and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them; and forthwith he will let them go. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold, thy King cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of her that is used to the yoke. And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them: and they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way, and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way; and the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!

And now the mystery-speaking palms are to receive the Church’s blessing. The priest begins by two scriptural allusions: the first is to Noah, who received an olive-branch, when the waters of the deluge had subsided; the second is to Moses, whose people, after quitting Egypt, encamped under the seventy palm-trees. Then in the solemn tone of the Preface, he calls upon all creatures to give praise to the adorable name of Jesus, for whom we are preparing the homage of our devoted love. Let us respond to the invitation, and sing with all our hearts: Holy! Holy! Holy! – Hosanna in excelsis!

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.OREMUS.
Auge fidem in te sperantium, Deus, et supplicum preces clementer exaudi: veniat super nos multiplex misericordia tua; benedicantur et hi palmites palmarum, seu olivarum: et sicut in figura Ecclesiae multiplicasti Noe egredientem de arca, et Moysen exeuntem de Aegypto cum filiis Israel: ita nos portantes palmos, et ramos olivarum bonis actibus occurramus obviam Christo, et per ipsum in gaudium introeamus aeternum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus,

V. Per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Sursum corda.
R. Habemus ad Dominum.
V. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
R. Dignum et justum est.

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui gloriaris in consilio sanctorum tuorum. Tibi enim serviunt creaturae tuae: quia te solum auctorem et Deum cognoscunt: et omnis factura tua te collaudat, et benedicunt te sancti tui. Quia illud magnum Unigeniti tui nomen, coram regibus et potestatibus hujus saeculi, libera voce confitentur. Cui assistunt Angeli et Archangeli, Throni et Dominationes: eumque omni militia coelestis exercitus, hymnum gloriae tuae concinunt, sine fine dicentes:

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.LET US PRAY.
Increase, O God, the faith of them that hope in thee, and mercifully hear the prayers of thy suppliants; let thy manifold mercy come upon us, and let these branches of palm-trees, or olive-trees be blessed; and as in a figure of the Church thou didst multiply Noah going out of the ark, and Moses going out of Egypt with the children of Israel, so let us, carrying palms and branches of olive-trees, go and meet Christ with good works, and enter through him into eternal joys. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God,

V. For ever and ever.
R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We have fixed them on God.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is meet and just.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, always and in all places to give thee thanks, O  holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who art glorious in the assembly of thy saints. For thy creatures serve thee, because they acknowledge thee for their only Creator and God. And the whole creation praiseth thee, and thy saints bless thee, because they confess with freedom, before the kings and Powers of this world, the great name of thy only-begotten Son. Before whom the Angels and Archangels, the Thrones and Dominations, stand, and with all the troops of the heavenly host, sing a hymn to thy glory, saying without ceasing:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

The prayers which now follow, explain the mystery of the palms, and draw down the blessing of God both upon them and
upon the faithful who receive and keep them with proper dispositions.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.OREMUS.
Petimus, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus: ut hanc creaturam olivae, quam ex ligni materia prodire jussisti, quamque columba rediens ad arcam, proprio pertulit ore: benedicere et sanctificare digneris: ut quicumque ex ea receperint, accipiant sibi protectionem animae et corporis, fiatque, Domine, nostrae salutis remedium, tuae gratiae sacramentum. Per Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Deus, qui dispersa congregas, et congregata conservas: qui populis obviam Jesu ramos portantibus benedixisti: benedic etiam hos ramos palmae et olivae, quos tui famuli ad honorem nominis tui fideliter suscipiunt: ut in quemcumque locum introducti fuerint, tuam benedictionem habitatores loci illius consequantur: et omni adversitate effugata, dextera tua protegat quos redemit Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster. Qui tecum.
R. Amen.

Deus, qui miro dispositionis ordine, ex rebus etiam insensibilibus, dispensationem nostrae salutis ostendere voluisti: da quaesumus, ut devota tuorum corda fidelium salubriter intelligant, quid mystice designet in facto, quod hodie coelesti lumine afflata, Redemptori obviam procedens, palmarum atque olivarum ramos vestigiis ejus turba substravit. Palmarum igitur rami de mortis principe triumphos exspectant: surculi vero olivarum spiritualem unctionem advenisse quodammodo clamant. Intellexit enim jam tunc illa hominum beata multitudo praefigurari: quia Redemptor noster humanis condolens miseriis, pro totius mundi vita cum mortis principe esset pugnaturus, ac moriendo triumphaturus. Et ideo talia obsequens administravit, quae in illo et triumphos victoriae, et misericordiae pinguedinem declararent. Quod nos quoque plena fide, et factum et significatum retinentes, te Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum supplicitem exoramus: ut in ipso atque per ipsum, cujus nos membra fieri voluisti, de mortis imperio victoriam reportantes, ipsius gloriosae resurrectionis participes esse mereamur. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

Deus, qui per olivae ramum, pacem terris columbam nuntiare jussisti: praesta quaesumus: ut hos olivae coeterarumque arborum ramos, coelesti benedictione sanctifices: ut cuncto populo tuo proficiant ad salutem. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Benedic, quaesumus, Do mine, hos palmarum, seu olivarum ramos: et priesta ut quod populus tuus in tui venerationem hodierna die corporaliter agit, hoc spiritualiter summa devotione perficiat, de hoste victoriam reportando, et opus misericordite summopere diligendo. Per Dominum.
R. Amen.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.LET US PRAY.
We beseech thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, that thou wouldst be pleased to bless and sanctify this creature of the olive tree, which thou madest to shoot out of the substance of the wood, and which the dove, returning to the ark, brought in its bill; that whoever receiveth it, may find protection of soul and body, and that it may prove, O Lord, a saving remedy, and a sacred sign of thy grace. Through, &c.
R. Amen.

O God, who gatherest what is dispersed, and preservest
what is gathered; who didst bless the people that carried boughs to meet Jesus; bless also these branches of the palm-tree and olive-tree which thy servants take with faith in honour of thy name; that into whatever place they may be carried, the inhabitants of that place may obtain thy blessing, and thy right hand may preserve from all adversity, and protect those that have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son. Who liv eth, &c.
R. Amen.

O God, who by the wonderful order of thy providence wouldst, even in insensible things, show us the manner of our salvation; grant, we beseech thee, that the devout hearts of thy faithful may understand to their benefit the mystical meaning of that ceremony, when the multitude, by direction from heaven, going this day to meet our Redeemer, strewed under his feet palms and olive-branches. The palms represent his triumph over the prince of death: and the olive-branches proclaim, in some manner, the coming of a spiritual unction. For that pious multitude then knew, what was by them signified, that our Redeemer, compassionating the misery of mankind, was to fight for the life of the whole world with the prince of death; and to triumph over him by his own death. And therefore in that action they made use of such things as might declare both the triumph of his victory, and the riches of his mercy. We also with a firm faith, retaining both the ceremony and its signification, humbly beseech thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, through the same Lord Jesus Christ, that we, whom thou hast made his members, gaining by him, and in him, a victory over the empire of death, may deserve to be partakers of his glorious resurrection. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
R. Amen.

O God, who by an olive branch didst command the dove to proclaim peace to the world; sanctify, we beseech thee, by thy heavenly benediction, these branches of olives and other trees; that they may be serviceable to all thy people unto salvation. Through, &c.
R. Amen.

Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, these branches of the
palm-tree, or olive-tree; and grant that what thy people this day act corporally for thy honour, they may perform the same spiritually with the greatest devotion, by gaining a victory over their enemy, and ardently loving the work of thy mercy. Through, &c.
R. Amen.

The priest completes the blessing of the palms by sprink1ing them with holy water and thurifying them with incense. After which, he adds the following prayer.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.OREMUS.
Deus, qui Filium tuum Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum, pro salute nostra in hunc mundum misisti, ut se humiliaret ad nos, et nos revocaret ad te: cui etiam dum Jerusalem veniret, ut adimpleret Scripturas, credentium populorum turba, fidelissima devotione, vestimenta sua cum ramis palmarum in via sternebant: praesta, quaesumus, ut illi fidei viam praeparemus: de qua remoto lapide offensionis, et petra scandali, frondeant apud te opera nostra justitiae ramis: ut ejus vestigia sequi mereamur. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.LET US PRAY.
O God, who, for our salvation, didst send into this world thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord that he might humble himself to our condition, and call us back to thee: for whom also, as he was coming to Jerusalem, to fulfil the Scriptures, a multitude of faithful people, with a zealous devotion, spread their garments together with palm branches in the way: grant, we beseech thee, that we may prepare him the way of faith, out of which the stone of of fence and the rock of scandal being removed, our actions may flourish with branches of righteousness. so that we may be worthy to follow his steps. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
R. Amen.

After this prayer, the priest distributes the palms to the faithful [In receiving the palm, the faithful should kiss first the palm itself, and then the priest’s hand]. During the distribution, the choir reminds us, by the two following antiphons, of the enthusiasm of the little children of Jerusalem, who, with their palms in their hands, sang their loud: Hosanna to the Son of David!


Pueri Hebraeorum portantes ramos olivarum obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis! The Hebrew children carrying olive-branches met the Lord, crying out, and saying: Hosanna in the highest!


Pueri Hebraeorum vestimenta prosternebant in via, et clamabant dicentes: Hosanna filio David; benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini! The Hebrew children spread their garments in the way, and cried out saying: Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!

As soon as the distribution is over, the priest concludes this first part of the service by the following prayer.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.OREMUS
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Dominum nostrum Jesum Chnistum super pullum asinae sedere fecisti: et turbas populorum vestimenta, vel ramos arborum in via sternere, et Hosanna decantare in laudem ipsius docuisti: da quaesumus, ut illorum innocentiam imitari possimus, et eorum meritum consequi mereamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.LET US PRAY
O almighty and eternal God, who wouldst have our Lord Jesus Christ ride on the colt of an ass, and didst inspire the crowds of people to spread their garments, and branches of trees in the way, and to sing Hosanna to his praise:
grant, we beseech thee, that we may imitate their innocence, and deserve to partake in their merits. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.



The priest having blessed the incense – which, according to the custom of the Church, always heads a procession and sheds its perfume along the path that is to be taken – the deacon turns towards the people, and gives the signal for departure, with these words:

Procedamus in pace. Let us proceed in peace.

The choir answers:

In nomine Christi. Amen. In the name of Christ. Amen.

The procession then advances, the clergy and people holding the palms in their hands. The choir chants the following antiphons, in honour of Jesus, the King of Israel.


Cum appropinquaret Dominus Jerosolymam, misit duos ex discipulis suis, dicens: Ite in castellum, quod contra vos est: et invenietis pullum asinae alligatum, super quem nullus hominum sedit: solvite, et adducite mihi. Si quis vos interrogaverit, dicite: Opus Domino est. Solventes adduxerunt ad Jesum: et imposuerunt in vestimenta sua, et sedit super eum: alii expandebant vestimenta sua in via: alii ramos de arboribus sternebant, et qui sequebantur, clamabant: Hosanna! benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, et benedictum regnum patris nostri David! Hosanna in excelsis! Miserere nobis, fili David! When the Lord drew nigh to Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples, saying: Go ye into the village that is over against you: and you will find the colt of an ass tied, loose it, and bring it to me. If any one ask you any questions, say: The Lord wanteth it. They untied, and brought it to Jesus, and laid their garments upon it; and he seated himself on it. Others spread their garments in the way; others cut branches from the trees; and those who followed, cried out, Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; and blessed be the reign of our father David! Hosanna in the highest! O Son of David, have mercy on us!


Cum nudisset populus, quia Jesus venit Jerosolymam, acceperunt ramos palmarum, et exierunt ei obviam, et clamabant pueri dicentes: Hic est, qui venturus est in salutem populi: Hic est salus nostra, et redemptio Israel. Quantus est iste, cui Throni et Dominationes occurunt! Noli timere, filia Sion! ecce Rex tuus venit tibi sedens super pullum asinae sicut scriptum est. Salve Rex fabricator mundi, qui venisti redemire nos! When the people heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm-branches and went out to meet him; and the children cried out, saying: This is he, who is come for the salvation of the people. He is our salvation, and the redemption of Israel. How great is he, whom the Thrones and Dominations go out to meet! Fear not, O daughter of Sion: behold thy King cometh to thee sitting on an ass’s colt, as it is written. Hail, O King, the Creator of the world, who art come to redeem us!


Ante sex dies solemnis Paschae, quando venit Dominus in civitatem Jerusalem, occurrerunt ei pueri: et in manibus portabant ramos palmarum: et clamabant voce magna dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis! Benedictus qui venisti in multitudine misericordiae tuae: Hosanna in excelsis! Six days before the solemnity of the Passover, when the  Lord was coming into the city  of Jerusalem, the children met  him, and carried palm-branches  in their hands; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna in the highest: blessed art thou who art come in the multitude of thy mercy: Hosanna in the highest!


Occurrunt turbae cum floribus et palmis Redemptori obviam: et victori triumphanti digna dant obsequia. Filium Dei ore gentes praedicant: et in laudem Christi voces tonant per nubila: Hosanna in excelsis! The multitude goeth out to meet their Redeemer with flowers and palms, and payeth the homage due to a triumphant conqueror: the Gentiles proclaim the Son of God: and their voices rend the skies in the praise of Christ: Hosanna in the highest!


Cum angelis et pueris fideles inveniamur, triumphatori mortis clamantes: Hosanna in excelsis! Let us faithfully join with the angels and children, singing to the Conqueror of death: Hosanna in the highest!


Turba multa quae convenerat ad diem festum, clamabat Domino: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini! Hosanna in excelsis! A great multitude that was met together at the festival cried out to the Lord: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

The procession is now on its return to the church: but it cannot enter, for the doors are shut. We have already explained the meaning of this part of the ceremony. Immediately there are heard voices within the holy place; they are singing the praises of Christ, our King and Saviour. These cantors represent the holy angels in heaven, who are greeting the entry of Jesus into the eternal Jerusalem. Outside the church, there stands the choir, re-echoing the hymn of triumph; but it is man celebrating the entry of the Son of David into the earthly Jerusalem. The two choirs are thus kept separated from each other, until at length the victorious cross throws open the door, which represents the gate of heaven, and unites the Church militant with the Church triumphant. The hymn which is sung during this ceremony, was composed by Theodulf bishop of Orleans, when prisoner at Angers, by order of Louis the Good. The Church of Rome, by using the first six stanzas of this short poem, has immortalized it throughout the world.

The cantors within the church begin the first stanza, which is repeated by the choir without, not only after this, but also after each of the following five stanzas.


Gloria, laus et honor, tibi sit, Rex Chniste, Redemptor!
Cui puerile decus prompsit Hosanna pium.R. Gloria, laus.

Israel es tu Rex, Davidis et inclyta proles:
Nomine qui in Domini, rex benedicte, venis.

R. Gloria, laus.

Coetus in excelsis, te laudat coelicus omnis,
Et mortalis homo, et cuncta creata simul.

R. Gloria, laus.

Plebs Hebraea tibi cum palmis obvia venit:
Cum prece, voto, hymnis, adsumus ecce tibi.

R. Gloria, laus.

Hi tibi passuro solvebant munia laudis;
Nos tibi regnanti pangimus ecce melos.

R. Gloria, laus.

Hi placuere tibi, placeat devotio nostra,
Rex bone, rex clemens, cui bona cuncta placent.

R. Gloria, laus.

Glory, praise, and honour be to thee, O Christ, our King, our Saviour; to whom the innocent children sang their fervent Hosanna.R. Glory, praise, &c.

Thou art the King of Israel, the glorious Son of David! Blessed art thou our King! that comest in the name of the Lord.

R. Glory, praise. &c.

The whole heavenly host, in the highest heavens above, and men on earth, and all created things praise thee.

R. Glory, praise, &c.

The Hebrew people, with palms, went forth to meet thee:
behold, we, too, present ourselves before thee, with our prayers, desires, and hymns.

R. Glory, praise, &c.

They offered the tribute of their praise to thee, when thou
wast about to suffer; we sing our hymn to thee seated on thy throne.

R. Glory, praise, &c.

They were pleasing to thee; grant that our devotion may also please thee, O dear and merciful King! to whom all is pleasing that is good.

R. Glory, praise, &c.

As soon as the choir has sung its response to the last stanza, the subdeacon knocks with the cross at the door, which is immediately opened. In some places, it is the celebrant himself who performs this ceremony, and while doing it he recites the words of Psalm xxiii, in which David celebrates the entrance of our Redeemer into heaven on the day of His Ascension.

The procession then enters the church, singing the following responsory:


R. Ingrediente Domino in sanctam civitatem, Hebraeorum pueri resurrectionem vitae pronuntiantes; * Cum ramis palmarum, Hosanna clamabant in excelsis.
V. Cum audisset populus, quod Jesus veniret Jerosolymam, exierunt obviam ei. * Cum ramis palmarum, Hosanna clamabant in excelsis.
R. As our Lord entered the holy city, the Hebrew children declaring the resurrection of life, * With palm-branches, cried out: Hosanna in the highest!
V. When the people heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they went out to meet him. * With palm-branches, cried out: Hosanna in the highest!



The Station at Rome is in the basilica of St. John Lateran, the mother and mistress of all Churches. The papal function, however, now takes place at St Peter’s; but the usual indulgences are still granted to those who visit the archbasilica.

The Mass of this Sunday retains no vestige of the joy, which characterized the ceremony of the palms. The Introit is taken from Psalm xxi, in which the royal prophet expresses the anguish of soul suffered by Jesus on the cross.


Domine, ne longe facias auxilium tuum a me, ad defensionem meam adspice; libera me de ore leonis, et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam.
Ps. Deus, Deus meus, respice in me, quare me dereliquisti? longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.
Domine, ne longe.
O Lord, keep not thy help far from me; look to my defence; save me from the lion’s mouth, and rescue me in my distress, from the horns of unicorns.
Ps. O God, my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me? It is the cry of my sins that keeps salvation far from me.
O Lord, keep not, &c.

In the Collect the Church prays that we may have grace to imitate the patience and humility of our Saviour. Jesus suffers and humbles Himself for us; it is but just that we should work out our salvation by following His example, that we should suffer, and be humble.


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui humano generi ad imitandum humilitatis exemplum, Salvatorem nostrum carnem sumere, et crucem subire fecisti: concede propitius: ut et patientiae ipsius habere documenta, et resurrectionis consortia mereamur. Per eumdem. O almighty and eternal God who wouldst have our Saviour become man, and suffer on a cross, to give man kind an example of humility; mercifully grant that we may improve by the example of his patience, and partake of his resurrection. Through the same, &c.


Lectio Epistolae B. Pauli Apostoli ad Philippenses.Cap. ii.
Fratres, Hoc enim sentite in vobis, quod et in Christo Jesu. Qui cum in forma Dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus est, esse se aequalem Deo: sed semetipsum exinanivit, formam servi accipiens, in similitudinem hominum factus, et habitu inventus ut homo. Humiliavit semetipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum: et donavit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen: ut in nomine JESU (here, all kneel,) omne genu flectatur, coelestium, terrestrium, et infernorum: et omnis lingua confiteatur, quia Dominus Jesus Christus in gloria est Dei Patris.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Philippians.Ch. ii.
Brethren: For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death. even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names; that in the name of JESUS (here, all kneel,) every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

In obedience to the wishes of the Church, we have knelt down at those words of the apostle, where he says that every knee should bow at the holy name of Jesus. If there be one time of the year rather than another, when the Son of God has a right to our fervent adorations, it is this week, when we see Him insulted in His Passion. Not only should His sufferings excite us to tender compassion; we should also keenly resent the insults that are heaped upon our Jesus, the God of infinite majesty. Let us strive, by our humble homage, to make Him amends for the indignities He suffered in atonement for our pride. Let us unite with the holy angels, who, witnessing what He has gone through for the love of man, prostrate themselves, in profoundest adoration, at the sight of His humiliations.

In the Gradual, the Church makes use of the words of the royal prophet, who foretells the future glories of the Victim that dies on Calvary; but he also confesses that the success permitted to the enemies of Jesus had well nigh shaken his confidence.


Tenuisti manum dexteram meam: et in voluntate tua deduxisti me: et cum gloria assumpsisti me.
V. Quam bonus Israel Deus rectis corde! mei autem pene moti sunt pedes, pene effusi sunt gressus mei: quia zelavi in peccatoribus, pacem peccatorum videns.
Thou hast held me by my right hand, and by thy will thou hast conducted me; and with glory thou hast received me.
V. How good is the God of Israel to them that are of a right heart! But my feet were almost moved, my steps had well nigh slipped, because I had a zeal on sinners, seeing the prosperity of sinners.

The Tract consists of several verses taken from Psalm xxi, the first words of which were spoken by our Redeemer on the cross. So clear and explicit are the words of this psalm, that it might almost be called a history, as well as a prophecy, of the Passion.


Deus, Deus meus, respice in me: quare me dereliquisti?
V. Longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.
V. Deus meus, clamabo per diem, nec exaudies; in nocte, et non ad insipientiam mihi.
V. Tu autem in sancto habitas, laus Israel.
V. In te speraverunt patres nostri: speraverunt et liberasti eos.
V. Ad te clamaverunt, et salvi facti sunt: in te speraverunt, et non sunt confusi.
V. Ego autem sum vermis, et non homo: opprobrium hominum, et abjectio plebis.
V. Omnes qui videbant me, aspernabantur me: locuti sunt labiis, et moverunt caput.
V. Speravit in Domino, eripiat eum: salvum faciat eum, quoniam vult eum.
V. Ipsi vero consideraverunt et conspexerunt me:
diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea, et super vestem meam miserunt sortem.
V. Libera me de ore leonis: et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam.
V. Qui timetis Dominum laudate eum: universum semen Jacob magnificate eum.
V. Annuntiabitur Domino generatio ventura: et annuntiabunt coeli justitiam ejus.
V. Populo qui nascetur quem fecit Dominus.
O God, my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken
V. Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
V. O my God, I shall cry by day, and thou wilt not hear; and by night, and it shall not be imputed as folly in me.
V. But thou dwellest in the holy place, O thou the praise of Israel!
V. In thee have our fathers hoped: they hoped, and thou hast delivered them.
V. They cried out to thee, and they were saved: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
V. But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
V. All they that saw me, have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.
V. He hoped in the Lord, (say they) let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighted in him.
V. They considered me, and viewed me attentively: they divided my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture.
V. Deliver me from the lion’s month: and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.
V. Ye that fear the Lord, praise him: O all ye of the seed of Jacob magnify him.
V. A people that is to come shall be declared the Lord’s:
and the heavens shall publish his justice.
V. To a people to be born, whom the Lord hath made.

It is now time that we should hear the history of our Saviour’s Passion: but, in order that we may show both heaven and earth that we are not scandalized, as were the disciples, at the sight of His apparent weakness and the triumph of his enemies, we hold in our hands the palms, wherewith we have been proclaiming Him as our King.

The Church reads, on four different days of this week, the four evangelists’ narration of the Passion. She begins with that of St. Matthew, who was the first to write the Gospel. To express the sorrow which fills the hearts of the faithful, the acolytes do not carry the lights, nor is the book incensed. Omitting the customary salutation, the deacon, who is to take the part of the evangelist, at once begins the mournful history of our Lord’s sufferings and death.


Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Matthaeum.Cap. xxvi. and xxvii.
In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Scitis, quia post biduum Pascha fiet: et Filius hominis tradetur, ut crucifigatur. Tunc congregati sunt principes sacerdotum et seniores populi in atrium principis sacerdotum, qui dicebatur Caiphas: et consilium fece runt, ut Jesum dolo tene rent, et occiderent. Dicebant autem: Non in die festo, ne forte tumultus fieret in populo.

Cum autem Jesus esset in Bethania, in domo Simonis leprosi, accessit ad eum mulier habens alabastrum unguenti pretiosi: et effudit super caput ipsius recumbentis. Videntes autem discipuli, indignati sunt; dicentes: ut quid perditio haec? Potuit enim istud venundari multo, et dari pauperibus. Sciens autem Jesus, ait illis: Quid molesti estis huic mulieri? Opus enim bonum operata est in me. Nam semper pauperes habetis vobiscum: me autem non semper habetis. Mittens enim haec unguentum hoc in corpus meum, ad sepeliendum me fecit. Amen dico vobis, ubicumque praedicatum fuerit hoc Evangelium in toto mundo, dicetur et quod haec fecit in memoriam ejus.

Tunc abiit unus de duodecim, qui dicebatur Judas Iscariotes, ad principes sacerdotum; et ait illis: Quid vultis mihi dare, et ego vobis eum tradam? At illi constituerunt ei triginta argenteos. Et exinde quaerebat opportunitatem, ut eum traderet. Prima autem die Azymorum accesserunt discipuli ad Jesum dicentes: Ubi vis paremus tibi comedere Pascha? At Jesus dixit: Ite in civitatem ad quemdam, et dicite ei: Magister dicit: Tempus meum prope est; apud te facio Pascha cum discipulis meis. Et fecerunt discipuli sicut constituit illis Jesus: et paraverunt Pascha.

Vespere autem facto, discumbebat eum duodecim discipulis suis. Et edentibus illis, dixit: Amen dico vobis: quia unus vestrum me traditurus est. Et contristati valde, coeperunt singuli dicere: Numquid ego sum, Domine? At ipse respondens, ait: Qui intingit me cum manum in paropside, hic me tradet. Filius quidem hominis vadit, sicut scriptum est de illo. Vae autem homini illi, per quem Filius hoininis tradetur! Bonum erat ei, si natus non fuisset homo ille. Respondens autem Judas qui tradidit eum dixit: Numquid ego sum, Rabbi? Ait illi: Tu dixisti.

Coenantibus autem eis, accepit Jesus panem: et benedixit, ac fregit, deditque discipulis suis, et ait: Accipite, et comedite: Hoc est corpus meum. Et accipiens calicem, gratias egit: et dedit illis dicens: Bibite ex hoc omnes. Hic est enim sanguis meus novi testamenti, qui pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Dico autem vobis: Non bibam amodo de hoc genimine vitis usque in diem illum, cum illud bibam vobiscum novum in regno Patris mei.

Et hymno dicto, exierunt in montem Oliveti. Tunc dicit illis Jesus: Omnes vos scandalum patiemini in me, in ista nocte. Scriptum est enim: Percutiam pastorem, et dispergentur oves gregis: postquam autem resurrexero, praecedam vos in Galilaeam. Respondens autem Petrus, ait illi: Etsi omnes scandalizati fuerint in te, ego nunquam scandalizabor. Ait illi Jesus: Amen dico tibi quia in hac nocte, antequam gallus cantet, ter me negabis. Ait illi Petrus: Etiam si oportuerit me mori tecum, non te negabo. Similiter et omnes dixerunt.

Tunc venit Jesus cum illis in villam, quae dicitur Gethsemani: et dixit discipulis suis: Sedete hic donec vadam illuc, et orem. Et assumpto Petro, et duobus filiis Zebedaei, coepit contristari, et moestus esse. Tunc ait illis: Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem. Sustinete hic et vigilate mecum. Et progressus pusillum, procidit in faciem suam, orans et dicens: Pater mi. si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste. Verumtamen non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu. Et venit ad discipulos suos, et invenit eos dormientes: et dicit Petro: Sic non potuistis una hora vigilare mecum? Vigilate, et orate: ut non intretis in tentationem. Spiritus quidem promptus est, caro autem infirma. Iterum secundo abiit, et oravit dicens: Pater mi, si non potest hic calix transire, nisi bibam illum: fiat voluntas tua. Et venit iterum, et invenit eos dormientes. Erant enim oculi eorum gravati. Et relictis illis, iterum abiit: et oravit tertio eumdem sermonem dicens. Tunc venit ad discipulos suos, et dicit illis: Dormite jam, et requiescite. Ecce appropinquavit hora et Filius hominis tradetur in manus peccatorum. Surgite, eamus: ecce appropinquavit qui me tradet.

Adhuc eo loquente, ecce Judas unus sic duodecim venit, et cum eo turba multa cum gladiis et fustibus, missi a principibus sacerdotum, et senioribus populi. Qui autem tradidit eum, dedit illis signum dicens: Quemcumque osculatus fuero, ipse est, tenete eum. Et confestim accedens ad Jesum, dixit: Ave, Rabbi. Et osculatus est eum. Dixit que illi Jesus: Amice, ad quid venisti? Tunc accesserunt, et manus injecerunt in Jesum: et tenuerunt eum. Et ecce unus ex his qui erant cum Jesu, extendens manum, exemit gladium suum: et percutiens servum principis sacerdotum, amputant auriculam ejus. Tunc ait illi Jesus: Converte gladium tuum in locum suum. Omnes enim, qui acceperint gladium, gladio peribunt. An putas, quia non possum rogare Patrem meum: et exhibebit mihi modo plusquam duodecim legiones angelorum? Quomodo ergo implebuntur Seripturae, quia sic oportet fieri? In illa hora dixit Jesus turbis: Tamquam ad latronem existis cum gladiis et fustibus comprehendere me: quotidie apud vos sedebam docens in templo: et non me tenuistis. Hoc autem totum factum est, ut adimplerentur Scripturae prophetarum. Tunc discipuli omnes, relicto eo, fugerunt.

At illi tenentes Jesum, duxerunt ad Caipham principem sacerdotum, ubi scribae et seniores convenerant. Petrus autem sequebatur eum a longe, usque in atrium principis sacerdotum. Et ingressus intro, sedebat cum ministris, ut videret finem. Principes autem sacerdotum, et omne concilium, quaerebant falsum testimonium contra Jesum, ut eum morti traderent: et non invenerunt, cum multi falsi testes accessissent. Novissime autem venerunt duo falsi testes, et dixerunt: Hic dixit: Possum destruere templum Dei, et post triduum reaedificare illud. Et surgens princeps sacerdotum, ait illi: Nihil respondes ad ea, quae isti adversum te testificantur? Jesus autem tacebat. Et princeps sacerdotum ait illi: Adjuro te per Deum vivum, ut dicas nobis, si tu es Christus Filius Dei. Dicit illi Jesus: Tu dixisti. Verumtamen dico vobis, amodo videbitis Filium hominis sedentem a dextris virtutis Dei, et venientem in nubibus coeli. Tunc princeps sacerdotum scidit vestimenta sua, dicens: Blasphemavit. Quid adhuc egemus testibus? Ecce: nunc audistis blasphemiam. Quid vobis videtur? At illi respondentes, dixe runt: Reus est mortis. Tune expuerunt in faciem ejus: et colaphis eum caeciderunt. Alii autem palmas in faciem ejus dederunt dicentes: Prophetiza nobis, Christe, quis est, qui te percussit?

Petrus vero sedebat foris in atrio. Et accessit ad eum una ancilla dicens: Et tu cum Jesu Galilaeo eras. At ille negavit coram omnibus, dicens: Nescio quid dicis. Exeunte autem illo januam, vidit eum alia ancilla: et ait his, qui erant ibi: Et hic erat cum Jesu Nazareno. Et iterum negavit cum juramento: Quia non novi hominem. Et post pusillum accesserunt qui stabant, et dixerunt Petro: Vere et tu ex illis es; nam et loquela tua manifestum te facit. Tunc coepit detestari et jurare quia non novisset hominem. Et continuo gallus cantavit. Et recordatus est Petrus verbi Jesu quod dixerat: Priusquam gallus cantet, ter me negabis. Et egressus foras, flevit amare.

Mane autem facto, consilium inierunt omnes principes sacerdotum, et seniores populi adversus Jesum, ut eum morti traderent. Et vinctum adduxerunt eum, et tradiderunt Pontio Pilato, praesidi. Tunc videns Judas, qui eum tradidit, quod damnatus esset, poenitentia ductus, retulit triginta argenteos principibus sacerdotum et senioribus, dicens: Peccavi tradens sanguinem justum. At illi dixerunt: Quid ad nos? Tu videris. Et projectis argenteis in templo, recessit: et abiens laqueo se suspendit. Principes autem sacerdotum, acceptis argenteis dixerunt: Non licet eos mittere in corbonam, quia pretium sanguinis est. Consilio autem inito, emerunt ex illis agrum figuli, in sepulturam peregrinorum. Propter hoc vocatus est ager ille Haceldama, hoc est ager sanguinis, usque in hodiernum diem. Tunc impletum est quod dictum est per Jeremiam prophetam dicentem: Et acceperunt triginta argenteos, pretium appretiati quem appretiaverunt a filiis Israel; et dederunt eos in agrum figuli, sieut constituit mihi Dominus.

Jesus autem stetit ante praesidem. Et interreravit eum praeses dicens: Tu es Rex Judaeorum? Dicit illi Jesus: Tu dicis. Et cum accusaretur a principibus sacerdotum et senioribus, nihil respondit. Tunc dicit illi Pilatus: Non audis, quanta adversum te dicunt testimonia? Et non responslit ei ad ullum verbum: ita ut miraretur praeses vehementer.

Per diem autem solemnem consueverat praeses populo dimittere unum vinctum, quem voluissent. Habebat autem tunc vinctum insignem, qui dicebatur Barabbas. Congregatis ergo illis, dixit Pilatus: Quem vultis dimittam vobis, Barabbam an Jesum qui dicitur Christus? Sciebat enim, quod per invidiam tradidissent eum. Sedente autem illo pro tribunali, misit ad eum uxor ejus dicens: Nihil tibi et justo illi: multa enim passa sum hodie per visum propter eum. Principes autem sacerdotum et seniores persuaserunt populis ut peterent Barabbam: Jesum vero perderent. Respondens autem praeses, ait illis: Quem vultis vobis de duobus dimitti? At illi dixerunt: Barabbam. Dicit illis Pilatus: Quid igitur faciam de Jesu, qui dicitur Chnistus? Dicunt omnes: Crucifigatur. Ait illis praeses: Quid enim mali fecit? At illi magis clamabant dicentes: Crucifigatur.

Videns autem Pilatus, quia nihil proficeret, sed magis tumultus fieret: accepta aqua, lavit manus coram populo, dicens: Innocens ego sum a sanguine justi hujus, vos videritis. Et respondens universus populus, dixit: Sanguis ejus super nos, et super filios nostros. Tunc dimisit illis Barabbam: Jesum autem flagellatum tradidit eis, ut crucifigeretur.

Tunc milites praesidis suscipientes Jesum in praetorium, congregaverunt ad eum universam cohortem. Et exuentes eum, chlamydem coccineam circumdederunt ei. Et plectentes coronam de spinis, posuerunt super caput ejus, et arundinem in dextera ejus. Et genuflexo ante eum, illudebant ei, dicentes: Ave Rex Judaeorum! Et exspuentes in eum, acceperunt arundinem, et percutiebant caput ejus. Et post quam illuserunt ei, exuerunt eum chlamyde: et induerunt eum vestimentis ejus, et duxerunt eum ut crucifigerent.

Exeuntes autem, invenerunt hominem Cyrenum, nomine Simonem. Hunc angariaverunt, ut tolleret crucem ejus. Et venerunt in locum, qui dicitur Golgotha: quod est, Calvariae locus. Et dederunt ei vinum bibere cum felle mixtum. Et cum gustasset, noluit bibere. Postquam autem crucifixerunt eum, diviserunt vestimenta ejus sortem mittentes: ut impleretur quod dictum est per prophetam dicentem: Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea, et super vestem meam miserunt sortem. Et sedentes, servabant eum. Et imposuerunt super caput ejus causam ipsius scriptam: Hic est Jesus Rex Judaeorum. Tunc crucifixi sunt cum eo duo latrones, unus a dextris, et unus a sinistris.

Praetereuntes autem blasphemabant eum, moventes capita sua, et dicentes: Vah! qui destruis templum Dei, et in triduo illud reaedificas. Salva temetipsum. Si Filius Dei es, descende de cruce. Similiter et principes sacerdotum illudentes cum scribis et senioribus dicebunt: Alios salvos fecit: seipsum non potest salvum facere. Si Rex Israel est, descendat nunc de cruce, et credimus ei. Confidit in Deo: liberet nunc si vult eum: dixit enim, quia Filius Dei sum. Idipsum autem et latrones, qui crucifixi erant eum eo, improperabant ei.

A sexta autem hora, tenebrae factae sunt super universam terram, usque ad horam nonam. Et circa horam nonam clamavit Jesus voce magna, dicens: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? Hoc est: Deus meus, Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me? Quidam autem illic stantes, et audientes dicebant: Eliam vocat iste. Et continuo currens unus ex eis acceptam spongiam implevit aceto, et imposuit arundini, et dabat ei bibere. Caeteri vero dicebant: Sine, videamus, an veniat Elias liberans eum. Jesus autem iterum clamans voce magna, emisit spiritum.

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew.Ch. xxvi. and xxvii.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of man shall be delivered up to be crucified. Then were gathered together the chief priests and ancients of the people into the court of the high priest, who was called Caiphas; and they consulted together, that by subtility they might apprehend Jesus, and put him to death. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest perhaps there should be a tumult among the people.

And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster-box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he was at table. And the disciples seeing it had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. And Jesus knowing it, said to them: Why do you trouble this woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you, but me you have not always. For she, in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever the Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done shall be told for a memory of her.

Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver. And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray him. And on the first day of the Azymes, the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Pasch? But Jesus said: Go ye into the city, to a certain man, and say to him, The Master saith, my time is near at hand; with thee I make the Pasch with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the Pasch.

But when it was evening, he sat down with his twelve disciples; and whilst they were eating, he said: Amen, I say to you, that one of you is about to betray me. And they being very much troubled, began every one to say: Is it I, Lord? But he answering said: he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him; but woe to that man, by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born. And Judas, that betrayed him, answering said: Is it I, Rabbi? He saith to him: Thou hast said it.

And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke, and gave to his disciples, and said:
Take ye, and eat; this is my body. And taking the chalice he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. And I say to you, I will not drink from hence forth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.

And a hymn being said, they went out unto mount Olivet. Then Jesus saith to them: All you shall be scandalized in me this night. For it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed. But after I shall be risen again. I will go before you into Galilee. And Peter answering said to him: Although all shall be scandalized in thee, I will never be scandalized. Jesus said to him: Amen, I say to thee, that in this night, before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. Peter saith to him: Yea, though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner said all the disciples.

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful, and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here and watch with me. And going a little further he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What! could you not watch one hour with me? watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again the second time he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done. And he cometh again, and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them he went again; and he prayed the third time, saying the self-same word. Then he cometh to his disciples, and saith to them: 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. Rise, let us go: behold he is at hand that will betray me.

As he yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people. And
he that betrayed him, gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he, hold him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, Rabbi! And he kissed him. And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come? Then they came up, and laid hands on Jesus, and held him. And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword, and striking the servant of the high priest, cut off his ear. Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place; for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 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, that so it must be done? In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes: You are come out as it were to a robber, with swords and clubs, to apprehend me. I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and you laid not hands on me. Now all this was done, that the Scriptures if the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disciples all leaving him, fled.

But they holding Jesus, led him to Caiphas the high priest, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled. And
Peter followed him afar off, even to the court of the high priest; and going in, he sat with the servants, that he might see the end. And the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death; and they found not, whereas many false witnesses had come in. And last of all there came two false witnesses; and they said: This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and after three days to rebuild it. And the high priest rising up said to him: Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said to him: I adjure thee, by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ the Son of God. Jesus saith to him: Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his garments, saying: He hath blasphemed, what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy: what think you? But they answering, said: He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him, and others struck his face with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, O Christ, who is he that struck thee?

But Peter sat without in the court; and there came to him a servant-maid, saying: Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean. But he denied before them all, saying: I know not what thou sayest. And as he went out of the gate, another maid saw him, and she saith to them that were there: This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath: That I know not the man. And after a little while they came that stood by, and said to Peter: Surely thou also art one of them; for even thy speech doth discover thee. Then he began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus which he had said: Before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. And going forth, he wept bitterly.

And when morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the people took counsel against Jesus, that they might put him to death. And they brought him bound, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, who betrayed him, seeing that he was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What is that to us? look thou to it. And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed, and went and hanged himself with an halter. But the chief priests having taken the pieces of silver, said: It is not lawful to put them into the corbona, because it is the price of blood. And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, to be a burying-place for strangers. For this cause that field was called Haceldama, that is the field of blood, even to this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed to me.

And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him saying: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus saith to him: Thou sayest it. And when he was accused by the chief priests and ancients, he answered nothing. Then Pilate saith to him: Dost thou not hear how great testimonies they allege against thee? And he answered him to never a word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly.

Now upon the solemn day the governor was accustomed to release to the people one prisoner, whom they would. And he had then a notorious prisoner, that was called Barabbas. They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said: Whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas or Jesus, that is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man. For I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people, that they should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away. And the governor answering, said to them: Whether will you of the two to be released unto you? But they said, Barrabas. Pilate saith to them: What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ? They say all: Let him he crucified. The governor said to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying: Let him be crucified.

And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult was made; taking water washed his hands before the people, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look you to it. And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and upon our children. Then he released to them Barabbas: and having scourged Jesus delivered him unto them to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto him the whole band; and stripping him, they put a scarlet cloak about him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews. And spitting upon him, they took the reed, and struck his head. And after they had mocked him, they took off the cloak from him, and put on him his own garments, and led him away to crucify him.

And going out they met a man of Cyrene, named Simon:
him they forced to take up the cross. And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place of Calvary. And they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall. And when he had tasted, he would not drink. And after they had crucified him, they divided his garments casting lots:
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘They divided my garments among them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.’ And they sat and watched him. And they put over his head his cause written: This is Jesus the King of the Jews. Then were crucified with him two thieves; one on the right hand, and one on the left.

And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads. and saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it, save thy own self: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: He saved others; himself he cannot save: if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God: let him now deliver him if he will have him: for he said: I am the Son of God. And the self same thing the thieves also that were crucified with him reproached him with.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, My God. my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some that stood there and heard, said:
This man calleth Elias. And immediately one of them running, took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. And the others said: Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to deliver him. And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Here the deacon pauses, and honours the Death of our Lord and Saviour by a solemn act of adoration. All the faithful kneel down, and remain for some time in that position. In many places, it is the custom to prostrate, and kiss the ground. The deacon then resumes his narration.

Et ecce velum templi scissum est in duas partes, a summo usque deorsum. Et terra mota est, et petrae scissae sunt, et monumenta aperta sunt : et multa corpora sanctorum, qui dormierant, surrexerunt. Et exeuntes de monumentis post resurrectionem ejus, venerunt in sanctam civitatem, et apparuerunt multis. Centurio autem, et qui cum eo erant, custodientes Jesum, viso terrae motu, et his quae fiebant, timuerunt valde, dicentes: Vere Filius Dei erat iste. Erant autem ibi mulieres multae a longe, quae secutae erant Jesum a Galilaea ministrantes ei: inter quas erat Maria Magdalene, et Maria Jacobi et Joseph mater, et mater filiorum Zebedaei. Cum autem sero factum esset, venit quidam homo dives Arimathaea, nomine Joseph, qui et ipse discipulus erat Jesu. Hic accessit ad Pilatum, et petiit corpus Jesu. Tunc Pilatus jussit reddi corpus. Et accepto corpore, Joseph involvit illud in sindone munda: et posuit illud in monumento suo novo, quod exciderat in petra. Et advolvit saxum magnum ad ostium monumenti, et abiit. Erat autem ibi Maria Magdalene, et altera Maria, sedentes contra sepulchrum. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose; and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus., having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son if God. And there were there many women afar off who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded that the body should be delivered. And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewn out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way. And there was there Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre.

That the Mass of this Sunday may not be deprived of that essential rite which we call the Gospel, the deacon reserves a portion of the narrative; and going to the altar, he asks the priest to bless the incense. Which done, the deacon, himself also having received the priest’s blessing, goes to the place appointed for chanting the Gospel; but the acolytes do not carry their lights. After having thurified the book, he thus closes the history of the Passion.

Altera autem die, quae est post Parasceven, convenerunt principes sacerdotum, et pharisaei ad Pilatum, dicentes: Domine, recordati sumus, quia seductor ille dixit adhuc vivens: Post tres dies resurgam. Jube ergo custodiri sepulchrum usque in diem tertium; ne forte veniant discipuli ejus et furentur eum: et dicant plebi: Surrexit a mortuis. Et erit novissimus error pejor priore. Ait illis Pilatus: Habetis custodiam: ite, custodite sicut scitis. Illi autem abeuntes, munierunt sepulchrum, signantes lapidem, cum custodibus. And the next day, which followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and the pharisees came together to Pilate, saying: Sir, we have remembered, that that seducer said, while he was yet alive: After three days I will rise again. Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples come and steal him away and say to the people, he is risen from the dead: and the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said to them: You have a guard; go, guard it as you know. And they, departing, made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting guards.

The Offertory is again a prophecy of David. It foretells the state of abandonment to which our Saviour was to be reduced in the midst of all His sufferings, and the cruelty of His enemies, who would feed Him with gall and vinegar. Thus is He treated who is preparing to give us His Body for our food, and His Blood for our drink.


Improperium exspectavit cor meum, et miseriam: et sustinui qui simul mecum contristaretur et non fuit: consolantem me quaesivi, et non inveni: et dederunt in escam meam fel, et in siti mea potaverunt me aceto. My heart hath expected reproach and misery; and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none: they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

The Secret asks of God that He would impart to His servants the twofold fruit of Jesus’ Passion: grace in this life, and glory in the next.


Concede, quaesumus, Domine, ut oculis tuae majestatis munus oblatum, et gratiam nobis devotionis obtineat, et effectum beatae perennitatis acquirat. Per Dominum. Grant. we beseech thee, O Lord, that what hath been offered in the presence of thy divine Majesty may procure us the grace of devotion, and effectually obtain a blessed eternity. Through, &c.

In the Communion-anthem, the Church, after receiving into herself the life of Christ by the chalice of salvation, calls to our minds that other chalice which Jesus was to drink in order that He might gift us with immortality.


Pater, si non potest hic calix transire, nisi bibam illum: fiat voluntas tua. Father, if this cup cannot pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

The Church concludes the prayers of the Sacrifice she has just been offering, by asking the remission of sin for all her children, that they may see fulfilled that longing of their souls – a share in the glorious Resurrection of Jesus.


Per hujus, Domine, operationem mysterii, et vitia nostra purgentur, et justa desideria compleantur. Per Dominum. May our vices, O Lord, be destroyed, and our righteous desires fulfilled by the efficacy of these mysteries. Through, &c.



The psalms and antiphons are given above.

(Phil. ii.)

Fratres: Hoc enim sentite in vobis, quod et in Christo Jesu: qui cum in forma Dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem Deo: sed semetipsum exinanivit, formam servi accipiens, in similitudinem hominum factus, et habitu inventus ut homo. Brethren: For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.

For the hymn and versicle, see above.


Scriptum est enim: Percutiam pastorem, et dispergentur oves gregis: postquam autem resurrexero, praecedam vos in Galilaeam: ibi me videbitis, dicit Dominus. For it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed: but after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee: there ye shall see me, saith the Lord.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui humano generi ad imitandum humilitatis exemplum, Salvatorem nostrum carnem sumere et crucem subire fecisti, concede propitius; ut et patientiae ipsius habere documenta, et resurrectionis consortia mereamur. Per eumdem.
O almighty and eternal God, who wouldst have our Saviour become man, and suffer on a cross, to give man kind an example of humility; mercifully grant that we may improve by the example of his patience, and partake of his resurrection. Through the same, &c.


Let us now go over in our minds the other events which happened to our divine Lord on this day of His solemn entry into Jerusalem. St. Luke tells us that it was on His approach to the city, that Jesus wept over it, and spoke these touching words: ‘If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone; because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.’ [St. Luke xix. 42-44].

A. few days ago, we were reading in the holy Gospel how Jesus wept over the tomb of Lazarus; to-day He sheds tears over Jerusalem. At Bethania His weeping was caused by the sight of bodily death, the consequence and punishment of sin; but this death is not irremediable: Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and he that believeth in Him shall live [St. John xi. 25]. Whereas, the state of the unfaithful Jerusalem is a figure of the death of the soul, and from this there is no resurrection, unless the soul, while time is given to her, return to the Author of life. Hence it is, that the tears shed by Jesus over Jerusalem are so bitter. Amidst the acclamations which greet His entry into the city of David, His heart is sad; for He sees that many of her inhabitants will not profit of the time of her visitation. Let us console the Heart of our Jesus, and be to Him a faithful Jerusalem.

The sacred historian tells us that Jesus, immediately upon His entrance into the city, went to the temple, and cast out all them that sold and bought there [St. Matt. xxi. 12]. This was the second time that He had shown His authority in His Father’s house, and no one had dared to resist Him. The chief priests and pharisees found fault with Him, and accused Him to His face, of causing confusion by His entry into the city; but our Lord confounded them by the reply He made. It is thus that in after ages, when it has pleased God to glorify His Son and the Church of His Son, the enemies of both have given vent to their rage; they protested against the triumph, but they could not stop it. But when God, in the unsearchable ways of His wisdom, allowed persecution and trial to follow these periods of triumph, then did these bitter enemies redouble their efforts to induce the very people, that had cried Hosanna to the Son of David, to clamour for His being delivered up and crucified. They succeeded in fomenting persecution, but not in destroying the kingdom of Christ and His Church. The kingdom seemed, at times, to be interrupted in its progress; but the time for another triumph came. Thus will it be to the end; and then, after all these changes from glory to humiliation, and from humiliation to glory, the kingdom of Jesus and of His bride will gain the last and eternal triumph over this world, which would not know the time of its visitation.

We learn from St. Matthew [St. Matt. xxi. 17] that our Saviour spent the remainder of this day at Bethania. His blessed Mother and the house of Lazarus were comforted by His return. There was not a single offer of hospitality made to Him in Jerusalem, at least there is no mention in the Gospel of any such offer. We cannot help making the reflection, as we meditate upon this event of our Lord’s life:- an enthusiastic reception is given to Him in the morning, He is proclaimed by the people as their King; but when the evening of that day comes on, there is not one of all those thousands to offer Him food or lodging. In the Carmelite monasteries of St. Teresa’s reform, there is a custom, which has been suggested by this thought, and is intended as a reparation for this ingratitude shown to our Redeemer. A table is placed in the middle of the refectory; and after the community have finished their dinner, the food which was placed upon that table is distributed among the poor, and Jesus is honoured in them.

We give, as a conclusion to this day, a selection from the hymn used by the Greek Church on Palm Sunday. It was written by the celebrated hymnographer, Cosmas of Jerusalem.


(In Dominica Palmarum)

Qui in altissimis sedet super Cherubim Deus, et humilia respicit, ecce venit in gloria cum potestate, et replebuntur omnia divina laude ipsius. Pax super Israel, et salutare gentibus.Clamaverunt in laetitia justorum animae: Nunc mundo testamentum novum disponitur, et aspersione innovatur populus divini sanguinis.

Genu flexo populi et cum discipulis gaudentes, cum palmis Hosanna filio David clamabant: Superlaudabilis Domine Deus patrum, benedicitus es.

Simplex multitudo, adhuc infantilis aetas, ut Deum decet, te rex Israel et angelorum laudavit: Superlaudabilis Domine Deus patrum, benedictus es.

Juvenem pullum ascendens rex tuus Sion adstitit Christus. Irrationabilem enim idolorum errorem solvere, effraenum impetum compescere omnium gentium advenit, ut cantent:
Benedicite, opera, Dominum, et superexaltate in omnia saecula.

Deus tuus regnavit in saecula Christus. Iste, ut scriptum est, mitis et salvator, justus redemptor noster venit super pullo equitans, ut audaciam perderet inimicorum non clamantium:
Benedicite, opera, Domi num, et superextdtate in omnia saecula.

Dissipatur sacri templi iniquum Synedrium contumacium; orationis enim Dei donum speluncam effecerant latronum, a corde Redemptorem excludentes, cui clamamus : Benedictite, opera, Dominum, et superexaltate in omnia saecula.

Deus Dominus, et apparuit nobis; constituite diem solemnem, et exsultantes venite, magnificemus Christum, cum palmis et ramis laudibus clamantes: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini Salvatoris nostri.

Gentes, ut quid fremuistis? Scribae et sacerdotes, ut quid mania meditati estis, diceutes: Quis est iste cui pueri cum palmis et ramis laudibus clamuit: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini Salvatoris nostri?

Scandala semitas occupantia quid vos ponitis immorigeri? Veloces pedes vestri ad effundendum sanguinem Domini. Sed resurget ut salvet omnes qui clamant: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini Salvatoris nostri.

Lo! the God that sitteth, in the highest heavens, upon the Cherubim, and looketh down on lowly things, cometh in glory and power, all creatures are full of his divine praise. Peace upon Israel, and salvation to the Gentiles!The souls of the just cried out with joy: Now is prepared a new Covenant for the world, and mankind is renewed by the sprinkling of the divine Blood!

The people fell upon their knees, and, rejoicing with the disciples, sang, with palms in their hands: Hosanna to the Son of David! Praiseworthy and blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers!

The simple-hearted people, yea, and little children, (the fittest to adore God) praised him as King of Israel and of the angels: Praiseworthy and blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers!

0 Sion! there came to thee Christ, thy King. seated on a young colt: for he came that he might loose mankind from the senseless error of idolatry, and tame the wild passions of all nations; that thus they might praise thee, singing: Bless the Lord, all ye his works, and extol him above all for ever!

Christ thy Lord hath reigned for ever. He, as it is written, the meek one, the Saviour, our just Redeemer, came riding on an ass’s colt, that he might destroy the pride of his enemies, who would not sing these words: Bless the Lord, all ye his works, and extol him above all for ever!

The unjust and obstinate Sanhedrim, the usurpers of the holy temple, are put to flight; for they had made God’s house of prayer a den of thieves, and shut their hearts against the Redeemer, to whom we cry: Bless the Lord, all ye his works, and extol him above all forever!

God is our Lord, he hath appeared unto us. Appoint a solemn feast, and come, let us rejoice and magnify the Christ, praising him, with palms and branches in our hands: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord our Saviour!

Why, O ye Gentiles, have ye raged? Why, O ye scribes and priests, have ye devised vain things. saying: Who is this, unto whom children, with palms and branches in their hands, cry aloud this praise: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord our Saviour?

Why, O ye perverse of heart, have ye thrown stumbling-blocks in the way? Your feet are swift to shed the Blood of the Lord. But he will rise again, that he may save all that cry to him: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord our Saviour!



The past four weeks seems to have been but a preparation for the intense grief of the Church during these two. She knows that men are in search of her Jesus, and that they are bent on His death. Before twelve days are over, she will see them lay their sacrilegious hands upon Him. She will have to follow Him up the hill of Calvary; she will have to receive His last breath; she must witness the stone placed against the sepulchre where His lifeless Body is laid. We cannot, therefore, be surprised at her inviting all her children to contemplate, during these weeks, Him who is the object of all her love and all her sadness.

But our mother asks something more of us than compassion and tears; she would have us profit by the lessons we are to be taught by the Passion and Death of our Redeemer. He himself, when going up to Calvary, said to the holy women who had the courage to show their compassion even before His very executioners: ‘Weep not over Me; but weep for yourselves and for your children’ [St. Luke xxiii. 28]. It was not that He refused the tribute of their tears, for He was pleased with this proof of their affection; but it was His love for them that made him speak thus. He desired, above all, to see them appreciate the importance of what they were witnessing, and learn from it how in exorable is God’s justice against sin.

During the four weeks that have preceded, the Church has been leading the sinner to his conversion; so far, however, this conversion has been but begun: now she would perfect it. It is no longer our Jesus fasting and praying in the desert, that she offers to our consideration; it is this same Jesus, as the great Victim immolated for the world’s salvation. The fatal hour is at hand; the power of darkness is preparing to make use of the time that is still left; the greatest of crimes is about to be perpetrated. A few days hence the Son of God is to be in the hands of sinners, and they will put Him to death. The Church no longer needs to urge her children to repentance; they know too well, now, what sin must be, when it could require such expiation as this. She is all absorbed in the thought of the terrible event, which is to close the life of the God-Man on earth; and by expressing her thoughts through the holy liturgy, she teaches us what our own sentiments should be.

The pervading character of the prayers and rites of these two weeks, is a profound grief at seeing the just One persecuted by His enemies even to death, and an energetic indignation against the deicides. The formulas, expressive of these two feelings are, for the most part, taken from David and the Prophets. Here, it is our Saviour Himself, disclosing to us the anguish of His soul; there, it is the Church pronouncing the most terrible anathemas upon the executioners of Jesus. The chastisement that is to befall the Jewish nation is prophesied in all its frightful details; and on the last three days, we shall hear the prophet Jeremias uttering his lamentations over the faithless city. The Church does not aim at exciting idle sentiment; what she principally seeks, is to impress the hearts of her children with a salutary fear. If Jerusalem’s crime strike them with horror, and if they feel that they have partaken in her sin, their tears will flow in abundance.

Let us, therefore, do our utmost to receive these strong impressions, too little known, alas! by the superficial piety of these times. Let us reflect upon the love and affection of the Son of God, who has treated His creatures with such unlimited confidence, lived their own life, spent His three and thirty years amidst them, not only humbly and peaceably, but in going about doing good [Acts i. 38].  And now this life of kindness, condescension, and humility, is to be cut short by the disgraceful death, which none but slaves endured: the death of the cross. Let us consider, on the one side, this sinful people, who, having no crimes to lay to Jesus’ charge, accuse Him of his benefits, and carry their detestable ingratitude to such a pitch as to shed the Blood of this innocent and divine Lamb; and then, let us turn to this Jesus, the Just by excellence, and see Him become a prey to every bitterest suffering: His Soul sorrowful even unto death [St. Matt. xxvi. 38]; weighed down by the malediction of our sins; drinking even to the very dregs the chalice He so humbly asks His Father to take from Him; and lastly, let us listen to His dying words: ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ [Ibid. xxvii. 46]. This it is that fills the Church with her immense grief; this it is that she proposes to our consideration; for she knows that, if we once rightly understood the sufferings of her Jesus, our attachments to sin must needs be broken, for, by sin, we make our selves guilty of the crime we detest in these Jews.

But the Church knows, too, how hard is the heart of man, and how, to make him resolve on a thorough Conversion, he must be made to fear. For this reason, she puts before us those awful imprecations, which the prophets, speaking in Jesus’ person, pronounced against them that put our Lord to death. These prophetic anathemas were literally fulfilled against the obdurate Jews. They teach us what the Christian, also, must expect, if, as the apostle so forcibly expresses it, we again crucify the Son of God [Heb. vi. 6]. In listening to what the Church now speaks to us, we cannot but tremble as we recall to mind those other words of the same apostle: How much more, think ye, doth he deserve worse punishment, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the Blood of the testament unclean, (as though it were some vile thing), by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said: ‘Vengeance belongeth to Me, and I will repay.’ And again: ‘The Lord shall judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Ibid. x. 29-31].

Fearful indeed it is! Oh! what a lesson God gives us of His inexorable justice, during these days of the Passion! He that spared not even his own Son [Rom. viii. 32], His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased [St. Matt. iii. 17], will He spare us, if, after all the graces He has bestowed upon us, He should find us in sin, which He so unpitifully chastised even in Jesus, when He took it upon himself, that He might atone for it? Considerations such as these – the justice of God towards the most innocent and august of victims, and the punishments that befell the impenitent Jews – must surely destroy within us every affection to sin, for they will create within us that salutary fear which is the solid foundation of firm hope and tender love.

For if, by our sins, we have made ourselves guilty of the death of the Son of God, it is equally true that the Blood which flowed from His sacred wounds has the power to cleanse us from the guilt of our crime. The justice of our heavenly Father cannot be appeased, save by the shedding of this precious Blood; and the mercy of this same Father wills that it be spent for our ransom. The cruelty of Jesus’ executioners has made five wounds in His sacred Body; and from these, there flow five sources of salvation, which purify the world, and restore within each one of us the image of God which sin had destroyed. Let us, then, approach with confidence to this redeeming Blood, which throws open to the sinner the gates of heaven, and whose worth is such that it could redeem a million worlds, were they even more guilty than ours. We are close upon the anniversary of the day when it was shed; long ages have passed away since it flowed down the wounded Body of our Jesus, and fell in streams from the cross upon this ungrateful earth; and yet its power is as great as ever.

Let us go, then, and draw from the Saviour’s fountains [Is. xii. 3]; our souls will come forth full of life, all pure, and dazzling with heavenly beauty; not one spot of their old defilements will be left; and the Father will love us with the love wherewith He loves His own Son. Why did He deliver up unto death this His tenderly beloved Son? Was it not that He might regain us, the children whom He had lost? We had become, by our sins, the possession of satan; hell had undoubted claims upon us; and, lo! we have been suddenly snatched from both, and all our primitive rights have been restored to us. Yet God used no violence in order to deliver us from our enemy; how comes it, then, that we are now free? Listen to the apostle: ‘Ye are bought at a great price.’ [1 Cor. vi. 20]. And what is this price? The prince of the apostles explains it: ‘Know ye,’ says he, ‘that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled.’[ 1 Peter i. 18,19]. This divine Blood was placed in the scales of God’s justice, and so far did it outweigh our iniquities, as to make the bias in our favour. The power of this Blood has broken the very gates of hell, severed our chains, and made peace both as to the things on earth, and the things that are in heaven [Coloss. i. 20]. Let us receive upon us, therefore, this precious Blood, wash our wounds in it, and sign our foreheads with it as with an indelible mark, which may protect us, on the day of wrath, from the sword of vengeance.

There is another object most dear to the Church, which she, during these two weeks, recommends to our deepest veneration; it is the cross, the altar upon which our incomparable Victim is immolated. Twice during the course of the year, that is, on the feasts of its Invention and Exaltation, this sacred Wood will be offered to us that we may honour it as the trophy of our Jesus’ victory; but now, it speaks to us but of His sufferings, it brings with it no other idea but that of His humiliation. God had said in the ancient Covenant: ‘Accursed is he that hangeth on a tree’ [Deut. xxi. 23]. The Lamb, that saved us, disdained not to suffer this curse; but, for that very cause, this tree, this wood of infamy, has become dear to us beyond measure. It is the instrument of our salvation, it is the sublime pledge of Jesus’ love for us. On this account, the Church is about to lavish her veneration and love upon it; and we intend to imitate her, and join her in this, as in all else she does. An adoring gratitude towards the Blood that has redeemed us, and a loving veneration of the holy cross – these are the two sentiments which are to be uppermost in our hearts during these two weeks.

But for the Lamb Himself – for Him that gave us this Blood, and so generously embraced the cross that saved us – what shall we do? Is it not just that we should keep close to Him, and that, more faithful than the apostles who abandoned Him during His Passion, we should follow Him day by day, nay, hour by hour, in the way of the cross that He treads for us? Yes, we will be His faithful companions during these last days of His mortal life, when He submits to the humiliation of having to hide Himself from His enemies. We will envy the lot of those devoted few, who shelter Him in their houses, and expose themselves, by this courageous hospitality, to the rage of His enemies. We will compassionate His Mother, who suffered an anguish that no other heart could feel, because no other creature could love Him as she did. We will go, in spirit, into that most hated Sanhedrim, where they are laying the impious plot against the life of the just One. Suddenly, we shall see a bright speck gleaming on the dark horizon; the streets and squares of Jerusalem will re-echo with the cry of Hosanna to the Son of David. That unexpected homage paid to our Jesus, those palm branches, those shrill voices of admiring Hebrew children, will give a momentary truce to our sad forebodings. Our love shall make us take part in the loyal tribute thus paid to the King of Israel, who comes so meekly to visit the daughter of Sion, as the prophet had foretold He would: but alas! this joy will be short-lived, and we must speedily relapse into our deep sorrow of soul!

The traitorous disciple will soon strike his bargain with the high priests; the last Pasch will be kept, and we shall see the figurative lamb give place to the true one, whose Flesh will become our food, and His Blood our drink. It will be our Lord’s Supper. Clad in the nuptial robe, we will take our place there, together with the disciples; for that day is the day of reconciliation, which brings together, to the same holy Table, both the penitent sinner, and the just that has been ever faithful. Then, we shall have to turn our steps towards the fatal garden, where we shall learn what sin is, for we shall behold our Jesus agonizing beneath its weight, and asking some respite from His eternal Father. Then, in the dark hour of midnight, the servants of the high priests and the soldiers, led on by the vile Iscariot, will lay their impious hands on the Son of God; and yet the legions of angels, who adore Him, will be withheld from punishing the awful sacrilege! After this, we shall have to repair to the various tribunals, whither Jesus is led, and witness the triumph of injustice. The time that elapses between his being seized in the garden and His having to carry His cross up the hill of Calvary, will be filled up with the incidents of His mock trial – lies, calumnies, the wretched cowardice of the Roman governor, the insults of the by-standers, and the cries of the ungrateful populace thirsting for innocent Blood! We shall be present at all these things; our love will not permit us to separate ourselves from that dear Redeemer, who is to suffer them for our sake, for our salvation.

Finally, after seeing Him struck and spit upon, and after the cruel scourging and the frightful insult of the crown of thorns, we will follow our Jesus up Mount Calvary; we shall know where His sacred feet have trod by the Blood that marks the road. We shall have to make our way through the crowd, and, as we pass, we shall hear terrible imprecations uttered against our divine Master. Having reached the place of execution, we shall behold this august Victim stripped of His garment, nailed to the cross, hoisted into the air, as if the better to expose Him to insult! We will draw near to the free of life, that we may lose neither one drop of that Blood which flows for the cleansing of the world, nor one single word spoken, for its instruction, by our dying Jesus. We will compassionate His Mother, whose heart is pierced through with a sword of sorrow; we will stand close to her, when her Son, a few moments before His death, shall consign us to her fond care. After His three hours’ agony, we will reverently watch His sacred Head bow down, and receive, with adoring love, His last breath.

A bruised and mangled corpse, stiffened by the cold of death – this is all that remains to us of that Son of Man, whose first coming into the world caused us such joy! The Son of the eternal Father was not satisfied with emptying Himself and taking the form of a servant [Phil. ii. 7]; this His being born in the flesh was but the beginning of His sacrifice; His love was to lead Him even unto death, even to the death of the cross. He foresaw that He would not win our love save at the price of such a generous immolation, and His heart hesitated not to make it. ‘Let us, therefore, love God,’ says St. John, ‘because God first loved us.’ [1 St. John iv. 19]. This is the end the Church proposes to herself by the celebration of these solemn anniversaries. After humbling our pride and our resistance to grace by showing us how divine justice treats sin, she leads our hearts to love Jesus, who delivered Himself up, in our stead, to the rigours of that justice. Woe to us, if this great week fail to produce in our souls a just return towards Him who loved us more than Himself, though we were, and had made ourselves, His enemies. Let us say with the apostle: ‘The charity of Christ presseth us; that they who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them.’ [2 Cor.v. 14,15]. We owe this return to Him who made Himself a Victim for our sake, and who, up to the very last moment, instead of pronouncing against us the curse we so justly deserved, prayed and obtained for us mercy and grace. He is, one day, to reappear on the clouds of heaven, and as the prophet says, men shall look upon Him whom they have pierced [Zach. iii. 10]. God grant that we may be of the number of those who, having made amends by their love for the crimes they have committed against the divine Lamb, will then find confidence at the sight of those wounds!

Let us hope that, by God’s mercy, the holy time we are now entering upon will work such a happy change in us, that, on the day of judgment, we may confidently fix our eyes on Him we are now about to contemplate crucified by the hands of sinners. The death of Jesus puts the whole of nature in commotion; the midday sun is darkened, the earth is shaken to its very foundations, the rocks are split: may it be that our hearts, too, be moved, and pass from indifference to fear, from fear to hope, and, at length, from hope to love; so that, having gone down, with our Crucified, to the very depths of sorrow, we may deserve to rise again with Him unto light and joy, beaming with the brightness of His Resurrection, and having within ourselves the pledge of a new life, which shall then die no more!



The holy liturgy is rich in mystery during these days of the Church’s celebrating the anniversaries of so many wonderful events; but as the principal part of these mysteries is embodied in the rites and ceremonies of the respective days, we shall give our explanations according as the occasion presents itself. Our object in the present chapter, is to say a few words respecting the general character of the mysteries of these two weeks.

We have nothing to add to the explanation, already given in our Lent, on the mystery of forty. The holy season of expiation continues its course until the fast of sinful man has imitated, in its duration, that observed by the Man-God in the desert. The army of Christ’s faithful children is still fighting against the invisible enemies of man’s salvation; they are still vested in their spiritual armour, and, aided by the angels of light, they are struggling hand to hand with the spirits of darkness, by compunction of heart and by mortification of the flesh.

As we have already observed, there are three objects which principally engage the thoughts of the Church during Lent. The Passion of our Redeemer, which we have felt to be coming nearer to us each week; the preparation of the catechumens for Baptism, which is to be administered to them on Easter eve; the reconciliation of the public penitents, who are to be readmitted into the Church on the Thursday, the day of the Last Supper. Each of these three object engages more and more the attention of the Church, the nearer she approaches the time of their celebration.

The miracle performed by our Saviour almost at the very gates of Jerusalem, by which He restored Lazarus to life, has roused the fury of His enemies to the highest pitch of phrensy. The people’s enthusiasm has been excited by seeing him, who had been four days in the grave, walking in the streets of their city. They ask each other if the Messias, when He comes, can work greater wonders than these done by Jesus, and whether they ought not at once to receive this Jesus as the Messias, and sing their Hosanna to Him, for He is the Son of David. They cannot contain their feelings: Jesus enters Jerusalem, and they welcome Him as their King. The high priests and princes of the people are alarmed at this demonstration of feeling; they have no time to lose; they are resolved to destroy Jesus. We are going to assist at their impious conspiracy: the Blood of the just Man is to be sold, and the price put on it is thirty silver pieces. The divine Victim, betrayed by one of His disciples, is to be judged, condemned, and crucified. Every circumstance of this awful tragedy is to be put before us by the liturgy, not merely in words, but with all the expressiveness of a sublime ceremonial.

The catechumens have but a few more days to wait for the fount that is to give them life. Each day their instruction becomes fuller; the figures of the old Law are being explained to them; and very little now remains for them to learn with regard to the mysteries of salvation. The Symbol of faith is soon to be delivered to them. Initiated into the glories and the humiliations of the Redeemer, they will await with the faithful the moment of His glorious Resurrection; and we shall accompany them with our prayers and hymns at that solemn hour, when, leaving the defilements of sin in the life-giving waters of the font, they shall come forth pure and radiant with innocence, be enriched with the gifts of the holy Spirit, and be fed with the divine flesh of the Lamb that liveth for ever.

The reconciliation of the penitents, too, is close at hand. Clothed in sackcloth and ashes, they are continuing their work of expiation. The Church has still several passages from the sacred Scriptures to read to them, which, like those we have already heard during the last few weeks, will breathe consolation and refreshment to their souls. The near approach of the day when the Lamb is to be slain increases their hope, for they know that the Blood of this Lamb is of infinite worth, and can take away the sins of the whole world. Before the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, they will have recovered their lost innocence; their pardon will come in time to enable them, like the penitent prodigal, to join in the great Banquet of that Thursday, when Jesus will say to His guests: ‘With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.’ [St. Luke xxii. 15.]

Such are the sublime subjects which are about to be brought before us: but, at the same time, we shall see our holy mother the Church mourning, like a disconsolate widow, and sad beyond all human grief. Hitherto she has been weeping over the sins of her children; now she bewails the death of her divine Spouse. The joyous Alleluia has long since been hushed in her canticles; she is now going to suppress another expression, which seems too glad for a time like the present. Partially, at first [Unless it be the feast of a saint, as frequently happens during the first of these two weeks. The same exception is to be made in what follows.], but entirely during the last three days, she is about to deny herself the use of that formula, which is so dear to her: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. There is an accent of jubilation in these words, which would ill suit her grief and the mournfulness of the rest of her chants.

Her lessons, for the night Office, are taken from Jeremias, the prophet of lamentation above all others. The colour of her vestments is the one she had on when she assembled us at the commencement of Lent to sprinkle us with ashes; but when the dreaded day of Good Friday comes, purple would not sufficiently express the depth of her grief; she will clothe herself in black, as men do when mourning the death of a fellow-mortal; for Jesus, her Spouse, is to be put to death on that day: the sins of mankind and the rigours of the divine justice are then to weigh him down, and in all the realities of a last agony, He is to yield up His Soul to His Father.

The presentiment of that awful hour leads the afflicted mother to veil the image of her Jesus: the cross is hidden from the eyes of the faithful. The statues of the saints, too, are covered; for it is but just that, if the glory of the Master be eclipsed, the servant should not appear. The interpreters of the liturgy tell us that this ceremony of veiling the crucifix during Passiontide, expresses the humiliation to which our Saviour subjected Himself, of hiding Himself when the Jews threatened to stone Him, as is related in the Gospel of Passion Sunday. The Church begins this solemn rite with the Vespers of the Saturday before Passion Sunday. Thus it is that, in those years when the feast of our Lady’s Annunciation falls in Passion-week, the statue of Mary, the Mother of God, remains veiled, even on that very day when the Archangel greets her as being full of grace, and blessed among women.

St Joseph ~ 19 March

From Dom Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year:

Who can imagine or worthily describe the sentiments which filled the heart of this man, whom the Gospel describes to us in one word, when it calls him the just man (St. Matth. i. 19.)? Let us try to picture him to ourselves amidst the principal events of his life: his being chosen as the Spouse of Mary, the most holy and perfect of God’s creatures; the Angel’s appearing to him, and making him the one single human confidant of the mystery of the Incarnation, by telling him that his Virgin Spouse bore within her the fruit of the world’s salvation; the joys of Bethlehem, when he assisted at the Birth of the Divine Babe, honoured the Virgin Mother, and heard the Angels singing; his seeing, first the humble and simple Shepherds, and then the rich Eastern Magi, coming to the stable to adore the new-born Child; the sudden fears which came on him, when he was told to arise, and, midnight as it was, to flee into Egypt with the Child and the Mother; the hardships of that exile, the poverty and the privations which were endured by the hidden God, Whose foster-father he was, and by the Virgin Spouse, whose sublime dignity was now so evident to him; the return to Nazareth, and the humble and laborious life led in that village, where he so often witnessed the world’s Creator sharing in the work of a Carpenter; the happiness of such a life, in that cottage where his companions were the Queen of the Angels and the Eternal Son of God, both of whom honoured, and tenderly loved him as the head of the family: yes, Joseph was beloved and honoured by the uncreated Word, the Wisdom of the Father, and by the Virgin, the master-piece of God’s power and holiness.

We ask, what mortal can justly appreciate the glories of St. Joseph? To do so, he would have to understand the whole of that Mystery, of which God made him the necessary instrument. What wonder, then, if this Foster-Father of the Son of God was prefigured in the Old Testament, and that by one of the most glorious of the Patriarchs? Let us listen to St. Bernard, who thus compares the two Josephs: “The first was sold by his brethren, out of envy, and was led into Egypt, thus prefiguring our Saviour’s being sold; the second Joseph, that he might avoid Herod’s envy, led Jesus into Egypt. The first was faithful to his master, and treated his wife with honour; the second, too, was the most chaste guardian of his Spouse, the Virgin Mother of his Lord. To the first was given the understanding and interpretation of dreams; to the second, the knowledge of, and participation in, the heavenly Mysteries. The first laid up stores of corn, not for himself, but for all the people; the second received the Living Bread that came down from heaven, and kept it both for himself and for the whole world. (Homily 2nd. On the Missus est.)”

Such a life could not close save by a death that was worthy of so great a Saint. The time came for Jesus to quit the obscurity of Nazareth, and show himself to the world. His own works were henceforth to bear testimony to his divine origin; the ministry of Joseph, therefore, was no longer needed. It was time for him to leave this world, and wait, in Abraham’s bosom, the arrival of that day, when heaven’s gates were to be opened to the just. As Joseph lay on his bed of death, there was watching by his side He that is the master of life, and that had often called this his humble creature, Father. His last breath was received by the glorious Virgin Mother, whom he had, by a just right, called his Spouse. It was thus, with Jesus and Mary by his side, caring and caressing him, that Joseph sweetly slept in peace. The Spouse of Mary, the Foster-Father of Jesus, now reigns in heaven with a glory which, though inferior to that of Mary, is marked with certain prerogatives which no other inhabitant of heaven can have.

From heaven, he exercises a powerful protection over those that invoke him. In a few weeks from this time, the Church will show us the whole magnificence of this protection; we shall be having a special Feast in honour of the Patronage of St. Joseph. What the Liturgy proposes to us today, are his glories and privileges. Let us unite with the Faithful throughout the world, and offer the Spouse of Mary the Hymns, which are this day sung in his praise.


Vere dignum et iustum est, æquum et salutáre, nos tibi semper et ubíque grátias ágere: Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus: Et te in Festivitáte beáti Ioseph débitis magnificáre præcóniis, benedícere et prædicáre. Qui et vir iustus, a te Deíparæ Vírgini Sponsus est datus: et fidélis servus ac prudens, super Famíliam tuam est constitútus: ut Unigénitum tuum, Sancti Spíritus obumbratióne concéptum, paterna vice custodíret, Iesum Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Per quem maiestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adórant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestátes. Coeli coelorúmque Virtútes ac beáta Séraphim sócia exsultatióne concélebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admítti iúbeas, deprecámur, súpplici confessióne dicéntes:

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: and that we should magnify with due praises, bless and proclaim Thee on the solemnity of blessed Joseph; who, being a just man, was given by Thee as a Spouse to the Virgin Mother of God, and, as a faithful and prudent servant was set over Thy Family, that, with fatherly care, he might guard Thine only-begotten Son, conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, even Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say with lowly praise:

Prayers to St. Joseph


“The children of the world are ignorant regarding the privileges and rights which the Most High has conferred on my holy spouse, and the power of his intercession with the Divine Majesty and with me. But I assure you, my daughter, that in Heaven he is most intimate with the Lord, and has great power to avert the punishment of Divine justice from sinners. In all trials seek his intercession, because the Heavenly Father will grant whatever my spouse asks.”


“Some Saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.”

Words of St.Teresa of Avila

“To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity-but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth-for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him-so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they, too, know the same thing by experience . . .” -Autobiography, VI, 9

Words of St.Teresa of Avila

“Would that I could persuade all men to be devoted to this [St. Joseph], for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to him and honored him by particular services who did not advance greatly in virtue: for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now very many years since I began asking him for something on his feast, and I have always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss, he rectified it for my greater good . . . I ask for the love of God that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself-then he will find out by experience the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devoted to him . . .” -Autobiography, VI, 11-12

Novena Prayers to St. Joseph

St Joseph Prayer & Promise
Devotion to St. Joseph from the litany of St. Joseph
8 Promises of St. Joseph
Morning Offering though St. Joseph
Prayer of confidence in St. Joseph
Prayer to St. Joseph to obtain a Conversion
Prayer to St. Joseph for Purity
St. Joseph Prayer for Life
Prayer to St. Joseph after the Rosary
Memorare to St. Joseph
30 Day Prayer to St. Joseph
Seven Sorrows & Seven Joys of St Joseph
Seven Sundays dedicated to St Joseph

Act of Consecration to St Joseph
St. Joseph Chaplet
Daily Devotion to St. Joseph
Invocation Prayer to St. Joseph
Litany of St. Joseph
Petition Prayers to St Joseph
Petition to ask assistance with A difficult problem
Petition for a special favor of St Joseph
Petition for a special blessing from St Joseph
Petition for success of a temporal affair
Thanksgiving to St. Joseph
Prayers to St. Joseph for a Happy Death
Prayers to St. Joseph for Sale of House
Prayers to St Joseph to Aid in Parenting, Parents prayer, Fathers Prayer
Prayers to St. Joseph for Priests, Church & Pope
The Cord of St Joseph
Nine first Wednesdays devotion to St. Joseph
Prayers to St Joseph for Workmen
Prayer to St Joseph to Know one’s Vocation
St Joseph Carpenter’s Prayer
Prayer to St Joseph Patron of Workers
Prayer to St Joseph for Employment
Prayer to St Joseph for Fidelity to Work
Prayer to St Joseph the Worker
Prayer to St. Joseph for those who have a Laborious Occupation