Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Passiontide and HOLY WEEK

Passiontide is celebrated from the First Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday.

  During these last two weeks of Lent, leading up to Easter, the Church is at pains to make us relive with her the events which went before and surrounded our Saviour's death, and which, above all others, were decisive in effecting the salvation of the world. Passiontide, by its close connection with Eastertide even now sets before us our redemption in the blood of Jesus, but it is the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ and the humiliations of his passion to which the Church now turns particular attention. Before applying to our souls the fruits of grace in the triumphant celebration of our Saviour's resurrection, she desires to make us follow Christ step by step in the dire struggle which he underwent in order to redeem us.

Thus the long retreat of Lent draws to a close, as we contemplate that unique contest, which could alone wrest man from sin and earn salvation for him. It is essential that we should be reminded of this and it is a source of great consolation for us. Our personal effort at self-correction and reparation is not thereby rendered useless, but it is only effective and of value in union with the passion of him who took on himself the sins of the world and expiated them all. Through that mysterious solidarity, which exists between all members of the human family, Jesus, Son of God made man, takes the place of his guilty brethren. He takes our sins upon him..."He was made sin for us," says St. Paul, so as to bear our sins in his body on the tree. (Peter 2.24)

But Christ was victorious in the very act of his self-immolation. He triumphs over evil, and over Satan; he re-establishes God's rights over the world and the devil; the "prince of this world" is cast out. David's prophecy is fulfilled, "God reigns from the tree." At the very heart of Holy Week, when on Good Friday the Church is plunged in sorrow in memory of our Saviour's Death, she brings us before the Cross to hail in it the source of our joy. "Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the Saviour of the world; come let us adore." And already we are conscious of the resurrection: "We adore your Cross, O Lord, we praise and glorify your resurrection. For behold, by the wood of the Cross joy came into the whole world." -From the Saint Andrew Missal

Passiontide and HOLY WEEK

Select Mass here

First Passion Sunday

Second Passion Sunday

Good Friday 

First Passion Sunday

Hebrews 9. 11-15; Psalm 142. 9, 10; 17. 48, 49; John 8, 46-59

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our Lord declares his divinity amid the growing cries of blasphemy and the increasing threats against his life.

Only the divine identity of Jesus' person can justify so absolute a claim as 'He who is not with me is against me'; and his saying that there is in him 'something greater than Jonah,...greater than Solomon,' something 'greater than the Temple'; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, (Cf. Mt 12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42) and his affirmations, 'Before Abraham was, I AM'; and even 'I and the Father are one.' "(Jn 8:58; 10:30) (CCC 590)

Do you declare the Lord's divinity by actions and words which testify to his lordship over your heart and mind, soul and strength? Or do you seek a compromise with this world which betrays a divided heart? "He who is not with me is against me." There is no middle way.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

( Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


 Second Passion Sunday 

Matthew 26. 36-75; 27. 1-60

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The events of our Lord's trial and passion have aroused the anger, pity and tears of faithful Christians throughout two millennia. How should e react to the trial and punishment, followed by the crucifixion of the Son of God as a criminal? Should we seek to blame particular people of his time and place?

The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take toward Jesus. (Cf. Jn 9:16; Jn 10:19) The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers. (Cf. Jn 9:22) To those who feared that 'everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation,' the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: 'It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.' (Jn 11:48-50) The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone to death, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition. (Cf. Mt 26:66; Jn 18:31; Lk 23:2, 19) The high priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death. (Cf. Jn 19:12, 15, 21)" (CCC 596)

Are the Jews collectively responsible for Jesus' death?

The historical complexity of Jesus' trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after Pentecost. (Cf. Mk 15:11; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; 1 Thess 2:14-15) Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept 'the ignorance' of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders. (Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17) Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd's cry: 'His blood be on us and on our children!' a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence. (Mt 27:25; cf. Acts 5:28; 18:6) As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council:

...[N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion....[T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture. (Nostrae Aetate 4) (CCC 597)

All of us have sinned and must look to Christ on the cross and see in his death the ransom and cure first for our own sins. We cannot help but each wonder: "Would I have remained at the foot of the Cross and braved all to be faithful as did Mary? Would I have been instead with Peter, furious in my denials against him, concerned with the preservation of my body over the eternal fate of my soul?

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

( Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


 Good Friday

Osee 6. 1-6; Habacuc 3. 1-3; Exodus 12. 1-11; Psalm 139. 2-10, 14; John 18. 1-40; 19. 1-42

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Jesus Christ gives greatest glory to the Father precisely in the shattering degradation and utmost ignominy of the Cross. "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (Jn 12,23) Dying Jesus destroys our death and rising he restores our life, but the work must now be completed for each of us daily.

You and I share in Christ's glorious completion of the Father's will when we too accept the Cross and the Passion heroically and generously in our lives: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (Jn 12, 24) It appears at first as though Christ merely reminds us that we too must die as he will, and prepares us to accept it. But listen to what he says next: "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." This dying, then, is one which bears fruit by detachment from this world for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. A daily dying to the self by overcoming a million petty urges and desires. A generous acceptance of the duties of marriage and family life with cheerfulness. A configuring to the truth by rejection of sin and regular Confession.

A husband meets his greatest challenge to die to self and live for Christ as he devotedly cares for his terminally ill wife unto the end, never counting the cost in dollars or days. He has chosen Christ and "hated" his own life in this world so that he can live forever. A wife attends to her paraplegic husband in a heroic living of her marriage vows, choosing Christ and his life, and "hating" her life in this world because she looks forward with anticipation to the day when both she and her husband will know no more pain, suffering, labor or temptation.

A parent unconditionally loves his child afflicted with Downs syndrome, open to the Godly beauty and goodness that child has brought into the world. He "hates" his life in this world and sees a foretaste of heaven in the innocence of his child. He desires to share forever in the glory of God's love and understands that he must reject the very easy path of selfishness. The infertile couple reject the temptation to manipulate the process of life-giving through unnatural methods of conception and open themselves to the joys of adoption. They truly "hate" their lives in this world in reverence for God and the desire to do his will, choosing salvation as their greatest hope over the other good things this life offers.

We are not alone in our temptation to reject the crosses by which we are born into life if we will only bear them with patience and courage. Our sharing in baptism is the gift of grace so that we can desire a share in Christ's redemptive passion as the focus and purpose of our lives.

The desire to embrace his Father's plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus' whole life, (Cf. Lk 12:50; 22:15; Mt 16:21-23) 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.' (Jn 12:27) And again, 'Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?' (Jn 18:11) From the cross, just before 'It is finished,' he said, 'I thirst.' (Jn 19:30; 19:28) " (CCC 607)

In our prayer let us truly thirst for the Father's will in and with Jesus our Lord as we utter the words "Thy will be done."

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

( Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/