Monthly Archives: March 2015

Holy Week

The following is a meditation for Holy Week from Fr. Propser Gueranger.  This was written in 1870. We can see the vibrancy of the Church in these words.  How far we’ve come. The Faith alive in these words, the Faith the Saints lived and died for is spurned in today’s Church.  Woe to those who call good evil and dare we say, the True Faith as an evil to be avoided. Catholics used to live the Passion during Holy Week.  Those to be received into the Church received rigorous and proper instruction in our Sacred Religion. Holy Week affected their very being.  The Church mourned. Reverence was shown to the God-Man who died for our sins.  One day, the Church will return to her former glory, when doctrine and dogma are proclaimed as the truth and not attacked, when the Sacred Liturgy and ceremonies are restored to the churches for the honor and glory of God, and when every Catholic is united under the same Faith.  So let it be.

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 God-Man 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 objects 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 frenzy. 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 forever.

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 still 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 color 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.


Hosanna Filio David

A Meditation for this Solemn Feast of Palm Sunday from Fr. Prosper Gueranger:

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 today 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 Savior. 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 fulfillment of this prophecy, singles out two from the rest of His disciples, and bids them lead to Him as ass and her colt, which they would find not far off. He has reached Bethphage, 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 Savior, 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 clamor 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 God-Man. 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 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.’ Today, 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 today, 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…(pages 192-195)

…Let us lovingly go forth to meet this our King, our Savior, 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 honor 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!’

A Blessed Palm Sunday and beginning of Holy Week to all my readers!

~Damsel of the Faith

In the Bosom of Mary (Part I)

Taken from Bethlehem by Fr. William Frederick Faber:

The Incarnation lies at the bottom of all sciences, and is their ultimate explanation. It is the secret beauty in all arts. It is the completeness of all true philosophies. It is the point of arrival and departure to all history. The destinies of nations, as well as of individuals, group themselves around it. It purifies all happiness, and glorifies all sorrow. It is the cause of all we see, and the pledge of all we hope for. It is the great central fact both of life and immortality, out of sight of which man’s intellect wanders in the darkness, and the light of a Divine life falls not on his footsteps. Happy are those lands which are lying still in the sunshine of the faith, whose wayside crosses, and statues of the Virgin Mother, and triple Angelus each day, and the monuments of their cemeteries, are all so many memorials to them that their true lives lie cloistered in the single mystery of the Incarnation! We too are happy, happy in thinking that there are still such lands, few though they be and yearly fewer, for the sake of Him Whom we love and Who reaps from them such an abundant harvest of faith and love. Yet who is there that does not love his own land best of all? To us it is sad to think of this western island, with its world-wide empire, and its hearts empty of faith and the true light gone out within them. Multitudes of Saints sleep beneath its sod, so famous for its greenness. No land is so thickly studded with spire and tower as poor mute England. In no other kingdom are noble churches strewn with such a lavish hand up and down its hill and dale. Dearest land! Thou seemest worth a martyrdom for thine exceeding beauty! It must be the slow martyrdom of speaking to the deaf, of explaining to the blind, and of pleading with the hardened.

Time was, in ages of faith, when the land would not have lain silent, as it lies now, on this eve of the twenty-fifth of March. The sweet religious music of countless bells would be ushering in the vespers of the glorious feast of the Incarnation. From the east, from central Rome, as the day declined, the news of the great feast would come, from cities and from villages, from alpine slope and blue sea-bay, over the leafless forests and the unthawed snow-drifts on the fallow uplands of France. The cold waves would crest themselves with bright foam as the peal rang out over the narrow channel: and if it were in Paschal-time, it would double men’s Easter joys; and if it were in Lent, it would be a very foretaste of Easter. One moment, and the first English bell would not yet have sounded; and then Calais would have told the news to Dover, and church and chantry would have passed the note on quickly to the old Saxon-mother church of Canterbury. Thence, like a storm of music, would the news of that old eternal decree of God, out of which all creation came, have passed over the Christian island. The Saints “in their beds” would rejoice to hear Augustine, Wilfrid, and Thomas where they lie at Canterbury, Edward at Westminster, our chivalrous protoMartyr where he keeps ward amidst his flowery meads in his grand long Abbey at St. Alban’s, Osmund at Salisbury, Thomas at Hereford, Richard the Wonderful at Chichester, John at Beverley, a whole choir of Saints with gentle St. William at York, onward to the glorious Cuthbert, sleeping undisturbed in his pontifical pomp beneath his abbey fortress on the seven hills of Durham. With the cold evening wind the vast accord of jubilant towers would spread over the weald of Kent, amid its moss-grown oaks and waving mistletoe. The low, humble churches of Sussex would pass it on, as day declined, to Salisbury, and Exeter, and St. Michael’s fief of Cornwall. It would run like lightning up the Thames, until the many-steepled London, with its dense groves of city churches, whose spires stand thick as the ship-masts in the docks, would be alive with the joyous clangor of its airy peals, steadied as it were by the deep bass of the great national bell in the tower of Old St. Paul’s. Many a stately shrine in Suffolk and Norfolk would prolong the strain, until it broke from the sea-board into all the inland counties, sprinkled with monasteries, and proud parish churches fit to be the cathedrals of bishops elsewhere, while up the Thames, by Windsor, and Reading Abbey, and the gray spires of Abingdon, Oxford with its hundred bells would send forth its voice over field and marsh to Gloucester, Worcester, and even down to Warwick and to Shrewsbury, and its southern sound would mingle with the strain that came across from Canterbury, amid the Tudor churches of the orchard-loving Somerset, at the foot of Glastonbury’s legendary fane, and on the quays of Bristol, whose princely merchants abjured the slave-trade at the preaching of St. Wulstan. In the heart of the great fen, where the moon through the mist makes a fairy-land of the willows and the marsh-plants, of the stagnant dikes and the peat embankments and the straight white roads, the bells of the royal sanctuary of Ely would ring out merrily, sounding far off or sounding near as the volumes of the dense night-mist closed or parted, cheating the traveler’s ear. A hundred lichen-spotted abbeys in those watery lowland would take up the strain; while great St. Mary’s, like a precentor, would lead the silvery peals of venerable Cambridge, low-lying among its beautiful gardens by the waters of its meadow-stream. Lincoln from its steep capitol would make many a mile of quaking moss and black-watered fen thrill with the booming of its bells. Monastic Yorkshire, that beautiful kingdom of the Cistercians, would scatter its waves of melodious sound over the Tees into Durham and Northumberland, northward along the conventual shores of the gray North Sea, and westward over the heath-covered fells and by the brown rivers into Lancashire, and Westmoreland, and Cumberland, whose mountain-echoes would answer from blue lakes, and sullen tarns, and the crags where the raven dwells, and the ferny hollows where the red deer couches, to the bells of Carlisle, St. Bees, and Furness. Before the cold white moon of March has got the better of the lingering daylight, the island, which seemed to rock on its granite anchors far down within the ocean, as if it tingled with the pulses of deep sound, will have heard the last responses dying muffled in the dusky Cheviots, or in the recesses of gigantic Snowdon, and by the solitary lakes of St. David’s land, or trembling out to sea to cheer the mariner as he draws nigh the shore of the Island of the Saints. Everywhere are the pulses of the bells beating in the hearts of men. Everywhere are their hearts happier. Everywhere, over hill and dale, in the street of the town, and by the edge of the fen, and in the rural chapels on the skirts of the hunting-chase, the Precious Blood is being out-poured on penitent souls, and the fires of faith burn brightly, and holiest prayers arise; while the Angels, from the southern mouths of the Arun and the Adur to the banks of the brawling Tweed and the sands of the foaming Solway, hear only, from the heart of a whole nation, and from the choirs of countless churches, and from thousands of reeling belfries, one prolonged Magnificat.

These things are changed now. Let them pass. Yet not without regret. It is the Feast of the Incarnation. God is immutable. Our jubilee must be in Him. We must nestle deeper down in His Bosom, while science, and material prosperity, and a literature which has lost all echoes of Heaven, are thrusting men to the edge of external things, and forcing them down the precipice. It may be a better glory for us, if our weakness fail not in the wilderness, that our faith should have to be untied from all helps of sight and sound, and left alone in the unworldly barrenness where God and His eagles are. Poor England! Poor English souls! But it is the Feast of the Incarnation. God is immutable. Our jubilee must be in Him.

God is incomprehensible. When we speak of Him, we hardly know what we say. Faith is to us instead both of thought and tongue. In like manner those created things, which lie on the edges of His intolerable light, become indistinct through excess of brightness, and are seen confusedly as He is Himself. Thus He has drawn Mary so far into His light, that, although she is our fellow-creature, there is something inaccessible about her. She participates in a measure in His incomprehensibility. We cannot look for a moment at the noonday sun. Its shivering flames of black and silver drive us backward in blindness and in pain. Who then could hope to see plainly a little blossom floating like a lily on the surface of that gleaming fountain, and topped everywhere by its waves of fire? So is it with Mary. She lies up in the fountain-head of creation, almost at the very point where it issues from God; and amid the unbearable coruscations of the primal decrees of God she rests, almost without color or form to our dazzled eyes; only we know that she is there, and that the Divine light is her beautiful clothing. The longer we gaze upon her, the more invisible does she become, and yet at the same time the more irresistible is the attraction by which she draws us toward herself. While her personality seems to be almost merged in the grandeur of her relationship to God, our love of her own self becomes more distinct, and our own relationship to her more sweetly sensible.

It was a wonderful life which the Eternal Word led in the Bosom of the Father. It fascinates us. We can hardly leave off speaking of it. Yet behold! He seeks also a created home. Was His eternal home wanting in aught of beauty or of joy? Let the raptured seraphs speak, who have lain for ages on the outer edge of that uncreated Bosom, burning their immortal lives away in the fires of an insatiable satiety, fed ever from the vision of that immutable Beatitude. There could be nothing lacking in the Bosom of the Father. God were not God, if He fell short of self-sufficiency. Yet deep in His unfathomable wisdom there was something which looks to our eyes like a want. There is an appearance of a desire on the part of Him to Whom there is nothing left to desire, because He is self-sufficient. This apparent desire of the Holy Trinity becomes visible to our faith in the Person of the Word. It is as if God could not contain Himself, as if He were overcharged with the fulness of His Own essence and beauty, or rather as if He were outgrowing the illimitable dimensions of Himself. It seems as He must go out of Himself, and summon creatures up from nothing, and fall upon their neck, and overwhelm them with His love, and so find rest. Alas! how words tremble, and grow wild, and lose their meanings, when they venture to touch the things of God! God’s love must outflow. It seems like a necessity; yet all the while it is an eternally pondered, eternally present, freedom, glorious and calm, as freedom is in Him Who has infinite room within Himself. What looks to us so like a necessity is but the fulness of His freedom. He will go forth from Himself, and dwell in another home, perhaps a series of homes, and beatify wherever He goes, and multiply for Himself a changeful incidental glory, such as He never had before, and scatter gladness outside Himself, and call up world after world, and bathe it in His light, and communicate His inexhaustible Self inexhaustibly, and yet remain immutably the Same, awfully reposing on Himself, majestically satiating His adorable thirst for glory from the depths of His Own Self. Abysses of being are within Him, and His very freedom with a look of imperiousness allures Him into the possibilities of creation. Yet is this freedom to create, together with the free decree of creation, as eternal as that inward necessity by which the Son is ever being begotten, and the Holy Spirit ever proceeding. All this becomes visible to us in time, and visible in the Person of the Word, and only visible by supernatural revelation, which reason may corroborate, but never could discover.

The Word in the Father’s Bosom seeks another home, a created home. He will seem to leave His uncreated home, and yet He will not leave it. He will appear as though He were allured from it, while in truth He will go on filling it with His delights, as He has ever done. He will go, yet He will stay even while He goes. Whither, then, will He go? What manner of home is fit for Him, Whose home is the Bosom of the Father, and Who makes that home the glad wonder that it is? All possible things lay before Him at a glance, as on a map. They lay before Him also in the sort of perspective which time gives, and by which it makes things new. His home shall be wonderful enough; for there is no limit to His wisdom. It shall be glorious enough; for there is no boundary to His power. It shall be dear to Him beyond word or thought; for there is no end to His love. Yet even so, nothing short of an infinite condescension can find any fitness for Him in finite things. Nevertheless such as a God’s power and a God’s wisdom and a God’s love can choose out of a God’s possibilities, His created home shall be. Who then shall dream, until he has seen it, what that thrice infinite perfection of the Holy Trinity shall choose out of His inexhaustible possibilities? Who, when he has seen it, shall describe it as he ought? The glorious, adorable, and eternal Word, in the ample range of His unrestricted choice, predestinated the Bosom of Mary to be His created home, and fashioned, with well-pleased love, the Immaculate Heart which was to tenant it with Himself. O Mary, O marvelous mystical creature, O resplendent mote, lost almost to view in the upper light of the supernal fountains! who can sufficiently abase himself before thee, and weep for the want of love to love thee rightly, thee whom the Word so loved eternally?

There were no creatures to sing anthems, in Heaven, when that choice was made. No angelic thunders of songs rolled round the Throne in oceans of melodious sound, when the Word decreed that primal object of His adorable predilection. No creations of almost Divine intelligence were there to shroud their faces with their wings, and brood in self-abasing silence on the beauty of that created Home of their Creator. There was only the silent song of God’s Own awful life, and the eternal voiceless thunder of His good pleasure. Forthwith—we must speak in our own human way—the Holy Trinity begins to adorn the Word’s created home with a marvelous effluence of creative skill and love. She was to be the head of all mere creatures, having a created person as well as a created nature, while her Son’s created nature, with the Uncreated Person, was to be the absolute Head of all creation, the unconfused and uncommingling junction of God and of creation. She was to be a home for the Word, as the Bosom of the Father had been a home for Him, realized and completed in unity of nature. The materials which the Word was to take for His created nature were once to have been actually hers, so that the union between the Word and herself should be more awful than words can express. Each Person of the Holy Trinity claimed her for His Own by a special relationship. She was the eternally elected daughter of the Father.  There was no other relationship in which she could stand to Him, and it was a reflection of the eternal filiation of His uncreated Son. She was the Mother of the Son; for it was to the amazing realities of that office that He had summoned her out of nothing. She was the Spouse of the Holy Ghost; for He it was Who was wedded to her soul by the most transcendent unions which the kingdom of grace can boast, and it was He who out of her spotless Blood made that undefiled Flesh which the Word was to assume and to animate with His human Soul. Thus she was marked with an indelible character by Each of the Three Divine Persons. She was Their eternal idea, nearest to that Idea which was the cause of all creation, the Idea of Jesus; she was necessary, as They had willed it, to the realization of that Idea; and she came before it in priority of time and in seeming authority of office. Such is the bare statement of the place which Mary occupies in the decrees of God. All we could add would be weak compared with this. Words cannot magnify her whom thought can hardly reach; and panegyric is almost presumption,—as if what lies so close to God could be honored by our approval. Our praise of Mary, in this one respect like our praise of God, of which it is in truth a part, is best embodied in our wonder and our love.

Was it as if God lost something, when He realized His beautiful ideas, and so creatures came in some way to share with Him in the enjoyment of their beauty? Was it as if, when His idea thus escaped Him in act, He was bereaved of His treasures, and was less rich a God than He was before? Surely not; for what was all creation, but the immensity of His communicative love finding undreamed-of outlets into unnumbered worlds? Yet the Divine Persons seem—again it is seeming of which we must speak, we whose tenses and moods are always dishonoring the inexplicable present of eternity—to brood, and wait, and ponder, and feed upon the wisdom and loveliness which lay hid in Their idea of the Word’s created home. To create was to unveil the sanctuary, and They appeared to pause. At length, after an eternity which could have no Afterward, actual creation began. Angels, and matter, created together that spirit might be humble in its precedence, and then men, were as three enchanting preludes to Jesus and Mary, preludes of surpassing sweetness, full of types and symbols and shadows cast forward from what was yet to be in act, though it was prior and supreme in the Divine decrees. The Fall has come, and still God waits. The sun has set on the now tenantless Eden, but the decrees make no haste. They quicken not their pace. Four thousand years are truly as nothing, even in the age of the planet; yet they are long when souls are sinning, and hearts are pining, and the footsteps of generations fainting, because of the delay of the Messias. God still lingers. His glory seems to stoop and feed on the desires of the nations and the ages, while the shadows of doubt and the sickness of deferred hope gather round them so disconsolately. As the Sacred Humanity is the head of creation and the fountain of grace both to Angels and to men, and perhaps to other species of rational creations still unborn, so was it meet, in the Divine dispensations, that the Precious Blood of Jesus should merit all the graces necessary to ornament the Word’s created home. Now that the Incarnate Word was to come as a Redeemer, His Mother must be redeemed by Him with a singular and unshared redemption. Beautiful as she was in herself, and incalculable as were her merits, her greatest graces were not merited by herself, but by that Precious Blood which was to be taken from her own. The first white lily that ever grew on that ruddy stem was the Immaculate Conception; and when the time for Mary’s advent came, that was the first grace with which the Divine Persons began Their magnificent work of adorning. It was a new creation, though it was older in the mind of God, as men would speak, than the first-born Angels, or the material planet, which, if we are to credit the tales of science, so many secular epochs and millenniums had at last matured for the Incarnation.

The Annunciation

Meditation from Fr. Prosper Gueranger:

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 which 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 (3 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, there was a promise 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 Noah; 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, thereby, has 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 2nd century, Saint Ireneus, 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 spoken to 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, why 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 can get 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, too, 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 her 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 two-fold 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 povier of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be bom 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 honor 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. Ireneus 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 had hitherto seemed to have prevailed against the divine plan.

Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat, than that which was this day gained over 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 as the one that is 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, solemnise 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 vested 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.).

A Blessed Feast of the Annunciation to all my readers!

~Damsel of the Faith

Litany of the Passion

During this Passiontide, let us meditate upon the Passion of Christ by praying the Litany of the Passion:

Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)
Christ, have mercy. (Christ, have mercy.)
Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)
Christ, hear us. (Christ, graciously hear us.)

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, the Eternal Wisdom, have mercy on us.
The Word made flesh, have mercy on us.
Hated by the world, have mercy on us.
Sold for thirty pieces of silver, have mercy on us.
Sweating blood in Thy agony, have mercy on us.
Betrayed by Judas, have mercy on us.
Forsaken by Thy disciples, have mercy on us.
Struck upon the cheek, have mercy on us.
Accused by false witnesses, have mercy on us.
Spit upon in the face, have mercy on us.
Denied by Peter, have mercy on us.
Mocked by Herod, have mercy on us.
Scourged by Pilate, have mercy on us.
Rejected for Barabbas, have mercy on us.
Loaded with the cross, have mercy on us.
Crowned with thorns, have mercy on us.
Stripped of Thy garments, have mercy on us.
Nailed to the tree, have mercy on us.
Reviled by the Jews, have mercy on us.
Scoffed at by the malefactor, have mercy on us.
Wounded in the side, have mercy on us.
Shedding Thy last drop of blood, have mercy on us.
Forsaken by Thy Father, have mercy on us.
Dying for our sins, have mercy on us.
Taken down from the cross, have mercy on us.
Laid in the sepulchre, have mercy on us.
Rising gloriously, have mercy on us.
Ascending into Heaven, have mercy on us.
Sending down the Paraclete, have mercy on us.
Jesus our Sacrifice, have mercy on us.
Jesus our Mediator, have mercy on us.
Jesus our Judge, have mercy on us.

Be merciful, (Spare us, O Lord).
Be merciful, (Graciously hear us, O Lord).

From all sin, Lord Jesus, deliver us.
From all evil, Lord Jesus, deliver us.
From anger and hatred, Lord Jesus, deliver us.
From malice and revenge, Lord Jesus, deliver us.
From unbelief and hardness of heart, deliver us.
From blasphemy and sacrilege, deliver us.
From hypocrisy and covetousness, deliver us.
From blindness of the understanding, deliver us.
From contempt of Thy warnings, deliver us.
From relapse after Thy judgments, deliver us.
From danger of soul and body, deliver us.
From everlasting death, deliver us.

That Thou wouldst spare us, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst pardon us, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst defend Thy Church, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst bless Thy own, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst convert Thy foes, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst spread the truth, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst destroy error, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst break to pieces false gods, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst increase Thy elect, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst let loose the holy souls in prison, we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst unite us to Thy saints above, we beseech Thee, hear us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (Spare us, O Lord).
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (Graciously hear us, O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (Have mercy on us.)
Christ, hear us. (Christ, graciously hear us.)
Lord, have mercy. (Christ have mercy.)

Lord, have mercy. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee,
(Because through Thy Holy Cross Thou didst redeem the world.)

Let us pray. O God, Who for the redemption of the world wast pleased to be born; to be circumcised; to be rejected; to be betrayed; to be bound with thongs; to be led to the slaughter; to be shamefully gazed at; to be falsely accused; to be scourged and torn; to be spit upon, and crowned with thorns; to be mocked and reviled; to be buffeted and struck with rods; to be stripped; to be nailed to the cross; to be hoisted up thereon; to be reckoned among thieves; to have gall and vinegar to drink; to be pierced with a lance: through Thy most holy passion, which we, Thy sinful servants, call to mind, and by Thy Holy Cross and gracious death, deliver us from the pains of hell, and lead us whither Thou didst lead the thief who was crucified with Thee, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen

Passion Sunday

Meditation from Fr. Prosper Gueranger 1870:

Today, if ye shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.

The Holy Church begins her Night Office of this Sunday with these impressive words of the Royal Prophet. Formerly, the faithful considered it their duty to assist at the Night Office, at least on Sundays and Feasts; they would have grieved to have lost the grand teachings given by the Liturgy. Such fervour has long since died out; the assiduity at the Offices of the Church, which was the joy of our Catholic forefathers, has now become a thing of the past; and, even in countries which have not apostatised from the faith, the clergy have ceased to celebrate publicly Offices at which no one assisted. Excepting in Cathedral Churches and in Monasteries, the grand harmonious system of the Divine Praise has been abandoned, and the marvelous power of the Liturgy has no longer its full influence upon the Faithful.

This is our reason for drawing the attention of our readers to certain beauties of the Divine Office, which would otherwise be totally ignored. Thus, what can be more impressive than this solemn Invitatory of today’s Matins, which the Church takes from one of the psalms, and which she repeats on every Feria between this and Maundy Thursday?

She says: Today, if ye shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts! The sweet voice of your suffering Jesus now speaks to you, poor sinners! be not your own enemies by indifference and hardness of heart. The Son of God is about to give you the last and greatest proof of the love that brought him down from heaven; his Death is nigh at hand: men are preparing the wood for the immolation of the new Isaac: enter into yourselves, and let not your hearts, after being touched with grace, return to their former obduracy, for nothing could be more dangerous. The great anniversaries we are to celebrate have a renovating power for those souls that faithfully correspond with the grace which is offered them; but they increase insensibility in those who let them pass without working their conversion. Today, therefore, if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts!

During the preceding four weeks, we have noticed how the malice of Jesus’ enemies has been gradually increasing. His very presence irritates them; and it is evident, that any little circumstance will suffice to bring the deep and long nurtured hatred to a head. The kind and gentle manners of Jesus are drawing to Him all hearts that are simple and upright; at the same time, the humble life he leads, and the stern purity of his doctrines, are perpetual sources of vexation and anger, both to the proud Jew that looks forward to the Messias being a mighty conqueror, and to the Pharisee, who corrupts the Law of God, that he may make it the instrument of his own base passions. Still, Jesus goes on working miracles; His discourses are more than ever energetic; His prophecies foretell the fall of Jerusalem, and such a destruction of its famous Temple, that not a stone is to be left on stone. The doctors of the Law should, at least, reflect upon what they hear; they should examine these wonderful works, which render such strong testimony in favour of the Son of David, and they should consult those divine prophecies which, up to the present time, have been so literally fulfilled in His person. Alas! they themselves are about to carry them out to the very last iota. There is not a single outrage or suffering foretold by David and Isaias, as having to be put upon the Messias, which these blind men are not scheming to verify.

In them, therefore, was fulfilled that terrible saying: He that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come (St. Matth. xii. 32.). The Synagogue is nigh to a curse. Obstinate in her error, she refuses to see or to hear; she has deliberately perverted her judgment: she has extinguished within herself the light of the Holy Spirit; she will go deeper and deeper into evil, and at length fall into the abyss. This same lamentable conduct is but too often witnessed now-adays, in those sinners, who, by habitual resistance to the light, end by finding their happiness in sin. Neither should it surprise us, that we find in people of our own generation a resemblance to the murderers of our Jesus: the history of His Passion will reveal to us many sad secrets of the human heart and its perverse inclinations; for what happened in Jerusalem, happens also in every sinner’s heart. His heart, according to the saying of St. Paul, is a Calvary, where Jesus is crucified. There is the same ingratitude, the same blindness, the same wild madness, with this difference, that the sinner who is enlightened by faith, knows Him Whom he crucifies; whereas the Jews, as the same Apostle tells us, knew not the Lord of Glory (I. Cor. ii. 8.). Whilst, therefore, we listen to the Gospel, which relates the history of the Passion, let us turn the indignation we feel for the Jews against ourselves and our own sins: let us weep over the sufferings of our Victim, for our sins caused Him to suffer and die.

Everything around us urges us to mourn. The images of the Saints, the very crucifix on our Altar, are veiled from our sight. The Church is oppressed with grief. During the first four weeks of Lent, she compassionated her Jesus fasting in the desert; his coming Sufferings and Crucifixion and Death are what now fill her with anguish. We read in today’s Gospel, that the Jews threaten to stone the Son of God as a blasphemer: but his hour is not yet come. He is obliged to flee and hide himself. It is to express this deep humiliation, that the Church veils the Cross. A God hiding Himself, that he may evade the anger of men, what a mystery! Is it weakness? Is it, that he fears death? No, we shall soon see Him going out to meet His enemies: but, at present, He hides Himself from them, because all that had been prophesied regarding Him has not been fulfilled. Besides, His death is not to be by stoning; He is to die upon a Cross, the tree of malediction, which, from that time forward, is to be the Tree of Life. Let us humble ourselves, as we see the Creator of heaven and earth thus obliged to hide Himself from men, who are bent on His destruction! Let us go back, in thought, to the sad day of the first sin, when Adam and Eve hid themselves because a guilty conscience told them they were naked. Jesus is come to assure us of our being pardoned! and lo! He hides Himself, not because He is naked, He that is to the Saints the garb of holiness and immortality, but because He made Himself weak, that He might make us strong. Our First Parents sought to hide themselves from the sight of God; Jesus hides himself from the eye of men; but it will not be thus for ever. The day will come, when sinners, from whose anger He now flees, will pray to the mountains that they fall on them to shield them from His gaze; but their prayer will not be granted, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with much power and majesty (St. Matth. xxiv. 30).

This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the Church begins, on this day, to make the Sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. It is called also, Judica, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass; and again, Neomania, that is, the Sunday of the new (or, the Easter) moon, because it always falls after the new moon which regulates the Feast of Easter Day.

Lesson of Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. Ch. IX.

Brethren: Christ being come, an High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of the calves, but by His own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For, if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh; how much more shall the Blood of Christ (Who by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted unto God), cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And, therefore, He is the mediator of the New Testament; that by means of His death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

It is by Blood alone that man is to be redeemed. He has offended God. This God cannot be appeased by anything short of the extermination of His rebellious creature, who, by shedding his blood, will give an earnest of his repentance and his entire submission to the Creator, against Whom he dared to rebel. Otherwise, the justice of God must be satisfied by the sinner’s suffering eternal punishment. This truth was understood by all the people of the ancient world, and all confessed it by shedding the blood of victims, as in the sacrifices of Abel, at the very commencement of the world; in the catacombs of Greece; in the countless immolations whereby Solomon dedicated the Temple. And yet, God thus speaks to His people: Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, and thy burnt-offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks. I need them not: for all the beasts of the woods are mine. If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats (Ps. xlix. 7-13.)? Thus, God commands the blood of victims to be offered to Him, and, at the same time, declares that neither it nor they are precious in His sight. Is this a contradiction? No: God would hereby have man understand, that it is only by Blood that He can be redeemed, but that the blood of brute animals cannot effect this redemption. Can the blood of man himself bring him his own redemption, and appease God’s justice? No, not even man’s blood, for it is defiled; and even were it undefiled, it is powerless to compensate for the outrage done to God by sin. For this, there was needed the Blood of a God; that was the Blood of Jesus, and He has come that He may shed it for our redemption.

In him is fulfilled the most sacred of the figures of the Old Law. Once each year, the High-Priest entered into the Holy of Holies, there to make intercession for the people. He went within the Veil, even to the Ark of the Covenant; but he was not allowed to enjoy this great privilege, unless he entered the holy place carrying in his hands the blood of a newly offered victim. The Son of God, the true High Priest, is now about to enter heaven, and we are to follow Him thither; but unto this, He must have an offering of blood, and that Blood can be none other than His own. We are going to assist at this His compliance with the divine ordinance. Let us open our hearts, that this precious Blood may, as the Apostle says in to-day’s Epistle, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

The Gospel according to John Ch. VIII

At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convice me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore, you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me. But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our Father Abraham, who is dead! And the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of Whom you say that He is your God; and you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I should say that I know Him not, I should be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep His word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews then said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

The fury of the Jews is evidently at its height, and Jesus is obliged to hide Himself from them. But He is to fall into their hands before many days are over; then will they triumph and put Him to death. They triumph, and Jesus is their victim; but how different is to be His lot from theirs! In obedience to the decrees of His heavenly Father, and out of love for men, He will deliver himself into the hands of His enemies, and they will put him to death; but he will rise victorious from the tomb, He will ascend into heaven, He will be throned on the right hand of His Father. His enemies, on the contrary, after having vented all their rage, will live on without remorse, until the terrible day come for their chastisement. That day is not far off, for observe the severity wherewith our Lord speaks to them: You hear not the words of God, because you are not of God. Yet there was a time, when they were of God, for the Lord gives his grace to all men; but they have rendered this grace useless; they are now in darkness, and the light they have rejected will not return.

You say, that my Father is your God, and you have not known Him; but I know Him. Their obstinacy in refusing to acknowledge Jesus as the Messias, has led these men to ignore that very God, Whom they boast of honouring; for if they knew the Father, they would not reject His Son. Moses, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, are all a dead letter to them; these sacred Books are soon to pass into the hands of the Gentiles, who will both read and understand them. If, continues Jesus, I should say that I know Him not, I should be like to you, a liar. This strong language is that of the angry Judge Who is to come down, at the last day, to destroy sinners. Jerusalem has not known the time of her visitation: the Son of God has visited her, He is with her, and she dares to say to Him: Thou hast a devil! She says to the Eternal Word, Who proves Himself to be God by the most astounding miracles, that Abraham and the Prophets are greater than He! Strange blindness, that comes from pride and hardness of heart! The Feast of the Pasch is at hand: these men are going to eat, and with much parade of religion, the flesh of the figurative lamb; they know full well, that this lamb is a symbol, or a figure, which is to have its fulfillment. The true Lamb is to be sacrificed by their hands, and they will not know Him. He will shed his Blood for them, and it will not save them. How this reminds us of those sinners, for whom this Easter promises to be as fruitless as those of the past years! Let us redouble our prayers for them, and beseech our Lord to soften their hearts, lest trampling the Blood of Jesus under their feet, they should have it to cry vengeance against them before the throne of the Heavenly Father.

St. Joseph

O glorious St. Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary ever Virgin, and the head of the holy family. You have been chosen by Christ’s Vicar as the heavenly patron and protector of the Church founded by Christ. Therefore it is with great confidence that I implore your powerful assistance for the whole Church on earth. Protect in a special manner, with true fatherly love, the Pope and all bishops and priests in communion with the See of Peter. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life, and grant that all peoples of the world may follow Christ and the Church He founded.

Dear St. Joseph, accept the offering of myself which I now make to you. I dedicate myself to your service, that you may ever be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent love for the spiritual life. May all my actions, after your example, be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the divine Heart of Jesus, the immaculate heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart. Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death.

A Blessed and Happy Feast of St. Joseph, Guardian of the Church of God, to all my readers!

~Damsel of the Faith