Clouds with patches of sunlight, and more sun...

Promised for later on by the weather mages. Am still having to run the space heater, alas. It is Passion Sunday, Dominica in Passione; the Mass is Judica me Deus (Introibo). I am following Mass from Saint-Eugene now, having gotten to the Night Office just before three. My tentative plan was to say it before sleeping for four or five hours and then following Holy Mass in the live stream but one thing lead to another and I didn't get to Compline until too late to make that scheme work. It's 0820ish; I have said Terce already, anyway. Canon Guelfucci is announcing the schedule for this and next week, Holy Week. I lost the thread after noting that the Mass of the Annunciation on Thursday is going to be streamed.

The libellum (pdf) with the lessons and music is here; I never think to post these since the YouTube page clearly includes the link but, eh. Blessed Ildefonso follows.

The station at the Vatican today is the last remaining trace of the Pannuchis which, in the time of Pope Gelasius, was celebrated at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles during the night previous to the solemn Ordination of the priests and deacons of Rome. Today begins the fortnight of immediate preparation for Easter, which, in the 3rd century, included a twelve days’ fast preceding the dawn of the Resurrection. In the sacred Liturgy, and more especially in the Breviary, we can still distinguish the special cycle formed by this holy Passiontide. Whereas during Lent, which, as we have said above, was of later institution, the Church is chiefly occupied in the instruction of the catechumens and in the preparation of the penitents for their solemn reconciliation on Holy Thursday, all this during the last fortnight before Easter takes a secondary place. From now onward during these two weeks but one thought predominates in the Missal and in the Breviary-- the thought of the Just One, who realizes the bitter persecution which his enemies are plotting against him. He is innocent, but is so encompassed by the hatred of his adversaries that he has none to defend him. He therefore turns to his heavenly Father, calls him to witness that he is innocent, and entreats him not to abandon him in the day of trial. 

The liturgical cycle of the Passion begins with the Mass at the Vatican, where Nero crucified the first Vicar of Christ and where Symmachus had built an oratory named Sancta Hierusalem, as the Sessorian Basilica was originally called, in honour of the triumphant Standard of Redemption. It was from that oratory near St Peter’s that the following verses were introduced into the Liturgy: Salva nos, Christe Salvator, per virtutem Crucis, qui salvasti Petrum in mari, miserere nobis. The Mass of this Sunday is entirely dominated by the memory of the Sacrifice on Golgotha, and is one of the most beautiful and pathetic in the whole Roman Antiphonary. 

During this fortnight, in which the Liturgy illustrates with dramatic force the ever-growing hate of the Sanhedrim against our Lord, the early Ordines Romani forbid the final doxology to be said after either the antiphonic or the responsorial psalmody. Psalm 43, Judica me, is also omitted at the beginning of the Mass, but this is not a very ancient custom, nor has it any special significance, for the prayers which the priest now recites at the foot of the altar before beginning the Introit were first introduced into Frankish countries about the 8th century. As in today’s Mass the Judica me is sung at the Introit, it is therefore omitted previous to the Confession before the priest goes up to the altar. In the Introit, from Psalm 42, Christ appeals to the judgement of his Father against the sentence of death which his treacherous and deceitful enemies are plotting against him, so that he may justify him in the day of his resurrection. That is indeed the day when the light and the truth spoken of by the Psalmist shall be fully revealed. 

In the Collect we pray that God will look mercifully upon his family, the Church, so that by his providence the bodies of its members may be preserved in health while his grace guards their souls from all evil; a magnificent synthesis which recognizes the natural as well as the spiritual element in man. Sanctity is innate in the soul, but before it can be clothed with this glorious vesture it is necessary that both the body and the senses obey and follow closely the precepts of the Gospel. In the Lesson, from the Epistle to the Hebrews (9,11-15), Saint Paul declares the greater excellence of the New Testament as compared with the Old, because of the completeness of the sacrifice of Calvary. For while, in the Old Law, it was necessary to repeat without ceasing the same sacrifices for the sins of the people-- the High Priest himself also entered every year into the Holy of Holies to offer up therein the blood of innocent victims-- Jesus Christ, by the shedding of his own blood, redeemed once for all the whole race of Adam, and entered the heavenly sanctuary at the head of the unending company of the redeemed. 

The Gradual is taken from Psalms 142 and 17. As the day of his Passion draws near, Christ fears and calls upon his Father to save him from the malice of the wicked. He does not lose courage, for he is confident that on the day of his resurrection God will deliver him from the hands of those cruel men, and from the gates of death, and will glorify him in the sight of all nations. The psalmus in directum, or Tract (Psalm 128) is inspired by the same conception, but alludes more definitely to the Passion of the Saviour. 'Often have Herod and the Synagogue fought against me from my youth, but they could not prevail over me. The wicked have wrought upon my back, as in the terrible scourging at the pillar in the hall of the praetorium of Pilate. They have lengthened their iniquities, but the Lord is just. In his inscrutable wisdom he permits that the wicked shall prevail for a time over the innocent, but in the day of his triumph at the Easter dawn, he will cut the necks of sinners.' The rupture between Christ and the Sanhedrim is now imminent; indeed, it has been definitely announced and proclaimed in all the three hundred or more synagogues of Jerusalem. Jesus is banished from the inheritance of Israel, and anyone who is seen in his company shares in this excommunication. The Jews accuse the Saviour of being possessed by the devil, whilst he on his part defies them to convince him of a single sin. Passing then from defence to accusation, he shows that his adversaries are not of God, as otherwise they would hearken to his words. This is a terrible judgement, and one which every Christian should take as a test to see whether he has the spirit of Christ or not.  'Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh'. Only if our heart is full of the spirit and love of God shall we find consolation in thinking and speaking of him. 

The Offertory comes from Psalm 118, which expresses the joy of the just in walking in the way of the commandments of God, in spite of the threats of the enemy. Jesus, that Just One of whom the Psalmist sings, implores his Father again and again ut vivam, more especially now that the Jews have resolved to seek his life. He does not, however, pray to be saved from temporal death, for he is come to die for us, but he desires the risen life which, by means of grace and of glory, he is to communicate to his mystical body. In the Secret we ask that the merits of the Eucharistic Sacrifice may both unloose the bonds of our wickedness and procure for us the gifts of the divine mercy, for we are indeed bound and fettered by sin, as Christ has said: Omnis qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati. The sinner who breaks the law thinks to gain liberty by so doing, whereas he forges for himself the heaviest possible chain, becoming thereby the slave of his passions and so of Satan himself. 

The verse for the Communion, by an infringement of the regular usage, is not taken from one of the Psalms nor from the Gospel of the day, but, with some slight alterations, from Saint Paul (1 Cor. 11,24-25), for it testifies to the fact that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is commemorative of the Passion of our Lord, of which the liturgical celebration begins today. It is for the same reason that Saint Ambrose remarked that the Church celebrates daily the death and burial of Jesus Christ, in that the whole Christian life with its sufferings, its austerities, and its sacrifices, is but the continuation and completion of the one drama of salvation begun on Calvary; the accomplishing of one only sacrifice, that of Jesus Christ, which concentrates within itself, sanctifies and consecrates all our sacrifices. Una enim oblatione consummavit in sempiternum sanctificatos (Ep. ad Hebraeos 10,14).

In the Post-Communion or Eucharistia-- not to be confused with the original and ancient Eucharistia, or thanksgiving, which was the consecratory anaphora itself-- we beseech almighty God to continue to protect by his grace those whom he has refreshed with his mysteries. It is not enough to approach the holy Sacrament; we must also correspond with divine grace and develop those seeds of eternal life which Jesus has sown in our hearts in Holy Communion. One of the greatest evils of our time is the want of spiritual vigour, which makes even the preachers of the Gospel hesitate sometimes to declare to this frivolous generation how wide a gulf lies between the doctrine of Christ and the aims of the worldly-minded. Even the faithful demand mitigations of the rules of the Church and compromises which often end by obscuring the Gospel teaching. No heed is given to the four last things; the intangible rights of God and his Church may not be alluded to for fear of wounding the susceptibilities of men; in a word, it would appear that it is no longer Christianity which is to convert the world, but the world which is fashioning Christianity anew after its own heart. Yet our Lord and his martyrs for our sakes did not hesitate to declare the Gospel in all its fulness, though they knew that by so doing they would incur the penalty of death. 



It is also the feast of Saint Nicholas (15th century), of Saint Augustine (19th century), and of Saint Benedetta (19th century).

V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.