All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.
Abraham Lincoln, September 7, 1864
Holy Week and Passover coincide this year. Dennis Prager in the above video imagines what a paradise the world would be if everyone obeyed the Ten Commandments. Religion is not some extra element in Western Civilization, but at its very core. Take it away and what is left is an alien and self-destructive force, not long for this world and with no hope of the next.
Something for the weekend. O Sacred Head Now Wounded. The lyrics of this hymn derive from the latin poem Salve Mundi Salutare. The authorship is open to doubt although I agree with those who attribute at least part of the poem to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, based upon stylistic similarities with portions of his other writings. The sanctity and eloquence of Saint Bernard alloyed with the musical genius of Johann Sebastian Bach makes a potent combination indeed.
On a personal note this hymn has always moved me as no other does. I had it played at my son’s funeral and when I depart this Vale of Tears I have requested that it be played at mine. It reminds me that God died for me, something I find absolutely stunning. Love and sacrifice begin and end with God, who regards each man as if there were no other.
Something for the weekend. Palm Sunday Gregorian Chants. Holy Week is our lives writ in Eternity. We begin with a burst of joy in our birth, and as sure as we were born we die, with the sorrow that death inevitably brings. Thanks to Our Savior Christ, that is not our end, and we can share with him the everlasting joy of Easter.
Something for the weekend. What Wondrous Love is This? and the Pieta. After Michelangelo completed it and had the Pieta moved to display it, the workmen who did it refused to accept a penny for their hard labor, saying they would get their reward in Heaven. I pray that they did, and I pray we all meet a similar fate. Continue Reading
Today, Palm Sunday, and throughout the rest of Holy Week, we devote ourselves to the central mysteries of our faith as Christians: Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Last Supper, which instituted for us the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The suffering and death of Christ on the cross. His resurrection on the third day.
These miracles are the very center of our faith. As Saint Paul said, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain. Or to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor’s use of rather more modern parlance, “If it isn’t true, to hell with it.”
This central miracle, Christ’s death and resurrection, is the miracle which gives our faith meaning and sets it radically apart from the “he was a good man killed by the authorities for standing up for the poor” substitute which some propose. For if Christ was not God, if He did not rise from the dead, if He did not offer to us eternal salvation, then “he was a good man” is no half-way-there substitute. The resurrection is a miracle so unlikely, so scandalous that we must either embrace it wholly or reject Christianity with scorn. The events of Holy Week are not something we can accept half-way, and by accepting them we accept something which goes utterly and completely beyond the natural and predictable world. A miracle.
One of our reasons for being here on The American Catholic is to provide a forum for spirited yet respectful discourse on the often controversial intersection of Catholicism and civic life. I know I very much enjoy the controversies here, and I’ve learned a lot from the other writers and commenters here over the last seven months.
However, there is a time and place for everything, and as we enter the most sacred period of the year, there’s been discussion among our contributors about instituting an Easter Peace of sorts. We will not be closing comments, however we would respectfully ask that readers consider adopting a more restrained tone between evening of Holy Thursday and the morning of Easter Monday. (If you find the time to read at all.)
All new posts during that time will be on Holy Week related themes.
From the writing team: A blessed Triduum and Easter to all our readers.
As we enter into the Holy Triduum, I’d like to invite a reading of Pope Benedict’s catechesis given during yesterday’s general audience, appropriately deemed by Sandro Magister “A Handbook for Holy Week”:
Dear brothers and sisters, Holy Week, which for us Christians is the most important week of the year, offers us the opportunity to be immersed in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great mystery of the faith. Beginning tomorrow afternoon, with the Mass “In Coena Domini,” the solemn liturgical rites will help us to meditate in a more lively manner on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord in the days of the Holy Paschal Triduum, fulcrum of the entire liturgical year. May divine grace open our hearts to comprehend the inestimable gift that salvation is, obtained for us by Christ’s sacrifice. [Read the rest]
(The homilies of Pope Benedict XVI for Holy Week 2009 will be made available here, on the Vatican website).