Today, again, our Savior sets out in the morning for Jerusalem. His intention is to repair to the temple, and continue his yesterday’s teachings. It is evident that His mission on earth is fast drawing to its close. He says to His Disciples: You know that after two days shall he the Pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified. (Matthew 26:2)
On the road from Bethania to Jerusalem, the Disciples are surprised at seeing the fig-tree, which their Divine Master had yesterday cursed, now dead. Addressing himself to Jesus, Peter says, “Rabbi, behold, the fig-tree, which thou didst curse, is withered away?” (Mark 11:21) In order to teach us that the whole of material nature is subservient to the spiritual element, when this last is united to God by faith. Jesus replies, “Have the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain ‘Be thou removed and cast into the sea’ and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he saith shall he done, it shall he done unto him.” (Mark 11:22-23)
Having entered the City, Jesus directs his steps towards the Temple. No sooner has He entered, than the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Ancients of the people, accost him with these words: “By what authority dost thou these things? And who has given thee this authority, that thou shouldst do these things?” (Mark 11:28) We shall find our Lord’s answer given in the Gospel. Our object is to mention the leading events of the last days of our Redeemer on earth; the holy Volume will supply the details.
As on the two preceding days, Jesus leaves the City towards evening. He passes over Mount Olivet, and returns to Bethania, where he finds his Blessed Mother and His devoted friends.
In today’s Mass, the Church reads the history of the Passion according to St. Mark, who wrote his Gospel next after St. Matthew. Hence it is, that the second place is assigned to him. His account of the Passion is shorter than St. Matthew’s, of which it would often seem to be a summary; and yet certain details are peculiar to this Evangelist, and prove him to have been an eye-witness. Our readers are aware that St. Mark was the disciple of St. Peter, and that his Gospel was written under the very eye of the Prince of the Apostles.
In Rome, the Station for today is in the Church of St. Prisca, which is said to have been the house of Aquila and his wife Prisca, to whom St. Paul sends his salutations, in his Epistle to the Romans. In the 3rd century, Pope St. Eutychian had translated thither, on account of the sameness of the name the body of St. Prisca, a Virgin and Martyr of Rome.
Three days hence, and the Cross will be lifted up on Calvary, bearing upon itself the Author of our Salvation. The Church, in the Introit of today’s Mass, bids us at once pay our homage to this trophy of our victory, and glory in it.
We ought to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by whom we have been saved and delivered.
Ps. May God have mercy on us, and bless us; may his countenance shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
We ought, etc.
In the Collect, the Church prays that the sacred anniversaries of our Savior’s Passion may be to us a source of pardon; and that they may work in us a full reconciliation with the Divine Justice.
O Almighty and everlasting God, grant that we may so celebrate the mysteries of our Lord’s Passion, as to obtain thy pardon. Through the same, etc.
For the other Collects, see the Mass for Monday in Holy Week.
Lesson from the Prophet Jeremiah 11:18-20
In those days: Jeremias said: Thou, O Lord, hast shewed me, and I have known: then thou shewedst me their doings. And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim; and I knew not that they had devised counsels against me, saying: Let us put wood on his bread, and cut him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more. But thou, O Lord of Sabaoth, who judgest justly, and triest the reins of the heart, let me see thy revenge on them; for to thee I have revealed my cause, O Lord, my God!
Again, we have the plaintive words of Jeremias: he gives us the very words used by his enemies, when they conspired his death. It is evident, however, that the Prophet is here a figure of one greater than himself. Let us, say these enemies, put wood upon his bread: that is, let us put poisonous wood into what he eats, that so we may cause his death. This is the literal sense of these words, as applied to the Prophet; but how much more truly were they fulfilled in our Redeemer! He tells us that his Divine Flesh is the True Bread that came down from heaven. This Bread, this Body of the Man-God, is bruised, torn, and wounded; the Jews nail it to the Wood; so that it is, in a manner, made one with the Wood, and the Wood is all covered with Jesus’ Blood. This Lamb of God was immolated on the Wood of the Cross: it is by his immolation that we have had given to us a Sacrifice which is worthy of God; and it is by this Sacrifice that we participate in the Bread of Heaven, the Flesh of the Lamb, our true Pasch.
The Gradual, which is taken from the 34th Psalm, shows us the humility and meekness of our Jesus under his sufferings. How they contrast with the haughty pride of his enemies!
When they were troublesome to me, I clothed myself with haircloth, and I humbled my soul with fasting; and I will yet continue to pour forth my prayer in my bosom.
℣. Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me, overthrow them that fight against me; take hold of arms and shield, and rise to help me.
After the Gradual, is sung the Passion according to Saint Mark. The same ceremonies are observed as during the Passion, which was read to us on Sunday, excepting only what regarded the Palms.
THE PASSION AND GOSPEL
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark 14:1-15:46
At that time, The Feast of the Pasch and of Azymes was after two days; and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might by some wile lay hold on Jesus, and kill him. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest there should be a tumult among the people.
And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the Leper, and was at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard; and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head. Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you, and whensoever you will, you may do them good; but me you have not always. What she had, she hath done; she is come beforehand to anoint my body for the burial. Amen I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done shall be told for a memorial of her.
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.
Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Pasch, the disciples say to him: Whither wilt thou that we go and prepare for thee to eat the Pasch? And he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith to them: Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you, a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him, and whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house: The Master saith: Where is my refectory, that I may eat the Pasch with my disciples? And he will shew you a large dining room furnished; and there prepare ye for us. And his disciples went their way, and came into the city; and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the Pasch.
And when evening was come, he cometh with the twelve. And when they were at table eating, Jesus saith: Amen I say to you, one of you that eateth with me shall betray me. But they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one by one: Is it I? Who saith to them: One of the twelve, who dippeth his hand in the dish with me. And the Son of Man goeth, as it is written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born. And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread: and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye, this is my body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it; and he said to them: This is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many. Amen I say to you, that I will drink no more of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God.
And when they had sung a hymn, they went forth to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus saith to them: You will all be scandalized in my regard this night; for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed.” But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter saith to him: Although all shall be scandalized in thee, yet not I. And Jesus saith to him: Amen I say to thee, today, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spoke the more vehemently: Although I should die together with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner also said they all.
And they came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray. And he taketh Peter, and James, and John with him; and he began to fear and to be heavy. And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. And when he had gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground; and he prayed that, if it might be, the hour might pass from him: and he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee, remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words. And when he returned, he found them again asleep (for their eyes were heavy), and they knew not what to answer him. And he cometh the third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now, and take your rest. It is enough, the hour is come; behold the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go. Behold he that will betray me is at hand.
And while he was yet speaking, cometh Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests, and the scribes, and the ancients. And he that betrayed him had given them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he, lay hold on him, and lead him away carefully. And when he was come, immediately going up to him, he saith: Hail, Rabbi! And he kissed him. But they laid hands on him, and held him. And one of them that stood by, drawing a sword, struck a servant of the chief priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus answering, said to them: Are you come out as a robber with swords and staves to apprehend me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me. But, that the scripture may be fulfilled. Then his disciples leaving him, all fled away. And a certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and they laid hold on him. But he casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked.
And they brought Jesus to the High Priest; and all the priests and the scribes and the ancients were assembled together. And Peter followed him afar off even into the place of the High Priest; and he sat with the servants at the fire and warmed himself. And the chief priests and all the council sought for evidence against Jesus that they might put him to death, and they found none. For many bore false witness against him, and their evidences were not agreeing. And some rising up, bore false witness against him, saying: We heard him say: I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another not made with hands. And their witness did not agree.
And the High Priest rising up in the midst, asked Jesus, saying: Answerest thou nothing to the things that are laid to thy charge by these men? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the High Priest asked him, and said to him: Are thou Christ the Son of the Blessed God? and Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the High Priest rending his garments saith: What need we any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What think you? Who all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say to him: Prophesy! And the servants struck him with the palms of their hands.
Now when Peter was in the court below, there cometh to him one of the maid servants of the High Priest; and when she had seen Peter warming himself, looking on him, she saith: Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying: I neither know nor understand what thou sayest. And he went forth before the court, and the cock crew. And again a maid-servant seeing him, began to say to the standers-by: This is one of them. But he denied again. And after a while, they that stood by said again to Peter: Surely thou art one of them, for thou also art a Galilean. But he began to curse and swear, saying: I know not this man of whom you speak. And immediately the cock crew again. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he began to weep.
And straightway in the morning, the chief priests holding a consultation with the ancients and the scribes, and the whole council, binding Jesus, led him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him: Art thou the king of the Jews? But he answering, saith to him: Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him in many things. And Pilate again asked him, saying: Answerest thou nothing? behold in how many things they accuse thee. But Jesus still answered nothing; so that Pilate wondered.
Now on the festival day he was wont to release unto them one of the prisoners, whomsoever they demanded. And there was one called Barabbas, who was put in prison with some seditious men, who in the sedition had committed murder. And when the multitude was come up, they began to desire that he would do as he had ever done unto them. And Pilate answered them, and said: Will you that I release to you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him up out of envy. But the chief priests moved the people that he should rather release Barabbas to them. And Pilate again answering, saith to them: What will you then that I do with the King of the Jews? But they again cried out: Crucify him. And Pilate saith to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more: Crucify him.
And Pilate being willing to satisfy the people, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the court of the palace, and they called together the whole band; and they clothed him with purple, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon him. And they began to salute him: Hail, king of the Jews. And they struck his head with a reed, and they did spit on him; and bowing their knees, they adored him.
And after they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own garments on him, and they led him out to crucify him. And they forced one Simon, a Cyrenean, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up his cross. And they bring him into the place called Golgotha, which being interpreted is, The place of Calvary. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but he took it not. And crucifying him, they divided his garments casting lots for them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the inscription of his cause was written over, The King of the Jews. And with him they crucified two thieves, the one on his right hand and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith: “And with the wicked he was reputed.”
And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the Temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again, save thyself, coming down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests with the scribes mocking, said one to another: He saved others, himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel come down from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole world until the ninth hour; and at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Eloï, Eloï, lama sabacthani? which is, being interpreted: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of the standers-by hearing, said: Behold, he calleth Elias. And one running and filling a sponge with vinegar, and putting it upon a reed, gave him to drink, saying: Stay, let us see if Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.
Here a pause is made, as on Palm Sunday. All kneel down, and if such be custom of the place, prostrate and kiss the ground.
And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he gave up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the Son of God. And there were also women looking on afar off, among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the Mother of James the Less, and of Joseph, and Salome; who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem.
Here, the Deacon presents the Incense to the Priest, that it may be blessed; and, after having himself received a blessing, he terminates the Passion, observing the ceremonies which are used at the singing of the Gospel in a High Mass.
And when the evening was now come (because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a noble counsellor, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. But Pilate wondered that he should be already dead; and sending for the centurion, he asked him if he were already dead. And when he had understood it by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking him down, wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulcher.
At the Offertory, the Messias asks his Eternal Father to defend him from the enemies that are preparing his destruction.
Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the sinful man; and from unjust men deliver me.
In the Secret, the Church offers to the Majesty of God the tribute of our fasts, in union with the Holy Host on our Altar, and from which they derive all their merit and efficacy.
May these sacrifices, O Lord, we beseech thee, which are accompanied with healing fasts, mercifully repair us. Through, etc.
For the other Secrets, see the Mass for Monday in Holy Week.
The words of the Psalmist, used by the Church in her Communion-Anthem, show us the blasphemous daring of our Savior’s enemies, as also the dispositions in which this dear Jesus himself was during his sacred Passion.
The judges in the gate spoke against me, and they that drank wine made songs against me. But I poured forth my prayer to thee, O Lord: it is time, O God, to shew thy good will to me, according to the multitude of thy mercies.
In the Postcommunion, the Church prays that, by the merits of the Sacrifice she has just offered, we may obtain the perfect cure of our spiritual infirmities; for the Blood of the Lamb takes away the sins of the world.
May these thy holy mysteries, O Almighty God, both cure our vices and become an eternal remedy to us. Through, etc.
For the other Postcommunions, see the Mass for Monday in Holy Week.
LET US PRAY
Bow down your heads to God.
May thy mercy, O God, purify us from the corruption of the old man, and enable us to put on the new. Through, etc.
We may close this day by saying these few verses, taken from a Hymn of the Greek Church on the Passion of our Lord.
The life-giving Wound of thy Side, O Jesus! like the fountain that sprang from Eden, waters the spiritual garden of thy Church. Thence, dividing itself into the four Gospels, as into so many master-streams, it freshens the world, gladdens creation, and teaches all nations to bow down in faith, and venerate thy Kingdom.
Thou wast crucified for me, that thou mightest be to me as a fountain, pouring out forgiveness upon me. Thou wast wounded in thy Side, that thou mightest open to me the sources of life. Thou wast nailed to the Cross, that I, confessing the greatness of thy power in the depth of thy Passion, might sing to thee, O Christ, thou giver of life: Glory be to thy Cross and Passion, O Savior!
Thou, O Christ, didst, on thy Cross, tear the hand-writing that was against us. Thou wast numbered among the dead, and there didst bind down the tyrant, and, by thy Resurrection, didst set us all free from the chains of death. It is thy Resurrection that has given us light, O God, thou lover of mankind! To thee do we sing: Remember us, also, O Savior, in thy Kingdom!
To thee, most merciful Lord, we bring thy Mother, that she may intercede for us—she that conceived thee and was a Virgin, she that gave thee birth, and was a spotless Virgin. May her prayers obtain from thee the unceasing pardon of sin to all that cry out to thee: Remember us, also, O Lord, in thy Kingdom!
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)