Walking the Royal Road to Victory, the Via Crucis, This Holy Week

Our Lord walked the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, on Good Friday as He carried that Cross that our sins had imposed so unjust upon Him. He willingly embraced His Cross so as to pay back in His Sacred Humanity the debt that was owed to Him in His Infinity as God, to re-open the Gates of Heaven that had been closed by Adam’s sin and to stretch out His arms on the horizontal beam of the Cross so as to embrace all men for all time to lift them up on the vertical beam to the Father in Heaven in Spirit and in Truth. Whether any one human being cooperates with the graces won for his immortal soul on the wood of the Holy Cross is up to the free will of that person. We do know, however, that God wants us to cooperate with the graces, made possible for us by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces, and to be conscious of the fact that our lives might very well be demanded of us this very night. Are we ready to make an accounting of our lives at the moment of our Particular Judgments?

Although the practice of praying the Way of Cross is one that should be kept throughout Lent, we should be particularly mindful of the need to do during this Holy Week. The Way of the Cross is actually our royal road to victory.

One of the many good spiritual practices that we should have resolved to make at the beginning of Lent forty days was to pray the Way of the Cross daily. There are many excellent sources of meditation for the Stations of the Cross. The one that is most familiar to Catholics belongs to the great Doctor of Moral Theologians, Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Not to be overlooked, however, are the wonderful set of reflections written by John Henry Cardinal Newman (Newman’s Way of the Cross). I came upon these for the first time in 1980. They are deeply inspiring and can be put to memory if they are done faithfully every day. Cardinal Newman’s meditations provide excellent food for prayer during this Holy Week, especically during the Easter Triduum of Our Lord’s Passion and Death and I cannot recommend them enough. 

Without prejudice to these–and other–excellent meditations on the Way of Cross and without seeking for one moment to substitute the reflections that follow for those meditations, I would like to present a few supplemental thoughts about each of the Stations of the Cross that might be of some help as we make our way through the Week of Weeks that is now almost upon us as a preparation for the Easter Season, which lasts ten days longer than Lent so as to signify that the joys of eternal blessedness in Heaven last forever. Our pilgrimage here on earth, even if it lasts one hundred years, is a blip in time by comparison.

I. Jesus is Condemned to Death

Our sins transcended time, helping to motivate the crowd assembled beneath Pontius Pilate’s porch to cry out for the release of Barabbas, the Zealot who believed that the way to deal with the oppressive Romans was to fight them with the sword. In reality, though, each time we sin, whether mortally or venially, we are crying out for Barabbas. We are seeking the expedient path to ready luxury and/or spiritual sloth. We do not want to choose completely for Our Lord as He has revealed Himself to us exclusively through the Catholic Church. We want to hold on to our selfishness, our impatience, our lack of zeal for souls, including our own, our materialism, and the compromises we have made with the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Truth be told, however, we play the part of Pontius Pilate a lot in our lives, remaining silent, perhaps, when the truths of the Faith are under attack from our own family members and friends, preferring not to speak about the Faith, especially concerning the Social Reign of Christ the King, in “mixed company” so as to avoid suffering some career setback and/or loss of popularity. And we live at a time when the modern day successors of Pontius Pilate, Catholics in public life who support the evils of our day under cover of law, do indeed wash their hands of the blood of the innocent as they seek the approval of the crowd.

Remember, one of the first plebiscites in the history of the world took place on Pontius Pilate’s front porch. Truth Himself lost the vote. Political expediency, that is, pragmatism, won the day. The Just Judge of all men was condemned by an unjust vote of a jury of His own creatures, whom He was about to redeem on the wood of the Holy Cross. We must pray that He will be merciful to us when we are judged after we have breathed our last breath in this vale of tears, forgiving us for the role we played in His own condemnation and for the many times we have betrayed Him by acts and words and thoughts of commission and omission.

II. Jesus Takes Up and Carries His Most Holy Cross

Our Lord took up the instrument of our redemption, the Holy Cross, and carried it to Golgotha. Weakened by the loss of His Most Precious Blood and Crowning with thorns, having spent the night in jail, having had nothing to eat or drink for over twelve long hours, Our Lord resolves to carry His Cross despite His weakened condition.

Each one of our sins darkens our intellects and weakens our wills. Each one of our sins makes us all the more inclined to sin. There is only one way to repair the damage we do to our souls by means of our sins: the Cross. We must take up our crosses, great and small, on a daily basis, recognizing that there is nothing we suffer, whether physically or spiritually or emotionally, that is the equal of what the very, very least of our venial sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion and Death. Who are we to complain or even whimper when some cross is visited upon us? Our Lord never permits us to suffer beyond our capacity. In His ineffable Mercy, you see, He never really makes us suffer as our sins truly deserve. We would die of sheer fright if we knew exactly how our sins had wounded Our Lord once in time and how they wound His Mystical Body, the Church, today. Mercifully, Our Lord gives us an opportunity to pay Him back in this mortal life for the debt that we owe Him for each one of our sins. Mercifully, Holy Mother Church permits us to gain indulgences for our souls and those of others. Those of us who are totally consecrated to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart give her freely all of the merits our indulgenced acts we gain each day, trusting that she will apply some of those merits to benefit us now and at the hour of our deaths. Our Lady, who stood by the foot of her Divine Son’s Holy Cross so valiantly, helps us to carry our own crosses so that we can truly “lift high the Cross."

There is no other path to Heaven than the Cross, which we are called to take up in our own lives and in the larger life of the Church in her human elements and in the world. Each cross that comes our way is perfectly fitted just for us. We can walk the royal road that leads to eternal victory as the sons of Mary Immaculate, never counting the cost and always considering a privilege to suffering with her and to offer it to her Divine Son through her Immaculate Heart.

III. Jesus Falls for the First Time

The weight of sins and the punishment they had already inflicted on Our Lord’s Sacred Humanity caused Him to fall for the first time as He walked the Via Dolorosa. He could have died right there if He had chosen to give up His spirit. He wanted to fulfill perfectly the Father’s will by redeeming us on the wood of the Holy Cross. He got up to continue to walk on the road to Calvary amidst the jeers and the hatred of the crowd, which just five days before had hailed him to the cheers of “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

Our merciful Lord has compassion on us erring sinners. He wants to rise up from our falls, whether venial or mortal, into sin, and to seek out His Divine Mercy in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance. Moreover, having been the recipients of such an unmerited, gratuitous gift as His sacramental absolution in the confessional, He expects us to be administrators of mercy, of forgiveness, to everyone else. That is, we must will the good of all other people, no matter how badly they have hurt us. We must pray for those who refuse to forgive us the wrongs we have done them, praying that there will be a happy reconciliation in eternity, please God we and they die in states of sanctifying grace. We must not only rise from our sins to try once again to scale the heights of sanctity with joy. We must rise from our pettiness and natural desire to hold grudges in order to pray for those from whom we are estranged and those who will only understand the intentions of our own hearts on the Last Day, when all of the just will be reconciled one unto the other.

Similarly, we can never permit the seemingly “heavy” weight of our daily crosses to crush our zeal for the Catholic Faith, including our zeal for the Cross itself. We must realize that Our Lord really meant it when He said:

Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.  (Mt. 11:29-30)

We can never permit ourselves to stay on the ground when we fall by means of sins or surrender to human discouragement, surrender to a loss of visible consolations in this vale of tears. We must rise up each day and walk the royal road of the cross anew without complaint and without hesitation.

IV. Jesus Meets His Most Afflicted Mother 

The encounter between Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother on the Via Dolorosa was truly heart-wrenching. The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which had been formed out of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, is consoled by the loving glance of Our Lady as she experiences her fourth dolor. The Son and His Blessed Mother suffered as one. There was a total communion of Hearts as the most perfect human being to have lived, the jewel of our race, Mary, grieved to see what our sins had caused her Divine Son, the Theandric Person, in the Sacred Humanity she had given Him by the power of the Holy Ghost at the Annunciation. Indeed, the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich recounts that Our Lady fainted as she saw what our sins had done to her Divine Son as He walked the Via Dolorosa.

How much do we continue to grieve Our Lady by means of our sins, by means of our lukewarmness, by means of our unwillingness to pray the Rosary well and to ask her, the Mediatrix of all graces, for all of the graces that we need to save our souls and to fulfill our duties in our freely chosen states-in-life? Do we really fly unto her, the Virgin of Virgins, to beg her to help us to undo the effects of sins on our sins by the patient carrying of our own daily crosses? Do we invoke her in times of trouble, both spiritual and temporal? Do we believe that she is all powerful with her Divine Son, that she will answer our prayers if we have total confidence in her intercessory power? Are we resolved never to grieve her again by means of our sins?

No fully human being has ever suffered as Mary suffered. No mother has ever suffered as Mary suffered. None of our sufferings and sacrifices can compare to Mary’s, who so loved the Father’s will that she watched her Divine Son be manhandled by means of our sins and ingratitude throughout the course of His Passion and Death. The way to Jesus Our Lord runs through Mary Our Blessed Mother. We must resolve not only to grieve her no more by means of our sins. We must resolve to love her perfectly as her consecrated slaves, resolving to make her known and loved by all men, generously dispensing her Miraculous Medal and her Green Scapular to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Our Lady converted the Catholic-hating Jew named Alphonse Ratisbonne on January 20, 1842, by appearing to him in the Church of San Andrea delle Fratte in the image that is impressed upon the Miraculous Medal, which Ratisbonne had been given to wear by his brother Theodore, who had converted to the Faith. Why do we not think that Our Lady will convert us by means of these sacramentals that she has given so mercifully for the salvation of the souls of the lost and the confused, the souls of infidels and heretics and schismatics and apostates?

Our Blessed Mother must be our constant companion during this Holy Week–and during every day of our lives, remembering her by various invocations and short prayers, making sure to honor her daily by praying her Most Holy Rosary and meditating upon her Seven Dolors.

V. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross

Our Lady's prayers won for Jesus the reluctant help of Simeon of Cyrene as He carried His Cross. Our Lord did not need Simon’s help. However, He accepted Simon’s help to give us an example that we must follow: that we must never be slow to come to the spiritual or temporal assistance of others, especially as they are carrying some heavy cross.

It is part of slothful human nature to be slow to perform the Spiritual and the Corporal Works of Mercy. We are so reluctant to embrace even the smallest of inconveniences to serve our brothers and sisters in Our Lord, forgetting the words of Our Lord, Who said:

Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.  (Mt. 25:40)

We must especially seek to serve the spiritual needs of our family members and friends, never ceasing to invite them into a deeper union with Our Lord through His true Church, especially by means of embracing Our Lord’s perennial teaching without any hint of compromise with the ethos of conciliarism by fleeing from the false shepherds of the false church who have done so much harm to so many souls. For the only way to be able to carry our daily crosses, be they spiritual or temporal, is as believing Catholics who recognize that the Cross is the means of our redemption, that our individual crosses are required in strict justice and are part of God’s merciful plan for our salvation. This is how we can truly help our family members and friends carry their crosses.

Moreover, we must learn from Our Lord to accept the help of others when it is offered to us. We must not be so proud or seemingly self-reliant as to refuse to accept the generosity of others as they seek to help us carry our own crosses. We must accept the help of others with grace, recognizing that we cannot deny to others the possibility of gaining merits from assisting us. We can be a source of grace for others just as Our Lord was for Simon of Cyrene and his two sons, Rufus and Alexander.

VI. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Saint Veronica wiped the face of Our Lord as He walked the Via Dolorosa. His Most Holy Face was bruised and swollen from having been slapped and beaten. It was covered with blood, sweat and spittle. That Holy Face, which radiated with bright beams the purity and glory of His Sacred Divinity when He was born in Bethlehem on Christmas Day, was marred beyond recognition. Our sins were responsible for the marring of Our Lord’s Most Holy Face.

Our souls radiated with the bright beams of the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity when at the moment they were baptized. Our sins, however, have marred and obscured the baptismal innocence of our souls, thus requiring us to have them bathed repeatedly in the Sacred of Penance in the Most Precious Blood of the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world. We must beg Our Lord to leave an impression of His Most Holy Face on our own souls just as He left an impression of It on Saint Veronica’s veil. We want to see the face of Christ in all others and for others to see His face of true charity, which wills the good of each person, on our own faces. We want to remake the world in the image of the Most Holy Face of Jesus.

We should take to heart the Prayer of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus to the Most Holy Face of Jesus:

O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows”, I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.

We should also take to hearts the words of Our Lord to Sister Pierina, who was told by Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to promote devotion to His Holy Face:

I firmly wish that My face reflecting the intimate pains of My soul, the suffering and love of My, be more honored! Whoever gazes upon Me already consoles Me

VII. Jesus Falls for a Second Time

Our sins caused Our Lord to fall a second time. Our Lord had thrown the devil off of a cliff at the end of His forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert. The devil had his way with Our Lord, thrusting Him down under the weight of our sins the first time in retribution for his having been cast out of Heaven and thrusting Him down this second time under the weight of our sins in retribution for Our Lord’s refusal to worship Him during the those forty days in the desert.

Oh, we fall so many times. Our faith fails us so many times. We trust in our own strength–or that of other mere mortals, not realizing that Our Lord really meant it when He said:

I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.  (Jn. 15:5)

We will fall and we will fail in our merely human, naturalistic efforts to seek to resolve problems in our own life and the world without referencing Our Lord and the Deposit of Faith He has entrusted solely to the Catholic Church, without relying upon His sanctifying graces to root out the grip that sin has on our souls. We must walk the rocky, frequently dangerous road that leads to the Narrow Gate of Life Himself, being willing to get up when we fall, to accept humiliations and misunderstandings in the spirit that Our Lord Himself accepted them, to avoid even the slightest temptation to walk the smooth road that leads to the wide gate of eternal perdition. We must never give the devil dominion over any aspect of our lives, cleaving to Our Lord through everything He has revealed to the Catholic Church, including His Social Teaching, at all times without hint of compromise with the spirit of the world.

VIII. Jesus Speaks to and Consoles the Daughters of Jerusalem


And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us; and to the hills: Cover us. For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?  (Lk. 23:27-31) 


Yes, we must weep over our sins. 


There was the story of a man some years ago who was grieving for himself in a time personal sorrow. He had the sensus Catholicus, however, to utter the following words as he cried, “Dear Lord, if only I grieved for my sins as I am grieving for myself right now.”

A priest once said, “I wish I could spend the rest of my life in a monastery grieving for my sins.” 


As was noted earlier, none of us knows how much our sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His fearful Passion and Death. We must seek to do penance for our sins and to live penitentially, especially now during this season of penance. We must embrace a spirit of Holy Poverty, seeking to be enriched spiritually and not materially, to live as the Holy Family of Nazareth lived, content with modesty of means rather than desiring to covet the most luxurious lifestyle imaginable. 


Our Lord consoled the daughters of Jerusalem. We must console His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary with our acts of penance, offered in love for what He gave us on the wood of the Holy Cross: the possibility of eternal life in Heaven. 


IX. Jesus Falls for a Third Time 


Exhausted by His lack of sleep and nutrition and hydration, spent by the loss of His Most Precious Blood and the effort that it took to carry His Cross, Our Lord fell for a third time on the Via Dolorosa. He could have died then and there. To fulfill perfectly His Co-Equal Father’s Holy Will, He lifted Himself up as He was derided by the Roman soldiers and jeered by the crowd. He had to go on to Calvary to win back for us on the tree of the Holy Cross what was lost for us on the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden: eternal life. 


We must ask Our Lord give us the supernatural strength that we need every day to rise up out of our spiritual slumber and to persevere, especially when things appear, humanly speaking, to be the most difficult. We live in the midst of unimaginable difficulties within the true Church in her human elements. The easiest thing to do would be to quit, to think that all is lost. We must rise up each day and simply be about the business of saving our souls as Catholics, offering up all of our personal and ecclesiastical difficulties to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with total confidence and joy. 


The devil knows that he will be shut up in Hell for all eternity at the end of time, which is one of the reasons he used the weight of our sins to cast Our Lord to the ground, bleeding and prostrate, for yet a third time. The adversary, who prowls around the world like a roaring lion seeking to devour souls, as Saint Peter reminded us: 


Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pt. 5:8) 


It is the devil who wants us to quit and to be discouraged in the midst of difficulties. Relying upon Our Lord’s graces that come to us through the loving hands of Our Lady, we must walk to Calvary every day of our lives. There is just no other way to live if one want to live forever in Heaven.

X. Jesus is Stripped of His Garment

Our Lord arrived at Calvary and is stripped of the only thing He owned, His tunic, exposing His Body to great pain as entire pieces of His Flesh are ripped off with the tunic. He is subjected to further mockery as His Holy Body, lacerated by the scourging and bruised with the blows He received from the Roman soldiers, is exposed to public view. 


The figurative tunic that covers the stench of our own sins will be exposed to public view on the Last Day. May it be the case that the true state of our soul will not be one of mockery and derision by those who have adjudged just by Our Lord. May it be the case by the graces of Our Lady that our souls will be healed of any and all wounds caused by our sins. We must keep this ever in mind when we pray at the Tenth Station. Our Lord’s Holy Body, Which was wounded by our sins, stood as an object of derision and mockery. We must strive with all of our being to cooperate with the graces won for us on Calvary so that we will die in such a way that our souls, having been purified if need be in Purgatory, will shine as brilliantly as Our Lord’s Glorified Body did on Easter Sunday.


We must also remember that we must be detached from all of the possessions and people and places of this passing vale of tears. We must be attached to God’s Holy Will alone as He has manifested It through the Catholic Church. It matters not if we lose all of our friends and if we lose all of our possessions and lack even a fit dwelling place as we make our pilgrimage here in the Church Militant to eternity. It matters only that we are attached to God through His Holy Church by remaining always in a state of Sanctifying Grace. We must also be stripped of our own selfishness and pride, willing to die to self more and more each day, especially during this season of Lent, so as to let Our Lord live more and more in every fiber of our being.  


XI. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross 


Our sins nailed Our Lord to the gibbet that is the Holy Cross. The soldiers thrust His wounded back onto the vertical beam, causing great pain as splintered pieces of wood went directly into the lacerations caused by the scourging. Our sins pounded those nails into His Holy Hands, with which He had instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders the night before, to the horizontal beam of the Cross. The nails were pounded in at the juncture of the wrist and the hand, severing the median nerve, which played like a violin against the nails, causing unspeakable torture throughout Our Lord’s Holy Body, as examinations of the Shroud of Turin have revealed. Our sins then nailed Our Lord’s Holy Feet, which had walked the face of the earth to teach and preach and perform miracles, to the base of the Holy Cross.


Our Lord was lifted high on the Cross. Just as Moses lifted the bronze serpent high in the desert to heal those who had been bitten by the seraph serpents, so are we healed by looking at the One Who was lifted up high on the Holy Cross on the heights of Golgotha, the Skull Place. He extended His arms in the gesture of the Eternal High Priest on the horizontal beam of the Cross to lift us up on the vertical beam to the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

We must be willing to be nailed to our own crosses every day. The great saints prayed for crosses. Imagine that? They prayed for crosses, knowing that the only way to save their own souls and the souls of others was to suffer with Our Lord by being nailed to Cross day in and day out.

As he was dying a few years ago, one priest asked the priest who had come to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to him why he, the dying priest, had to suffer so much. The other priest’s was very simple: “Because souls are expensive.”

Yes, souls are expensive. Their redemption was won by Our Lord’s being nailed to the wood of the Holy Cross. We must therefore die to self for love of Him as He died on the Cross for love of us, making it possible for us to know the crown of eternal glory in Paradise.

XII. Jesus Dies on the Cross

Here it is: the supreme moment in the history of the world. The moment for which the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity had become Incarnate in Our Lady’s virginal and immaculate womb by the power of the Holy Ghost. The moment at which the New and Eternal Covenant that had been instituted at the Last Supper was ratified. The moment at which the Old Covenant was superceded forever when the curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The moment in which the New Adam won back for on the tree of the Holy Cross what was lost for us by the first Adam on the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. The moment in which what appeared to those who lacked Faith to be Our Lord’s defeat but was actually His supreme victory over the power of sin and eternal death: His Bloody Sacrifice of the Cross to atone once and for all for human sins.

Only a handful of people stood beneath the Holy Cross to console Our Lord as He breathed His last. The Blessed Mother, she who is the Queen of Martyrs , our Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, and the young man given to her to be her son, Saint John the Evangelist, were there. So was Saint Mary Magdalene. So were a handful of others. The vast majority of those present as Our Lord died and the centurion’s lance pierced His Side to issue forth Blood and Water, the sacramental elements of the Church, were there to goad Him to the last. Others passed by in utter indifference as they went about their business as usual, not realizing that their own redemption was being wrought on the wood of the Cross upon which hung the Saviour of the world.

Our sins put us on the wrong side of the Cross on Good Friday. We were in the crowd goading Our Lord. We were “passing by,” too busy to notice the Sacrifice that was taking place for our sakes.

In His ineffable Mercy, however, Our Lord permits us to be with Him on the right side of the Cross every time we assist at Holy Mass, which is the unbloody perpetuation of that one Sacrifice of the Cross. The Mass, although it takes place at a given time in a given place at the hands of a given priest, is timeless, which is one of the reasons the sanctuary of the Church is set off from the nave. As the Mass is the timeless perpetuation of Calvary in an unbloody manner, its rites must reflect the transcendent mystery of Our Lord’s Redemptive Act, not the passing fads of the time in the name of the slogan called “inculturation of the Gospel.” The Immemorial Mass of Tradition clearly communicates this sense of the transcendent, the immutable, the timeless. The  Protestan and Masonic Novus Ordo worship service does not. Anyone who does not see this is steeped in self-deception. Something that is premised on lies and misrepresentations cannot clearly communicate what originated with God Himself. It admits of various legitimate options and adaptations, to say nothing of unchecked improvisations that are undertaken precisely to undermine the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood in the minds of ordinary Catholics.

Indeed, the very ethos of the Protestant and Judeo-Masonic Novus Ordo liturgical service eschews the spirit of penance and mortification that should mark the interior life of any serious Catholic at all times, especially so during Lent. There are only two days appointed for obligatory fasting in the Novus Ordo, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This bias against penance and self-denial is found in Paragraph 15 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal:

The same awareness of the present state of the world also influenced the use of texts from very ancient tradition. It seemed that this cherished treasure would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church’s discipline. Thus there have been changes of some expressions bearing on the evaluation and use of the good things of the earth and of allusions to a particular form of outward penance belonging to another age in the history of the Church. (General Instruction to the Roman Missal, Paragraph Fifteen.)

Who says that forms of outward penance belong “another age in the history of the Church”?

Not God.

Not His Catholic Church.

Only prideful men who pose as shepherds and who have convinced most Catholics in the world that the practices of the “past” were “bad” and that we must do “positive” things in Lent rather than “negative” things such as fasting and denying ourselves various legitimate pleasures dare to assert such a thing.

Not God.

Not His Catholic Church.

We must love the Mass as Our Lord taught it to the Apostles before He Ascended to the Father’s right hand in glory. It is the sole means by which we can access to Our Beloved before we see Him face to face in Heaven, please God we die in a state of sanctifying grace. We keep Him company at the foot of the Cross in every Mass with Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Mary Magdalene–and all of the angels and the saints, each of whom is present mystically. If we want to appreciate the fullness of Our Lord’s love for us we must cleave to Him in the Mass and make whatever sacrifices we need to make to assist exclusively at the Mass that is all about God from the moment a priest of the Roman Rite enters the sanctuary and addresses God, not us, and recites theJudica me (Psalm 42), except in Masses for the dead and during Passiontide, to the time he recites, at least during most Masses of the year, the Gospel of the Incarnation at the end of Mass.

A deep and abiding love for the Mass, which is one of the fruits of the Twelfth Station of the Cross, will lead us to spend time with Our Lord in fervent prayer before His Real Presence. If we want to spend all eternity with Our Lord in Heaven, isn’t it a pretty good idea to want to spend time with Him here as He remains for us the Prisoner of Love in the tabernacle, where Our Lady, the Mediatrix of all graces and Co-Redemptrix of the world, who suffered the fifth of her seven dolors at the foot of the Holy Cross, stands with us in supplication?

XIII. The Body of Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

Our Lord’s Body is taken down from the Cross and placed into the loving arms of Our Lady, who has just given birth to us spiritually in great pain as the adopted sons and daughters of the living God. She suffers the sixth of her seven dolors as the One Whose infant Body she cradled in her tender arms in Bethlehem is now placed in her arms without any life in Him at all. She weeps over the sins that caused Him to suffer. She weeps over the fact that her Divine Son had died for many men in vain, those who would not even minimally say “My Jesus, Mercy” as they breathed their last.

Our Lady herself the recounted the events of the taking of her Divine Son's dead Body from the Cross as recorded in Venerable Mary of Agreda's New English Edition of The Mystical City of God:

730. The evening of that day of the Parasceve was already approaching, and the loving Mother had as yet no solution, which She desired so much, to the difficulty of the burial of her deceased Son Jesus. But the Lord ordained that the tribulations of his most tender Mother would be relieved by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, whom He had inspired with the thought of caring for the burial of their Master. They were both just men and disciples of the Lord, although not of the seventy-two, for they had not as yet openly confessed themselves as disciples for fear of the Jews, who suspected and hated as enemies all those who followed Christ and acknowledged Him as Master. The mandate of the divine will regarding the burial of her Son had not been manifested to the most prudent Virgin, and due to the difficulty which presented itself her sorrowful predicament increased such that She saw no way out by her own diligence. In her affliction She raised her eyes to heaven and said: “Eternal Father and my Lord, by the condescension of thy goodness and infinite wisdom I was raised to the exalted dignity of being the Mother of thy Son, and by that same bounty of an immense God Thou hast permitted me to nurse Him at my breast, nourish Him, and accompany Him to his death. Now it is incumbent upon me as his Mother to give honorable burial to his sacred body, though my strength can only manage to desire it and my heart is torn because I cannot attain it. My God, I beseech Thy Majesty to dispose by thy power the means to execute it.”

731. This prayer the most pious Mother offered up after the sacred body of the Lord was pierced by the lance. Soon after She saw another group of men coming toward Calvary with ladders and other apparatus seemingly for the purpose of taking from the Cross her priceless Treasure; but since She did not know their intentions She was afflicted anew with apprehension due to the cruelty of the Jews, and turning to St. John She said: “My son, what may be the object of these people in coming with all these instruments?” The Apostle answered: “Do not fear those who are coming, my Lady, for they are Joseph and Nicodemus with some of their servants, all of them friends and servants of thy divine Son and my Lord.” Joseph was just in the eyes of the Most High (Jn. 19:38), a noble decurion in the employment of the government, a member of the council, who as is given us to understand in the Gospel had not consented to the resolves and the proceedings of the murderers of Christ (Lk. 23:50-1), and who had recognized Him as the true Messiah. Although Joseph had been a secret disciple of the Lord, yet at his death, in consequence of the efficacious influence of the Redemption, he openly confessed his adherence. Setting aside all fear of the envy of the Jews, and caring nothing for the power of the Romans, he went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus (Mk. 15:43) in order to take Him down from the Cross and give Him honorable burial. He openly maintained that He was innocent and the true Son of God, as testified by the miracles of his life and death.

732. Pilate dared not refuse the request of Joseph, but gave him full permission to dispose of the dead body of Jesus as he thought fit. With this permission Joseph left the house of the judge and called upon Nicodemus. He too was a just man, learned in divine and human letters and in the Holy Scriptures as is evident in what St. John related of him when he visited Christ our Lord at night in order to hear his doctrine (Jn. 3:2). Joseph provided the winding sheets and burial cloths for the body of Jesus, while Nicodemus bought about one hundred pounds of the spices (Jn. 19:39) which the Jews were accustomed to use in the burial of distinguished men (Mt. 27:59). Provided with these and other necessities they went to Calvary. They were accompanied by their servants and some other pious and devout persons in whom likewise the blood shed for all by the crucified God had produced its salutary effects.

733. They approached most holy Mary, who in the company of St. John and the holy women stood in inconceivable sorrow at the foot of the Cross. Instead of a salute, their sorrow at the sight of so painful a spectacle as that of the divine Crucified was roused to such vehemence and bitterness that Joseph and Nicodemus remained for a time prostrate at the feet of the Queen, with all of them at the Cross amid tears and sights without speaking a word. All of them wept, crying out and lamenting bitterly until the invincible Queen raised them from the ground and animated and consoled them, whereupon they saluted Her in humble compassion. The most observant Mother thanked them for their kindness and the service they would render to their God, Lord and Master in giving burial to his deceased body, and offered them the reward for that work in his name. Joseph of Arimathea answered: “Already, our Lady, do we feel in the secret of our hearts the sweet delight of the divine Spirit, who has moved us to such love that we could never merit it or succeed in explaining it.” Then they took off their mantles and with their own hands Joseph and Nicodemus placed the ladders to the Holy Cross. On these they ascended in order to detach the sacred body, the glorious Mother being very near, and St. John and Magdalen in attendance. It seemed to Joseph that the sorrow of the heavenly Lady would be renewed when the sacred body would be lowered and She would touch Him, and therefore he advised the Apostle to take Her aside in order to divert Her. But St. John, who knew better the invincible Heart of the Queen, answered that from the beginning of the Passion She had been present at all the torments of the Lord, and that She would not leave Him until the end because She venerated Him as God and loved Him as the Son of her womb.

734. Nevertheless they begged Her for her own good to retire for a short time while they lowered her Master from the Cross. But the great Lady responded: “My dearest masters, since I was present when my sweetest Son was nailed to the Cross, fear not to allow me to be present at his taking down, for this act of such piety, though it shall hurt anew my heart, yet shall give me relief in my grief since I shall again hold Him and gaze upon Him.” Thereupon they began to arrange to take down the body. First they detached the crown from the head, laying bare the lacerations and deep wounds it had caused. They handed it down with great reverence, and amid abundant tears placed it in the hands of the sweetest Mother. She received it prostrate on her knees, and in deepest adoration bathed it with her tears, permitting the sharp thorns to wound her virginal countenance in pressing it to her face. She asked the eternal Father to inspire due veneration toward the sacred thorns in those Christians who would obtain possession of them in future times.

735. In imitation of the Mother, St. John with the pious women and the other faithful there present also adored it, and this they also did with the nails, which were first handed to most holy Mary for veneration and afterward to the bystanders. Then the great Lady placed Herself on her knees and held the unfolded cloth in her outstretched arms ready to receive the dead body of her Son. In order to assist Joseph and Nicodemus, St. John supported the head of Christ and Mary Magdalen the feet, and thus they tearfully and reverently placed Him into the arms of his sweetest Mother. This was for Her an event of equal compassion and joy, for in seeing Him covered with wounds, and his beauty disfigured, which had been greater than all the sons of men (Ps. 44:3), the sorrows of her most chaste Heart were again renewed, while in holding Him in her arms and at her bosom her incomparable sorrow was rejoiced and her love satiated by the possession of her Treasure. She looked upon Him with supreme worship and reverence, shedding tears of blood. In union with Her, as He rested in her arms, all the multitude of her attendant Angels worshipped Him, though this act was hidden from the bystanders. Then first St. John, and after him all those present in their turn, adored the sacred Body. In the meanwhile the most prudent Mother, seated on the ground, held Him in her arms so they could satisfy their devotion.

736. In all these proceedings our great Queen acted with such heavenly wisdom and prudence that She excited the admiration of angels and men, for her words were of great deliberation, most sweet in her caresses and compassion for her deceased Son, most tender in her pity, and mysterious in what they expressed and comprehended. Her sorrow exceeded all that could ever be felt by mortals. She moved the hearts to compassion and tears; She enlightened all so they could realize such a divine sacrament now transpiring. Above all this, without excess or failure in what She had to do, She maintained a humble majesty of countenance in the serenity of her face despite the painful sorrow She was suffering. With uniform adaptation to the circumstances She spoke to her beloved Son, to the eternal Father, to the Angels, to the bystanders, and to the whole human race, for whose Redemption the Lord had undergone his Passion and Death. I shall not detain myself in specifying the most prudent and sorrowful words of the great Lady on this occasion, for Christian piety will be able to conceive many of them, and it is not possible for me to pause for each one of these mysteries.

737. Some time passed during which the Sorrowful Mother held at her bosom the deceased Jesus, and since evening was far advancing St. John and Joseph besought Her to allow the burial of her Son and God to proceed. The most prudent Mother permitted it, and then they embalmed the sacred body using all one hundred pounds of the spices and aromatic ointments brought by Nicodemus (Jn. 19:40). Thus anointed the deified body was placed on a bier in order to be carried to the sepulchre. The heavenly Queen, most attentive in her zealous love, called from heaven many choirs of Angels, who together with her Guardian Angels accompanied the burial of their Creator. Immediately they descended from on high in shapes visible to their Queen and Lady, though not to the rest. A procession of heavenly spirits was formed and another of men, and the sacred body was borne along by St. John, Joseph, Nicodemus and the centurion, who had confessed the Lord and now assisted at his burial. They were followed by the Blessed Mother, by Mary Magdalen, the Marys, and the other pious women, disciples of Christ. In addition to these a great number of the faithful joined them, for many had been moved by divine light and had come to Calvary after the lance thrust. All of them thus ordered processed in silence and in tears to a nearby garden where Joseph had hewn into the rock a new grave in which nobody had as yet been deposited or buried (Jn. 19:41). In this most blessed sepulchre they placed the sacred body of Jesus. Before they closed it up with the heavy stone the devout and prudent Mother adored Christ anew, causing the admiration of men and angels. All of them imitated Her, adoring the crucified Savior now resting in his grave. Thereupon they closed the sepulchre with the stone, which according to the Evangelist was very heavy (Mt. 27:60).

738. At the same time the graves which had opened at the death of Christ were again closed, for among the other mysteries of their opening up was this, that these graves as it were unsealed themselves in order to receive Him whom the Jews had repudiated when He was alive and their Benefactor. At the command of the Queen many Angels remained to guard the sepulchre where She had left her Heart. In the same order and silence in which they had come they now returned to Calvary. The heavenly Mistress of virtues approached the Holy Cross and worshipped it in deepest reverence. In this Joseph and all the rest of the mourners followed Her. It was already late and the sun had set when the great Lady went from Calvary to the house of the Cenacle, accompanied by those who had been at the burial. Leaving Her in the Cenacle with St. John, the Marys, and other companions, the others took leave of Her with great tears and sobs, asking Her to give them her blessing. The most humble and prudent Lady thanked them for their service they had performed for her most holy Son and the benefit She had received. She permitted them to depart with many hidden and interior favors, and the blessings of sweetness from her natural kindness and pious humility. (New English Edition of The Mystical City of God: Book Six: The Transfixion, Chapter XXIV.)  

No Lent is well-lived unless one renews his total consecration to Our Divine Redeemer through Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, which was pierced with the sword of sorrow that had been prophesied by the aged Simeon at her Purification as her Divine Son was presented in the Temple. We must pray that Our Lady will receive our souls at the hour of our deaths as she received her Divine Son’s dead Body at the hour of His death on the wood of the Holy Cross, that we will not be one of those for whom her Divine Son had died in vain.

One of the ways we can console Our Lady is to promote the praying of her Seven Dolors. Our Lady said that great graces would be extended to us if we prayed her Seven Dolors and made them known to others. Our Lady pleaded with Saint Bernadette and she pleaded with the Fatima seers for us to do penance for our sins. This is an excellent way to do penance for our sins.

XIV. The Body of Jesus is Buried

And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.  (Jn. 19:38)  

Our Lord was born in a cave that He did not own. His dead Body was buried in a cave that He did not own. Our Lady wrapped His infant Body in swaddling clothes. She wrapped His dead Body in the burial shroud.

The tombstone was sealed against the tomb. Our Lady had to say goodbye to her Divine Son until the Resurrection forty hours later on Easter Sunday. She had to keep a vigil in prayer as she grieved the death of her Son before He manifested Himself to her immediately after He rose from the dead. Saint John the Evangelist consoled her:

737. Some time passed during which the Sorrowful Mother held at her bosom the deceased Jesus, and since evening was far advancing St. John and Joseph besought Her to allow the burial of her Son and God to proceed. The most prudent Mother permitted it, and then they embalmed the sacred body using all one hundred pounds of the spices and aromatic ointments brought by Nicodemus (Jn. 19:40). Thus anointed the deified body was placed on a bier in order to be carried to the sepulchre. The heavenly Queen, most attentive in her zealous love, called from heaven many choirs of Angels, who together with her Guardian Angels accompanied the burial of their Creator. Immediately they descended from on high in shapes visible to their Queen and Lady, though not to the rest. A procession of heavenly spirits was formed and another of men, and the sacred body was borne along by St. John, Joseph, Nicodemus and the centurion, who had confessed the Lord and now assisted at his burial. They were followed by the Blessed Mother, by Mary Magdalen, the Marys, and the other pious women, disciples of Christ. In addition to these a great number of the faithful joined them, for many had been moved by divine light and had come to Calvary after the lance thrust. All of them thus ordered processed in silence and in tears to a nearby garden where Joseph had hewn into the rock a new grave in which nobody had as yet been deposited or buried (Jn. 19:41). In this most blessed sepulchre they placed the sacred body of Jesus. Before they closed it up with the heavy stone the devout and prudent Mother adored Christ anew, causing the admiration of men and angels. All of them imitated Her, adoring the crucified Savior now resting in his grave. Thereupon they closed the sepulchre with the stone, which according to the Evangelist was very heavy (Mt. 27:60). 

738. At the same time the graves which had opened at the death of Christ were again closed, for among the other mysteries of their opening up was this, that these graves as it were unsealed themselves in order to receive Him whom the Jews had repudiated when He was alive and their Benefactor. At the command of the Queen many Angels remained to guard the sepulchre where She had left her Heart. In the same order and silence in which they had come they now returned to Calvary. The heavenly Mistress of virtues approached the Holy Cross and worshipped it in deepest reverence. In this Joseph and all the rest of the mourners followed Her. It was already late and the sun had set when the great Lady went from Calvary to the house of the Cenacle, accompanied by those who had been at the burial. Leaving Her in the Cenacle with St. John, the Marys, and other companions, the others took leave of Her with great tears and sobs, asking Her to give them her blessing. The most humble and prudent Lady thanked them for their service they had performed for her most holy Son and the benefit She had received. She permitted them to depart with many hidden and interior favors, and the blessings of sweetness from her natural kindness and pious humility. (New English Edition of The Mystical City of God: Book Six: The Transfixion, Chapter XXIV.)  

The other ten Apostles, however, lacking Our Lady’s Faith, hid in fright, not knowing what was to come next. Their own faith would not be strengthened until the saw Our Lord after the Resurrection, although Saint Thomas the Apostle would not take the word of his brother bishops: he wanted to see Our Lord and to put his fingers in His nail prints and to put his hand in His Wounded Side. Yes, they hid in fright.

We undergo a figurative “death,” if you will, every night, putting on a different set of clothes as we enter into, for however a long or short period of time, a period of suspended animation in sleep, which is a figure of death. If God’s will is for us to arise the following morning we do so as a figure of the first day of creation and the first day of our re-creation, that is, Easter Sunday. In other words, each day of our lives follows both the Order of Creation and the Order of Redemption, which is why Holy Mother Church teaches us to meditate on the Four Last Things before we go to bed each night: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. One day, you see, we will go to sleep only to wake up with the eyes of our soul at the moment of the Particular Judgment.

The burial of Our Lord’s Body, therefore, reminds us that we must be prepared for the day when our own mortal bodies will return to the dust of the earth. We receive ashes tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, to remind us of that very fact. It is thus incumbent upon us to be buried to the concerns of this passing world and to concentrate on participating in the glories of the Last Day, when the bodies of the just will rise up incorrupt and glorious and be reunited with their souls for all eternity in Heaven, gazing upon the splendor of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The burial of Our Lord’s Body also reminds us that we must be patient as He manifests His Holy Will in our own lives and in the life of the Church. Our Lady kept a vigil for forty hours. We must keep a vigil in prayer during the forty days of Lent and during every day of our lives, understanding that Our Lord may very well restrain us from seeing any “resolution” to our current difficulties in this mortal life, that we, like the Apostles, who did not see the glory of Christendom with their own eyes, may not see the glory of a restored Christendom as the fruit of the Triumph of His Most Blessed Mother’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with the eyes of the body. We must be content to work in cooperation with His ineffable graces for such a day and to receive an apostle’s reward when we die. And what better place to keep that vigil than in front of Our Lord Himself, where, as noted before, Our Lady herself awaits us to keep her company in prayer, especially by means of her Most Holy Rosary.

This reflection contains nothing novel or profound. Indeed, it would be a bad thing if it were novel. This reflection is merely a review of some basic facts of the Faith that we must keep in mind and seek to live out more fully during this great season of penance that has yet three more weeks to run. 

On Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., provided Catholic posterity, including us, with the following reflection on the meaning of this great day, Palm Sunday, and the significance of today's ceremonies in the unreformed, pre-Bugnini rites of the Catholic Church that is still followed in some sedevacantist chapels to this day:

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.’ [Zach. ix. 9]. 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 [St. Mark xi. 2], 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 [Ibid. 7, and St. Luke xix. 35.], 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 [St. Luke xix. 38]. 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.’ To-day, 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.’ [St. Luke i. 32]. 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. The whole function is divided into three parts, which we will now proceed to explain.

The first is the blessing of the palms; and we may have an idea of its importance from the solemnity used by the Church in this sacred rite. One would suppose that the holy Sacrifice has begun, and is going to be offered up in honour of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, even a Preface, are said, as though we were, as usual, preparing for the immolation of the spotless Lamb; but, after the triple Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! the Church suspends these sacrificial formulas, and turns to the blessing of the palms. The prayers she uses for this blessing are eloquent and full of instruction; and, together with the sprinkling with holy water and the incensation, impart a virtue to these branches, which elevates them to the supernatural order, and makes them means for the sanctification of our souls and the protection of our persons and dwellings. The faithful should hold these palms in their hands during the procession, and during the reading of the Passion at Mass, and keep them in their homes as an outward expression of their faith, and as a pledge of God’s watchful love.

It is scarcely necessary to tell our reader that the palms or olive branches, thus blessed, are carried in memory of those wherewith the people of Jerusalem strewed the road, as our Saviour made His triumphant entry; but a word on the antiquity of our ceremony will not be superfluous. It began very early in the east. It is probable that, as far as Jerusalem itself is concerned, the custom was established immediately after the ages of persecution. St. Cyril, who was bishop of that city in the fourth century, tells us that the palm-tree, from which the people cut the branches when they went out to meet our Saviour, was still to be seen in the vale of Cedron [Cateches. x. versus fin.] Such a circumstance would naturally suggest an annual commemoration of the great event. In the following century, we find this ceremony established, not only in the churches of the east, but also in the monasteries of Egypt and Syria. At the beginning of Lent, many of the holy monks obtained permission from their abbots to retire into the desert, that they might spend the sacred season in strict seclusion; but they were obliged to return to their monasteries for Palm Sunday, as we learn from the life of Saint Euthymius, written by his disciple Cyril [Act. SS. Jan. 20]. In the west, the introduction of this ceremony was more gradual; the first trace we find of it is in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, that is, at the end of the sixth, or the beginning of the seventh, century. When the faith had penetrated into the north, it was not possible to have palms or olive branches; they were supplied by branches from other trees. The beautiful prayers used in the blessing, and based on the mysteries expressed by the palm and olive trees, are still employed in the blessing of our willow, box, or other branches; and rightly, for these represent the symbolical ones which nature has denied us.

The second of to-day’s ceremonies is the procession, which comes immediately after the blessing of the palms. It represents our Saviour’s journey to Jerusalem, and His entry into the city. To make it the more expressive, the branches that have just been blessed are held in the hand during it. With the Jews, to hold a branch in one’s hand was a sign of joy. The divine law had sanctioned this practice, as we read in the following passage from Leviticus, where God commands His people to keep the feast of tabernacles: And you shall take to you, on the first day, the fruits of the fairest tree, and branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God [Lev. xxiii. 40]. It was, therefore, to testify their delight at seeing Jesus enter within their walls, that the inhabitants, even the little children, of Jerusalem, went forth to meet Him with palms in their hands. Let us, also, go before our King, singing our hosannas to Him as the conqueror of death, and the liberator of His people.

During the middle ages, it was the custom, in many churches, to carry the book of the holy Gospels in this procession. The Gospel contains the words of Jesus Christ, and was considered to represent Him. The procession halted at an appointed place, or station: the deacon then opened the sacred volume, and sang from it the passage which describes our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. This done, the cross which, up to this moment, was veiled, was uncovered; each of the clergy advanced towards it, venerated it, and placed at its foot a small portion of the palm he held in his hand. The procession then returned, preceded by the cross, which was left unveiled until all had re-entered the church. In England and Normandy, as far back as the eleventh century, there was practised a holy ceremony which represented, even more vividly than the one we have just been describing, the scene that was witnessed on this day at Jerusalem: the blessed Sacrament was carried in procession. The heresy of Berengarius, against the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, had been broached about that time; and the tribute of triumphant joy here shown to the sacred Host was a distant preparation for the feast and procession which were to be instituted at a later period.

A touching ceremony was also practised in Jerusalem during to-day’s procession, and, like those just mentioned, was intended to commemorate the event related by the Gospel. The whole community of the Franciscans (to whose keeping the holy places are entrusted) went in the morning to Bethphage. There, the father guardian of the holy Land, being vested in pontifical robes, mounted upon an ass, on which garments were laid. Accompanied by the friars and the Catholics of Jerusalem, all holding palms in their hands, he entered the city, and alighted at the church of the holy sepulchre where Mass was celebrated with all possible solemnity.

This beautiful ceremony, which dated from the period of the Latin kingdom in Jerusalem, has been forbidden, for now almost two hundred years, by the Turkish authorities of the city.

We have mentioned these different usages, as we have done others on similar occasions, in order to aid the faithful to the better understanding of the several mysteries of the liturgy. In the present instance, they will learn that, in to-day’s procession, the Church wishes us to honour Jesus Christ as though He were really among us, and were receiving the humble tribute of our loyalty. Let us lovingly go forth to meet this our King, our Saviour, who comes to visit the daughter of Sion, as the prophet has just told us. He is in our midst; it is to Him that we pay honour with our palms: let us give Him our hearts too. He comes that He may be our King; let us welcome Him as such, and fervently cry out to Him: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

At the close of the procession a ceremony takes place, which is full of the sublimest symbolism. On returning to the church, the doors are found to be shut. The triumphant procession is stopped; but the songs of joy are continued. A hymn in honour of Christ our King is sung with its joyous chorus; and at length the subdeacon strikes the door with the staff of the cross; the door opens, and the people, preceded by the clergy, enter the church, proclaiming the praise of Him, who is our resurrection and our life.

This ceremony is intended to represent the entry of Jesus into that Jerusalem of which the earthly one was but the figure – the Jerusalem of heaven, which has been opened for us by our Saviour. The sin of our first parents had shut it against us; but Jesus, the King of glory, opened its gates by His cross, to which every resistance yields. Let us, then, continue to follow in the footsteps of the Son of David, for He is also the Son of God, and He invites us to share His kingdom with Him. Thus, by the procession, which is commemorative of what happened on this day, the Church raises up our thoughts to the glorious mystery of the Ascension, whereby heaven was made the close of Jesus’ mission on earth. Alas! the interval between these two triumphs of our Redeemer are not all days of joy; and no sooner is our procession over, than the Church, who had laid aside for a moment the weight of her grief, falls back into sorrow and mourning.

The third part of to-day’s service is the offering of the holy Sacrifice. The portions that are sung by the choir are expressive of the deepest desolation; and the history of our Lord’s Passion, which is now to be read by anticipation, gives to the rest of the day that character of sacred gloom, which we all know so well. For the last five or six centuries, the Church has adopted a special chant for this narrative of the holy Gospel. The historian, or the evangelist, relates the events in a tone that is at once grave and pathetic; the words of our Saviour are sung to a solemn yet sweet melody, which strikingly contrasts with the high dominant of the several other interlocutors and the Jewish populace. During the singing of the Passion, the faithful should hold their palms in their hands, and, by this emblem of triumph, protest against the insults offered to Jesus by His enemies. As we listen to each humiliation and suffering, all of which were endured out of love for us, let us offer Him our palm as to our dearest Lord and King. When should we be more adoring, than when He is most suffering?

These are the leading features of this great day. According to our usual plan, we will add to the prayers and lessons any instructions that seem to be needed.

This Sunday, besides its liturgical and popular appellation of Palm Sunday, has had several other names. Thus it was called Hosanna Sunday, in allusion to the acclamation wherewith the Jews greeted Jesus on His entry into Jerusalem. Our forefathers used also to call it Pascha Floridum, because the feast of the Pasch (or Easter), which is but eight days off, is to-day in bud, so to speak, and the faithful could begin from this Sunday to fulfil the precept of Easter Communion. It was in allusion to this name, that the Spaniards, having on the Palm Sunday of 1513, discovered the peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico, called it Florida. We also find the name of Capililavium given to this Sunday, because, during those times when it was the custom to defer till Holy Saturday the baptism of infants born during the preceding months (where such a delay entailed no danger), the parents used, on this day, to wash the heads of these children, out of respect to the holy chrism wherewith they were to be anointed. Later on, this Sunday was, at least in some churches, called the Pasch of the competents, that is, of the catechumens, who were admitted to Baptism; they assembled to-day in the church, and received a special instruction on the symbol, which had been given to them in the previous scrutiny. In the Gothic Church of Spain, the symbol was not given till to-day. The Greeks call this Sunday Baïphoros, that is, Palm-bearing.

Let us now go over in our minds the other events which happened to our divine Lord on this day of His solemn entry into Jerusalem. St. Luke tells us that it was on His approach to the city, that Jesus wept over it, and spoke these touching words: ‘If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone; because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.’ [St. Luke xix. 42-44].

A. few days ago, we were reading in the holy Gospel how Jesus wept over the tomb of Lazarus; to-day He sheds tears over Jerusalem. At Bethania His weeping was caused by the sight of bodily death, the consequence and punishment of sin; but this death is not irremediable: Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and he that believeth in Him shall live [St. John xi. 25]. Whereas, the state of the unfaithful Jerusalem is a figure of the death of the soul, and from this there is no resurrection, unless the soul, while time is given to her, return to the Author of life. Hence it is, that the tears shed by Jesus over Jerusalem are so bitter. Amidst the acclamations which greet His entry into the city of David, His heart is sad; for He sees that many of her inhabitants will not profit of the time of her visitation. Let us console the Heart of our Jesus, and be to Him a faithful Jerusalem.

The sacred historian tells us that Jesus, immediately upon His entrance into the city, went to the temple, and cast out all them that sold and bought there [St. Matt. xxi. 12]. This was the second time that He had shown His authority in His Father’s house, and no one had dared to resist Him. The chief priests and pharisees found fault with Him, and accused Him to His face, of causing confusion by His entry into the city; but our Lord confounded them by the reply He made. It is thus that in after ages, when it has pleased God to glorify His Son and the Church of His Son, the enemies of both have given vent to their rage; they protested against the triumph, but they could not stop it. But when God, in the unsearchable ways of His wisdom, allowed persecution and trial to follow these periods of triumph, then did these bitter enemies redouble their efforts to induce the very people, that had cried Hosanna to the Son of David, to clamour for His being delivered up and crucified. They succeeded in fomenting persecution, but not in destroying the kingdom of Christ and His Church. The kingdom seemed, at times, to be interrupted in its progress; but the time for another triumph came. Thus will it be to the end; and then, after all these changes from glory to humiliation, and from humiliation to glory, the kingdom of Jesus and of His bride will gain the last and eternal triumph over this world, which would not know the time of its visitation.

We learn from St. Matthew [St. Matt. xxi. 17] that our Saviour spent the remainder of this day at Bethania. His blessed Mother and the house of Lazarus were comforted by His return. There was not a single offer of hospitality made to Him in Jerusalem, at least there is no mention in the Gospel of any such offer. We cannot help making the reflection, as we meditate upon this event of our Lord’s life:- an enthusiastic reception is given to Him in the morning, He is proclaimed by the people as their King; but when the evening of that day comes on, there is not one of all those thousands to offer Him food or lodging. In the Carmelite monasteries of St. Teresa’s reform, there is a custom, which has been suggested by this thought, and is intended as a reparation for this ingratitude shown to our Redeemer. A table is placed in the middle of the refectory; and after the community have finished their dinner, the food which was placed upon that table is distributed among the poor, and Jesus is honoured in them. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Palm Sunday.)

We must remember that it is easy to appear enthusiastic (which literally means "filled with God") on Palm Sunday, but it is much more difficult for us weak vessels of clay to walk the Via Dolorosa, the Via Crucis, every day of lives without complaint and with an earnest desire to embrace suffering for the greater honor and glory of the Most Blessed Trinity and in reparation for our own many sins--and thus for our sanctification and salvation--and those of the whole world as the consecrated slaves of Our Divine Redeemer, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother.

Saint Ambrose explained the significance of Our Lord's going into the Temple this day, Palm Sunday, after He had been welcomed with shouts of "Hosanna in the Highest, Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord" during his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem:

Beautiful is the type, when the Lord, about to leave the Jews, and to take up His abode in the hearts of the Gentiles, goeth up into the Temple; a figure of His going to the true Temple wherein He is worshipped, not in the deadness of the letter, but in spirit and in truth, even that Temple of God whereof the foundations are laid, not in buildings of stone, but in faith. He leaveth behind Him such as hate Him, and getteth Him to such as will love Him. And therefore cometh He unto the Mount of Olives that He may plant upon the heights of grace those young olive-branches, whose Mother is the Jerusalem which is above. Upon this mountain standeth He, the Heavenly Husbandman, that all they which be planted in the House of the Lord may be able each one to say: "But I am like a fruitful olive-tree in the House of God." Ps. li. 10.

And perchance that mountain doth signify Christ Himself. For what other is there that beareth such fruit of olives as He doth, not rich with store of loaded branches, but spiritually fruitful with the fulness of the Gentiles? He also it is on Whom we go up, and unto Whom we go up; He is the Door; He is the Way; He is He Which is opened and Which openeth; He is He upon Whom knocketh whosoever entereth in, and to Whom they that have entered in, do worship. A figure also was it that the disciples went into a village, and that there they found an ass tied and a colt with her neither could they be loosed, save at the command of the Lord. It was the hand of His Apostles which loosed them. He whose work and life are like theirs will have such grace as was theirs. Be thou also such as they, if thou wouldest loose them that are bound.


Now, let us consider who they were, who, being convicted of transgression, were banished from their home in the Garden of Eden into a village, and in this thou wilt see how Life called back again them whom death had cast out. For this reason, we read in Matthew that there were tied both an ass and her colt; thus, as man was banished from Eden in a member of either sex, so is it in animals of both sexes that his re-call is figured. The she-ass is a type of our sinful Mother Eve, and the colt of the multitude of the Gentiles; and it was upon the colt that Christ took His seat. And thus it is well written of the colt, Luke xix. 30, that thereon never yet had man sat, for no man before Christ ever called the Gentiles into the Church which statement thou hast in Mark also xi. 2: Whereon never man sat. (Saint Ambrose, as found in Matins, Divine Office, Palm Sunday.)

Yes, the Old Covenant has been superseded by the New and Eternal Covenant that our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ instituted at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and ratified by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood during His Passion and Death on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. Agar and her son, Ishmael, have been sent away. Holy Mother Church is the one and only true means of salvation, and she is blameless in the sight of her Divine Founder, Invisible Head and Mystical Bridegroom. She provides her children with security and stability, not confusion and ceaseless change, something that should prove to anyone who has the gift of intellectual dispassion to admit once and for all that the counterfeit church of conciliarism is not and can never be the spotless mystical bride of Christ the King, the Catholic Church.

May Our Lady of Sorrows guide and protect us during the remaining three weeks as we meditate upon the Sorrowful Mysteries her Most Holy Rosary, and may we always, always, always invoke the power intercession of Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph is always first after Our Lady to whom we must fly as he is the one chosen by God from all eternity to protect the Holy Family with whom we seek to be united by virtue of Our Lord’s Easter victory over the power of sin and death after He had walked the Via Crucis—the Via Dolorosa—and died for us on the wood of the Holy Cross.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.