Lord, I come to Thee in a cloudy day
And bring to Thee my weight of weariness.
Forgive me if I do not kneel to pray
But sit in mute and utter helplessness.
O Lord most pitiful, stoop down to me;
The power is palsied that would rise to Thee.
In this lone church there is a sculptured rood
Crowning the entrance to Thy sanctuary:
Thou hangest patient, nailed and stained with blood,
Mary and John on either side of Thee.
To the dear love of that divine defeat
I bring my baffled soul, O Saviour sweet.
My need must cry to Thee, my soul is dumb,
And oh, my sky is dark as dark can be:
My fear must plead to Thee, my heart is numb,
Without response even to Calvary:
And yet, my lord, this awful sense of loss
Draws me with Dismas to Thee on Thy Cross.
Thou didst take life for us and lay it down,
Yielding Thyself to death’s cold helplessness;
Thou didst take thorns of sorrow for Thy crown;
Our hope is fashioned by the hopelessness
Of that dark night that heard Thy bitter cry
When Thou, the Lord of Love, for love wouldst die.
Saviour, forgive me if I flinch from fear
And teach me to go onward through the night,
Trusting that in the darkness Thou art near,
That following love I must be following light.
In this lone church may there be born in me
Love’s faith that faces fear courageously!
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
to the tune St Cross, by J.B. Dykes, 1823-1876
Frederick Faber, Cong. Orat., 1814-1863
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of the Sorrows, also known in the liturgy of Ordinariate as Saint Mary at the Cross.
‘Behold thy mother!... Behold thy son! No evangelist records this saying except St John, the disciple whom JESUS loved. The others tell, indeed, of the company of weeping women, faithful to the last, who watched by the Cross. But the presence of the mother of JESUS was unmarked except by the friend to whose care she was commended in the loving words which escaped the notice of the rest. Little is told about the Blessed Virgin in the Gospels; she is but the highly favoured handmaid of the Lord. But enough is told to assure us, what indeed we would readily believe, even if we were not told, that the tie between mother and Son was a perfect pattern of that most sacred relationship. From the beginning, she kept in her heart all that was said of her wondrous Son, she had a premonition that all generations would call her Blessed. Yet she had heard, in the days of His tender infancy, that because of Him the sword of grief would pierce her heart. And so now it had to come to pass. She saw Him brought to the Cross. But His love took thought for her future even in His last pains. He commended her to His best earthly friend, to the disciple who had drunk most deeply of His spirit. And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home’.
from Verba Crucis: Good Friday Addresses, 1915
by John Henry Bernard, 1860-1927 (Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, 1915-1919)
O Lord, in whose Passion, according to the word of Simeon, the sword of sorrow didst pierce the most sweet soul of the glorious Virgin and Mother Mary: graciously grant that we, who devoutly call to mind her sorrows, may obtain the blessed effects of thy Passion; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Today is the Feast of the Holy Cross. Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal was offered this evening, followed by the Veneration of the Relic of the True Cross. Then home for tea and hot cross buns. A blessed Roodmass!
‘As we look up at the Cross, let each one of us say, “Sin nailed Him there, and my sin had a share in it”. As the Cross reveals the value to God of the individual soul, each one of us can say, “It is a wonderful thing to think I am worth all that to Him. My poor worthless soul is none the less so precious to Him that He thought me worthy dying for, me, His sinful child”.
...We must remember that what we are celebrating today is a triumph, the supreme triumph of perfect human nature. We see our own nature transfigured, made in the image of God and fulfilling that image. In his contest with the prophets of Baal, when Elijah wished to make it clear that the fire would come from heaven was really divine, he recklessly bade the people to pour water over the sacrifice. If the fire came from God, let it be made clear that nothing man could do could stop that fire. He laid his sacrifice upon the altar and bade them pour barrels of water upon it: he bade them dig a trench round it and fill it with water. Then he prayed to the God of Israel, the fire descended, and the sacrifice was indeed accepted. Our Lord in His great sacrifice of Himself for us filled His trench with everything that sorrow, hate, tears, and blood could bring, and the victory is manifest. The thorns became His crown, the gibbet His altar and His throne, and the dire day of His death bears the name of Good Friday. People have often thought of Easter as the victory. Easter was not the victory, but the revelation of the victory. The Resurrection made the made victory clear. The victory is the victory of love, and we gather here today in all humility, penitence, and adoring love to celebrate that victory. On Calvary we see the way of love challenged by every force that can be brought against it, and we see Love winning in His defeat. Love’s greatest defeat has been Love’s greatest victory’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Almighty God, whose Son our Saviour Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the Cross that he might draw the whole world unto himself: mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘“Woman, behold thy son.” “Behold thy mother.” Can’t you see it all down the years since, till it drew near to you and me, until at last now she is your mother and mine? At Jerusalem, when they brought in the newly won Christians, and showed them to her, and her to them, and said: “This was His mother”. And then, as they went about His business, I see them telling her before they went out, and coming to her with their story when they returned, and her praying for their work, and loving it, because it was His work. And at Ephesus I do not see that it was different. And now that she is in Heaven when JESUS I cannot believe that it is different. What sort of Heaven would it be to a Mother to know nothing of how her Son’s dearest friends were prospering, and to be cut off from praying for them? So I believe that she is my Mother, and that I am her son, as much as any of the earthly Christians who lived during her earthly life, and I believe that she loves me, because JESUS loves me; and I believe that she prays for me, because she wills that I should become what JESUS would have me be. And in these days when I in London can hear a broadcasting announcer clearing his throat in Madrid, I do not find it difficult to believe that Our Lady hears me in Heaven when I ask her in my sore need to pray for me. I beg you, don’t set the resources of the spiritual kingdom below the present achievements of radio-telephony.
...She is our Mother. He gave her to us. So when we pray with Gabriel, God’s archangel: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women,” and with Elizabeth: “And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, JESUS,” we add from ourselves as her children: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death”. And in Heaven “A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” will turn to her beloved Son, and an angel will come to help us and them to conquer in the fight’.
from Dom Bernard Clements OSB, 1880-1942
‘Mary is the “Regina Martyrum,” the Queen of Martyrs. Why is she so called? - she who never had any blows, or wound, or other injury to her consecrated person. How can she be exalted over those whose bodies suffered the most ruthless violence and the keenest torments for our Lord’s sake? She is, indeed, Queen of all Saints, of those who “walk with Christ n white, for they are worthy;” but how of those “who were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held?”
To answer this question, it must be recollected that the pains of the soul may be as fierce as those of the body. Bad men who are now in hell, and the elect of God who are in purgatory, are suffering only in their souls, for their bodies are still in the dust; yet how severe is that suffering! And perhaps most people who have lived long can bear witness in their own persons to a sharpness of distress which was like a sword cutting them, to a weight and force of sorrow which seemed to throw them down through bodily pain there was none.
What an overwhelming horror it must have been for the Blessed Mary to witness the Passion and the Crucifixion of her Son! Her anguish was, as Holy Simeon had announced to her, at the time of that Son’s Presentation in the Temple, a sword piercing her soul. If our Lord Himself could not bear the prospect of what was before Him, and was covered in the thought of it with a bloody sweat, His soul thus acting upon His body, does not this show how great mental pain can be? and would it have been wonderful Mary's head and heart had given way as she stood under His Cross?
Thus is she most truly the Queen of Martyrs’.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
What mist hath dimmed that glorious face?
What seas of grief my sun doth toss?
The golden rays of heavenly grace
lie now eclipsèd on the cross.
Jesus! my Love, my Son, my God,
behold thy mother washed in tears;
Thy bloody wounds be made a rod
to chasten these my latter years.
Thou messenger that didst impart
his first descent into my womb,
Come help me now to cleave my heart,
that I may there my Son intomb.
Ye angels all, that present were,
to show his birth in harmony;
Why are you not now ready here,
to make a mourning symphony?
But wail, my soul, thy comfort dies,
my woeful womb lament thy fruit;
My heart, give tears unto my eyes,
let sorrow string my heavy lute.
St Robert Southwell, c.1561-1595
from The Prayers of Saint Brigid of Sweden
O Jesus! Inexhaustible Fountain of compassion,
Who in a profound gesture of love
Cried from the Cross ‘I thirst’,
Suffering there the thirst for the salvation of the human race.
I beg of Thee, my Saviour,
Inflame within our hearts a yearning towards perfection in all we do,
And extinguish in us the fire of concupiscence
And the passion of earthly desires. Amen.
O Jesus! Strong Lion, Immortal and Invincible King,
Remember the pain which Thou didst endure
When all the strength of Thy body and mind was utterly spent,
Thou didst bow Thy Head and say
‘It is finished!’
Through this anguish and grief, I beg of Thee, Lord Jesus,
Have mercy on me in the hour of my death,
When my mind will be in turmoil
And my soul in anguish. Amen.
Today, in the Calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, is the feast of the Most Precious Blood. From 1849 to 1969 it was part of the General Roman Calendar, but was removed on account of its commemoration, as a theme, in the Masses of the Passion, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It remains however, in the Ordinary Form, as a Votive Mass, but it does not feature, under this title, in the Ordinariate’s liturgical usage. Rather, in Divine Worship: The Missal, provision is made for a Votive Mass of the Five Wounds, a medieval devotion, popular in England especially, which was found in the missal of the Sarum Use. The emblem of the Five Wounds was notably employed on the banner rallying the faithful - clergy, religious, and lay - in the famous Pilgrimage of Grace between 1536-1537 which saw unsuccessful uprisings across Northern England in protest at Henry VIII’s break with Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Highly appropriate, then, that such a hallowed devotion, dear to Ecclesia Anglicana, should be revived in a collection intended to preserve, liturgically, the English spiritual tradition within the Catholic Church. The Collect and Postcommunion for the Mass of the Five Wounds in Divine Worship make specific mention of the Precious Blood, and whilst there is no feast of the same, it would be both suitable and felicitous to offer this beautiful Mass in this month of July, which remains dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Christ.
Oh blessed body! Whither art thou thrown?
No lodging for thee, but a cold hard stone?
So many hearts on earth, and yet not one
Sure there is room within our hearts good store;
For they can lodge transgressions by the score:
Thousands of toys dwell there, yet out of door
They leave thee.
But that which shows them large, shows them unfit.
Whatever sin did this pure rock commit,
Which holds thee now? Who hath indicted it
Where our hard hearts have took up stones to brain thee,
And missing this, most falsely did arraign thee;
Only these stones in quiet entertain thee,
And as of old, the law by heav’nly art,
Was writ in stone; so thou, which also art
The letter of the word, find’st no fit heart
To hold thee.
Yet do we still persist as we began,
And so should perish, but that nothing can,
Though it be cold, hard, foul, from loving man
George Herbert, 1593-1633
‘There is no Mass today. That which is done at the altar is but the summing up of what, in time, was begun yesterday, that Act which although it has its moments in time, is of the Eternal order of reality in itself, is not made more by that immersion in time but only made accessible and available to us men and for our salvation. As in the Incarnation God comes to and adds to man, not man to God, so in Holy Mass, ever is it that our emptiness is filled, our nothingness finds its sole accompaniment in Jesus, our poverty enriched by the Divine Liberality, our frailty charged with power from on high. Is it not in order to emphasise this that the Church today throws us back on the very Act and moment of the first Good Friday, bids us contemplate the Mystery of the Cross in all its stark reality, strips herself bare to leave us face to face with the Crucifix, would have us see with the eye of faith alone the profundity of the Divine Love, the malice of sin, the perfection of the Sacrifice, which exhibits the one and atones for the other, would have us seek nought else but to stand silent, worshipful, penitent, all-loving at the Cross with Mary, Mother of Sorrows, Magdalene, Queen of Penitents, John, prince of lovers, and those other few, known scarcely but by name, to whom. we, indeed, are more akin?
Ite Missa est. No translation is possible save in that word of Jesus, Consummatum est, which our It is finished fails to express. For here is not something finished in the sense of being ended, done with, and laid aside, but in the fullest sense of an act which had not only accomplished all that was necessary, filled out and completed the whole designed, but this in order that it may remain an abiding thing, of permanent value and use. The Cross is not the end of the Gospel but the centre, to which all tends, from which all flows. It is not a cul-de-sac but a way, the Way to Life, to freedom, to peace and joy’.
Dom Bede Frost OSB, 1875-1947
‘Holy Thursday is not only the day of the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist, whose splendour bathes all else and in some ways draws it to itself. To Holy Thursday also belongs the dark night of the Mount of Olives, to which Jesus goes with his disciples; the solitude and abandonment of Jesus, who in prayer goes forth to encounter the darkness of death; the betrayal of Judas, Jesus’ arrest and his denial by Peter; his indictment before the Sanhedrin and his being handed over to the Gentiles, to Pilate. Let us try at this hour to understand more deeply something of these events, for in them the mystery of our redemption takes place.
Jesus goes forth into the night. Night signifies lack of communication, a situation where people do not see one another. It is a symbol of incomprehension, of the obscuring of truth. It is the place where evil, which has to hide before the light, can grow. Jesus himself is light and truth, communication, purity and goodness. He enters into the night. Night is ultimately a symbol of death, the definitive loss of fellowship and life. Jesus enters into the night in order to overcome it and to inaugurate the new Day of God in the history of humanity.
On the way, he sang with his Apostles Israel’s psalms of liberation and redemption, which evoked the first Passover in Egypt, the night of liberation. Now he goes, as was his custom, to pray in solitude and, as Son, to speak with the Father. But, unusually, he wants to have close to him three disciples: Peter, James and John. These are the three who had experienced his Transfiguration – when the light of God’s glory shone through his human figure – and had seen him standing between the Law and the Prophets, between Moses and Elijah. They had heard him speaking to both of them about his “exodus” to Jerusalem. Jesus’ exodus to Jerusalem – how mysterious are these words! Israel’s exodus from Egypt had been the event of escape and liberation for God’s People. What would be the form taken by the exodus of Jesus, in whom the meaning of that historic drama was to be definitively fulfilled? The disciples were now witnessing the first stage of that exodus – the utter abasement which was nonetheless the essential step of the going forth to the freedom and new life which was the goal of the exodus. The disciples, whom Jesus wanted to have close to him as an element of human support in that hour of extreme distress, quickly fell asleep. Yet they heard some fragments of the words of Jesus’ prayer and they witnessed his way of acting. Both were deeply impressed on their hearts and they transmitted them to Christians for all time. Jesus called God “Abba”. The word means – as they add – “Father”. Yet it is not the usual form of the word “father”, but rather a children’s word – an affectionate name which one would not have dared to use in speaking to God. It is the language of the one who is truly a “child”, the Son of the Father, the one who is conscious of being in communion with God, in deepest union with him.
Jesus struggles with the Father. He struggles with himself. And he struggles for us. He experiences anguish before the power of death. First and foremost this is simply the dread natural to every living creature in the face of death. In Jesus, however, something more is at work. His gaze peers deeper, into the nights of evil. He sees the filthy flood of all the lies and all the disgrace which he will encounter in that chalice from which he must drink. His is the dread of one who is completely pure and holy as he sees the entire flood of this world’s evil bursting upon him. He also sees me, and he prays for me. This moment of Jesus’ mortal anguish is thus an essential part of the process of redemption’.
from a Maundy Thursday Homily, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI
Thou that on sin’s wages starvest,
Behold we have the joy in harvest:
For us was gather’d the first-fruits
For us was lifted from the roots,
Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore,
Scourged upon the threshing-floor;
Where the upper mill-stone roof’d His head,
At morn we found the heavenly Bread,
And on a thousand Altars laid,
Christ our Sacrifice is made!
Those whose dry plot for moisture gapes,
We shout with them that tread the grapes:
For us the Vine was fenced with thorn,
Five ways the precious branches torn;
Terrible fruit was on the tree
In the acre of Gethsemane;
For us by Calvary’s distress
The wine was rackèd from the press;
Now in our altar-vessels stored
Is the sweet Vintage of our Lord.
In Joseph’s garden they threw by
The riv’n Vine, leafless, lifeless, dry:
On Easter morn the Tree was forth,
In forty days reach’d Heaven from earth;
Soon the whole world is overspread;
Ye weary, come into the shade.
The field where he has planted us
Shall shake her fruit as Libanus,
When He has sheaved us in His sheaf,
When he has made us bear His leaf.--
We scarcely call that banquet food,
But even our Saviour’s and our blood,
We are so grafted on His wood.
Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ, 1844-1889
‘Holy Week sets before us for ever that the Christian and the Christian Church will conquer by God’s methods or not at all. You and I are the Church, remember. The Church is not some vague body outside us that we think ought to do this or ought to do that. She is us. And if she conquers in any other way than God’s way she will not be the Christian Church.
The Cross, then, shall be our glory. Its way and our way. It redeems us, and then redeemed we carry it, and then one day it carries us - very likely in some quite great act of sacrifice, material or intellectual. It is not that one day death will be swallowed up in victory. It is swallowed up now. As we die with Him we begin to live. The darkest moment of Holy Week leads directly into the glory of the Garden on Easter morning. In us the Christ advances this Holy Week to Calvary once more, and once more hatred and hostility will be met by Love, and pain will be conquered by the suffering of it. The triumphal procession on Palm Sunday was a real one, not a mock one. The King of Glory in real truth rode in that morning conquering. Whatever it may look like to the world, Good Friday is a complete victory of God's methods over man's, as we shall see, you and I, if we have the courage to try them. But it will need courage, because Calvary is not a pathway of roses, and a cross almost always hurts’.
Dom Bernard Clements OSB, 1880-1942
‘Early in the morning of this day Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, leaving Mary His Mother, and the two sisters Martha and Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus, at Bethania. The Mother of sorrows trembles at seeing her Son thus expose Himself to danger, for His enemies are bent upon His destruction; but it is not death, it is triumph that Jesus is to receive to-day in Jerusalem. The Messias, before being nailed to the cross, is to be proclaimed King by the people of the great city; the little children are to make her streets echo with their Hosannas to the Son of David; and this in presence of the soldiers of Rome’s emperor, and of the high priests and Pharisees: the first standing under the banner of their eagles; the second, dumb with rage.
The prophet Zachary had foretold this triumph which the Son of Man was to receive a few days before His Passion, and which had been prepared for Him from all eternity. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion! Shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy King will come to thee; the Just and the Saviour. He is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass”. Jesus, knowing that the hour has come for the fulfilment of this prophecy, singles out two from the rest of His disciples, and bids them lead to Him an ass and her colt, which they would find not far off. He has reached Beth phage, on Mount Olivet. The two disciples lose no time in executing the order given them by their divine Master; and the ass and the colt are soon brought to the place where He stands.
The holy fathers have explained to us the mystery of these two animals. The ass represents the Jewish people, which had been long under the yoke of the Law; the colt, upon which, as the evangelist says, no man yet hath sat, is a figure of the Gentile world, which no one had ever yet brought into subjection. The future of these two peoples is to be decided a few days hence: the Jews will be rejected, for having refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messias; the Gentiles will take their place, to be adopted as God’s people, and become docile and faithful.
The disciples spread their garments upon the colt; and our Saviour, that the prophetic figure might be fulfilled, sits upon him, and advances towards Jerusalem. As soon as it is known that Jesus is near the city, the holy Spirit works in the hearts of those Jews, who have come from all parts to celebrate the feast of the Passover. They go out to meet our Lord, holding palm branches in their hands, and loudly proclaiming Him to be King. They that have accompanied Jesus from Bethania, join the enthusiastic crowd. Whilst some spread their garments on the way, others cut down boughs from the palm-trees, and strew them along the road. Hosanna is the triumphant cry, proclaiming to the whole city that Jesus, the Son of David, has made His entrance as her King.
Thus did God, in His power over men’s hearts, procure a triumph for His Son, and in the very city which, a few days later, was to clamour for His Blood. This day was one of glory to our Jesus, and the holy Church would have us renew, each year, the memory of this triumph of the Man-God. Shortly after the birth of our Emmanuel, we saw the Magi coming from the extreme east, and looking in Jerusalem for the King of the Jews, to whom they intended offering their gifts and their adorations: but it is Jerusalem herself that now goes forth to meet this King. Each of these events is an acknowledgment of the kingship of Jesus; the first, from the Gentiles; the second, from the Jews. Both were to pay Him this regal homage, before He suffered His Passion. The inscription to be put upon the cross, by Pilate’s order, will express the kingly character of the Crucified: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Pilate, the Roman governor, the pagan, the base coward, has been unwittingly the fulfiller of a prophecy; and when the enemies of Jesus insist on the inscription being altered, Pilate will not deign to give them any answer but this: “What I have written, I have written”. Today, it is the Jews themselves that proclaim Jesus to be their King: they will soon be dispersed, in punishment for their revolt against the Son of David; but Jesus is King, and will be so for ever. Thus were literally verified the words spoken by the Archangel to Mary, when he announced to her the glories of the Child that was to be born of her: “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David, His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever”. Jesus begins His reign upon the earth this very day; and though the first Israel is soon to disclaim His rule, a new Israel, formed from the faithful few of the old, shall rise up in every nation of the earth, and become the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom such as no mere earthly monarch ever coveted in his wildest fancies of ambition.
This is the glorious mystery which ushers in the great week, the week of dolours. Holy Church would have us give this momentary consolation to our heart, and hail our Jesus as our King. She has so arranged the service of to-day, that it should express both joy and sorrow; joy, by uniting herself with the loyal hosannas of the city of David; and sorrow, by compassionating the Passion of her divine Spouse’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
Today, in the Ordinariate and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, we commemorate Our Lady of Sorrows. In the Ordinariate Form it is known as ‘Saint Mary in Passiontide’ and in the Extraordinary as the ‘Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary’. It is a day, exactly one week before Good Friday, in which we recall the sufferings of Our Blessed Lady at the foot of the Cross, in fulfilment of Simeon’s prophecy, spoken to Mary: ‘and a sword will pierce through your own soul also’.
The Stabat Mater, below, is appointed as the Sequence for today’s commemoration. The text is that found in Divine Worship: The Missal. As Pius Parsch reflects, ‘We see Christ’s agony through the heart of His mother. She is our guide, she teaches us how to suffer and sympathise with her Son’.
‘Who is it that is watched? Jesus - true God and true Man. Jesus my Lord is crucified. Crucified. Yes, that explains where He is while they watch. On the cross - naked and alone.
Certainly he had said, “A man’s life consisteth not in the things which he possessth”. He now has nothing: all has been taken from Him, even His garments. His friends have deserted and His reputation is destroyed.
Yet He is not naked, for He is clothed with the robe of Righteousness and He still has the one treasure of man's life, complete Purity of Heart, a stainless conscience. The Pure in Heart see God, so He is not alone. Did He not say so? “and yet I am not alone for the Father is with me”.
They watched Him - some of that crowed who had stood outside Pilate’s courtyard, people of all kinds who, together with the ignorant soldiers, had by their demand “Crucify him” or by their silence given consent to His condemnation.
We know all this so well but do we remember that what we know from the written record of the Gospels is the revelation of eternal truth? We watch too. We are not commemorating a past event but moving in the realm of eternity. We have not come... merely out of a kind of respect, like attending the funeral of a relative. Nor have we come to pity a friend in His sufferings, like those friends of Job who sat in silence and watched him on his dung-hill.
No, we are here because we belong here at the Crucifixion, we are here not only because our Lord died for us, but because we have helped to bring about His death - for by our sins we crucify the Son of God afresh.
We are without excuse... [and] it is our sins for which we mourn, not for His sufferings. We creep to the Cross in penitence and lowly adoration to worship, for we see love rejected yet still loving. Love wants to be loved, but God who is love does not love in order to be loved. He loves us whatever we do.
Remember our Lord was crucified by ordinary people. It is just the same today. Do we not recognise in ourselves the Pilate who smothers his conscience for expediency and pretends not to be responsible? Have I not often chosen Barabbas, made a sinful choice for the inferior; even the sin of Judas had echoes in my own heart, for to what treachery has not disappointed pride led many disciples of Jesus?
We come and we watch in no spirit of condescending pity but penitently, humbly desiring to weep for our sins.
“And whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out”. The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. He will not reject us however poor our contrition. He will not despise us.
From the Cross He will speak to us and His words are spirit and are life’.
from the Three Hours’ Devotion preached at All Saints, Margaret Street, 1956
by Raymond Raynes CR, 1903-1958
O thou Eternal Victim slain
A sacrifice for guilty man,
By the Eternal Spirit made
An offering in the sinner's stead;
Our everlasting Priest art thou,
And plead’st thy death for sinners now.
Thy Offering still continues new,
The vesture keeps its bloody hue,
Thou stand’st the ever-slaughter’d Lamb,
Thy Priesthood still remains the same,
Thy years, O God, can never fail,
Thy goodness is unchangeable.
O that our faith may never move,
But stand unshaken as thy love!
Sure evidence of things unseen,
Now let it pass the years between,
And view thee bleeding on the Tree,
My God, who dies for me, for me.
from Hymns on the Lord’s Supper, 1745
by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
‘The Cross is the only key to prayer. You will never pray well unless you take the hammer and the nails, and the spear and the thorns, and the hyssop dipped in vinegar, and go to Golgotha stripped and bare, and in physical agony as well as agony of mind and soul, re-enact the Crucifixion in your own members, making up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ. You can only plead through Lips that were once parched and cracked and stained with blood - your prayer can only be heard if it is joined to that stream of intercession that pours forth unceasingly in Heaven from One who once was “slain”. Impassible though He be now, He is not unfeeling, and His very memories of Good Friday wing your prayers. Oh yes; the Transfiguration Light may dazzle, and the soul sigh for the sweet cool converse of God walking in the evening peace of Eden, but there is no road to Eden except through the bloodsweat of Gethsemane and Calvary’s long-drawn cry in the dark night of the soul - “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”’
from Prayer and Contemplation in Laudate by Dom Denys Prideaux OSB, 1864-1934
‘Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came by blood as well as by water, not only as a Fount of grace and truth - the source of spiritual light, joy, and salvation - but as a combatant with Sin and Satan, who was “consecrated through suffering”. He was, as prophecy had marked Him out, “red in His apparel, and His garments like Him that treadeth in the wine-fat;” or, in the words of the Apostle, “He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood”. It was the untold sufferings of the Eternal Word in our nature, His body dislocated and torn, His blood poured out, His soul violently separated by a painful death, which has put away from us the wrath of Him whose love sent Him for that very purpose. This only was our Atonement; no one shared in the work. He “trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with Him”. When lifted up upon the cursed tree, He fought with all the hosts of evil, and conquered by suffering.
Thus, in a most mysterious way, all that is needful for this sinful world, the life of our souls, the regeneration of our nature, all that is most joyful and glorious, hope, light, peace, spiritual freedom, holy influences, religious knowledge and strength, all flow from a fount of blood. A work of blood is our salvation; and we, as we would be saved, must draw near and gaze upon it in faith, and accept it as the way to heaven. We must take Him, who thus suffered, as our guide; we must embrace His sacred feet, and follow Him. No wonder, then, should we receive on ourselves some drops of the sacred agony which bedewed His garments; no wonder, should we be sprinkled with the sorrows which He bore in expiation of our sins!’
from Bodily Suffering in Parochial and Plain Sermons, Book 3: Sermon 11
by Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
Fr Lee Kenyon
A Treasure to be Shared
The Acolyte’s Toolbox