Feria Quarta Maioris Hebdomadae, Wednesday in Holy Week...

Quite early today, 0300ish, since I have to leave the house before 0430, the train scheduled to depart at 0530. Today's Mass is In nomine Iesu; Introibo is unavailable at the moment but Divinum Officium is as always welcoming us-- although I suspect that that link will tomorrow go to tomorrow's Mass. Mass will be streamed from Saint-Eugène at the usual hour, I believe-- their site is unavailable, too; the (same) host in both cases is being 'maintained'. Without the parish website in front of me I cannot recall what is when. Tenebrae has been sung in past years and the time eight o'clock p.m. sticks in my head but that recollection is perhaps worth as much as the deed to Manhattan I have lining the medicine cabinet. 

Ante Vesperas. The train ride to Portland was relaxing, apart from the severe motion of the car from side to side which happened in two or three episodes; too much of that at one time and I'd be missing the airplane's sick bag. Heard Holy Mass in the Traditional Rite at Saint Stephen Church at noon and shopped for breakfast necessities-- bread, butter, orange juice, olives-- on the way back; it is splendidly beautiful here and I have no doubt but that the 70 degree mark has been met. Had preserves and tea (am drinking Darjeeling by... Harney, Harley, some such name) shipped here via Amazon, and an inexpensive teapot that I'll leave when I go; no home should be without a teapot.  Time for me to say Vespers before much longer. The one drawback to Mass in reality is that it conflicts with the live-stream of Tenebrae from Saint-Eugene. 

Ante Completorium. Vespers went well, and Father A. and the other cleric constituting the clergy in choir-cum-schola, although some of us in the pews doubtless added a note or two. Saint Stephen's is about a 45 minute walk from this house at my slow, hip-creaking pace. The Schola Sainte-Cécile just finished the 3rd responsorium in the first Nocturn at Matins for Maundy Thursday, as I'm listening to the video recording; I have another hour perhaps before I collapse-- which reminds me to take some Ibuprofen. Jennifer and her husband are kind and welcoming; their house, however, has a set of stairs that wouldn't be built in these days of health 'n' safety: fairly narrow and rather steep. Tenebrae is at 0800 in the morning, so I'll call Lyft at 0715... I think I must rise at 0415. On the other hand, Matins in the Triduum has only nine Psalms and some of the nine lessons are familiar and there are no preces at Lauds.

I know I wrote yesterday that I was done with Cardinal Schuster for the time being but did have this already copied here; whether I complete the formatting is doubtful. 

At the time of St Leo the Great, when the weekdays in Lent had not all as yet their own eucharistic liturgy, this Wednesday of Holy Week was, however, especially distinguished by its stational Mass; for we have a whole series of homilies by the great Pontiff delivered in feria IV hebdomadae majoris, in which the author continues to develop before the people of Rome the history of the Passion of our Lord, which had been interrupted on the preceding Sunday. This shows that there had been no intermediary synaxis between Palm Sunday and this Wednesday; indeed, the station on the Wednesday must evidently have been aliturgical from the first-- that is, the Mass was omitted on that day, as on Good Friday; for we find traces of this ancient rule for many centuries in the Ordines Romani. They prescribe that on the Wednesday of Holy Week, at the general assembly of the clergy, both of the city and the suburbs, which was held at the Lateran in the morning, and consequently before the synaxis on the Esquiline, only the solemn litany should be recited, which is now used exclusively on Good Friday. The Mass was reserved for the evening station in the Liberian Basilica. During the most solemn weeks of the liturgical cycle at Rome, it was the rule that the synaxis of the Wednesday should be celebrated at St Mary Major, as though to ensure the protection of the blessed Virgin before undertaking any matter of special importance. In this particular instance, it is the new aspirants to the paschal baptism who are placed under her care, and to whom else could they be so surely entrusted as to her, the loving Mother, who in the noontide of Good Friday will be named Mother of Mercy and Advocate of the human race? 

The Introit is from the Epistle of St Paul to the Philippians (2,8-10, 11): 'In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth and under the earth: for the Lord became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father'. On the eve of the Passion the Church desires to confirm our faith by this grand hymn of triumph, that when we shall see Jesus nailed to the cross between two thieves we may remember that it was by his obedience and humiliation that he won the triumph of the Resurrection and achieved the destruction of the kingdom of Satan. 

In the Collect we ask that God would avert from us the scourges which our sins have deserved, and deliver us by the merits of the Passion of his Son. We cannot do anything more pleasing to God than offer him the merits of Christ’s Passion, for as it is in his only-begotten Son that he is well pleased, for his sake he can refuse us nothing. 

On this day, as formerly on all the more solemn occasions which have especially retained traces of the primitive litur¬ gical order, we have two lessons from the prophets. In theWednesday in Holy Week 195 first of these lessons (Isa. lxii 11; lxiii 1-7) the son of Amos foretells how Christ, his garments sprinkled with blood, overthrows the enemies of our souls. For his Passion con¬ ceals a mystery of ineffable humility and invincible power, while the degradations and torments which he underwent for love of us are the very weapons with which he struck down the pride and sensuality of man, and crushed the power of Satan. The Gradual, derived from Psalm lxviii, speaks of the sorrows of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in his Passion : “ Turn not away thy face from thy servant.'* The Saviour had taken upon himself the burden of the sins of mankind, and had thereby incurred the penalty of being abandoned by God, who in justice turns away his face from the guilty sinner. This is the bitter torment, in some manner corresponding to the pain of loss which tortures the condemned in hell. 44 Hear me speedily, for I am in trouble. Save me, O God, for the waters are come in, even unto my soul ”—that is, sin has filled my inmost soul with bitterness in such a manner that my heart is a prey to the deepest desolation, which even the hypostatic union with the person of the Word cannot allay. 14 I stick fast in the mire of the deep ”—the iniquity of the whole world—44 and there is no sure standing.” This abandonment which Jesus suffered on the cross is not to be understood in an absolute sense, since even in his terrible agony the blessed soul of the Redeemer enjoyed the beatific vision of God, but must be accepted in a relative sense, inasmuch as God, in order to abandon his only-begotten Son to the full extent of his sufferings, so disposed that this beatitude of the soul should not be experienced in the body. In the Collect which follows, the thought of the Resur¬ rection is intimately united to the commemoration of the Passion. Our faith teaches us that in Jesus Christ the divine and the human natures were united in one person, without confusion, but with perfect distinction of attributes. As man, therefore, he suffered and died, but his humanity, being hypostatically united to the Godhead, could not know the corruption of the grave, but was to receive the highest glory by rising from the tomb, the first-born among the dead, at once the cause and prototype of universal resurrection. 44 O God, who wast pleased that thy Son should undergo for us the ignominy of the cross, that thou mightest drive away from us the power of the enemy; grant to us thy servants that we may obtain the grace of resurrection.” This 44 grace of resurrection ” is the spiritual resurrection of the soul by means of grace and its final salvation in glory. Without this result the Passion of Jesus Christ would be made void; as the Apostle says: Ergo gratis Christus196 The Sacramentary mortuus est ? We can therefore understand how the thought of the Resurrection completes that of the Passion, and why the Liturgy never separates these two holy mysteries which explain and fulfil one another. The second Lesson, from Isaias (liii 1-12), has been finely described as the Proto-evangelium, because in it the Seer of Juda tells of the humiliations and sufferings of the Passion of Jesus many centuries before their accomplishment, and describes them in minute detail. The characteristic title of “Servant of Jehovah’ is here given to the Messias; for since, by sinning, man had rebelled against the law of God, so in expiation of this rebellion the Redeemer must devote himself entirely to fulfilling the will of his Father. Christ is of God, as St Paul writes, Christus autem Dei, both as Son and as servant; nay, more, as victim. The divine rights of God over Jesus are thus perfectly and absolutely expressed, especially by the hypostatic union of the Word with the Saviour’s human nature; by virtue of this union the humanity of Jesus is truly of God. This title of44 Servant of Jehovah ” is carefully explained by the prophet throughout the lesson which is read to-day at the Mass. He presents the Messias to us in a new and un¬ expected light: his reign shall surely be triumphant and glorious, but it will begin in humiliation, and he must needs suffer many things and be nailed to the cross before he can enter into his glory. But why must the “Servant of Jehovah” suffer? To this Isaias answers : “ Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all; and by his bruises we are healed. He shall not open his mouth, and he shall give the ungodly for his burial and the rich for his death. If he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand. By his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities.” The Tract comes from Psalm ci, and interprets the feelings of Jesus in his last agony, feelings of sorrow and humiliation, yet of complete confidence in God, who, when the appointed time has come, will deliver him and raise him up again to life. 44 O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to thee. Turn not away thy face from me : in the day when I am in trouble, incline thine ear to me. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear me speedily. For my days are vanished like smoke, and my bones are burnt up as in an oven. I am struck like grass, and my heart is withered: because I forgot to eat my bread. Thou, arising, O Lord, shalt have mercy on Sion; for the time is come to have mercy on it.”Wednesday in Holy Week 197 With what awe and reverence should we not meditate on these words of the Psalmist, which reveal to us the thoughts of our crucified Saviour. This book of prayer is the best commentary on the holy Gospel, for whilst the Evangelists speak chiefly of the exterior life and teaching of Jesus, the Psalter reveals to us the innermost feelings of his Sacred Heart. To-day we read the Passion of our Lord, according to St Luke (xxii 1-7; xxiii 1-53), which reflects in a special manner the teaching of St Paul, and very closely agrees with his description of the institution of the holy Eucharist.1 The words from Isaias—et cum iniquis deputatus esta—quoted by our Lord at the Last Supper refer to the passage pre¬ viously read, which thus receives divine confirmation of its messianic interpretation. The fact that the Apostles carried swords when they met together for the “ Pasch ” is explained by the enmity which existed between the Jews and the Galileans, for which reason the latter were always armed when they went up to celebrate the paschal festival at Jerusalem; and that the disciples did not wear their swords merely for show is seen from the circumstance that in the Garden of Gethsemani it became necessary for Christ to order Peter to replace his sword in its scabbard. The Church does not triumph by force of arms, but rather by the martyrdom of her sons. On the way to Calvary Jesus comforts the compassionate women who weep over his sufferings, and warns them that their devotion to his Passion should not stop short at bare words of pity, but should be the beginning of a better life. Those who mourn over the death of the Redeemer should indeed labour to eradicate and banish from their hearts the sins which nailed him to the cross : Si in viridi ligno haec faciunt, in arido quid fiet? That is to say, if the divine Judge is so inflexible in punishing sin in the person of his own innocent Son, what treatment will he not mete out to the hardened sinner, when at the last judgement the hour has come for mercy to give place to his holy yet awful justice? After the death of Jesus, at a moment when the disciples are still in hiding, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus come forward, and these two, who until then had been timorous and had not dared to compromise themselves in the cause of Jesus, suddenly throw aside their precautions, and, fearlessly defying public opinion, are the first to render to the crucified Saviour the homage of their devotion. We must never judge our neighbour too harshly; grace can subdue the most re1 1 Cor. xi 23-25. * laa. liii 12.198 The Sacramentary bellious heart, and transform it in a moment in accordance with the divine pleasure. The Offertory is taken from Psalm ci: “ O Lord—notwith¬ standing the multitude of the sins of humanity with which I have gladly burdened myself, and which render me unworthy of thy gaze—hear my prayer and let my cry come to thee— breaking down, as it were, the wall of brass which sin has raised between thee and sinful man—turn not away thy face from me." In the Secret we pray that God would accept the gift which we offer, and would grant that we may obtain by pious affec¬ tions those effects of the Passion of his divine Son, which we celebrate in the eucharistic mystery. The Communion is also from Psalm ci: “I mingled my drink with weeping, for having lifted me up, thou hast thrown me down.” In the Passion the divine nature of Jesus sus¬ tained his sacred humanity so as to render it the better able to endure. “ I am withered like grass, but thou, O Lord, remainest for ever. Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion, for the time is come to have mercy on it.” Truly the Lord shall arise to defend his Christ, at the dawn of the paschal feast. He will then heal all his wounds and fill him with the ecstasy of joy in the splendours of a new life. Sion, too, will share in his gladness, for the effects of the Resur¬ rection are communicated also to the whole mystical body of Christ In the Post-Communion we beseech God that the Passion and death of Jesus which we commemorate in this mystery may fill us with the firm hope of attaining to eternal life in heaven. The death of Christ is the source of life. This is the grand fulfilment of that prophecy of Osee: O mors, ero mors tua! morsus tuus ero, inferne/'1 It would have been easy for the Son of God to show himself master of death and not to have submitted to its sway, but he desired to triumph over it more completely, so, binding death and Satan to the foot of the cross, he made death the spring and fountain of eternal life for the whole human race. The Blessing over the people is so beautiful that the Church uses this collect during the three following days at the con¬ clusion of each hour of the divine office : “ Look down, we beseech thee, upon this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ hesitated not to be delivered up into the hands of wicked men and to undergo the torment of the cross.” There is no better way of moving our heavenly Father to pity for us than by reminding him of the Passion of his only-begotten Son, and more especially of the immense love with which he loved us. 1 Oseexiii 14.Maundy Thursday 199 The Crucifixion is the summary of Catholic belief. Christ crucified explains all the other mysteries of the faith, for it is in Jesus that God has loved us and destined us to future glory. The cross is the crown of all the works of God, and the masterpiece of his love. He is so well pleased with it— et vidit cuncta quae fecerat et erant valde bona—that he can¬ not hear it commemorated nor behold its image without being moved to pity towards us. Should not we, then, too, con¬ template with boundless devotion Jesus Christ crucified and offer to the Father his sufferings and his merits in atonement for our sins?

It is also the feast of Saint Guido (11th century), of Saint Balbina (2nd century), and of the Blessed Christopher (16th century).

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