The Litany of His Love, with our prayers for you this Lent.
The term litany is derived from the Greek word for prayer, entreaty or supplication. The post-conciliar Church tends to disdain litanies as repetitious but faithful Catholics know them for what they are, sweet words of love exchanged between the Beloved and His own. On Holy Thursday evening during the time He instituted His sacrament of love, Our Lord spoke tenderly, pleading with His loved ones (and by them, us!) to understand this new law of love. See how often, in varied ways, He reminds us of His love for us and the sweet burden we share for the salvation of souls.
He has cried with a loud voice, and the rocks have rent to its echo, and the earth is shaken, and the Veil of the Old Testament is torn from top to bottom as the Old Covenant passes into the New and the enclosed sanctity of the Most Holy Place breaks out into the world. And now, as the level sun shines out again beneath the pall of clouds, He whispers, as at Mary’s knee in Nazareth, the old childish prayer and yields up His spirit into His Father’s hands.
The last Paradox, then, is uttered. He Who saves others cannot save Himself! The Shepherd of souls relinquishes His own. For, as we cannot save our lives unless we lose them for His sake, so He too cannot save them unless He loses His for our sake.
Continuing the Lenten Sermon of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson, Part VI
THE SIXTH WORD
“It is consummated.”
He has finished His “Father’s business,” He has dealt with sinners and saints, and has finally disclosed to us the secrets of the Soul and the Body of His that are the hope of both sinners and saints alike. And there is no more for Him to do.
An entirely new Beginning, then, is at hand, now that the Last Sabbath is come — the Last Sabbath, so much greater than the First as Redemption is greater than Creation. For Creation is a mere introduction to the Book of Life; it is the arrangement of materials that are to be thrown instantly into confusion again by man, who should be its crown and master. The Old Testament is one medley of mistakes and fragments and broken promises and violated treaties, to reach its climax in the capital Mistake of Calvary, when men indeed “knew not what they did.” And even God Himself in the New Testament, as man in the Old, has gone down in the catastrophe and hangs here mutilated and broken. Real life, then, is now to begin.
Yet, strangely enough, He calls it an End rather than a Beginning. “Consummatum est!”
Continuing from Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s Lenten Sermon on the Seven Last Words of Christ Our Lord, Part III, from “Paradoxes of Catholicism”.
THE THIRD WORD
“Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother”
Our Divine Lord now turns, from the soul who at one bound has sprung into the front rank, to those two souls who have never left it, and supremely to that Mother on whose soul sin has never yet breathed, on whose breast Incarnate God had rested as inviolate and secure as on the Bosom of the Eternal Father, that Mother who was His Heaven on earth. Standing beside her is the one human being who is least unworthy to be there, now that Joseph has passed to his reward and John the Baptist has gone to join the Prophets — “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, who had lain on the breast of Jesus as Jesus had lain on the breast of Mary.
Our Lord has just shown how He deals with His dear sinners; now He shows how He will “be glorified with His Saints”. The Paradox of this Word is that Death, the divider of those who are separated from God, is the bond of union between those that are united to Him.
Lenten Reading from Father Robert Nash, S.J., from back when Jesuits had the Faith.
“And rising very early, going out, He went into a desert place: and there He prayed.” (Mark 1, 35)
And so, we see Our Lord giving us a perfect model for our Lenten prayers. We rise a bit earlier, and then kneel in the quiet dim early morning. Even our sleepiness helps us; we find it easier to be hushed while our sleepy minds are still subdued. Later they will be busy with all our worldly distractions, but now we kneel with our Lord in the pre-dawn desert, trusting in Him to transform it to the Eden of His love.
Now, we know that Our Lord was not seeking solitude in order to attend closer to His Father, for He had always before Him the Beatific Vision. In going out into the desert, He was teaching us how to avoid the “fool of the house” as Saint Teresa aptly named the busybody imagination that is so easily distracted.
Today we consider another aspect of Our Lord’s Passion, His carrying of the Cross.
Once Pilate pronounced the sentence, Jesus was again stripped. This time the ragged mockery of a royal cloak (which had clotted to His wounds) was brutally removed and He was re-robed in His own garments and hastened away to take up His cross. Now, in those days, it was customary for there to be a delay between the sentencing and the execution.
“Since the advent of Tiberius to the imperial throne, criminals sentenced by the Roman senate were reprieved for ten days, and when the emperor had pronounced the sentence, even for thirty days.” (Fr. Groenings, “The Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning: A Scriptural commentary on the Passion”, TAN Books. Kindle Edition).
But the enemies of Christ could tolerate no delay, for they were afire to achieve their goal, the total destruction of the Son of Man and all He represented. In this, they are very like to the enemies of Christ in His Church today, who hasten in their mad rush to destroy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved Church.
As was customary, Pilate had commanded that the notice of the crime be posted on the crucifix. in three languages, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Fr. Groenings shares some insights on the meaning of this notice,
Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band; And stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews. And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck His head. And bowing their knees, they adored Him.
Even the pagan soldiers knew that a King must be invested with the symbols of his royalty, that is, draped with a royal mantle, crowned, and finally, given a scepter as a sign of his power and rule. And so the soldiers obliged this strange King, who had said “but now My kingdom is not from hence”. And so, what royal insignia might they find fitting?
The soldiers soon found a discarded scarlet rag of large enough size and after first ripping off His outer garment, they draped His now freshly bleeding shoulders in this dirty mockery of a robe. As we think on the vivid symbolism in this scene compare it to our Pontiff’s words and actions – what homage does he offer to the King of Kings? A royal robe?
Now, the Roman soldiers clearly understood the necessity of the Crowning, for their gods were always crowned, Apollo with laurel, Bacchus with grape vines, Jupiter with gold. And so a crown fit for this King must be found.
And the Jews too, understood that their high priest wore a tiara when he offered the sacrifice. And did not their bridegroom according to their custom, wear a diadem at his wedding?
And we who watch this scene, we also recall that in those days a conqueror was often crowned to celebrate his victory; how much more so then, this King who by His death and resurrection will conquer sin and death!
Today, the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, we conclude our Novena. And again we share the popular poem for the Annunciation by peregrine, a reader/contributor.
Hail Mary, Temple of the Trinity!
Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,
Art thou astonished at His deference?
Fear not, for thou hast found grace with God. Thou shalt conceive … and bring forth a Son Thou shalt call His name Jesus.
How shall it be? (Mindful of thy chastity)
And yet . . .it is thy purity draws Him down Captivated by thy pure and humble love Thy Creator awaits at the door of thy will,
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee . . . the most High shall overshadow thee . . . the Holy born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
His will is clear . . . moved by His will alone . . .
Behold the handmaid of the Lord
Be it done unto me…
The Architect of earth and heaven Thus closed Himself in thy pure frame. At thy “fiat” the Almighty Word leapt down from heaven The Sword of Truth wrought death to death, Obedient,He vanquished disobedient pride.