(LifeSiteNews) — The chief priests and the ancients of the people are met today in one of the rooms adjoining the temple, for the purpose of deliberating on the best means of putting Jesus to death.
Several plans are discussed. Would it be prudent to lay hands upon Him at this season of the feast of the Pasch, when the city is filled with strangers, who have received a favorable impression of Jesus from the solemn ovation given to Him three days back? Then, too, are there not a great number of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who took part in that triumph, and whose enthusiastic admiration of Jesus might excite them to rise up in His defense?
These considerations persuade them not to have recourse to any violent measure, at least for the present, as a sedition among the people might be the consequence, and its promoters, even were they to escape being ill-treated by the people, would be brought before the tribunal of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. They, therefore, come to the resolution of letting the feast pass quietly over, before apprehending Jesus.
But these bloodthirsty men are making all these calculations as though they were the masters. They are, if they will, shrewd assassins, who put off their murder to a more convenient day, but the divine decrees, which from all eternity have prepared a sacrifice for the world’s salvation, have fixed this very year’s Pasch as the day of the sacrifice, and, tomorrow evening, the holy city will re-echo with the trumpets, which proclaim the opening of the feast.
The figurative lamb is now to make way for the true one; the Pasch of this year will substitute the reality for the type; and Jesus’ Blood, shed by the hands of wicked priests, is soon to flow simultaneously with that of victims, which have only been hitherto acceptable to God because they prefigured the sacrifice of Calvary. The Jewish priesthood is about to be its own executioner, by immolating Him, whose Blood is to abrogate the ancient alliance, and perpetuate the new one.
But how are Jesus’ enemies to get possession of their Divine Victim, so as to avoid a disturbance in the city? There is only one plan that could succeed, and they have not thought of it: it is treachery. Just at the close of their deliberations, they are told that one of Jesus’ disciples seeks admission. They admit him, and he says to them, “What will you give one, and I will deliver him unto you?” (Matthew 26:15)
They are delighted at this proposition and yet, how is it, that they, doctors of the law, forget that this infamous bargain between themselves and Judas has all been foretold by David, in the 108th Psalm? They know the Scriptures from beginning to end – how comes it, that they forget the words of the prophet, who even mentions the sum of thirty pieces of silver? (Matthew 27:9, Zechariah 11:12)
Judas asks them what they will give him; and they give him thirty pieces of silver! All is arranged tomorrow, Jesus will be in Jerusalem, eating the Pasch with his disciples. In the evening, he will go, as usual, to the garden on Mount Olivet. But how shall they, who are sent to seize him, be able to distinguish him from his disciples? Judas will lead the way; he will show them which is Jesus, by going up to him and kissing him!
Such is the impious scheme devised on this day, within the precincts of the temple of Jerusalem. O testify her detestation at it, and to make atonement to the Son of God for the outrage thus offered in the Holy Church, from the earliest ages, consecrated the Wednesday of every week to penance. In our own times, the fast of Lent begins on a Wednesday and when the Church ordained that we should commence each of the four seasons of the year with fasting, Wednesday was chosen to be one of the three days thus consecrated to bodily mortification.
On this day, in the Roman Church, was held the sixth scrutiny, for the admission of catechumens to baptism. Those upon whom there had been previous doubts were now added to the number of the chosen ones, if they were found worthy. There were two Lessons read in the Mass, as on the day of the great scrutiny, the Wednesday of the fourth week of Lent.
As usual, the catechumens left the church after the Gospel; but as soon as the holy sacrifice was over, they were brought back by the door keeper, and one of the priests addressed them in these words:
On Saturday next, the eve of Easter, at such an hour, you will assemble in the Lateran Basilica, for the seventh scrutiny; you will then recite the symbol, which you must have learned and lastly, you will receive, by God’s help, the sacred laver of regeneration. Prepare yourselves zealously and humbly, by persevering fasts and prayers, in order that, having been buried, by this holy baptism, together with Jesus Christ, you may rise again with him, unto life everlasting. Amen.
At Rome, the station for today is in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Let us compassionate with our Holy Mother, whose Heart is filled with poignant grief at the foresight of the sacrifice, which is preparing.
The Church commences her chants with one to the glory of the Holy Name of Jesus, outraged as it is, on this day, by them that plot His death. This name, which was given Him by heaven, and signifies that He is our Savior, is now being blasphemed by His enemies: in a few hours, their crime will bring its full meaning before us, for His death will have worked the Salvation of the world.
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; because the Lord became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
Ps. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee.
At the name, etc.
In the first Collect, the Church acknowledges to God that Her children have sinned against Him: but she reminds Him of the Passion, endured for their sakes, by His only begotten Son, and this revives Her hope.
LET US PRAY
℣. Let us kneel down.
℟. Stand up again.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we, who continually are punished for our excesses, may be delivered by the Passion of thy Only Begotten Son. Who liveth, etc.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaiah 62:11-63:7
Thus saith the Lord God: Tell the daughter of Sion: Behold thy Savior cometh. Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful one in his robe, walking in the greatness of his strength? I, that speak justice, and am a defender to save. Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like them that tread in the wine-press? I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me; I have trampled on them in my indignation, and have trodden them down in my wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, the year of my redemption is come. I looked about, and there was none to help; I sought, and there was none to give aid; and my own arm hath saved me, and my indignation itself hath helped me. And I have trodden down the people in my wrath, and made them drunk in my indignation, and have brought down their strength to the earth. I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord, the praise of the Lord, for all the things that the Lord hath bestowed on me.
How terrible is this our Defender, who tramples His enemies beneath His feet, as they that tread in the wine press; so that their blood is sprinkled upon His garments! But is not this the fittest time for us to proclaim His power, now that He is being treated with ignominy, and sold to His enemies by one of His disciples?
These humiliations will soon pass away; He will rise in glory, and His might will be shown by the chastisements, wherewith He will crush them that now persecute Him. Jerusalem will stone them that shall preach in His name; she will be a cruel stepmother to those true Israelites who, docile to the teaching of the prophets, have recognized Jesus as the promised Messias.
The Synagogue will seek to stifle the Church in Her infancy; but no sooner shall the Church, shaking the dust from Her feet, turn from Jerusalem to the gentiles, than the vengeance of Christ will fall on the city, which bought, betrayed, and crucified him. Her citizens will have to pay dearly for these crimes.
We learn from the Jewish historian Josephus (who was an eyewitness to the siege) that the fire which was raging in one of the streets, was quenched by the torrents of their blood. Thus were fulfilled the threats pronounced by our Lord against this faithless city, as He sat on Mount Olivet, the day after His triumphant entry.
And yet the destruction of Jerusalem was but a faint image of the terrible destruction which is to befall the world at the last day. Jesus, who is now despised and insulted by sinners, will then appear on the clouds of heaven, and reparation will be made for all these outrages. Now He suffers Himself to be betrayed, scoffed at, and spit upon; but when the day of vengeance is come, happy they that have served Him and have compassionated with Him in His humiliations and sufferings!
Woe to them that have treated Him with contempt! Woe to them who, not content with their own refusing to bear His yoke, have led others to rebel against Him! For He is king; He came into this world that He might reign over it; and they that despise His mercy shall not escape His justice.
The Gradual, which immediately follows upon this sublime passage from Isaias, is a prayer addressed by Jesus to His Eternal Father: the words are taken from one of the psalms.
Turn not away thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
℣. Save me, O God, for the waters are come in even unto my soul; I stick fast in the mire of the deep, and there is no sure standing.
In the second Collect, the Church again reminds our Heavenly Father of the death which His Divine Son deigned to suffer, in order to set us free from the yoke of Satan; She prays that we may have a share in the glorious resurrection of this our Redeemer.
O God, who wouldst have thy Son suffer on the Cross, to deliver us from the power of the enemy; grant that we thy servants, may obtain the grace of his resurrection. Through the same, etc.
For the other Collects, see the Mass for Monday in Holy Week.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaiah 53
In those days: Isaias said: Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground. There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness. And we have seen him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of him; despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity. And his look was as it were hidden and despised; whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows. And we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth. He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer; and he shall not open his mouth. He was taken away from distress, and from judgment. Who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out of the land of the living. For the wickedness of my people have I struck him. And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death; because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth. And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity. If he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the lord shall be prosperous in his hand. Because his soul hath labored, he shall see and be filled; by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked; and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.
Again it is Isaias that instructs us, not indeed upon the triumph which our Emmanuel is to win over his enemies, but upon the sufferings of the Man of Sorrows. So explicit is his description of our Lord’s Passion that the holy Fathers have called him the fifth evangelist.
What could be more sublimely plaintive than the language here used by the son of Amos? And we, after hearing both the Old and New Testament upon the sufferings which Jesus went through for our sins – how shall we sufficiently love this dear Redeemer, who bore our infirmities and carried our Sorrows, so as to look as a leper, and as one struck by God, and afflicted?
We are healed by his bruises! O Heavenly Physician, that takes upon Himself the sufferings of them He comes to cure! But not only was He bruised for our sins; He was also slaughtered as a lamb: and this not merely as a victim submitting to the inflexible justice of His Father who hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all, but (as the prophet here assures us) because it was his own will.
His love for us, as well as His submission to His Father, led Him to the great sacrifice. Observe too how He refuses to defend Himself before Pilate, who could so easily deliver Him from His enemies: “He shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearers, and he shall not open his mouth.” Let us love and adore this divine silence, which works our salvation.
Let us not pass over an iota of the devotedness which Jesus shows us – a devotedness which never could have existed, save in the heart of a God. Oh! how much He has loved us – His children, the purchase of His Blood, His seed, as the prophet here calls us. O Holy Church! thou long-lived seed of Jesus, that laid down his life! – thou art dear to Him, for He bought thee at a great price.
Faithful Souls! give Him love for love! sinners! be converted to this your Savior; His Blood will restore you to life, for if we have all gone astray like sheep, remember what is added: “The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.”
There is no sinner, however great may be his crimes; there is no heretic, or infidel, who has not his share in this precious Blood, whose infinite merit is such that it could redeem a million worlds, more guilty even than our own.
The Tract, which follows this Lesson, is taken from the 101st psalm, in which the Royal Prophet expresses the sufferings of body and mind endured by Jesus, in His human nature.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee.
℣. Turn not away thy face from me, in the day when I am in trouble, incline thine ear to me.
℣. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear me speedily.
℣. For my days are vanished like smoke: and my bones are as if they were fried in a frying-pan.
℣. I am smitten as grass, and my heart is withered, because I forgot to eat my bread.
℣. Thou, O Lord, arising, wilt have mercy on Sion, for the time to have mercy on her is come.
The Church then gives us the history of the Passion according to St. Luke. This evangelist mentions several details not given by Sts. Matthew and Mark, which will assist us to a fuller understanding of the divine mystery of the sufferings and sacrifice of the Man-God.
THE PASSION AND GOSPEL
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke 22:1-23:53
At that time: The feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Pasch, was at hand. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death; but they feared the people. and Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve; and he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised; and he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude.
And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the Pasch should be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying: Go and prepare us the Pasch, that we may eat. But they said: Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said to them: Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in, and you shall say to the good man of the house: The Master saith to thee: Where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the Pasch with my disciples? and he will show you a large dining-room furnished; and there prepare.
And they going, found as he had said to them, and they made ready the Pasch; and when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer. For I say to you that from this time I will not eat it, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And having taken the chalice he gave thanks, and said: Take and divide it among you. For I say to you, that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God come. And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake, and gave to them, saying: This is my Body, which is given to you: do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament of my Blood, which shall be shed for you. But yet behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And the Son of Man indeed goeth according to that which is determined; but yet woe to that man by whom he shall be betrayed. And they began to enquire among themselves which of them it was that should do this thing.
And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater. And he said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them, are called beneficent. But you not so; but he that is the greater among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. For which is greater, he that sitteth at the table, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth; and you are they who have continued with me in my temptations. And I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom: that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and may sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. Who said to him: Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that knowest me. And he said to them: When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want anything? But they said: Nothing. Then he said to them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his coat, and buy one. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me, “And he was reckoned among the wicked:” for the things concerning me have an end. But they said: Lord, here are two swords. And he said to them: It is enough.
And going out, he went according to his custom to the Mount of Olives. And his disciples also followed him. And when he was come to the place, he said to them: Pray, lest you enter into temptation. And he was withdrawn away from them a stone’s cast; and kneeling down he prayed, saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared to him an Angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow. And he said to them: Why sleep you? Arise, pray, lest you enter into temptation.
As he was yet speaking, behold a multitude; and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus to kiss him. And Jesus said to him: Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss? And they that were about him, seeing what would follow, said to him: Lord, shall we strike with the sword? And one of them struck the servant of the High Priest, and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answering, said: Suffer ye thus far. And when he had touched his ear, he healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and magistrates of the temple, and the ancients that were come to him: Are you come out, as it were against a thief, with swords and clubs? When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
And apprehending him, they led him to the High Priest’s house: but Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were sitting about it, Peter was in the midst of them. Whom when a certain servant maid had been sitting at the light, and had earnestly beheld him, she said: This man also was with him. But he denied, saying: Woman, I know him not. And after a little while, another seeing him, said: Thou also art one of them. But Peter said: O man, I am not. And after the space as it were of one hour, another certain man affirmed, saying: Of a truth this man was also with him: for he is also a Galilean. And Peter said: Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately as he was yet speaking, the cock crew. And the Lord turning looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, as he had said: Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter going out wept bitterly.
And the men that held him, mocked him, and struck him. And they blindfolded him, and smote him on the face. And they asked him, saying: Prophesy, who is it that struck thee? And blaspheming, many other things they said against him. And as soon as it was day, the ancients of the people, and the chief priests, and scribes came together, and they brought him into their council, saying: If thou be the Christ, tell us. And he said to them: If I shall tell you, you will not believe me; and if I shall also ask you, you will not answer me, nor let me go. But hereafter the Son of man shall be sitting on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all: Art thou the Son of God? And he said: You say that I am. And they said: What need we any further testimony? For ourselves have heard it from his own mouth.
And the whole multitude of them rose up, and led him away to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying: We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, and saying that he is Christ the King. And Pilate asked him, saying: Art thou the King of the Jews? But he answering, said: Thou sayest it. But Pilate said to the chief priests and to the multitude: I find no cause in this man. But they were more earnest, saying: He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place. But Pilate hearing Galilee, asked if the man were of Galilee? And when he understood that he was of Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him away to Herod, who himself was also at Jerusalem in those days. And Herod seeing Jesus was very glad, for he was desirous of a long time to see him, because he had heard many things of him: and he hoped to see some sign wrought by him. And he questioned him with many words. But he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes stood by, earnestly accusing him. And Herod with his army set him at naught, and mocked him, putting on him a white garment, and sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate were made friends that same day; for before they were enemies to one another. Then Pilate calling together the chief priests, and the magistrates, and the people, said to them: You have brought this man to me as one that perverteth the people: and, behold I, having examined him before you, find no cause in this man touching those things wherein you accuse him. No, nor Herod neither. For I sent you to him, and behold, nothing worthy of death is done to him. I will chastise him therefore and release him.
Now of necessity he was to release unto them one upon the feast day. But the whole multitude together cried out at once, saying: Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas. Who, for a certain sedition made in the city, and for a murder, was cast into prison. And Pilate again spoke to them, desiring to release Jesus. But they cried out again, saying: Crucify him, crucify him. And he said to them the third time: Why, what evil hath this man done? I find no cause of death in him. I will chastise him therefore, and let him go. But they were instant with loud voices requiring that he might be crucified; and their voices prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him who for murder and sedition had been cast into prison, whom they had desired: but Jesus he delivered up to their will.
And as they led him away, they laid hold on one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country: and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus. 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 children, and the wombs that have not born, 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? And there were also two other malefactors led with him, to be put to death.
And when they sere come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there; and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And Jesus said: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they dividing his garments, cast lots. And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided him, saying: He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying: If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself. And there was also a superscription written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew: This is the King of the Jews.
And one of the robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation. And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.
And it was almost the sixth hour; and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened; and the veil of the Temple was rent in the midst. And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.
Here, a pause is made, as on Palm Sunday. All kneel down, and if such be the custom of the place, they prostrate and kiss the ground.
Now the centurion seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man. And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breast. And all his acquaintance, and the women that had followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
Here, the Deacon offers the incense to the priest, that he may bless it; and, having himself received a blessing, he concludes the history of the Passion, observing the ceremonies used for singing the Gospel at High Mass.
And behold there was a man named Joseph, who was a counselor, a good and just man (the same had not consented to their counsel and doing), of Arimathea, a city of Judea, who also himself looked for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. And taking him down he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulcher that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid.
The words of the Offertory are those of Jesus, suppliantly beseeching His Eternal Father not to turn His face from His own Son, who is a prey to every suffering, both of body and mind.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer; and let my cry come to thee: turn not away thy face from me.
In the Secret, the Church prays that we may have a tender devotion for the holy sacrifice of the Mass, in which the Passion of our Savior is daily commemorated.
Accept, O Lord, we beseech thee, the offerings we have made; and mercifully grant that we may receive, with pious sentiments, what we celebrate in the mystery of the Passion of our Lord. Through the same, etc.
For the other Secrets, see the Mass for Monday in Holy Week.
I mingled my drink with weeping; for having lifted me up, thou hast thrown me down, and I am withered like grass; but thou, O Lord, endurest forever: thou shalt arise, and have mercy on Sion; because the time to have mercy on her is come.
The death of Jesus should be to us an unceasing motive for confidence in the divine mercy. This confidence is one of the first conditions of our salvation. The Church asks it for us in the Postcommunion.
Grant, O Almighty God, that we may have a lively hope, that thou hast given us eternal life by the temporal death of thy Son, represented in these adorable mysteries. Through the same, etc.
For the other Postcommunions, see the Mass for Monday in Holy Week.
LET US PRAY
Bow down your heads to God.
Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ hesitated not to be delivered into the hands of wicked men, and undergo the punishment of the Cross. Who liveth, etc.
As an appropriate exercise for the close of this day, we offer our readers the following stanzas from a hymn of the Greek Liturgy: they allude to the mysteries we have been explaining.
On this day, Judas leaves his Master, and takes the devil for his guide. The love of money blinds him. He fell from the light, he became darkened; for how could he be said to see, who sold the Light for thirty pieces of silver? But to us he has risen, that he suffered for the world: let us thus cry out unto him: Glory be to thee, that didst endure thy Passion, and hadst compassion, for mankind!
What was it, O Judas! that led thee to betray Jesus? Had he cut thee off from the number of his Apostles? Had he deprived thee of the gift of healing the sick? When he supped with his Apostles, did he drive thee from table? When he washed their feet, did he pass thee by? And yet, thou wast unmindful of these great favors! Thy ungrateful plot has branded thee with infamy: but his incomparable patience and great mercy are worthy of praise.
Say, O ye unjust ones! what is it ye have heard from our Savior? Did he not expound unto you the Law and the Prophets? Why, therefore, have ye plotted how to deliver up to Pilate the Word that is from God, and that came to redeem our souls?
They that had enjoyed thy unceasing gifts cried out: Let him be crucified! These murderers of such as were innocent, sought thee, that they might treat thee, their benefactor, as an evil-doer. But thou, O Christ! didst bear their wickedness with silence, for thou being the lover of mankind, didst desire to suffer for and save us.
We are prevented from speaking by the multitude of our sins: do thou, O Virgin-Mother of God! pray for us to Him that was born of thee, for the Mother’s prayer avails much with the mercy of our Lord. Despise not, O most pure Virgin! the prayers of sinners, for he that refused not even to suffer for us, is merciful, and is able to save us.
We subjoin the following beautiful Preface from the Ambrosian Missal: it expresses, in a most touching manner, the sentiments which a Christian should have within him on this vigil of our Lord’s Supper.
It is meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should ever, here and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord: who, being innocent, willed to suffer for sinners, and be unjustly condemned for the guilty. His Death wiped away our crimes, and his Resurrection opened for us the gates of heaven. Through him we beseech thy clemency, that, today, thou cleanse us from our sins, and, tomorrow, feed us on the banquet of the venerable Supper; that, today, thou receive the confession of our faults, and tomorrow, grant us the increase of spiritual gifts; that, today, thou receive the offering of our fasts, but, tomorrow, introduce us to the feast of the most holy Supper. Through the same Christ our Lord.