Monday, March 27, 2023

Welcome to Passiontide

During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ's will more faithfully.

The Catholic Cathechism starting in paragrsph 606 describes what Jesus had to go through during this time "The Son of God, who came down "from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him who sent [him]", said on coming into the world, "Lo, I have come to do your will, O God." "And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father's plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work." The sacrifice of Jesus "for the sins of the whole world" expresses his loving communion with the Father. "The Father loves me, because I lay down my life", said the Lord, "[for] I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father."

607 The desire to embrace his Father's plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus' whole life, for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, "And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour." And again, "Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?" From the cross, just before "It is finished", he said, "I thirst

608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover. Christ's whole life expresses his mission: "to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Only Christian Faith (and Reason) as a whole, constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin, and the patient Love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of His Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not on part an answer to the question of evil. CCC Par 309

609 By embracing in his human heart the Father's love for men, Jesus "loved them to the end", for "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men. Indeed, out of love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." Hence the sovereign freedom of God's Son as he went out to his death.

610 Jesus gave the supreme expression of his free offering of himself at the meal shared with the twelve Apostles "on the night he was betrayed". On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of men: "This is my body which is given for you." "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

611 The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice. Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it. By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth."

612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani, making himself "obedient unto death". Jesus prays: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. . ." Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death. Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the "Author of life", the "Living One". By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.

Passiontide is a name for the last two weeks of Lent, beginning on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, long celebrated as Passion Sunday, and continuing through Lazarus Saturday. It commemorates the suffering of Christ. The second week of Passiontide is Holy Week, ending on Holy Saturday

Prior to the 1970 revision of the Roman Missal (Sacramentary), crosses and images were covered with veils during Passiontide

From this Sunday, traditionally called 1st Sunday of the Passion, it is customary to veil images in churches. According to Father John Zulhlsdorf (Father Z) in the Gospel in traditional Form of the Roman Rite we hear:

They therefore took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.

So yesterday, the Church traditionally started yon hide the Lord and other images with veils, usually purple.

Father Z says "This is a fine old tradition. It has to do with deprivation of the senses and the liturgical dying of the Church in preparation for the Lord’s tomb and resurrection. We do this to sense something of the humiliation of the Lord as he enters His Passion, something of His interior suffering.

According to Fr Thomas Nathe, It used to be that two Sundays before Easter (5th Sunday of Lent), the Gospel reading was about Jesus confronting the established powers with his divinity; this caused those in authority to pick up rocks to stone him, “but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (Jn 8:46-59). Jesus would stay hidden from the religious authorities until his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday); yet even then, he did not give anyone a chance to seize him until he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. The veiling of Jesus “hides” him from us during the time when the plot to kill him is afoot. Meanwhile, Jesus conceals himself until his appointed time.

Seeing the images in church covered up gives us a sense of disquiet and dread. Something is clearly different, yet it’s more than that; something is wrong. We know it as soon as we see those images all covered up. The last two weeks of Lent place us in the midst of this drama and imparts to us a sense of horror of what is happening, and shame; shame in knowing that man is going to torture his creator to death, and that somehow our sins are partially to blame. The veiling of the images focuses our attention more so than usual on Our Lord and his Paschal Mystery (his passion, death, and resurrection).

Father Z says "we lose things during Lent. We are being pruned through the liturgy. Holy Church experiences liturgical death before the feast of the Resurrection (Easter). On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday) until the Easter Vigil, liturgical music is pared back and we lose the Alleluia, Gloria, and flowers. On the 5th Sunday of Lent, crosses, images of Jesus, angels, and saints are covered with purple cloth. In the traditional Latin Mass, the “Iudica” psalm in the prayers at the foot of the altar, and the Lord’s Prayer at the end of certain prayers, are no longer said."

Adding "the pruning cuts more deeply as we march into the Triduum. After the Mass on Holy Thursday the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the sanctuary, which is stripped and its bells removed. On Good Friday there isn’t even Mass (the one day of the year there isn’t). At the beginning of the Easter Vigil we are deprived of light itself! It is as if the Church herself were completely dead with the Lord in His tomb. This liturgical death of the Church reveals how Christ emptied Himself of His glory in order to save us from our sins and to teach us who we are"

The Church then gloriously springs to life again at the Vigil of Easter. In ancient times, the Vigil was celebrated in the depth of night. In the darkness, a single spark would be struck from flint and ignited into flame, the flame

According to Father Nathe "over the next two weeks, strive to connect yourself in heart and mind with the Church’s liturgy in which these sacred mysteries are re-presented; then by your active receptivity, become a participant in the saving mysteries of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection

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