In the cycle of the liturgical year, the Sacred Triduum stands out in a class all its own: Holy Thursday as a day of unparalleled liturgical catharsis, Good Friday as one in which contrition cannot but pour out as tears; all of which reaches its pinnacle on Easter, the Solemnity of Solemnities. Holy Week catches us up into the drama of our redemption and God’s infinite love for Man—and it is this very theme which is the inescapable motif of the entire affair: love.
"The works of art inspired by Scripture
remain a reflection of the unfathomable mystery
which engulfs and inhabits the world."
- Pope St. John Paul II: Letter to Artist (1999)
Vere, tu es Deus Absconditus
And like the deer for running streams
How my eyes thirst to see You!
At Christmas I beheld You
By angel choirs adored, but now
Their “Glorias” are gone and with them…my Lord?
To the ‘tonus peregrinus’ does my soul sigh, forlorn;
Has the Sanhedrin taken Him?
Where has my Beloved gone?
For even on the Cross, I see Him
Shrouded from my gaze;
His royal purples hide Him
Unto the end of these forty days.
I hunger for You, Adonai,
And will you hide from me?
Come back to me, Beloved,
Whose Face I long to see…
A Marian Sister of Santa Rosa
Said Joseph to Mary,
“I dreamed a dream
Of a quaking rock
And a maid’s shrill laugh
At crow of cock.
I saw lost keys
As it were, of a realm,
Then a fisherman’s boat
With an empty helm.”
Said Mary to Joseph,
“I dreamed too.
Thirty coins bled
Like a heart in grief
While a swart thief fled--
In a barren plot
And our little Son crying,
Sister Mary Immaculate (p. 98 Guardian of God’s Lillies)
The bluebirds, looking bright as sapphires in their Springtime best, chirp happily all about the convent grounds. A hummingbird has delighted the Sisters by choosing to build her nest in the crook of a Japanese maple tree that hangs fondly over the Pieta statue in the patio. Audacious daffodils smile brightly at the blooming world around them, while tulips demurely peak out from behind the curtain of earth. The world fairly hums with the expectation of oncoming rebirth—and it would seem that nature can tend herself and usher in a delightful Spring and a fruitful Summer and Autumn without our Sisters so much as lifting a finger.
"Beloved searcher of hearts, Thou knowest the infirmities of men;
show pardoning grace to those who return to thee."
- Verse from Parce Domine
During important liturgical feasts and seasons, such as Lent, often times one may find it hard to express in words the sentiments the soul feels. How - during a time so sacred - can one even begin to describe what wells up in the heart? This poverty which strikes us is, in itself, a reminder of a necessary disposition during Lent: that even the penances and mortifications we desire to perform require complete reliance on the Lord for strength and perseverance. We can do nothing on our own.
The Lord often works together with His Bride the Church to takes care of His children. Holy Mother Church sees the poverty of Her little ones and provides for them in their need through the prayers of the Liturgy. For where Her child does not know what to say, She gives words; where there is yearning of the heart, She provides the supplication it wishes to express; where the child says, "I do not know how to pray as I ought," She says, "I shall provide prayers for you."
The prayers of Ash Wednesday give a prime example of Her maternal care:
"Holy Saturday is liturgically a day of deepest mourning, a day which the Church spends at our Lord's sepulcher, meditating on His Sacred Passion and Death." - 1962 Roman Missal
Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit.
Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the world.
"Let the faithful be led to understand properly today's special liturgical act, in which the Passion of our Lord is solemnly chanted; prayers offered for the needs of the whole Church and the human race: the Holy Cross, monument of our Redemption, is adored most devoutly by clergy and faithful, the whole family of Christ: finally, as for hundred of years was the practice, all who wish and are duly prepared go forward to receive Communion with this as their chief intention, that by devoutly receiving the Body of the Lord (which He delivered this day for all men) they may enjoy richer fruits of that Redemption/ Let the priest urge the faithful to make this sacred day one of loving recollection, neither should they forget the law of abstinence and fasting." - Extract from General Decree restoring the liturgy of Holy Week
Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est
Where charity and love are, there is God
The Lord again presents us today with a timing that causes contemplation. Today being both Holy Thursday and April 1, the month whose devotion is dedicated to the Most Holy Eucharist. The True Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist is a devotion which swells in our hearts today as we celebrate both the Institution of the Eucharist and the conferral of the Holy Priesthood.
"Hebrew children bearing olive branches went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying: 'Hosanna in the highest.'"
- Antiphon 1: Procession for Palm Sunday
"The Second Sunday in Passiontide would be in any case a great and holy day as it commemorates the last triumph of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth and opens Holy Week. On this day, the Church celebrates the triumphant entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem when the multitude, going before and following after Him, cut off branches from the trees and strewed them in His way, shouting: "Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." It is in commemoration of this triumph that palms are blessed and born in solemn procession. In fact, this Palm Sunday triumph of Our Lord only led to His death. But we know that this death was not a failure. It was through His Passion and Death that He conquered the world and entered into His Kingdom." - 1962 Roman Missal