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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Including descriptions of the following:

The sun has risen upon Jerusalem. But the priests and scribes have not waited all this time without venting their rage upon Jesus. Annas, who was the first to receive the divine Captive, has had Him taken to his son-in-law Caiphas, the high priest. Here He is put through a series of insulting questions, which disdaining to answer, He receives a blow from one of the high priest’s servants. False witnesses had already been prepared: they now come forward, and depose their lies against Him who is the very Truth: but their testimony is contradictory. Then Caiphas, seeing that this plan for convicting Jesus of blasphemy is only serving to expose his accomplices, turns to another. He asks Him a question, which will oblige our Lord to make an answer; and in this answer he, Caiphas, will discover blasphemy, and blasphemy will bring Jesus under the power of the Synagogue. This is the question: ‘I adjure Thee, by the living God, that Thou tell us, if Thou be the Christ the Son of God![1] Our Saviour, in order to teach us that we should show respect to those who are in authority, breaks the silence He has hitherto observed, and answers: ‘Thou hast said it: I am: and hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’[2] Hereupon, the impious pontiff rises, rends his garments, and exclaims: ‘He hath blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? Behold! now ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?’ The whole place resounds with the cry: ‘He is guilty of death!’[3]

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

Scarcely have the terrible words, 'He is guilty of death,’ been uttered, than the servants of the high priest rush upon Jesus. They spit upon Him, and blindfolding Him, they strike Him, saying: ‘Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?’[4] Thus does the Synagogue treat the Messias, who, they say, is to be their glory! And yet, these outrages, frightful as they are, are but the beginning of what our Redeemer has to go through.

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

Meanwhile, the day-dawn breaks upon the city, and the chief priests make arrangements for taking Jesus before the Roman governor. They themselves have found Him guilty; they have condemned Him as a blasphemer, and according to the Law of Moses a blasphemer must be stoned to death. But they cannot apply the law: Jerusalem is no longer free, or governed by her own laws. The power over life and death may be exercised only by her conquerors, and that in the name of Cæsar. How is it that these priests and scribes can go through all this, and never once remember the prophecy of Jacob, that the Messias would come when the sceptre should be taken away from Juda?[5] They know off by heart, they are the appointed guardians of, those prophecies, which describe the death to which this Messias is to be put; and yet, they are the very ones who bring it about! How is all this? They are blind, and it is jealousy that blinds them.

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

The chief priests, taking Jesus with them present themselves at the governor’s palace, demanding audience for a case of importance. Pilate comes forward, and peevishly asks them: ‘What accusation bring ye against this Man?’ They answer: ‘If He were pot a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to thee.’ It is very evident, from these first words, that Pilate has a contempt for these Jewish priests; it is not less evident that they are determined to gain their cause. ‘Take Him you,’ says Pilate, ‘and judge Him according to your Law.’ The chief priests answer: ‘It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.’[6]

Pilate leaves the hall, in order to speak with these men. He returns, and commands Jesus to be brought in. The Son of God and the representative of the pagan world are face to face. Pilate begins by asking Him: ‘Art Thou the King of the Jews?’ To this Jesus thus replies: ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now My kingdom is not from hence’. ‘Art Thou a King, then? says Pilate. ‘Thou sayest,’ answers Jesus, ‘that I am a King.’ Having, by these last words, confessed His august dignity, our Lord offers a grace to this Roman; He tells him that there is something worthier of man’s ambition than earthly honours. ‘For this,’ says Jesus, ‘was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.’ ‘What is truth?’ asks Pilate; but without waiting for the answer, he leaves Jesus, for he is anxious to have done with this case. He returns to the Jews, and says to them: ‘I find no cause in Him.’[7] Pilate fancies that this Jesus must be a leader of some Jewish sect, whose teachings give offence to the chief priests, but which are not worth his examining into them: yet at the same time, he is convinced that He is a harmless Man, and that it would be foolish and unjust to accuse Him of disturbing the state.

Scarcely has Pilate expressed his opinion in favour of Jesus, than a long list of accusations is brought up against Him by the chief priests. Pilate is astonished at Jesus’ making no reply, and says to Him: ‘Dost Thou not hear how great testimonies they allege against Thee?’[8] These words are kindly meant, but Jesus still remains silent: they, however, excite His enemies to fresh fury, and they cry out: ‘He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, even to this place.’[9] This word Galilee suggests a new idea to Pilate. Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, happens to be in Jerusalem at this very time. Jesus is his subject; He must be sent to him. Thus Pilate will get rid of a troublesome case, and this act of courteous deference will re-establish a good understanding between himself and Herod.

The Saviour is therefore dragged through the streets of Jerusalem, from Pilate’s house to Herod’s palace. His enemies follow Him with relentless fury; but Jesus still observes His noble silence. Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist, insults Him, and ordering Him to be clothed in a white garment, as a fool, he sends Him back to Pilate. Another plan for ridding himself of this troublesome case now strikes the Roman governor. At the feast of the Pasch, he had the power of granting pardon to any one criminal the people may select. They are assembled together at the court-gates. He feels sure that their choice will fall upon Jesus, for it is but a few days ago that they led Him in triumph through the city: besides, he intends to make the alternative one who is an object of execration to the whole people; he is a murderer, and his name Barabbas. ‘Whom will you that I release to you?’ says Pilate:

‘Barabbas, or Jesus, that is called the Christ?’ He has not long to wait for the answer: the crowd exclaim: ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ ‘What then,’ replies Pilate, ‘shall I do with Jesus, that is called the Christ?’ ‘Crucify Him.’ ‘Why, what evil hath He done? I will chastise Him, therefore, and let Him go.’ But they, growing irritated at this, cry out so much the louder: ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’[10]

Pilate’s cowardly subterfuge has failed, and left him in a more difficult position than he was before. His putting the innocent on a level with a murderer was in itself a gross injustice; and yet, he has not gone far enough for a people that is blind with passion. Neither does his promise to chastise Jesus satisfy them: they want more than His Blood; they insist on His death.

Here let us pause, and offer our Saviour a reparation for the insult He here receives. He is put in competition with a murderer, and the murderer is preferred! Pilate makes an attempt to save Jesus: but on what terms! He must be put on a footing with a vile wretch, and even so be worsted! Those very lips that, a few days back, sang ‘Hosannah to the Son of David,’ now clamour for His cruoifixion! The city magistrate and governor pronounces Him innocent, and yet condemns Him to be scourged, because he fears a disturbance!

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

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

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

Thus mangled and bleeding, holding the reed in His hand, and with the scarlet tatters on His shoulders, Jesus is led hack to Pilate. It is just the sight that will soften the hearts of the people; at least, Pilate thinks so; and taking Him with him to a balcony of the palace, he shows Him to the crowd below, saying: ‘Behold the Man!’[11] Little did Pilate know all that these few words conveyed! He says not: ‘Behold Jesus!’ nor, ‘Behold the King of the Jews!’ He says: ‘Behold the Man!’ Man—the Christian understands the full force of the word thus applied to our Redeemer. Adam, the first man, rebelled against God, and, by his sin, deranged the whole work of the Creator: as a punishment for his pride and intemperance, the flesh tyrannized over the spirit; the very earth was cursed, and thorns were to be its growth. Jesus, the new Man, comes into this world, bearing upon Him, not the reality, but the appearance, the likeness, of sin: in Him, the work of the Creator regains the primeval order; but the change was not wrought without violence. To teach us that the flesh must be brought into subjection to the spirit, Jesus’ Flesh was torn by the scourges; to teach us that pride must give way to humility, the only crown that Jesus wears is made of thorns. Yes, ‘Behold the Man!’ the triumph of the spirit over the flesh, the triumph of humility over pride.

Like the tiger that grows fiercer as he sees blood, so is Israel at the sight of Jesus after His scourging. ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’—The cry is still the same. ‘Take Him you,’ says Pilate, ‘and crucify Him; for I find no cause in Him.’ And yet, he has ordered Him to be scourged enough to cause His death! Here is another device of the base coward; but it, too, fails. The Jews have their answer ready; they put forward the right granted by the Romans to the nations that are tributary to the empire.

‘We have,’ say they, ‘a law, and according to the law He ought to die; because He made Himself the Son of God.’ Disconcerted by this reply, Pilate takes Jesus aside into the hall, and says to Him: ‘Whence art Thou?’ Jesus is silent; Pilate was not worthy to hear the answer to his question. This silence irritates him. ‘Speakest Thou not to me?’ says he. ‘Knowest Thou not, that I have power to crucify Thee, and I have power to release Thee?’ Here Jesus deigns to speak; and He speaks in order to teach us that every power of government, even where pagans are in question, comes from God, and not from a pretended social compact: ‘Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore, he that hath delivered Me to thee, hath the greater sin.’[12]

This dignified reply produces an impression upon Pilate: he resolves to make another attempt to save Jesus. But the people vociferate a threat which alarms him: ‘If thou release this Man, thou art not Cæsar’s friend; for whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar.’ Still, he is determined to try and pacify the crowd. He leaves the hall, sits upon the judgment-seat, orders Jesus to be placed near him, and thus pleads for Him: ‘Behold your King!’ as though he would say, ‘What have you or Cæsar to fear from such a pitiable object as this?’ The argument is unavailing, and only provokes the cry: ‘Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!’ As though he did not believe them to be in earnest, Pilate says to them: ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ This time the chief priests answer: ‘We have no king but Cæsar.’[13] When the very ministers of God can talk thus, religion is at an end. No king but Cæsar! Then, the sceptre is taken from Juda, and Jerusalem is cast off, and the Messias is come!

Pilate, seeing that nothing can quell the tumult, and that his honour as governor is at stake, decides on making Jesns over to His enemies. Though against his own inclination, he passes the sentence, which is to cause him such remorse of conscience that he will afterwards seek relief in suicide. He takes a tablet, and with a style writes the inscription which is to be fastened to the cross. The people demand that two thieves should be crucified at the same time; it would be an additional insult to Jesus: this, too, he grants, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaias: And with the wicked was He reputed.[14] Having thus defiled his soul with the most heinous of crimes, Pilate washes his hands before the people, and says to them: ‘I am innocent of the Blood of this just Man; look ye to it!’ They answer him with this terrible self-imprecation: ‘His Blood be upon us and upon our children!’[15] The mark of parricide here fastens on this ungrateful and sacrilegious people; Cain-like, they shall wander fugitives on the earth. Eighteen hundred years have passed since then; slavery, misery, and contempt, have been their portion; but the mark is still upon them. Let us Gentiles—upon whom the Blood of Jesus has fallen as the dew of heaven’s mercy—return fervent thanks to the goodness of our heavenly Father, who hath so loved the world, as to give it His only-begotten Son.[16] Let us give thanks to the Son, who, seeing that our iniquities could not be blotted out save by His Blood, shed it, on this day, even to the very last drop.

Here commences ‘the way of the cross’: the house of Pilate, where our Jesus receives the sentence of death, is the first station. Our Redeemer is consigned, by the governor’s order, into the hands of the Jews. The soldiers seize Him, and drag Him from the court. They strip Him of the scarlet cloak and bid Him clothe Himself with His own garments as before the scourging. The cross is ready and they put it on His wounded shoulders. The place where the new Isaac loads Himself with the wood of His sacrifice, is the second station. To Calvary!—this is the word of command, and it is obeyed: soldiers, executioners, priests, scribes, people—these form the procession. Jesus moves slowly on; but after a few paces, exhausted by the loss of Blood and by His sufferings, He falls under the weight of His cross. It is the first fall, and marks the third station.

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

But from this to the last there is a long distance, for there is a law that all criminals are to be executed outside the city walls. The Jews are afraid of Jesus’ expiring before reaching the place of sacrifice. Just at this time, they behold a man coming from the country, by name Simon of Cyrene; they order him to help Jesus to carry His cross. It is out of a motive of cruelty to our Lord, but it gives Simon the honour of sharing with Him the fatigue of bearing the instrument of the world’s salvation. The spot where this happens is the fifth station.

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

Jesus grows weaker at each step: He falls a second time: it is the seventh station. Again do the soldiers violently raise Him up, and push Him along the road. It is easy to follow in His footsteps, for a streak of Blood shows where He has passed. A group of women is following close behind the soldiers; they heed not the insults heaped upon them; their compassion makes them brave. But the last brutal treatment shown to Jesus is more than they can bear in silence; they utter a cry of pitiful lamentation. Our Saviour is pleased with these women, who, in spite of the weakness of their sex, are showing more courage than all the men of Jerusalem put together. He affectionately turns towards them, and tells them what a terrible chastisement is to follow the crime they are now witnessing. The chief priests and scribes recognize the dignity of the Prophet that had so often spoken to them: they listen with indignation; and, at this the eighth station of the great way, they hear these words: ‘Daughters of Jerusalem! weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us! And to the hills: Cover us!’[17]

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

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

 

THE MORNING SERVICE

 

The service of this morning consists of four parts which we now proceed to explain. First of all, we have the lessons; next, the prayers; thirdly, the veneration of the cross; and lastly, the Mass of the Presanctified. These solemn and unusual rites announoe to the faithful the sacredness of this day, as also the suspension of the holy Sacrifice, for which they are substituted. The altar is stripped; the cross is covered with a black veil; the candles are of yellow wax; everything in the sanctuary bespeaks mournfulness. As soon as the choir have recited None, the celebrant and sacred ministers approach the altar; their black vestments denote the grief of holy Church. On reaching the foot of the altar, they prostrate, and pray in silence, while the acolytes cover the altar with a single cloth, instead of the three which are always required when Mass is celebrated. The celebrant and ministers then rise, and the lessons are begun.

 

THE LESSONS

 

The first portion of this morning’s function consists of two prophetic passages from the old Testament, and of the Passion according to St. John. The passage from the prophet Osee tells us of the merciful designs of God in favour of His new people, the Gentiles, who were dead, and who, nevertheless, were to rise again in three days with Christ, whom they do not yet so much as know. Ephraim and Juda are to be treated otherwise: their material sacrifices have not been acceptable to a God, who loves mercy above every other gift, and rejects the offerings of those whose hearts are filled with bitterness.

Lesson
(Osee, Chap, vi.)

Hæc dicit Dominus: In tribulatione sua mane coneurgent ad me. Venite et revertamur ad Dominum: quia ipse cœpit et sanabit nos: percutiet, et curabit nos. Vivificabit nos post duos dies: in die tertia suscitabit nos, et vivemus in conspectu ejus. Sciemus sequemurque, ut cognoscamus Dominum. Quasi diluculum præparatus est egressus ejus; et veniet quasi imber nobis temporaneus et serotinus terræ. Quid faciam tibi Ephraïm? Quid faciam tibi Juda? Misericordia vestra quasi nubes matutina: et quasi ros mane pertransiens. Propter hoc dolavi in prophetis, occidi eos in verbis oris mei: et judicia tua quasi lux egredientur. Quia misericordiam volui, et non sacrificium: et scientiam Dei, plus quam holocausta.
Thus saith the Lord: In their affliction they will rise early to me. Come, and let us return to the Lord: For he hath taken us, and he will heal us: he will strike, and he will cure us. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. We shall know, and we shall follow on, that we may know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning light, and he will come to us as the early and the latter rain to the earth. What shall I do to thee, O Ephraim? what shall I do to thee, O Juda? Your mercy is as a morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth away in the morning. For this reason have I hewed them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth; and thy judgments shall go forth as the light. For I desired mercy and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than holocausts.

The Tract is taken from the canticle of the prophet Habacuc, which we have already sung at Lauds. It foretells the second coming of Christ, when He shall come in glory and majesty to judge them that have crucified Him.

Tract

Domine, audivi auditum tuum, et timui: consideravi opera tua, et expavi.

℣. In medio duorum animalium innotesceris: dum appropinquaverint anni, cognosceris: dum advenerit tempus, ostenderis.
℣. In eo, dum conturbate fuerit anima mea: in ira misericordiæ memor eris.
℣. Deus a Libano veniet, et sanctus de monte umbroso et condenso.
℣. Operuit cœlos majestas ejus: et laudis ejus plena est terra.
Lord, I have heard thy words, and was afraid: I considered thy works, and trembled.

℣. Thou wilt appear between two animals: when the years draw near, thou wilt be known; when the time shall come thou wilt be shown.
℣. When my soul shall be in trouble, even in thy wrath thou wilt remember thy mercy.
℣. God will come from Libanus, and the Holy One from the dark mountain.
℣. His majesty hath clouded the heavens; and the earth is full of his praise.

The Church sums up, in the following Collect, the prayers of her children She reminds our heavenly Father of His justice towards Judas and His mercy towards the good thief, and begs that every remnant of the old man may be removed from us, and we may rise again with our Lord Jesus Christ.

The deacon says:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Levate.
Stand up again.

Collect

Deus, a quo et Judas reatus sui pœnam, et confessionis suæ latro præmium sumpsit: concede nobis tuæ propitiationis effectum: ut sicut in paesione sua Jesus Christus Dominus noster diversa utrisque intulit stipendia meritorum; ita nobis, ablato vetustatis errore, resurrectionis suæ gratiam largiatur. Qui tecum.
O God, from whom both Judas received the punishment of his sin, and the thief the reward of his confession: grant us the effects of thy mercy; that as our Lord Jesus Christ, at the time of his Passion, bestowed on both different rewards according to their merits: so having destroyed the old man within us, he may give us grace to rise again with him. Who liveth, &c.

The second lesson now follows. It is taken from the Book of Exodus, and desoribes to us the ancient rite of the paschal lamb, which was the figure of the reality that is given us to-day. It is to be a lamb without spot or blemish. Its blood has the power of preserving from death those whose dwellings are sprinkled with it. It is not only to be immolated; it is to be eaten by them that have been saved by it. It is to be the food of the wayfarer; and they who partake of it must stand while they eat, like unto men who have no time to lose during this passing life. Its immolation is the signal of the Pasch; the immolation of our Emmanuel, the Lamb of God, is the signal of our Pasch.

Lesson
(Exod. Chap, xii)

In diebus illis: Dixit Dominus ad Moysen et Aaron in terra Ægypti: Mensis iste vobis principium men sium: primus erit in mensibus anni. Loquimini ad universum cœtum tiliorum Israël, et dicite eis: Decima die mensis hujus tollat unusquisque agnum per familias et domos suas. Sin autem minor est numerus, ut sufficere possit ad vescendum agnum, assumet vicinum suum, qui junctus est domui suæ: juxta numerum animarum, quæ sufficere possunt ad esum agni. Erit autem agnus absque macula, masculus, anniculus: juxta quem rituin toiletis et hædum. Et servabitis eum usque ad quartam decimam diem mensis hujus. Immolabitque eum universa multitudo filiorum Israel ad vesperam. Et sument de sanguine ejus: ac ponent super utrumque postem, et in superliminaribus domorum, in quibus comedent illum. Et edent carnes nocte illa assas igni, et azymos panes, cum lactucis agrestibus. Non comedetis ex eo crudum quid, nec coctum aqua: sed tantum assum igni. Caput cum pedibus ejus et intestinis vorabitis: nec remanebit quidquam ex eo usque mane. Si quid residuum fuerit, igne comburetis. Sic autem comedetis illum. Renes vestros accingetis: et calcea menta habebitis in pedibus, tenentes baculos in manibus: et comedetis festinanter. Est enim Phase (id est transitus) Domini.
In those days: The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first in the months of the year. Speak ye to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, and say to them: On the tenth day of this month, let every man take a lamb, by their families and houses. But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male of one year; according to which rite also you shall take a kid. And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month: and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the sideposts, and on the upper door-posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread, with wild lettuce. You shall not eat thereof anything raw, nor boiled in water, but only roasted at the fire: you shall eat the head with the feet and entrails thereof. Neither shall there remain anything of it until morning. If there be anything left you shall burn it with fire. And thus you shall eat it: you shall gird your reins, and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands, and you shall eat in haste: for it is the Phase (that is, the passage) of the Lord.

This magnificent prophecy is followed by a Tract taken from Psalm cxxxix, in which the Church represents our Redeemer (who has been betrayed into the hands of His enemies) praying to His eternal Father.

Tract

Eripe me, Domine, ab homine malo: a viro iniquo libera me.

℣. Qui cogitaverunt malitias in corde: tota die constituebant prælia.
℣. Acuerunt linguas suas sicut serpentis: venenum aspidum sub labiis eorum.
℣. Custodi me, Domine, de manu peccatoris: et ab hominibus iniquis libera me.
℣. Qui cogitaverunt supplantare gressus meos: abeconderunt superbi laqueum mihi.
℣. Et funes extenderunt in laqueum pedibus meis: juxta iter scandalum posuerunt mihi.
℣. Dixi Domino: Deus meus es tu: exaudi, Domine, vocem orationis meæ.
℣. Domine, Domine, virtus salutis meæ: obumbra caput meum in die belli.
℣. Ne tradas me, Domine, a desiderio meo peccatori: cogitaverunt adversue me, ne derelinquas me, ne unquam exaltentur.
℣. Caput circuitus eorum: labor labiorum ipsorum operiet eos.
℣. Verumtamen justi confite buntur nomini tuo: et habitabunt recti cum vultu tuo.
Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: rescue me from the unjust man.

℣. Who have devised iniquities in their hearts: all the day long they designed battles.
℣. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent: the venom of asps is under their lips.
℣. Keep me, O Lord, from the hand of the wicked: and from unjust men deliver me.
℣. Who have proposed to supplant my steps: the proud have hid a net for me.
℣. And they have stretched out cords for a snare: they have laid for me a stumblingblock by the way side.
℣. I said to the Lord: Thou art my God: hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication.
℣. O Lord, Lord, the might of my salvation: cover thou my head in the day of battle.
℣. Give me not up, O Lord, from my desire to the wicked: they have plotted against me: do not thou forsake me, lest they should triumph.
℣. The head of their compassing me about: the labour of their lips shall overwhelm them.
℣. But as for the just, they shall give glory to thy name; and the upright shall dwell with thy countenance.

The prophets have prepared us for the fulfilment of their types. Holy Church is now going to relate to us the history of our Saviour’s Passion. It is St. John, the fourth of the evangelists, and an eyewitness of what took place on Calvary, who is about to describe to us the last moments of Jesus’ mortal life. Let us be all attention, and beg our Lord to give us something of that devotion, which filled the soul of His beloved disciple as he stood at the foot of the cross.

 

THE PASSION

 

Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem.
Cap. xviii. et xix.

In illo tempore: Egressus est Jesus cum discipulis suis, trans torrentem Cedron, ubi erat hortus, in quem introivit ipse, et discipuli ejus. Sciebat autem et Judas, qui tradebat eum, locum: quia frequenter Jesus convenerat illuc cum discipulis suis. Judas ergo cum accepisset cohortem, et a pontificibus et pharisæis ministros: venit illuc cum laternis, et facibus et armis. Jesus itaque sciens omnia, quæ ventura erant super eum, processit, et dixit eis: Quem quæritis? Responderunt ei: Jesum Nazarenum. Dicit eis Jesus: Ego sum. Stabat autem et Judas, qui tradebat eum, cum ipsis. Ut ergo dixit eis: Ego sum, abierunt retrorsum et ceciderunt in terram. Iterum ergo interrogavit eos: Quem quæritis? Illi autem dixerunt: Jesum Nazarenum. Respondit Jesus: Dixi vobis, quia ego sum. Si ergo me quæritis, sinite hos abire. Ut impleretur sermo, quem dixit: Quia quos dedisti mihi, non perdidi ex eis quemquam. Simon ergo Petrus habens gladium, eduxit eum et percussit pontificis servum, et abscidit auriculam ejus dexteram. Erat autem nomen servo Malchus. Dixit ergo Jesus Petro: Mitte gladium tuum in vaginam. Calicem quem dedit mihi Pater, non bibam illum?

Cohors ergo et tribunus et ministri Judæorum comprehenderunt Jesum, et ligaverunt eum, et adduxerunt eum ad Annam primum: erat enim socer Caiphæ, qui erat pontifex anni illius. Erat autem Caiphas, qui consilium dederat Judæis: Quia expedit unum hominem mori pro populo. Sequebatur autem Jesum Simon Petrus, et alius discipulus. Discipulus autem ille erat notus pontifici: et introivit cum Jesu in atrium pontificis. Petrus autem stabat ad ostium foris. Exivit ergo discipulus alius, qui erat notus pontifici: et dixit ostiariæ, et introduxit Petrum. Dicit ergo Petro ancilla ostiaria: Numquid et tu ex discipulis es hominis istius? Dicit ille: Non sum. Stabant autem servi et ministri ad prunas, quia frigus erat: et calefaciebant se. Erat autem cum eis et Petrus stans, et calefaciens se.

Pontifex ergo interrogavit Jesum de discipulis suis, et de doctrina ejus. Respondit ei Jesus: Ego palam locutus sum mundo. Ego semper docui in synagoga, et in templo, quo omnes Judæi conveniunt: et in occulto locutus sum nihil. Quid me interrogas? Interroga eos qui audierunt quid locutus sira ipsis: ecce hi sciunt quæ dixerim ego. Hæc autem cum dixisset, unus assistens ministrorum dedit alapam Jesu dicens: Sic respondes pontifici? Respondit ei Jesus: Si male locutus sum, testimonium perhibe de malo: si autem bene, quid me cædis? Et misit eum Annas ligatum ad Caipham pontificem. Erat autem Simon Petrus stans, et calefaciens se. Dixerunt ergo ei: Numquid et tu ex discipulis ejus es? Negavit ille et dixit: Non sum. Dicit ei unus ex servis pontificis, cognatus ejus cujus abscidit Petrus auriculam: Nonne ego te vidi in horto cum illo? Iterum ergo negavit Petrus: et statim gallus cantavit.

Adducunt ergo Jesum a Caipha in prætorium. Erat autem mane. Et ipsi non introierunt in prætorium, ut non contaminarentur: sed ut manducarent Pascha. Exivit ergo Pilatus ad eos foras, et dixit: Quam accusationem affertis adversus hominem hunc? Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: Si non esset hic malefactor, non tibi tradidissemus eum. Dixit ergo eis Pilatus: Accipite eum vos; et secundum legem vestram judicate eum. Dixerunt ergo ei Judæi: Nobis non licet interficere quemquam. Ut sermo Jesu impleretur, quem dixit, significans qua morte esset moriturus. Introivit ergo iterum in prætorium Pilatus; et vocavit Jesum, et dixit ei: Tu es Rex Judæorum? Respondit Jesus: A temetipso hoc dicis, an alii dixerunt tibi de me? Respondit Pilatus: Numquid ego Judæus sum? Gens tua, et pontifices tradiderunt te mihi. Quid fecisti? Respondit Jesus: Regnum meum non est de hoc mundo. Si ex hoc mundo esset regnum meum, ministri mei utique decertarent, ut non traderer Judæis. Nunc autem regnum meum non est hinc. Dixit itaque ei Pilatus: Ergo Rex es tu? Respondit Jesus: Tu dicis, quia Rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum: ut testimonium perhibeam veritati. Omnis qui est ex veritate, audit vocem meam. Dicit ei Pilatus: Quid est veritas? Et cum hoc dixisset, iterum exivit ad Judæos, et dicit eis: Ego nullam in eo invenio causara. Eet autem consuetudo vobis, ut unum dimittam vobis in Pascha. Vultis ergo dimittam vobis Regem Judæorum? Clamaverunt ergo rursum omnes dicentes: Non hunc sed Barabbam. Erat autem Barabbas latro.

Tunc ergo apprehendit Pilatus Jesum, et flagellavit. Et milites plectentes coronam de spinis, imposuerunt capiti ejus, et veste purpurea circumdederunt eum. Et veniebant ad eum, et dicebant: Ave, Rex Judæorum. Et dabant ei alapas. Exivit ergo iterum Pilatus foras, et dicit eis: Ecce adduco vobis eum foras, ut cognoscatis quia nullam invenio in eo causam. Exivit ergo Jesus portans coronam spineam et purpureum vestimentum. Et dicit eis: Ecce Homo. Cum ergo vidissent eum pontifices et ministri, clamabant, dicentes: Crucifige, crucifige eum, Dicit eis Pilatus: Accipite eum vos, et crucifigite: ego enim non invenio in eo causam. Responderunt ei Judæi: Nos legem habemus, et secundum legem debet mori: quia Filium Dei se fecit. Cum ergo audisset Pilatus hunc sermonem magis timuit. Et ingressus est prætorium iterum: et dixit ad Jesum: Unde es tu? Jesus autem responsum non dedit ei. Dicit ergo ei Pilatus: Mihi non loqueris? Nescis, quia potestatem habeo crucifigere te, et potestatem habeo dimittere te? Respondit Jesus: Non haberes potestatem adversum me ullam, nisi tibi datum esset desuper. Propterea qui me tradidit tibi, majus peccatum habet. Et exinde quærebat Pilatus dimittere eum. Judæi autem clamabant, dicentes: Si hunc dimittis, non es amicus Cæsaris. Omnis enim qui se regem facit, contradicit Cæsari. Pilatus autem cum audisset hos sermones, adduxit foras Jesum, et sedit pro tribunali in loco qui dicitur Lithostrotos, hebraïce autem Gabbatha.

Erat autem parasceve Paschæ, hora quasi sexta. Et dicit Judæis: Ecce rex vester. Illi autem clamabant: Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum. Dicit eis Pilatus: Regem vestrum crucifigam? Responderunt pontifices: Non habemus regem, nisi Cæsarem. Tunc ergo tradidit eis illum, ut crucifigeretur. Susceperunt autem Jesum: et eduxerunt. Et bajulans sibi crucem, exixit in eum qui dicitur Calvariæ locum, hebraïce autem Golgotha: ubi crucifixerunt eum, et cum eo alios duos hinc et hinc, medium autem Jesum. Scripsit autem et titulum Pilatus: et posuit super crucem. Erat autem scriptum: Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judæorum. Hune ergo titulum multi Judæorum legerunt: quia prope civitatem erat locus, ubi crucifixus est Jesus. Et erat scriptum hebraïce, græce, et latine. Dicebant ergo Pilato pontifices Judæorum: Noli scribere: Rex Judæorum: sed quia ipse dixit, Rex sum Judæorum. Respondit Pilatus: Quod scripsi, scripsi. Milites ergo cum crucifixissent eum, acceperunt vestimenta ejus (et fecerunt quatuor partes, unicuique militi partem) et tunicam. Erat autem tunica inconsutilis, desuper contexta per totum. Dixerunt ergo ad invicem: Non scindamus eam, sed sortiamur de illa cujus sit. Ut Scriptura impleretur, dicens: Partiti sunt vestimenta mea sibi, et in vestem meam miserunt sortem. Et milites quidem hæc fecerunt.Stabant autem juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus, et soror matris ejus, Maria Cleophæ, et Maria Magdalene. Cum vidisset ergo Jesus matrem et discipulum stantem, quem diligebat, dicit matri suæ: Malier, ecco filius tuus. Deinde dicit, disci palo: Ecce mater tua. Et ex illa hora accepit eam discipulus in sua. Postea sciens Jesus, quia omnia consummata sunt: ut consummaretur Scriptura, dixit: Sitio. Vas ergo erat positum aceto plenum. Illi autem spongiam plenam aceto, hyssopo circumponentes. obtulerunt ori ejus. Cum ergo accepisset Jesus acetum, dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite, tradidit spiritum.
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John.
Ch. xviii. and xix.

At that time: Jesus went with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he entered with his disciples. And Judas who betrayed him, knew the place: because Jesus had often resorted thither together with his disciples. Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers, and servants from the chief priests and the pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them: Whom seek ye? They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he: they went backward and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered: I have told you, that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way. That the word might be fulfilled which he said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one. Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it: and struck a servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus. Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Then the band, and the tribune, and the servants of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him; and they led him away to Annas first, for he was fatherin-law to Caiphas, who was the high priest of that year. Now Caiphas was he who had given the counsel to the Jews: That it was expedient that one man should die for the people. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. And that disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the court of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. The other disciple therefore, who was known to the high priest, went out, and spoke to the portress, and brought in Peter. The maid therefore that was portress, saith to Peter: Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith: I am not. Now the servants and ministers stood at a fire of coals, because it was cold, and warmed themselves. And with them was Peter also standing and warming himself.

The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him: I have spoken openly to the world: I have always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple whither all the Jews resort; and in secret I have spoken nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them who have heard what I have spoken unto them: behold they know what things I have said. And when he had said these things, one of the servants standing by, gave Jesus a blow, saying: Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil: but if well, why strikest thou me? And Annas sent him bound to Caiphas the high priest. And Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him: Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said: I am not. One of the servants of the high priest (a kinsman to him whose ear Peter cut off) saith to him: Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Again therefore Peter denied: and immediately the cock crew.

Then they led Jesus from Caiphas to the governor’s hall. And it was morning: and they went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Pasch. Pilate therefore went out to them and said: What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said to him: If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up to thee. Pilate therefore said to them: Take him you, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which he said, signifying what death he should die. Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this I came into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them: I find no cause in him. But you have a custom that I should release one unto you at the Pasch: will you therefore that I release unto you the king of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying: Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then therefore Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head: and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him and said: Hail, King of the Jews. And they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him. Jesus therefore came forth bearing the crowm of thorns, and the purple garment. And he saith to them: Behold the man. When the chief priests therefore and the servants had seen him, they cried out, saying: Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Take him you, and crucify him: for I find no cause in him. The Jews answered him: We have a law; and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore had heard this saying, he feared the more. And ho entered into the hall again; and he said to Jesus; Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore saith to him: Speakest thou not to me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee? Jesus answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore be that hath delivered me to thee, hath the greater sin. And from henceforth Pilate sought to release him. But the Jews cried out, saying: If thou release this man, thou art not Cæsar’s friend. For whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar. Now when Pilate had heard these words, he brought Jesus forth: and sat down in the judgment-seat in the place that is called Lithostrotos; and in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

And it was the Parasceve of the Pasch, about the sixth hour; and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king. But they cried out: Away with him, away with him, crucify bim. Pilate saith to them: Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered: We have no king but Cæsar. Then therefore he delivered him to them for 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 bad 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 lots.’ 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 Magdalene. 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 about 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.

Here a pause is made, as on Palm Sunday.

All kneel down, and if such be the custom of the place, they prostrate and kiss the ground.

Judæi ergo (quoniam Parasceve erat), ut non remanerent in cruce corpora sabbato (erat enim magnus dies ille sabbati), rogaverunt Pilatum, ut frangerentur eorum crura, et tollerentur. Venerunt ergo milites: et primi quidem fregerunt crura, et alterius qui crucifixus est cum eo. Ad Jesum autem cum venissent, ut viderunt eum jam mortuum, non fregerunt ejus crura; sed unus militum lancea latus ejus aperuit, et continuo exivit sanguis et aqua. Et qui vidit, testimonium perhibuit: et verum est testimonium ejus. Et ille scit, quia vera dicit, ut et vos credatis. Facta sunt enim hæc, ut Scriptura impleretur: Os non comminuetis ex eo. Et iterum alia Scriptura dicit: Videbunt in quem transfixerunt.
Then the Jews (because it was the parasceve), that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath-day (for that was a great sabbathday), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it, bath given testimony; and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true: that you also may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘You shall not break a bone of him.’ And again another Scripture saith: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced.’

Here the deacon kneels at the foot of the altar, and prays, in silence, that the blessing of God may descend upon him; but he does not ask the blessing, as usual, from the celebrant, either upon the incense or upon himself. Neither do the acolytes hold their torches while he sings the Gospel. The subdeacon does not offer the missal to the priest, at the end of the Gospel. The omission of all these ceremonies is expressive of the grief which fills the soul of the bride of Christ, the Church.

Post hæc autern rogavit Pilatum Joseph ab Arimathæa (eo quod esset discipulus Jesu, occultus autem propter meturn Judæorum) ut tolleret corpus Jesu. Et permisit Pilatus. Venit ergo et tulit corpus Jesu. Venit autem et Nicodemus, qui venerat ad Jesum nocte primum, ferens mixturam myrrhæ et aloes, quasi libras centum. Acceperunt ergo corpus Jesu, et ligaverunt illud linteis cum aromatibus, sicut mosest Judæis sepelire. Erat autem in loco, ubi crucifixus est, hortus; et in horto monumentum novum, in quo nondum quisquam positus erat. Ibi ergo propter Parasceven Judæorum, quia juxta erat monumentum, posuerunt Jesum.
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore and took away the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus also came, he who at the first came to Jesus by night, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the Parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

THE PRAYERS

Having thus described to us the Passion and Death of her divine Spouse, the Church would follow the example set her by this the Mediator of the world. St. Paul tells us that Jesus, when dying on the cross, offered up to His eternal Father, for all mankind, prayers and supplications, with a strong cry and tears.[18] Therefore it is that, from the earliest ages, the Church has presented to the divine Majesty, upon this day, a solemn formula of prayers, in which she intercedes for the necessities of the whole world. How truly is she the mother of men, and the affectionate bride of Jesus! All, even the Jews, are included in this her intercession, which she makes, under the shadow of the cross, to the Father of all ages.

Each of these prayers is prefaced by a few words, which show its object. The deacon then bids the faithful kneel down; and the subdeacon tells them to rise, and unite in the prayer made by the priest.

Oremus, dilectissimi nobis, pro Ecclesia sancta Dei: ut eam Deus et Dominus noster, pacificare, adunare, et custodire dignetur toto orbe terrarum: subjiciens ei principatus, et potestates: detque nobis quietam et tranquillam vitam degentibus, glorificare Deum Patrem omnipotentem.

Oremus.

The deacon: Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriam tuam omnibus in Christo gentibus revelasti: custodi opera misericordiæ tuæ: ut Ecclesia tua toto orbe diffusa, stabili fide in confessione tui nominis perseveret. Per eumdem, &c.
℟. Amen.

Oremus et pro beatissimo Papa nostro N. ut Deus et Dominus noster, qui elegit eum in ordine episcopatus, salvum atque incolumem custodiat Ecclesiæ suae sanctæ, ad regendum populum sanctum Dei.

Oremus.

The deacon:
 Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, cujus judicio universa fundantur: respice propitius ad preces nostras, et electum nobis Antistitem tua pietate conserva: ut Christiana plebs, quæ te gubernatur auctore, sub tanto Pontifice, credulitatis suæ meritis augeatur. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.

Oremus et pro omnibus episcopis, presbyteris, diaconibus, subdiaconibus, acolythis, exorcistis, lectonbus, ostiariis, confessoribus, virginibus, viduis: et pro omni populo sancto Dei.

Oremus
.

The deacon
: Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, cujus Spiritu totum corpus Ecclesiæ sanctificatur et regitur: exaudi nos pro universis Ordinibus supplicantes: ut gratiæ tuæ munere, ab omnibus tibi gradibus fideliter serviatur. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.
Let us pray, most dearly beloved brethren, for the holy Church of God, that the Lord God would be pleased to grant her peace, maintain her in union, and preserve her all over the earth. That he would likewise bring into her bosom the princes and potentates of the whole world, and grant us peace and tranquillity in this life, so that we may glorify God the Father almighty.

Let us Pray.

The deacon:
 Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, who, by Christ, hast revealed thy glory to all nations; preserve the works of thine own mercy, that thy Church, which is spread over the whole world, may persevere with a constant faith in the confession of thy name. Through the same, &c.
℟. Amen.

Let us pray also for our most holy Father Pope N., that our Lord God, who hath made choice of him in the order of the episcopacy, may preserve him in health and safety for the good of his holy Church, to govern the holy people of God.

Let us Pray.

The deacon:
 Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, by whose appointment all things are established and maintained; mercifully regard our prayers, and by thy goodness preserve the Prelate chosen to govern us; that the Christian people who are governed by thy authority, may increase the merits of their faith under so great a Pontiff. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

Let us also pray for all bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, acolytes, exorcists, lectors, doorkeepers, confessors, virgins, widows, and for all the holy people of God.

Let us Pray.

The deacon:
 Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.
O almighty and eternal God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is sanctified and governed; hear our prayers for all Orders thereof; that by the operation of thy grace, thou mayst be served by every rank and condition. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

 


The Church of Rome, in the following prayer, had in view the emperor of Germany, who was formerly the head of the germanic confederation, and, in the middle ages, was entrusted by the Church with the charge of propagating the faith among the northern nations. This prayer is now omitted, excepting in those countries which are subject to Austria.

Oremus et pro Christianissimo imperatore nostro N. ut Deus et Dominus noster subditas illi faciat omnes barbaras nationes, ad nostram perpetuam pacem.

Oremus.

The deacon: Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, in cujus manu sunt omnium potestates, et omnium jura regnorum: respice ad Romanum benignus imperium; ut gentes, quæ in sua feritate confidunt, potentiæ tuæ dextera comprimantur. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.

Oremus et pro catechumenis nostris: ut Deus et Dominus noster adaperiat aures præcordiorum ipsorum, januamque misericordiæ: ut per lavacrum regenerationis, accepta remissione omnium peccatorum, et ipsi inveniantur in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.

Oremus.

The deacon:
 Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam nova semper prole fœcundas: auge fidem et intellectum catechumenis nostris: ut renati fonte baptismatis, adoptionis tuæ filiis aggregentur. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.

Oremus, dilectissimi nobis, Deum Patrem omnipotentem, ut cunctis mundum purget erroribus: morbos auferat: famem depellat: aperiat carceres: vincula dissol vat: peregrinantibus reditum. infirmantibus sanitatem, navigantibus portum salutis indulgeat.

Oremus.

The deacon: Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, mœstorum consolatio, laborantium fortitudo, perveniant ad te preces de quacumque tribulatione clamantium: ut omnes sibi in necessitatibue suis misericordiam tuam gaudeant adfuisse. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.

Oremus et pro hæreticis et schismaticis: ut Deus et Dominus noster eruat eos ab erroribus universis: et ad sanctam matrem Ecclesiam Catholicam atque apostolicam revocare dignetur.

Oremus.

The deacon:
 Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui salvas omnes, et neminem vis perire: respice ad animas diabolica fraude deceptas: ut omni hæretica pravitate deposita, errantium corda resipiscant, ut ad veritatis tuæ redeant unitatem. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.

Oremus et pro perfidis Judæis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum, ut et ipsi agnoscant Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.
Let us pray also for the most Christian emperor Ν., that the Lord God may reduce to his obedience all barbarous nations for our perpetual peace.

Let us Pray.

The deacon:
 Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, in whose hands are the power and right of all kingdoms, graciously look down on the Roman empire: that those nations who confide in their own haughtiness and strength, may be reduced by the power of thy right hand.
℟. Amen.

Let us pray also for our catechumens, that our Lord God may open for them the ears of their hearts, and the gates of mercy; that having received the remission of sin by the laver of regeneration, they may also belong to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us Pray.

The deacon:
 Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, who continually makest the Church fruitful in new children, increase the faith and understanding of our catechumens, that, being born again at the font of Baptism, they may be joined to thy adopted children. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

Let us pray, most dearly beloved brethren, to God the Father almighty, that he would purge the world of all errors, cure diseases, drive away famine, open prisons, break chains, grant a safe return to travellers, health to the sick, and a secure harbour to such as are at sea.

Let us Pray.

The deacon: Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, the comfort of the afflicted, and the strength of those that labour; let the prayers of all such as call upon thee in tribulation, come to thee; that all, with joy, may find the effects of thy mercy in their necessities. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

Let us pray also for all heretics and schismatics, that our Lord God would be pleased to deliver them from all their errors, and call them back to our holy, mother the Catholic and apostolic Church.

Let us Pray.

The deacon: Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, who savest all and wouldst have none to perish: look down on those souls that are seduced by the deceits of the devil; that the hearts of all those who err, laying aside all heretical malice, may repent and return to the unity of the truth. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews; that the Lord God would withdraw the veil from their hearts, that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son.

 

 


Here the deacon does not invite the faithful to kneel. The Church has no hesitation in offering up a prayer for the descendants of Jesus’ executioners; but in doing so she refrains from genuflecting, because this mark of adoration was turned by the Jews into an insult against our Lord during the Passion. She prays for His scoffers; but she shrinks from repeating the act wherewith they scoffed at Him.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam Judaicam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcæcatione deferimus: ut agnita veritatis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eumdem Dominum.
℟. Amen.

Oremus et pro paganis: ut Deus omnipotens auferat iniquitatem a cordibus eorum: ut relictis idolis suis, convertantur ad Deum vivum et verum, et unicum Filium ejus Jesum Christum, Deum et Dominum nostrum.

Oremus.

The deacon:
 Flectamus genua.
The subdeacon: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterno Deus, qui non mortem peccatorum, sed vitam semper inquiris: suscipe propitius orationem nostram: et libera eos ab idolorum cultura: et aggrega Ecclesiæ tuæ sanctæ, ad laudem et gloriam nominis tui. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.
O almighty and eternal God, who deniest not thy mercy even to the perfidious Jews; hear our prayers which we pour forth for the blindness of that people; that by acknowledging the light of thy truth, which is the Christ, they may be brought out of their darkness. Through the same, &c.
℟. Amen.

Let us pray also for the pagans, that almighty God would remove all iniquity from their hearts; that quitting their idols, they may be converted to the true and living God, and his only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let us Pray.

The deacon:
 Let us kneel down.
The subdeacon: Stand up again.

O almighty and eternal God, who seekest not the death of sinners, but that they should live; mercifully hear our prayers, and deliver them from their idolatry: and, to the praise and glory of thy name, admit them into thy holy Church. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

 

THE VENERATION OF THE CROSS

 

The prayers are ended. The charity and zeal of the Church have embraced the whole universe of men, invoking upon them the merciful effusion of that precious Blood, which is now flowing from the Wounds of her crucified Lord. She turns next to her faithful children. Filled with holy indignation at the humiliations heaped upon her Jesus, she invites us to a solemn act of reparation: it is to consist in venerating that cross which our divine Lord has borne to the summit of Calvary, and to which He is to be fastened with nails. The cross is a stumblingblock to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles;[19] but to us Christians it is the trophy of Jesus’ victory, and the instrument of the world’s redemption. It is worthy of our deepest veneration, because of the honour conferred upon it by the Son of God: He consecrated it by His own Blood, He worked our salvation by its means. No time could be more appropriate than this for honouring it with the humble tribute of our veneration.

The holy ceremony of venerating the cross on Good Friday was first instituted in Jerusalem, in the fourth century. Owing to the pious zeal of the empress St. Helen, the true cross had then recently been discovered, to the immense joy of the whole Church. The faithful, as might be expected, were desirous of seeing this precious relic, and accordingly it was exposed every Good Friday. This brought a very great number of pilgrims to Jerusalem; and yet how few, comparatively, could hope to have the happiness of such a visit, or witness the magnificent ceremony! An imitation of what was done on this day at Jerusalem was a natural result of these pious desires. It was about the seventh century, that the practice of publicly venerating the cross on Good Friday was introduced into other churches. True, it was but an image of the true cross that these other churches could show to the people; but as the respect that is paid to the true cross refers to Christ Himself, the faithful could offer Him a like homage of adoration, even though not having present before their eyes the sacred wood which had been consecrated by the Blood of Jesus. Such was the origin of the imposing ceremony at which holy Church now invites us to assist.

The celebrant takes off the chasuble; which is the badge of the priesthood; it is in order that the reparation, which he is to be the first to offer to our outraged Jesus, may be made with all possible humility. He then stands on the step near the Epistle side of the altar, and turns his face towards the people. The deacon takes down the cross from the altar, and gives it to the celebrant, who then unveils the upper part as far as the arms. He raises it a little, and sings these words:

Ecce lignum crucis:
Behold the wood of the cross:

Then he continues, joined by the deacon and subdeacon:

in quo salus mundi pependit.
on which hung the salvation of the world.

The people then kneel down, and venerate the cross, while the choir sings these words:

Venite, adoremus.
Come, let us adore.

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

The priest then comes to the front of the step, and is thus nearer to the people. He unveils the right arm of the cross, and holds up the holy sign of our redemption higher than the first time. He then sings. and on a higher note:

Ecce lignum crucis:
Behold the wood of the cross:

Then he continues, joined by the deacon and subdeacon:

in quo salus mundi pependit.
on which hung the salvation of the world.

The people then fall upon their knees, and continue in that posture, while the choir sings:

Venite, adoremus.
Come, let us adore.

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

The priest then advances to the middle of the altar, and, with his face still turned towards the people, he removes the veil entirely from the cross. He elevates it more than he did the two preceding times, and triumphantly sings on a still higher note:

Ecce lignum crucis:
Behold the wood of the cross:

The deacon and subdeacon here unite their voices with his:

in quo salus mundi pependit.
on which hung the salvation of the world.

The people fall down upon their knees, and the choir sings:

Venite, adoremus.
Come, let us adore.

This third and unreserved manifestation represents the mystery of the cross being preached to the whole earth, when the apostles, after being rejected by the majority of the Jewish people, turned towards the Gentiles, and preached Jesus crucified even far beyond the limits of the Roman empire. It is intended as a reparation to our Lord for the outrages offered to Him on Calvary.

There is also another teaching embodied in this ceremony of holy Church. By this gradual unveiling of the cross, she would express to us the contrast of the Jewish and the Christian view. The one finds nothing in Christ crucified but shame and ignominy: the other discovers in Him the power and the wisdom of God.[20] Honour, then, and veneration to His cross, now that the veil is removed by faith! Unveiled let it be upon our altar, for He that died upon it is soon to triumph by a glorious Resurrection! Yea, let every crucifix in our church be unveiled, and every altar beam once more with the vision of the glorious standard!

But the Church is not satisfied with showing her children the cross that has saved them; she would have them approach, and kiss it. The priest leads the way. He has already taken off his chasuble; he now takes off his shoes also, and then advances towards the place where he has put the crucifix. He makes three genuflections at intervals, and finally kisses the cross. The deacon and subdeacon follow him, then the clergy, and lastly the people.

The chants which are used during this ceremony are exceedingly fine. First of all, there are the Improperia, that is, the reproaches made by our Saviour to the Jews. Each of the first three stanzas of this plaintive hymn is followed by the Trisagion, or prayer to the thrice-holy God, who, as Man, suffers death for us. Oh! let us fervently proclaim Him to be the Holythe Immortal! This form of prayer was used at Constantinople, so far back as the fifth century. The Roman Church adopted it, retaining even the original Greek words, to which, however, she adds a Latin translation. The rest of this beautiful chant contains the comparison made by our Lord between the favours He has bestowed upon the Jewish people, and the injuries He has received from them in return.

 

THE ‘IMPROPERIA,’ OR ‘REPROACHES’

 

Popule meus, quid feci tibi, aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi. Quia eduxi te de terra Ægypti, parasti crucem Salvatori tuo.

Agios o Theos.
Sanctus Deus.
Agios ischyros.
Sanctus fortis.

Agios athanatos, eleison imas.
Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis.

Quia eduxi te per desertum quadraginta annis: et manna cibavi te, et introduxi te in terram satis bonam, parasti crucem Salvatori tuo.
Agios o Theos, &c.

Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci? Ego quidem plantavi te vineam meam speciosissimam: et tu facta es mihi nimis amara: aceto namque sitim meam potasti: et lancea perforasti latus Salvatori tuo.
Agios o Theos, &c.

Ego propter te flagellavi Ægyptum cum primogenitis suis: et tu me flagellatum tradidisti.

Popule meus, quid feci tibi, aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi.

Ego eduxi te de Ægypto, demerso Pharaone in mare Rubrum: et tu me tradidisti principibus sacerdotum.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego ante te aperui mare: et tu aperuisti lancea latus meum.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego ante te præivi in columna nubis: et tu me duxisti ad prætorium Pilati.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego te pavi manna per desertum: et tu me cæcidisti alapis et flagellis.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego te potavi aqua salutis de petra: et tu me potasti felle et aceto.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego propter te Chananæorum reges percussi: et tu percussisti arundine caput meum.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego dedi tibi sceptrum regale: et tu dedisti capiti meo spineam coronam.
Popule meus, &c.

Ego te exaltavi magna virtute: et tu me suspendisti in patibulo crucis.
Popule meus, &c.
My people, what have I done to thee? or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me. Because I brought thee out of the land of Egypt, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Saviour.

O Holy God!
O Holy God!
O Holy and Strong!
O Holy and Strong!

O Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.
O Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.

Because I was thy guide through the desert for forty years, and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into an excellent land, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Saviour.
O Holy God, &c.

What more should I have done to thee, and have not done? I have planted thee for my most beautiful vineyard: and thou hast proved very bitter to me, for in my thirst thou gavest me vinegar to drink; and piercedst the side of thy Saviour with a spear.
O Holy God, &c.

For thy sake I scourged Egypt with her first-born; and thou hast delivered me up to be scourged.

My people, what have I done to thee? or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me,
I led thee out of Egypt, having drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea; and thou hast delivered me up to the chief priests.
My people, &c.

I opened the sea before thee; and thou hast opened my side with a spear.
My people, &c.

I went before thee in a pillar of cloud; and thou hast brought me to the court of Pilate.
My people, &c.

I fed thee with manna in the desert; and thou hast beaten me with buffets and stripes.
My people, &c.

I gave thee wholesome water to drink out of the rock, and thou hast given me for my drink gall and vinegar.
My people, &c.

For thy sake I smote the kings of Chanaan; and thou hast smitten my head with a cane.
My people, &c.

I gave thee a royal sceptre, and thou hast given to my head a crown of thorns.
My people, &c.

By great might I raised thee on high; and thou hast hanged me on the gibbet of the cross.
My people, &c.

The Improperia are followed by this solemn antiphon, in which the two great mysteries are blended together: the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. This union eloquently expresses the triumph of our Redeemer.

Crucem tuam adoramus, Domine, et sanctam Resurrectionem tuam laudamus, et glorificamus: ecce enim propter lignum venit gaudium in universo mundo.

Ps. Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis: illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.

Then is repeated: Crucem tuam, &c.
We adore thy cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify thy holy Resurrection, for by the wood of the cross the whole earth is filled with joy·

Ps. May God have mercy on us and bless us; may his countenance shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.

Then is repeated: We adore, &c.

If the adoration of the cross is not yet finished, the following hymn is sung. It was composed by Mamertus Claudianus, in the sixth century. One of the stanzas is repeated after each six verses, as the burden of the hymn.

Hymn

Crux fidelis, inter omnes
Arbor una nobilis:
Nulla silva talem profert,
Fronde, flore, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulces clavos,
Dulce pondus sustinet.

Pange lingua gloriosi
Lauream certaminis,
Et super crucis trophæo
Dic triumphum nobilem;
Qualiter Redemptor orbis
Immolatus vicerit.

Repeat:
 Crux fidelis.

De parentis protoplasti
Fraude factor condolens,
Quando pomi noxialis
In necem morsu ruit,
Ipse lignum tunc notavit,
Damna ligni ut solveret.

Repeat:
 Dulce lignum.

Hoc opus nostræ salutis
Ordo depoposcerat,
Multiformis proditoris
Ars ut artem falleret;
Et medelam ferret inde,
Hostis unde læserat.

Repeat:
 Crux fidelis.

Quando venit ergo sacri
Plenitudo temporis,
Missus est ab arce
Patris Natus orbis conditor:
Atque ventre virginali
Carne amictus prodiit.

Repeat:
 Dulce lignum.

Vagit infans, inter arcta
Conditus præsepia:
Membra pannis involuta
Virgo mater alligat,
Et Dei manus, pedesque
Stricta cingit fascia.

Repeat:
 Crux fidelis.

Lustra sex qui jam peregit,
Tempus implens corporis:
Sponte libera Redemptor
Passioni deditus:
Agnus in crucis levatur
Immolandus stipite.

Repeat:
 Dulce lignum.

Felle potus, ecce languit;
Spina, davi, lancea,
Mite corpus perforarunt;
Unda manat et cruor:
Terra, pontus, astra, mundus
Quo lavantur flumine.

Repeat:
 Crux fìdelis.

Flecte ramos arbor alta,
Tensa laxa viscera:
Et rigor lentescat ille,
Quem dedit nativitas:
Et superni membra Regis
Tende miti stipite.

Repeat:
 Dulce lignum.

Sola digna tu fuisti
Ferre mundi victimam,
Atque portum præparare
Arca mundo naufrago:
Quam sacer cruor perunxit,
Fusus Agni corpore.

Repeat:
 Crux fidelis.

Sempiterna sit beatæ
Trinitati gloria:
Æqua Patri, Filioque,
Par decus Paraclito;
Unius Trinique nomen
Laudet universitas.

Amen.

Repeat:
 Dulce lignum.
O faithful cross!
thou noblest of all trees.
No forest yields thy like,
in leaf, or flower, or fruit.
Sweet is the wood, that hath nails so sweet,
and bears so sweet a weight!

O sing, my tongue,
the victory of the glorious combat!
Tell how was won the noble triumph
on the trophy of the cross,
and how the world’s Redeemer,
when immolated, conquered.

Repeat:
 O faithful cross.

Our Creator compassionated his creature,
our first parent, when, being deceived,
he became a victim of death
by eating the fatal fruit:
and even then he chose the tree, whereby to make good
the evils brought on us by that other tree.

Repeat:
 Sweet is the wood.

This was the plan designed for our salvation:
that artifice divine should foil
the artifice of satan, the archseducer;
and turn the very instrument,
wherewith the enemy had wounded us,
into our remedy.

Repeat:
 O faithful cross.

When, therefore, the fulness of God’s
time had come, the Son,
by whom the world was made,
was sent from heaven;
and having clothed himself with our flesh,
in the Virgin’s womb, he came among us.

Repeat:
 Sweet is the wood.

He lies a weeping
Babe in a little crib.
His Virgin Mother
swathes his limbs with clothes.
The hands and feet of God
are tied with bands!

Repeat:
 O faithful cross.

Thirty years he lived on earth,
and his mortal life was nigh its end.
He, our Redeemer,
willingly gave himself up to his Passion;
he, the Lamb of Sacrifice,
was raised upon the cross.

Repeat:
 Sweet is the wood.

His drink is gall: his strength is gone:
his tender flesh is pierced with thorns,
and nails, and spear;
and from it flows a stream of water and blood,
wherewith the earth and sea,
the stars and world, are washed.

Repeat:
 O faithful cross.

Bow down thy branches,
lofty tree!
unstring thy sinews,
soften thine inborn hardness,
and gently welcome the Body
of our almighty King!

Repeat:
 Sweet is the wood.

Thou alone wast found
worthy to bear the Victim of the world!
Thou wast the ark that led this ship-wrecked world
into the haven of salvation!
The sacred Blood that flowed from the Lamb
covered and anointed thee.

Repeat:
 O faithful cross.

To the blessed Trinity
be glory everlasting!
To the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
be equal praise!
May heaven and earth praise
the name of the triune God!

Amen.

Repeat:
 Sweet is the wood.

Towards the end of the veneration of the cross, the candles are lighted, and the deacon spreads a corporal upon the altar, for the blessed Sacrament is to be placed there. As soon as the faithful have finished their adoration, the priest takes the cross and replaces it over the altar.

 

MASS OF THE PRESANCTIFIED

 

So vividly is the Church impressed with the remembrance of the great Sacrifice offered to-day on Calvary, that she refrains from renewing on her altars the immolation of the divine Victim: she contents herself with partaking of the sacred mystery by Communion. The deacon takes the chalice which contains it, and places it on the altar. Formerly the clergy and laity were also permitted to communicate; but the present discipline is that only the priest shall receive. After the priest has resumed his chasuble, the clergy go in procession to the altar, where the consecrated Host has been reserved since yesterday’s Mass. The priest, having offered the homage of his adoration to our Redeemer, takes into his hands the chalice wherein He is inclosed whom heaven and earth cannot contain. The clergy, with lighted tapers in their hands, return to the high altar, and sing, during the procession, the hymn of the cross.

Hymn

Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
Fulget crucis mysterium,
Qua Vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit.

Quæ vulnerata lanceæ
Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus,
Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quæ concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata regia purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata cujus brachiis
Pretium pependit sæculi,
Statera facta corporis,
Tulitque prædam tartari.

O crux, ave, spes unica,
Hoc Passionis tempore,
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

Te fons salutis, Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quibus crucis victoriam
Largiris, adde præmium.

Amen.
The standard of our King comes forth:
the mystery of the cross shines upon us,
that cross on which Life suffered death,
and by his death gave life.

He was pierced with the cruel spear,
that, by the Water and the Blood
which flowed from the wound,
he might cleanse us from sin.

Here on the cross
was fulfilled the prophecy
foretold in David’s truthful words:
‘God hath reigned from the tree.’

O fair and shining tree!
beautified by the scarlet of the King,
and chosen as the noble trunk
that was to touch such sacred limbs!

O blessed tree! on whose arms
hung the ransom of the world!
It was the balance, wherein was placed the Body of Jesus,
and thereby hell lost its prey.

Hail, O cross! our only hope!
During these days of the Passion,
increase to the good their grace,
and cleanse sinners from their guilt.

May every spirit praise thee,
O holy Trinity, thou fount of salvation!
and by the cross, whereby thou gavest us victory,
give us, too, our recompense.

Amen.

As soon as the priest has reached the altar, the deacon receives the sacred Host upon a paten, and pours wine and water into the chalice. Let us reverently fix our eyes upon the altar. The priest censes the offerings and the altar, as usual; but, to express the grief which now fills the soul of the Church, he himself is not thurified. He says, secretly, the following prayers.

Incensum istud, a te benedictum, ascendat ad te, Domine: et descendat super nos misericordia tua.

Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo. Elevatio manuum mearuin sacrificium vespertinum. Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiæ labiis meis; ut non declinet cor meum in verba malitiæ, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis.
May this incense, which hath been blessed by thee, O Lord, ascend unto thee, and may thy mercy descend upon us.

Let my prayer, O Lord, ascend like incense in thy sight. May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Place, O Lord, a guard upon my mouth, and a gate of prudence before my lips; that my heart may not incline to evil words, to make excuses in sins.

Giving the thurible to the deacon, he says:

Accendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris, et flammam æternæcharitatis. Amen.
May the Lord kindle within us the fire of his love, and the flame of everlasting cha rity. Amen.

Here he washes his hands, and then returns to the middle of the altar, where he says the following prayer in secret:

In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine: et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus.
Receive us, O Lord, coming to thee in the spirit of humility. and with a contrite heart: and grant that the sacrifice of this day may be so celebrated by us, as to be well pleasing unto thee, O Lord our God!

He then turns towards the people, and asks their prayers, saying:

Orate fratres: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem.
Brethren pray: that this my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty.

The usual answer, Suscipiat, is omitted; and the celebrant immediately sings, on the ferial tone, the Pater noster. Let us join, with earnest confidence, in the seven petitions. Our Jesus, with His arms extended on the cross, is now offering them for us, to His eternal Father. This is the solemn hour, when every prayer offered to heaven, through His mediation, is sure to be granted.

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis, sauctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo et in terra; panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie; et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris; et ne nos inducas in tentationem.

℟. Sed libera nos a malo.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation.

℟. But deliver us from evil.

The celebrant, having answered Amen in secret, says aloud the following prayer, which is said secretly in every Mass. He there prays that we may be delivered from every evil, set free from sin, and established in peace.

Libera nos, quæsumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, præteritis, præsentibus, et futuris; et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut ope misericordiæ tuæ adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit etregnat in unitate Spiritus sancti, Deus: per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
Deliver us, we beseech thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come: and by the intercession of the blessed and ever glorious Virgin Mary Mother of God, and of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of thy mercy, we may be always free from sin, and secure from all disturbance. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth God: world without end.

℟. Amen.

But before receiving the sacred Host in holy Communion, the priest invites us to adore it. Taking, then, in his right hand, the adorable Body of our Redeemer, he raises it on high, as Jesus was raised up on the cross. The faithful, who are kneeling during this part of the Service, bow down in profound adoration before their crucified Lord.

The priest then divides the Host into three parts, one of which he puts into the chalice, that thus he may sanctify the wine and water which he is to take after having communicated. The wine is not changed into the Blood of Jesus by contact with the consecrated particle; but it thereby receives a very special benediction, similar to that which attached to the garments worn by our Saviour.

After this, the celebrant recites, in secret, the last of the three prayers which precede the Communion; and then, taking the two portions of the Host into his left hand, he says thrice:

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.

He then communicates. After which, he takes also the wine and water, and the sacred particle which he had put into the chalice. He then washes his fingers, returns to the middle of the altar, and says, in secret, the following prayer:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus, et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.
Grant, O Lord, that what we have taken with our mouth, we may receive with a pure mind; that of a temporal gift it may become to us an eternal remedy.

Thus terminates the Mass of the Presanctified. The priest, with the sacred ministers, makes a genuflection at the foot of the altar to the cross, and retires to the sacristy. The choir immediately begins Vespers, which are simply recited.

 

VESPERS

 

After the Pater and Are have been said in secret, the five antiphons and psalms of yesterday are recited: page 384. The Magnificat has the following antiphon:

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Cum accepisset Jesus acetum dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite, emisit spiritum.
When Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said: It is consummated. And bowing down his head, he gave up the ghost.

Then is said the canticle Magnificat (see page 90). The antiphon is repeated, and the following versicle is added:

℣. Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.
℣. Christ became, for our sake, obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

This is followed by the Pater noster, in secret; after which, the Psalm Miserere (page 336) is recited with a suppressed voice; and then the prayer Respice:

Respice, quæsumus, Domine, super hanc familiam tuam: pro qua Dominus noster Jesus Christus non dubitavit manibus tradi nocentium, et crucis subire tormentum:
Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, upon this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ hesitated not to be delivered into the hands of wicked men. and to undergo the punishment of the cross:

(then the rest in secret:)

Qui tecum vivit et regnat, in unitate Spiritus sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

 

AFTERNOON

 

Holy Church will soon be calling us once more to join with her in the holy Offices: meanwhile, let us, as it behoves us, keep our hearts and thoughts upon our Redeemer, for these are the very hours when He wrought our salvation. Our morning’s meditation brought us to Calvary, where we were considering how the executioners stripped Jesus of His clothes, preparatory to nailing Him to the cross. Let us reverently assist at the consummation of the Sacrifice, which He offers for us to the justice of His eternal Father.

The executioners lead Jesus to the spot where the cross is lying on the ground: it is the eleventh station. Like a lamb destined for a holocaust, He lays Himself on the wood that is to serve as the altar. They violently stretch His hands and feet to the places marked for them, and fasten them with nails to the wood. The Blood gushes forth from these four life-giving founts, wherein our souls are to find their purification. This is the fourth blood-shedding. Mary hears the strokes of the hammer, and every blow wounds her heart. Magdalene’s grief is intensified by her incapability of helping her tortured Master. Jesus is heard to speak: it is His first word on Calvary: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!’[21] O infinite goodness of our Creator! He has come into this world, which is the work of His hands, and men nail Him to a cross: and on that cross He prays for them, and in His prayer He seems to excuse them!

The Victim is fastened to the wood, whereon He is to die. But the cross is not to be left, as it is, lying on the ground. Isaias has foretold that the Root of Jesse is to be raised up as a standard of all nations.[22] Our crucified God must be raised up, and, by that elevation, purify the polluted atmosphere of this world, infested as it is by the spirits of wickedness. He is the Mediator between God and men; He is our High Priest; our Intercessor: He is lifted up[23] between earth and heaven, making reconciliation between them.[24] Not far from the spot where the cross now lies on the ground, they have made a hole in the rock, wherein to fix it, so that all may have a sight of Him that hangs upon it. It is the twelfth station. It needs a great effort to raise and plant the Tree of the world’s Redemption. The soldiers lift it up, and then, with impatient vehemence, let it fall into the hole. The shock tears the four wounds. Oh! see Him now exposed naked before the multitude, this good Jesus who has come to clothe the nakedness that sin had caused in us!

The soldiers have done their work, and now they claim His garments. They tear them into four lots, and each takes a share. But a strange feeling induces them to respect His tunic, which was without a seam, and, as we are told by a pious tradition, was woven by the hand of His blessed Mother. ‘Let us not out it,’ say they, ‘but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be.’[25] It is a symbol of the unity of the Church, which is never to be broken under any pretext whatsoever.

Above our Redeemer’s head there are written these words, in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin: Jesus of nazareth, king of the jews. The people read this inscription, and say it to each other; without wishing it, they are once more proclaiming the royalty of the Son of David. The enemies of Jesus are quick enough to perceive this: they hasten to Pilate, and beseech him to have the title changed. The only answer he deigns to make them is: ‘What I have written, I have written.’[26] The holy fathers have noticed a circumstance of the crucifixion, which expresses how this King of the Jews is, indeed, rejected by His chosen people, but will reign all the more gloriously over the nations of the earth, whom the Father has given to Him for His inheritance. The circumstance we allude to is this: the soldiers, when fixing the cross in the rock, have so placed it that Jesus has His back to Jerusalem, and is stretching out His arms towards the countries of the west. The Sun of truth is setting on the deicide city, and rising upon the new Jerusalem, that proud Rome, which feels that she is destined to be the eternal city, yet knows not that she is to be so by the cross.

The tree of our salvation, as it falls into the hole prepared for it, strikes against a tomb: it is that of our first parent. The Blood of the Redeemer flows down the cross and falls upon a skull: it is the skull of Adam, whose sin has called for this great expiation. In His mercy, the Son of God wills that the instrument wherewith He has gained pardon for the guilty world should rest amidst the very bones of him that first caused its guilt. Thus is satan confounded: the creation is not, as he has hitherto thought, turned by his artifice to the shame of its Creator. The hill on which is raised the standard of our salvation, is called Calvary, which signifies a skull. Here, according to the tradition of the Jews, was buried our first parent, the first sinner. Among the holy fathers of the early ages, who have handed down this interesting tradition to us, we may cite St. Basil, St. Ambrose, Saint John Chrysostom, St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome. Origen, too, who had such opportunities of knowing the Jewish traditions, mentions this among the number.At a very early period Christian art introduced the custom of placing a human skull at the feet of Jesus’ image on the cross: it was done to commemorate the great fact to which we have been alluding.

But let us look up and see our Jesus, whose life is so soon to end upon this instrument of torture. Here we behold Him exposed to the view of the Jewish people, as the serpent was, of old, lifted up by Moses in the desert.[27] His enemies pass before Him, making insulting gestures, and saying: ‘Vah! Thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it: save Thine own self! If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross!’[28] The chief priests and the ancients continue the blasphemy, adding their own emphasis to it: ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save! If He be King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusted in God; let Him now deliver Him, if He will have Him; for He said: I am the Son of God.’[29] The two thieves crucified with Him insult Him in like manner.

Never had God conferred on His creatures a blessing compared to this: and yet, never did man so boldly insult his God! Let us Christians, who adore Him whom the Jews blaspheme, offer Him, at this moment, the reparation He so infinitely deserves. These impious men cite His own words,. and turn them against Him: let us reverently remind our Jesus of an expression He once deigned to use, which should fill us with hope: ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself.’[30] Sweet Jesus! the time has come; Thou art lifted up from the earth: fulfil Thy promise, draw us to Thyself! Alas! this earth has such hold upon us, we are chained fast to it by so many ties; self-love fetters us; and when we attempt to fly towards Thee, our flight is checked. Oh! break our chains, and draw us to Thyself, that we may at length reach Thee, and Thou mayst be consoled by the conquest of our souls!

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

So terrible an indication of the wrath of heaven produces a panic of fear among the spectators on Calvary. Blasphemers are struck dumb, and the blasphemies of them that were just now insulting our Redeemer cease. All is silent as death. The thief whose cross is at the right of Jesus’, feels himself touched with repentance and hope. Turning to his companion, he upbraids him for what he has been saying: ‘Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? And we, indeed, justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done no evil.’[31] Jesus defended by a thief, at the very time that He is being insulted by those who boast that they know every iota of God’s Law, and are sitting in the chair of Moses! Nothing could give us a dearer idea of the blindness to which the Synagogue has voluntarily brought itself. This poor criminal, whose name is Dimas, represents the Gentile world, which now is steeped in ignorance and crime, yet is soon to be cleansed from all its abominations by confessing Jesus crucified to be the Son of God. Turning his head towards our Saviour’s cross, he thus prays to Him: ‘Lord! remember me, when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom!’ He believes Jesus to be king; and the chief priests and ancients were, but a moment ago, deriding this King! Dimas sees the divine calmness and dignity of the innocent Victim: it is evidence enough; he gives Him his faith, and begs a remembrance from Him when the day of His glory comes. Grace has made him a true Christian: and who can doubt that the grace was asked and obtained for him by Mary, the Mother of mercy, who is now uniting herself in sacrifice together with her Jesus? Jesus is pleased to find in this poor criminal the faith He had vainly sought for from Israel: He thus grants his humble prayer: ‘Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.’[32] It is the second of Jesus’ words on the cross. The happy penitent is filled with joy, and awaits in patient silence the blissful moment when death shall set him free.

Meanwhile, Mary draws near to the cross, whereon hangs her Son. She recognizes Him, in spite of all the darkness; her love is her light. The eclipse has dispersed the crowd; all is silent; and the soldiers can find no reason for keeping the afflicted Mother from approaching her Son. Jesus looks with tenderest affection on Mary; the sight of her sorrow is a new grief to His sacred Heart. He is dying, and His Mother cannot console or embrace Him. Magdalene, too, is there, distracted with grief. Those feet, which, a few days before, she had anointed with her most precious perfumes, are now pierced through with nails, and the Blood is clotting round the wounds. They are near enough to the ground for her to reach and bathe them with her tears; but her tears cannot stay the pain. She has come to see the death of Him who forgave her all her sins. John, the beloved disciple, the only apostle that has followed Jesus to Calvary, is overwhelmed with sorrow. He thinks of the favour bestowed upon him last night, when he rested his head on the breast of this dear Master; and the remembrance intensifies his grief. He grieves for the Son, he grieves for the Mother. He little knows the reward he is soon to receive for this his love! Mary of Cleophas has followed the holy Mother up to the foot of the cross. At some distance off there stands a group of women, who loved Jesus and ministered unto Him during His life.[33]

The silence is again broken: Jesus speaks His third word, and it is to His Mother; but He does not call her by that dear name, for it would redouble her pain: 'Woman!' He says, ‘behold thy son!’ Then looking upon John, He says to him: ‘Son! behold thy Mother!’[34] What an exchange was here for Mary! but oh! what a blessing it brought upon John, and through him to all mankind: the Mother of God was made our Mother! This was the subject of our meditation on the Friday of Passion-week: let us, to-day, gratefully receive this last testament of our Jesus, who, having by His Incarnation made us the adopted children of His heavenly Father, now, in His dying moments, makes us children of His own blessed Mother.

It is close upon the ninth hour—the third hour after midday—the hour fixed by the eternal decree of God for the death of Jesus. The feeling of abandonment, which had caused our Redeemer to suffer an agony in the garden, now returns. He has taken upon Himself the sins of mankind: the whole weight of God’s justice now presses upon His Soul. The bitter chalice of God’s anger, which He is drinking to the very dregs, extorts from His lips this plaintive cry: ‘My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?’[35] It is the fourth word. He does not say ‘My Father!’ He speaks as though He were but a poor sinner, trembling before the judgment-seat of God. A burning thirst elicits from Him the fifth word: ‘I thirst!’[36] Whereupon, one of the soldiers presents to His dying lips a sponge full of vinegar; and this is all the refreshment He receives from that earth, on which lie daily pours a heavenly dew, and to which He has given ever-flowing fountains and rivers.

The moment has at length come, when Jesus is to yield up His Soul to His Father. He has fulfilled every single prophecy that bad been foretold of Him, even that of His receiving vinegar when parched with thirst. He therefore speaks this His sixth word: ‘It is consummated!’[37] He has, then, but to die; His death is to put the finishing stroke to our redemption, as the prophet assures us. But He must die as God. This Man, worn out by suffering, exhausted by His three hours’ agony, whose few words were scarce audible to them that stood round His cross, now utters a loud cry, which is heard at a great distance, and fills the centurion, who commands the guard, with fear and astonishment: ‘Father! into Thy hands I commend My Spirit!’[38] This is His seventh and last word; after which He bows down His head and dies.

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

O Jesus! Son of the eternal Father! we adore Thee now lying dead on the wood of Thy sacrifice. Thy bitter death hath given us life. Like those Jews who saw Thee expire and returned to Jerusalem striking their breasts, we, also, confess that our sins have caused Thy death. Thou hast loved us as none but a God could love. Henceforth, we must be Thine, and serve Thee, as creatures redeemed at the infinite price of Thy Blood. Thou art our God; we are Thy people. Accept, we beseech Thee, our most loving thanks for this final proof of Thy goodness towards us. Thy holy Church now silently invites us to celebrate Thy praise. We leave Calvary for a time; but will soon return thither, to assist at Thy holy burial. Mary, Thy Mother, remains immovable at the foot of Thy cross. Magdalene clings to Thy feet. John and the holy women stand around Thee. Once more, dearest Jesus! we adore Thy sacred Body, Thy precious Blood, and Thy holy cross, that have brought us salvation.

 

THE OFFICE OF TENEBRÆ

 

At a late hour in the afternoon, the Night Office of Holy Saturday is anticipated, as on the two previous days. 

The faithful are not summoned to the church by the bells, for, as we have already explained, they are not rung till the Gloria in excelsis of to-morrow’s Mass.

The Office of Tenebræ for Holy Saturday is given below, page 520.

 

THE EVENING

 

Let us return to Calvary, and there close this mournful day. We left Mary there, with Magdalene and other holy women, and the beloved disciple John. An hour has scarcely elapsed since Jesus died, when a troop of soldiers, led on by a centurion, come up the hill, breaking the silence with their tramp and voices. They are sent by Pilate. The chief priests lost no time in returning to the governor’s house: and he, at their request, has sent these men to break the legs of the three crucified, detach them from their crosses, and bury them before night. The Jews count the days of their week from sunset; so that the great Sabbath day is close upon them. The soldiers come to the crosses; they begin with the two theives, and put an end to their sufferings and their life by breaking their legs. Dimas dies in saintly dispositions, for the promise made to him by Jesus is his consolation; his companion dies blaspheming. The soldiers now advance towards Jesus. Mary’s heart sinks within her. What fresh outrage are these men about to offer to the lifeless and bleeding Body of her Son? On inspection, they find that He is dead; but, that no doubt may be left, and no blame for neglect of orders fall upon them, one of the company raises up his spear and thrusts it into the right side of the divine Victim, even to the Heart; and when he draws his spear out, there gushes forth a stream of Water and Blood. This is the fifth bloodshedding, and the fifth wound inflicted on our Jesus upon the cross. The Church honours this mystery on the Feast of the sacred Heart; let us reserve our reflections till then.

The soul of the holy Mother is pierced by this cruel spear; and they that are with her redouble their sobs and tears. How is this terrible day to end? Who will take the Body of her Jesus from His cross? Who will enable her to give it a last embrace? The soldiers return to the city, and with them Longinus, he that pierced Jesus’ side, but is already feeling within himself the workings of that faith for which he is one day to lay down his life as a martyr. But lo! two other men are seen coming towards the cross; they are not enemies, they are faithful disciples of Jesus: one is the wealthy counsellor Joseph of Arimathea; the other is Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews. Mary gratefully welcomes their arrival: they have come to take the Body of Jesus from the cross, and give it an honourable burial. They have the requisite authorization, for Pilate has given permission to Joseph to take the Body of Jesus.[39]

They lose no time in doing so, for the sun is near to setting, and then begins the Sabbath. Within a few yards from where stands the cross, at the foot of the hillock which forms the summit of Calvary, there is a garden, and in this garden a sepulchre cut into the rock. No one has yet been buried in this tomb. It is to be Jesus’ sepulchre. Hither Joseph and Nicodemus carry the sacred Body: they lay it upon a slab of stone, near to the sepulchre. It is here that Mary receives into her arms the Body of her Jesus: she kisses each wound, and bathes it with her tears. John, Magdalene, and all that are present, compassionate the holy Mother. She resigns it into the hands of the two disciples, for they have but a few moments left. Upon this slab which, even to this day, is called the stone of the anointing, and designates the thirteenth station of the way of the cross, Joseph unfolds a piece of fine linen,[40] and Nicodemus, whose servants have brought a hundred pound weight of myrrh and aloes,[41] makes every arrangement for the embalming. They reverently wash the Body, for it is covered with Blood; they remove the crown of thorns from the Head; and after embalming it with their perfumes, they wrap it in the windingsheet. Mary gives a last embrace to the remains of her Jesus, who is now hidden under these swathing-bands of the tomb.

Joseph and Nicodemus take the Body into their arms, and enter the sepulchre. It is the fourteenth station of the way of the cross. It consists of two open cells; it is into the one on the right hand that they enter, and there, in a cavity cut into the side of the rook, they lay the Body of Jesus. They then retire; and, with the assistance of their servants, they close up the entrance of the sepulchre with a large square stone, which Pilate, at the request of the Jews, orders to be fastened with his own seal, and guarded by a patrol of soldiers.

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

How, O most merciful Redeemer! shall we leave Thy holy sepulchre, without offering Thee the tribute of our adoration and repentance? Death, which is the consequence of sin, has extended its dominion over Thee, for Thou didst submit Thyself to the sentence pronounced against Thee, and wouldst become like to us even to the humiliation of the tomb. It was Thy love for us, that led to all this! What return can we make Thee? The holy angels stand around Thy Body, thus lying in its rooky grave. They are lost in amazement at Thy having loved, to such an excess as this, Thy poor ungrateful creature, man. Thou hast made them, as well as us, out of nothing, and they loved Thee with all the intensity of their mighty spirits; but the sight of Thy tomb reveals to them a fresh abyss of Thine infinite goodness: Thou hast suffered death, not for their fallen fellowangels, but for us men, who are so inferior to the angels! Oh! what a bond of love between us and Thee must result from this sacrifice of Thy life for us! Thou hast died, O Jesus, for us: we must, henceforth, live for Thee. We promise it upon this tomb, which alas! is the handiwork of our sins. We, too, wish to die to sin, and live to grace. For the time to come, we will follow Thy precepts and Thine examples; we will avoid sin, which has made us accomplices in Thy Passion and Death. We will courageously bear, in union with Thine own, the crosses of this life: they are indeed light compared with Thine, but our weakness makes them heavy. And our death, too: when the moment comes for us to undergo that sentence which even Thou didst submit to, we will accept it with resignation. Terrible as that last hour is to nature, our faith tells us that Thy death has merited for it graces rich enough to make it sweet. Thy death, dearest Jesus! has made our death become but a passing into life: and as we now leave Thy holy sepulchre with the certain hope of speedily seeing Thee glorious in Thy Resurruction; so, when our body descends into the tomb, our soul shall confidently mount up to Thee, and there blissfully await the day of the resurrection of the flesh made pure by the humiliation of the grave.

We will close our day by offering to our readers the following stanzas from the Greek liturgy of Good Friday.

Hymn
(In Parasceve)

Hodie in cruce appenditur, qui super aquas terram appendit: corona spinea circumdatur Rex angelorum: falsa purpura operitur, qui operit cœlum nubibus: alapam suscipit, qui in Jordane libertati dedit Adamum: davis confixus est Sponsus Ecclesiæ: lancea punctus est filius Virginis. Adoramus passiones tuas, Christe. Et ostende nobis etiam gloriosam resurrectionem tuam.

Intuens agna agnum suum trahi ad occisionem: sequebatur Maria afflicta una cum aliis mulieribus, hæc damans: Quo progrederis, nate? Cujus rei gratia velocem cursum perficis? Num aliæ nuptiæ rursus fiunt in Cana; et eo tu nunc festinas, ut eis ex aqua vinum facias? Tecum veniam, nate; an te potius exspectabo? Da mihi verbum, O Verbum: ne silens me prætereas, qui me castam servasti filius et Deus meus.

Singula sanctæ carnis tuæ membra ignominiam propter nos sustinuerunt; spinas caput; facies sputa; maxilla alapas; os aceto mistum fel in gustu; impias blasphemias aures; dorsum fiagellationem; et manus arundinem; totiusque corporis extensiones in cruce; artus clavos; et latus lanceam. Qui passus ea pro nobis, et patiens liberos nos fecisti; quique amore erga homines una nobiscum te demisisti, noaque sublimasti, omnipotens Salvator, miserere nostri.

Hodie in cruce te suspensum, O Verbum, inculpata Virgo spectans, maternis visceribus mœrens, corde vulnerabatur amare, et gemena dolenter ex animæ profundo flebiliter exclamabat: Heu me, divine Nate! heu me, O lux mundi! cur ex oculis meis abscessisti, Agne Dei? Inde incorporeorum spirituum exercitus tremore corripiebantur, dicentes: Incomprehensibilis Domine, gloria tibi.

Domine, ascendente te in crucem, timor et tremor cecidit in creaturam: et terram quidem prohibebaa absorbere eoa, qui te crucifigebant: inferno autem permittebas remittere vinctos. Judex vivorum et mortuorum, venisti ut vitam præstares et non mortem: amans hominum, gloria tibi.
To-day, is poised upon a cross he that poised the earth upon the waters. He that is the King of angels, is wreathed with a crown of thorns. He that covereth the heaven with clouds, is covered with a mock scarlet robe. He that, in the Jordan, set Adam free, is buffeted. The Spouse of the Church is pierced with nails. The Son of the Virgin is wounded with a spear. O Jesus! we adore thy sufferings. Show unto us, also, thy glorious Resurrection.

Mary, the Mother, saw her Lamb dragged to the slaughter, and, in company with other women, followed him, saying: ' Whither goest thou, my Son? Wherefore this hurried step? Is it to a second marriage-feast at Cana that thou thus hastenest, there to turn water into wine? Must I come with thee, my Son? or must I wait thy return? O Word of the Father l speak one word to me. Pass me not by in silence, O thou, my Child and my God! who didst make me thy Virgin-Mother!’

For our sake, O Jesus! thou didst permit thy whole sacred Body to be ignominiously tortured: thy head with thorns; thy face with spittle; thy cheeks with blows: thy mouth with vinegar and gall; thine ears with impious blasphemies; thy back with scourges; thy hand with a reed; thy whole body, with the cross; thy hands and feet with nails; thy side with a spear. O almighty Saviour! who didst suffer for us, and by thy sufferings, didst make us free! O thou, that out of love for man didst humble thyself with us, that thus thou mightest exalt us! Have mercy on us!

To-day, the sinless Virgin saw thee, O Word! hanging on the cross: she wept over thee with a mother’s love: her heart was cruelly wounded: andlthus, with doleful sobs and tears, she spake from her inmost soul: ‘Alas! my divine Son! Alas! thou light of the world! why hast thou departed from my sight, O Lamb of God?’—The angel host was seized with trembling, and said: ‘Glory be to thee, O incomprehensible Lord!’

Fear and trembling fell upon thy creatures, O Lord, when thou didst ascend thy cross. Yet wouldst thou not permit the earth to swallow up them that crucified thee; nay, thou gavest leave to death to set its captives free. Thou camest into the world, O Judge of the living and the dead! that thou mightest bring, not death, but life. Glory be to thee, O Lover of mankind!

The ancient Gallican liturgy contains, in to-day’s Office, the following eloquent and devout prayer.

Prayer
(Oratio ad Nonam)

O salutaris hora Passionis, o magna maximarum gratiarum Nona hodierna, maxima horarum hora! Hac nunc tu, noster dilecte Sponse, osculare de cruce, licet post crucis trophæum. Osculare, precamur; salutare tuum impertire nobis, triumphator mirabilis, auriga supreme, Deus pie, gloriosissime propugnator. Avete, valete, invalescite et viriliter agite, confortamini dicito, loquere cordibus nostris inspector Christe. An qui olim hæc fecisti, nunc eadem non potes facere? Potes utique, potes; quia omnipotens es: potes, amantissime, potes facere quod non possumus cogitare; quia nihil tibi impossibile est, Deus omnipotens, Jesu, osculare, quæso, dilectiesime, qui triumphans regressus es ad Patrem, cum quo semper eras et permanes unus; quia osculum tuum dulce est, et ubera tua vino dulciora, fragrantia optimis unguentis: et nomen tuum super oleum; quem adolescentulæ dilexerunt: quem recti diligunt, quos trahis post te: cujus lectus floridns, cujus trophæum crux. Qui hac hora rubens de Edom, de cruce, tinctis vestibus de Bosra, solus quasi calcator magni illius torcularis ad cœlos ascendisti: cui occurrunt Angeli, Archangeli dicentes: Quis est iste, qui ascendit, tinctis vestibus de Bosra? Quibus te interrogantibus: Quare ergo rubrum est vestimentum tuum? Respondisti: Torcular calcavi solus, et vir de gentibus non fuit mecum. Vere Salvator, vere rubrum est tuum propter nos corpus: rubrum est sanguine uvæ; lavasti enim in vino stolam tuam, et pallium tuum in sanguine uvæ: qui es Deus solus, crucifixus pro nobis, quos antiqua prævaricatio morti tradidit: cujus vulnere omnium innumera peccatorum vulnera sanata sunt. Et nos, pie crucifixe Christe, cum tuis redime; salva, pia bonitas Deus. Qui regnas cum Patre et Spiritu sancto, unus in æternum et in sæcula sæculorum.
O saving hour of the Passion! O hour of None, favoured with richest graces! O hour of hours! O beloved Spouse of souls, kiss us at this hour from thy cross, for the cross is the trophy of thy victory. Yea, we beseech, grant us thy kiss, grant us thy salvation, O admirable Conqueror! O heavenly Charioteer! O good God! O most glorious Champion! Do thou, O allseeing Jesus, speak to our hearts, and say: 'Hail, all hail! Be vigorous, act manfully, be courageous!’ Thou, O Lord, that didst these things of old, canst thou not do the same now? Thou canst, yea thou canst, for thou art all-powerful. Thou canst, most loving Jesus! thou canst do beyond what we can think. And whereas nothing is impossible to thee, O almighty God, our Jesus! kiss us, we beseech thee, beloved Lord, who didst triumphantly return to the Father, with whom thou wast, and art for ever, one; for thy kiss is sweet, thy breasts are better than wine, and are fragrant with the best ointments. Thy name is as oil poured out, therefore have our souls loved thee. The righteous, whom thou drawest to thee, love thee. Thy couch is strewn with flowers, the cross is thy trophy. Coming in scarlet, at this hour, from Edom, thy cross—coming with dyed garments from Bosra, treading alone that great winepress—thou didst ascend to heaven. The Angels and Archangels go out to meet thee, and they say: ‘Who is this that cometh up, with dyed garments, from Bosra?’ They ask thee: ‘Why then, is thy apparel red?’ Thou answerest: ‘I have trodden the winepress alone: and of the Gentiles, there is not a man with me.’ Truly, O Saviour! truly is thy body red for our sake: it is red with the blood of the grape, for thou hast washed thy robe in wine, and thy garment in the blood of the grape. Thou alone art God, crucified for us, whom the ancient sin had delivered over to death: and by thy wounds, the countless sins of all men have been healed. O loving crucified Jesus! put us among thy redeemed. Save us, O loving goodness! our God! who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, reignest one God for ever, yea for ever and ever.

 

[1] St. Matt. xxvi. 63.
[2] Ibid. 64.—St. Mark xiv. 62.
[3] St. Matt, xxvi. 65, 66.
[4] St. Luke xxii. 64.
[5] Gen. xlix. 10.
[6] St. John xviii. 29-31.
[7] Ibid. 33, 36, 37, 38.
[8] St. Matt, xxvii. 13.
[9] St. Luke xxiii. 5.
[10] St. Matt, xxvii.—St. Luke xxiii.—St. John xviii.
[11] St. John xix. 5.
[12] St. John xix.
[13] Ibid
[14] Is. liii. 12.
[15] St. Matt, xxvii. 24, 25.
[16] St. John iii. 16.
[17] St. Luke xxiii. 28-30.
[18] Heb. v 7.
[19] 1 Cor. i. 23.
[20] 1 Cor. i. 24.
[21] St. Luke xxiii. 34.
[22] Is. xi. 10.
[23] St. John xii. 32.
[24] Rom. v. 11.
[25] St. John xix. 24.
[26] St. John xix. 22.
[27] St. John iii. 14.
[28] St. Matt, xxvii. 40.
[29] Ibid. 42, 43.
[30] St. John xii. 32.
[31] St. Luke xxiii. 40, 41.
[32] St. Luke xxiii. 42, 43.
[33] St. Matt, xxvii. 65.
[34] St. John xix. 26, 27.
[35]St. Matt, xxvii. 46.
[36] St. John xix. 26, 27.
[37] Ibid. 30.
[38] St. Luke xxiii. 46.
[39] St. John xix. 38.
[40] St. Mark xv. 46.
[41] St. John xix. 39.