Tag Archives: Passion of Christ

Palm Sunday 2016

The Solemn Feasts and Ceremonies of Holy Week and the Passion have begun.  Let us follow Our Lord in His bitter Passion, rejoicing that we have been redeemed at such a great price, the Death of the Son of God!  Today, the people hail Our Lord as the Son of David and fall down, worshipping him, but in just a few days they will call for His Crucifixion. A Blessed Palm Sunday to all!

“And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus 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: Hosanna in the highest.”  ~Matthew 21:1-9

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Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day of our salvation, the day God died to redeem sinful man.  Let us spend this day in prayer and penance in thanksgiving to Our Lord for paying such a great price for our sins. Satan was defeated and the Kingdom of God established. Let us rejoice in that. Behold the wood of the Christ upon which hung the God of the Universe, paying a price for our crimes that we couldn’t pay.

A Holy Good Friday to all!

The following is a sermon by Bishop Ehrler, 1891:

“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” (Lament, i : 12.)

I present to your pitying contemplation, this morning, my dear brethren, the mightiest, the most profound sorrow that earth has ever witnessed. It is not merely a single affliction, (such as is often endured by the human heart), but the sum of all suffering and woe, that fullness of all sorrow, united and enclosed in a single heart, and that heart, the sacred heart of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! The King of martyrs, our divine Redeemer, appears, today, before our minds in bloody garments, saying to us: “Oh all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” Who will refuse to compassionate Him, overwhelmed with the bitterest anguish for our salvation? Who can live through this day, of all others in the year, without being penetrated by the most profound and sincere compassion for the mangled and martyred Lamb of God?

Behold, how our holy Church, the Bride of the King of martyrs, laments for her beloved! She can not find words to express her deep, sharp pain. Clad in the garments of mourning, with anguish in her countenance, and tears in her eyes, she sits before the Cross of her Bridegroom, and tenderly bewails His sufferings and death. To each of her children she cries out, today; “Let tears, like a torrent, run down day and night; give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thy eye cease. Arise, give praise in the night, in the beginning of the watches; pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord.” (Lament. 2: 18, 19.)

The bitter Passion of Jesus should always and continually engage the contemplation of our souls. Day and night, like the blessed in heaven, should we adore the wounds of our Redeemer; ever and always, should we weep with all holy souls over those sufferings which were borne for love of us. But today, my brethren, when all these agonies pass swiftly before our eyes, when the blood flows afresh, and the death-sweat oozes from his body, must not the stream of our tears, like a torrent, run down day and night? Ah! yes: the Passion and Death of our dear Redeemer reveal to us this Good Friday morning the greatest and deepest of all sorrows.

I. Because of the extreme torments suffered;
II. Because of the person who endured those torments; and
III. Because of the cruel cause of those torments.

I. Who can fathom the depths and the bitterness of the deep sea of human anguish? Who can count the tears that have been shed since the unhappy fall of Adam? Who can reckon the cries of woe and misery, of agony and despair, that have issued from the mouth of one single suffering man? Yet there has been no earthly sorrow which can even be compared with that of our Saviour. If all the pains and miseries of the whole earth were collected together and united in one great mass of anguish, the sufferings of our Redeemer would far outweigh them all. So immense, so profound, so overwhelming were they, that only the mighty heart of the God-Man could endure them.

1. The prophet Isaias beheld in a vision the future sufferings of the Messias, and saw the holy Victim covered with blood and wounds; but when he attempted to paint the picture of the King of Martyrs, O then, my brethren, he was bewildered by the terrible, the awe-inspiring apparition. “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? He shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground; there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness; and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of him; despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity.” (Is. 53: 1-3).

“A worm, and no man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people,” (Ps. 21 : 7.), our Lord Jesus Christ has suffered all the pains which the soul can suffer. He has borne the excess of mental sufferings, such as anguish and fear, sorrow and desolation, dejection and dereliction–all that can inflict torture upon the heart of man. He cries out: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death” (Matt. 14: 34.); and then He sinks to the earth overcome by so fierce an agony that it forces a bloody sweat to issue from every pore of His sacred body. Each separate torment which He afterward endured in all the members of His body, He consented to suffer beforehand in His heart and soul. “Where is there a grief like unto my grief?”

2. Yes, my brethren, He suffered in every member of His sacred body. “From the sole of the foot to the top of the head, there is no soundness therein; wounds and bruises and swelling sores: they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.” (Is. 1 : 6.) His head is crowned with piercing thorns; His eyes are filled with blood that streams from His wounded brow; His cheeks are bruised by the blows of a wicked servant; His hands and feet are pierced through with cruel nails; His heart is opened with a spear; His shoulders are torn with terrible lashes, and all His wounds are inflamed and widened by the repeated taking-off and putting-on of his sacred garments. “Where is there any sorrow like to my sorrow?”

He endured every kind of affliction–His bitter chalice contained every form and species of woe. As a babe, He was repulsed by His own creatures, and forced to accept as a birth-place, a cold and miserable stable. As a helpless and harmless child, He was threatened with death, and obliged to flee from His own country into a distant and barbarous land. When grown to manhood, His chosen people, to whom He had shown naught but kindness, whom He had loaded with favors and benefits, despised and persecuted Him. They said: “He hath a devil,” and they sought to take His life. They tried to rob Him of His honor and reputation. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples, and sold by him for a contemptible sum of money, and this under the mask of friendship. He was deserted by His cherished disciples, who had sworn to follow Him unto death. He was bound with cords, and led forth like a criminal amid the wild clamor of His enemies. He was falsely accused, and dragged about from one tribunal to another. He was mocked and despised; a murderer and robber was preferred before Him. He was deprived of His clothing before the eyes of the whole people, and thus, stripped naked, was nailed to the cross: and even on the cross He was scoffed at and denied unto the end. Indifference and cowardice, human respect and treachery, hypocrisy, derision, malice, in fact, every kind of evil, had a share in His torments. “Where is there any sorrow like to my sorrow?”

He suffered from every class of men, priests and laymen, princes upon their thrones, and the scum of the people; strangers who knew Him not, and those of His own race; pagans who persecuted Him through ignorance, and Jews who had been instructed in the Law; soldiers hardened by cruel warfare, and judges who were appointed to protect the innocent; the ignorant who were the blind tools of the malignant Pharisees, and the learned who were filled with evil wisdom–all conditions of human society, all degrees of rank, became His enemies. He had not one executioner alone (as has the greatest criminal), but hundreds and thousands of them. “Where is any sorrow like unto my sorrow?”

He suffered throughout His whole earthly career, since no moment of it was free from pain and affliction. All the days of His life, the awful vision of His future sufferings stood out clearly before His omniscient eye, filling His soul with unspeakable woe and dread. Death itself did not put an end to the outrages heaped upon Him; for when He hung lifeless upon the cross, His enemies continued to wreak then vengeance upon His sacred remains. They pierced His side with a lance; they sealed up His grave and placed a watch upon it so that “that deceiver,” as they called Him, might not come forth from the tomb. Jesus, as St. John remarks, knew ” all things that were to come upon him.” (John 18:4.) “My sorrow is continually before me,” the Psalmist says in His person. (Ps. 37 : 18.) “My enemies have trodden on me all the day long; for there are many that make war against me.” (Ps. 55 : 3.)

3. Where is there sorrow equal to His sorrow? He suffered all these pains and sorrows from those who had been His friends, and for whose salvation He had descended from heaven to earth. His people, chosen before all the nations of the earth, whom He had led out of Egypt, fed with manna in the desert, opened the fountain of living water in the hard rock; whose enemies He had subdued, through whose cities, towns, and villages He went about blessing and doing good–this, His chosen people, prepared all these afflictions and humiliations for Him, their Messias. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel hath not known me.” (Is. 1 :3.) “I have brought up children, and exalted them, but they have despised me.” (Is. 1 :2.) Hearing these lamentations of our outraged God, must we not again exclaim: What sorrow is like unto His sorrow!

4. He endured all these sufferings without the least alleviation. No earthly consolation was offered Him, for His disciples had all fled; no heavenly comfort was sent to lighten His pain. He offered Himself willingly to suffer, and He wished to drink the bitter chalice even to the dregs. For this reason, He refrained Himself as far as possible from the succors of His Divinity, so that He might be, as it were, abyssed in the very depths of sorrow. “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there was not a man with me.” (Is. 63 : 3.) “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. And they gave me gall for my food; and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Ps. 68 : 21, 22.)

In heart-felt sympathy, my brethren, let us, today, contemplate this deep ocean of suffering, for to nothing else can the great and bitter sorrows of our Redeemer be compared. “Let tears like a torrent run down day and night: give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thy eye cease.” The earth, the elements, and all inanimate nature once trembled on this day with grief and compassion for the mangled Lamb of God, and shall we, for whose salvation He was slain, alone remain indifferent? Let us fall upon our knees before our crucified Jesus,–let us venerate His sorrows, and detest with bitter tears the sins which caused His unspeakable sufferings.

II. Consider next, my beloved Christians, the dignity of the Person who endured those sufferings.

1. Who is this Man of Sorrows who appears before us, with torn and bleeding body and pierced heart?” Who is He that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra?” we ask in astonishment with the prophet Isaias. (Is. 63 :1.) “Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread the wine-press?” (Is. 63 : 2.) No human heart is strong or heroic enough to carry such a burden of sorrow, without being crushed, broken, annihilated! Ah, my beloved, the Man of Sorrows is the only-begotten Son of God–the strong and mighty Deity, who, for love of us, has borne all these torments; who in order to make satisfaction for our sins, took their crushing weight upon Himself and suffered in our stead. He, the Man of Sorrows, saw the want and misery of the earth, He saw the corruption of sin which had opened the abyss of hell, and closed the gates of heaven. From the throne of His heavenly glory, He looked down with grief upon the earth, and saw that only His own almighty hand could rescue it from its extreme and hopeless wretchedness. The prayers and sacrifices of centuries had been inadequate to appease the divine wrath. Neither Angel nor Archangel could make the requisite satisfaction to the offended majesty of God, or deliver the world from its impending ruin. Penetrated with an incomprehensible love, the Divine Word cries out to His heavenly Father: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not; but a body thou hast fitted to me . . . then said I, behold I come . . . that I should do thy will, O Lord!” (Heb. 10: 5-7.) “The Father did not lay the cross upon His Son without His consent,” says St. Cyril, “but the Son has given Himself for us on the cross, and the Father has agreed to it, so that the mystery of salvation might be accomplished.” (St. Cyril.)

2. The Man of Sorrows bore within Him a divine heart, and He suffered with the strength and supernatural power of a divine being. It is true that while He suffered intensely in His human nature, the divine nature was incapable of suffering, yet the divine, being united with the human nature, could not but sympathize with the sufferings of the latter. Indeed, Christ as God wished to sympathize with and share the sufferings of His humanity, so that, thereby, a sacrifice of infinite value might be offered to His Heavenly Father, as an infinite atonement for our sins. Where is there a sorrow like unto this sorrow?

Go through all the ranks of human beings, my dear Christians, and contemplate the misery which meets you on every side. Ponder well the greatest sorrow that has ever been the portion of any earthly creature, and you will acknowledge, after all, that it is only the suffering of a human heart. For all its depth and intensity it is only the trembling outcry and complaint of a finite human soul. But the sorrow which Jesus Christ endured, contains within its unfathomable depths–the unsearchable emotions of an incarnate God! Again: were it possible for the Angels of heaven to experience pain; nay, more, if they accepted it with the whole power of their angelic nature, the united sufferings of all that multitude of mighty spirits compared with those of our Redeemer, would be only as a soft sigh which trembles for a moment on the summer air. Where is sorrow like unto his sorrow?

3. Behold, again, this Man of Sorrows, and meditate upon the lessons of His wounds. Consider not merely that grand, divine Heart which bears human suffering with superhuman strength, but, if you would still further sound the depths of Christ’s excessive sorrow, contemplate, also, that sacred body which is led like a lamb to the slaughter. Not a human body formed from base and sinful dust of the earth is the body of Jesus Christ, but a miracle of the omnipotence and wisdom of God. It is a wonderful creation formed by the Holy Ghost in the immaculate womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Not merely royal blood flows through His veins, the tender plant from the root of Jesse, but this body is created by the divine operation of God Himself. As all the works of God are more perfect, the clearer and the more forcibly they show forth His power; as the manna which the Lord sent from heaven was sweeter and more exquisite than any earthly food; as the wine which our Saviour created at the marriage of Cana was finer than any juice of the vine; as Adam, the first man, had a most beautiful and perfect human body, because God Himself had formed it from the slime of the earth–so the body of Jesus Christ was more wondrously beautiful and perfect than that of any other human being. It was fine and delicate and perfect beyond all creatures, and formed with special capabilities for suffering. He was appointed to be the Lamb of God, to bear, and to take away, the sins of the world. According to the will of God, as well as through the nature of His holy body, the humanity of our Redeemer must have felt all His pains and sorrows much more keenly and intensely than could any other human body. The greatest and sharpest agony struggled and raged in the most sensitive and delicate of vessels; but through the will of God and the love of our Saviour, the vessel, not being able to break, endured and felt that extraordinary anguish to the bitter end. The fiercest fire, finding the most inflammable material, continues, without consuming or annihilating it, to feed upon it with ever increasing violence, as long as divine Justice requires the holocaust! Where is there a sorrow like unto this sorrow?

4. “Go forth, ye daughters of Sion; and see King Solomon in the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals.” (Cant. 3:11.) Behold your Bridegroom, who has delivered you through such exceeding sorrow, and has espoused Himself to your soul at such a great price! Not only will we fall down in adoration and extol the sufferings of our Redeemer, but lovingly we will raise up our eyes to the King and Bridegroom of our souls, and gratefully consecrate the love of our hearts to Him, the Incarnate God, who has given the whole of His divine and human nature to suffer for our redemption!

III. Come now, my dearly beloved, and descending once more into the deep abyss of our Saviour’s Passion, let us search with sincere earnestness for the cause of these terrible sufferings, this ineffable sorrow.

1. On account of our sins, my brethren, the Son of God came down from the glory of heaven. A great invalid lay suffering upon the earth, and a great Physician must needs appear to save and heal him. Love moved the good Samaritan Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, to take pity on sick humanity, and to offer to His heavenly Father the atonement for our sins. But was it necessary that our Saviour should suffer so much and so deeply? Would not a single sigh from his divine Heart have sufficed to appease the wrath of the Eternal Father? Certainly; one single drop of His precious blood was sufficient to cleanse the whole world from sin. A single work of our divine Saviour is everlasting and infinite in its redeeming power. Then, wherefore, has He borne the supreme measure of sorrow? Why did He wish to drain the bitter chalice to the dregs? It was to expiate our sins in general, as well as in particular. Every sin that has been or will be committed upon the earth He, in His character of Mediator, has atoned for. “Behold the man,” cried out Pilate, as he presented the scourged and bleeding Redeemer to the gaze of the Jewish people. “O, Pilate!” we must exclaim, “thou hast announced a deep truth!” Before us stands the Man who has taken upon Himself all the sins of the human race, and who bears them and atones for them in His own body. Before us stands the Man in whom we can see our sins and their punishment. “Surely He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows; and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His bruises we are healed.” (Is. 53 : 4, 5.)

2. Contemplate, today, the sufferings of our Saviour, my beloved brethren, and see if there is one sin which He has not taken upon himself and expiated. Consider first, our individual sins, and in them you will recognize all the sins of the world. Faithless and ungrateful, humanity has turned away from the good God, and bartered His friendship and love for the miserable wages of sin. The disciples, fleeing, abandon their divine master; Judas betrays Him for thirty pieces of silver; His enemies take Him prisoner, and bind Him like a criminal; they drag Him from one tribunal to another. Behold the man who continues in his vices, who is not satisfied with one sin or one insult to the Lord! They weave a crown of thorns and press it upon His head; they place a reed in His hand, and clothe Him in a garment of mockery. Behold the man who raises his head proudly and haughtily, who would elevate his throne as high as the stars in heaven! They scourge Him with cruel lashes, until His sacred body, which is exposed naked to the gaze of the rabble, is covered with blood. Behold the man who shamelessly wallows in the lusts of the flesh, rejoicing in them, and defiling his body with the filth of iniquity. Pilate releases a murderer, and condemns innocence to death. Behold the man who, full of envy, and jealousy, grudges his neighbor his position, or his fortune. They pierce His hands and feet with cruel nails. Behold the man who misuses his members for sin, whose feet hasten upon the road to ruin, and whose hands are greedily stretched forth towards injustice. They give Him gall and vinegar to drink. Behold the man who indulges in gluttony, and gratifies all his sensual appetites! They mock Him in His sufferings, and cry out to Him: “If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Behold the man who, in his anger, knows no limit to his hatred and revenge! In death, they pierced His Sacred Heart; and at the same time they pierced the soul of the man who had given away his heart to strange gods. Behold the man of sin! Behold the man of punishment!” It is not the Redeemer and the Saviour,” each one of us might exclaim, “that hangs before me upon the cross, it is I myself whose sins he has borne and atoned for, it is the man of sin that is crucified in Him!”

“What was the cause of Thy suffering, O Son of God?” exclaims St. Anselm. “I was the scourge of Thy pain; I the cause of Thy death; I the sting of Thy torments; I the ground of Thy condemnation. O marvelous verdict, O mysterious dispensation! The wicked sin, and the just is punished; the guilty commit the offense, and the innocent atones for it; the master pays for what the servant has broken; God becomes surety for the debts of man.”

3. Wherein lies the cause of all these incomprehensible sufferings of our Saviour? He did not wish merely to bear all the sins of the world in His afflicted person, but, also, to make an everlasting and superabundant satisfaction for us, in order to lay up for us an everlasting and superabundant merit. “Christ has paid much more than we owed,” says St. Chrysostom; “as much as the ocean exceeds a drop of water, so much do Christ’s merits exceed our guilt.” (Hom. 20 in Epist. ad. Rom.) This superabounding merit of Christ does not merely blot out all the stains of sin and its punishment in us, but it, also, wins for us in the richest measure all the graces necessary to our souls for the gaining of everlasting life. As the good Samaritan did not merely raise up the wounded man from the wayside, and wash his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, but, also, out of love, placed him upon his horse, and brought him to an inn, and left money for his further care, so our Redeemer, the genuine Good Samaritan, does not simply heal the wounds of Our hearts through His atonement; but, also, gives us, through His holy Passion, all graces in the highest degree. He would reveal to the world His everlasting love and its great power; therefore has He suffered so much for us. As the loving pelican opens its breast and gives its own life-blood to feed its famishing brood, so does Jesus, our Pious Pelican, nourish and strengthen our souls with His own sacred Blood, the last drop of which He shed for us.

Today, then, my beloved brethren, let us descend into the holy mystery of the Passion of our Lord. And when we have gone down into the deep well whence such streams of suffering and sorrow burst forth, each one of us may strike his breast remorsefully, and cry out to himself in bitter sorrow: “Thou art the cause of all these innumerable sufferings of Thy Redeemer!” Our sins have prepared these pains for our loving Saviour. Therefore “let tears, like a torrent, run down day and night: give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thine eye cease.” Today, at least, dear Christians, let us pour out our hearts like water before the face of the Lord. When King David learned and recognized of old the justice of God in his family, and when the punishing hand of the Lord was revealed to him, then that royal penitent “kept a fast, and going in by himself, lay upon the ground. And the ancients of his house came to make him rise from the ground, but he would not: neither did he eat meat with them.” (2 Kings 12: 16, 17.) So let us spend in the holy practice of prayer and penance this solemn day, in which the Justice and the Mercy of God have been so clearly revealed to us: and let us promise the Lord, my dear brethren, at the foot of His cross that, henceforth, we will never again renew His endless sufferings, and unspeakable sorrows, by any future relapses into sin. Amen.

“Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth.  And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha.  Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written.

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.”  ~John 19: 16-30

Maundy Thursday

The Sacred Triduum begins.  Today Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist by instituting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Catholic Priesthood to continue His saving work. For Our Lord, His Love was so great that it wasn’t enough that He died a most gruesome and agonizing death for our eternal salvation, He also left us His very Self under the appearances of bread and wine.  To represent Him on earth, He left us the Priests to continue His everlasting Priesthood and to act in His Name. Let us give thanks to God for His great Love for us!

The following is a meditation on the Institution of the Eucharist by St. Peter Julian Eymard:


Cum dilexisset suos qui erant in mundo, in finem dilexit eos.
Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end. (John xiii. 1.)

How good is the Lord Jesus! How loving! Not satisfied with having become our Brother by His Incarnation and our Savior by His Passion, not satisfied with having delivered Himself up for us, He wants to strain His love to the point of making Himself our Sacrament of life!

With what joy He prepared this great and supreme gift of His love!

With what happiness He instituted the Eucharist and bequeathed it to us as His last will!

Let us observe this Divine wisdom at work preparing the Eucharist. Let us adore His power, exhausting itself in this act of love.

I


Jesus revealed the Eucharist long beforehand. He was born at Bethlehem, the house of bread, domus panis. He lay on the straw which then seemed to bear an ear of the true wheat.

At Cana and in the desert, when He multiplied the loaves, He revealed the Eucharist and also promised it. It was a public and formal promise.

He promised with an oath that He would give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. That was the remote preparation.

The time had come for the more immediate preparation of the Eucharist. Jesus wanted to see to these preparations Himself. Love does not unburden itself of its obligations on others. Love does everything itself. That is its boast.

Jesus selected the city: Jerusalem, the city of the sacrifices of the Old Law. He selected the house: the Cenacle. He chose His attendants in this undertaking: Peter and John, Peter, the disciple of faith, and John, the disciple of love. He appointed the time: the last hour of His life He could freely dispose of.

Finally, He came from Bethany to the Cenacle; He was full of joy; He quickened His step; He could not get there soon enough. Love welcomes sacrifice.

II


THE time for the institution of the august Sacrament had come. What a moment! The hour of love had struck. The Mosaic Pasch was about to be consummated, the true Lamb to take the place of its figure in the Old Law, and the Bread of life, the Bread from heaven, to be substituted to the manna of the wilderness. Jesus sat down at table with a grave simplicity. They had to eat the new Pasch sitting down, in the repose of God. A deep silence came over them all; the Apostles looked on very attentively.

Jesus became meditative. He took some bread in His holy and venerable hands, raised His eyes to Heaven, gave thanks to His Father for this hour He had so desired, stretched out His hand, blessed the bread.  . . .

And while the Apostles, filled with respect, dared not ask the meaning of symbols so mysterious, Jesus pronounced these beautiful words. as powerful as the creative word of God: Take ye and eat. This is My Body.  . . . Drink ye all of This. This is My Blood.

The mystery of love was consummated. Jesus had fulfilled His promise. He had nothing more to give but His mortal life upon the Cross. He would give it and would rise again to be our perpetual Host of propitiation, the Host of our Communion, the Host of our adoration.

Heaven was enraptured at the sight of this mystery. The Most Holy Trinity contemplated it with: love. The Angels, struck with awe, adored it.

And with what a frantic rage were not the demons seized in Hell!

Yes, Lord Jesus, all is consummated! Thou hast now nothing more to give man to prove him Thy love. Thou mayest die now; Thou wilt not leave us, even by dying. Thy love is perpetuated on earth. Go back to the Heaven of Thy glory; the Eucharist will be the Heaven of Thy love.

O Cenacle! Where art thou? O Holy Table which bore the consecrated Body of Jesus! O Divine fire which Jesus kindled on Mount Sion, burn, spread thy flames, and set the world on fire!

Heavenly Father, Thou wilt always love men; they possess Jesus Christ forever! Thou wilt not lay waste the earth anymore with storms and floods, the Eucharist is our rainbow. Thou wilt love men since Thy Son Jesus Christ loves them so much!

What a love this good Savior had for us! Did He not love us enough to deserve our gratitude? What more do we need to consecrate our affections and our lives to Him in return?

Have we other desires still unsatisfied? Do we require further proofs of our Lord’s love?

Alas! If the love of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament does not win our hearts, Jesus is vanquished! Our ingratitude is greater than His goodness; our malice is more powerful than His charity! Oh! No, my good Savior, Thy charity presses me, torments me, binds me!

I want to devote myself to the service and glory of Thy Sacrament. By dint of love I want to make Thee forget that up to this day I have been so ungrateful; by dint of devotedness I want to obtain forgiveness for having loved Thee so late! . . .


The following is St. John Vianney’s sermon on the Holy Priesthood:

My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God–a man who is invested with all the powers of God. “Go,” said Our Lord to the priest; “as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me. ” When the priest remits sins, he does not say, “God pardons you”; he says, “I absolve you. “At the Consecration, he does not say, “This is the Body of Our Lord;” he says, “This is My Body.” St. Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest–always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you.” Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, “What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home. When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.

When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, “Where are you going?” you might answer, “I am going to feed my soul. ” If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, “What is that golden door?” “That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept.” “Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?” “The priest.” “And what is the Food?” “The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord.” O God! O God! how Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world. . . . Someone said, “Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Cure of Ars?” Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, “There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul. ” At the sight of a church tower, you may say, “What is there in that place?” “The Body of Our Lord.” “Why is He there?” “Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass.”

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spy Wednesday

Meditation from Fr. Posper Gueranger on this Wednesday during Holy Week:

The Chief Priests and the Ancients of the people, are met today, 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 favorable 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 defense? 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 this very year’s Pasch as the day of the Sacrifice, and, tomorrow 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 (St. Matth. xxvi. 15.)? 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 (Idem, xxvii. 9. Zach. xi. 12.). Judas asks them what they will give him; and they give him thirty pieces of silver! All is arranged: tomorrow, 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 distinguish Him from his Disciples? Judas will lead the way; he will show them which is Jesus, by going up to him and kissing him!

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 such 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 today is in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Let us compassionate with our Holy Mother, whose Heart is filled with poignant grief at the foresight of the Sacrifice, which is preparing.

How terrible is this our Defender, Who tramples His enemies beneath His feet, as they that tread in the wine-press; so that their blood 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 recognized 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 our Lord against this faithless 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! Woe to them, that have treated Him with contempt! Woe 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.