28 April 2017

Pope Francis in Egypt


In his Apostolic Visit to Egypt, Pope Francis has delivered a magnificent speech. Without the naming of names, the speech was clearly aimed at the religious leaders of Islam, and the following quotations illustrate this point:

“Let us say once more a firm and clear ‘No!’ to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or the name of God.”

“Together let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred.”

“We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.”

“No act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God for it would profane his name.”

The full text of the speech is not yet available in English on the Vatican's website, but it will be certainly worthwhile to read the Pontiff's address.

There is good coverage of the trip on Salt + Light TV, and the coverage on EWTN has been outstanding.

Let us remember to pray for Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, to pray for Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox, and to pray for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew. 

 For these three leaders of the Churches to come together in Egypt is tremendously important, and I, metaphorically standing on tiptoes, eagerly look forward to hearing what may come from their time together. May God grant His Church a superabundance of Truth, Unity, and above all Love in Christ Jesus our Saviour.

22 April 2017

Returning again to "Verbum supernum prodiens"

Recently I have returned to the practice of singing and praying daily  the hymn Verbum supernum prodiens (not the St. Thomas Aquinas' text) whether in Latin or English.

It is very beautiful chanted in Latin, and there are several chant melodies for it in the body of Gregorian and Ambrosian chant. And there are several chant settings in the various Anglican hymnals that do a fine job of pairing English translation to the original tunes.

The Church uses this text as an Advent Hymn in consideration of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as His first advent.  There is another text of the same title by St. Thomas Aquinas that includes the famous verses 'O Salutaris Hostia'. But my interest has been in this older text now used in the Office of Readings in Advent.

The following translation is by George R. Woodward, the editor of the influential Anglican hymnal Songs of Syon :

[There is an alternative to the final verse that appears in the 3rd Edition of Songs of Syon:  "To God the Father, God the Son, / And God the Spirit, Three in One, / Laud, honour, might, and glory be / from age to age eternally."]


Quite apart from the above, I am also thinking of other settings of the two texts known as Verbum supernum prodiens. The two videos below are exceptionally beautiful examples:

Ingenium Ensemble

Damijan Močnik - Verbum supernum - Komorni zbor Ivan Filipović

To Him Who comes the world to free, / To God on high all glory be!

A Hymn of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa


Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa of Portugal is not well known to many North American Catholics save for those of Portuguese backgrounds and others who have been touched by this holy one of God.  Her message intersects in a profound way with that of Sr. Lucia of Fátima, and faithful Catholics would do well to make her acquaintance among the holy company of the Blesseds of the Church.  The following is one of her ecstatic poems in praise of the Tabernacles of the Lord in our Catholic churches where the Lord's Eucharistic Divine Presence abides with us.


Oh my Jesus, I want each pain that I feel, each palpitation of my heart, each time I breathe, each second of the hours I pass, to be Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

I want each movement of my feet, my hands, my lips, my tongue, each time that I open my eyes or close them, each tear, each smile, each joy, each sadness, each tribulation, each distraction, contrariety or trouble, to be Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

I want each letter of the prayers I recite or hear to recite, all the words that I pronounce or hear to pronounce, that I read or hear to read, that I write or see someone writing, that I sing or hear to sing, to be Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

I want each time I kiss your holy images or those of your and my beloved Mama, and your saints, to be Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Oh Jesus, I want each little drop of rain that falls from the sky to the land, all the water contained in the world, offered drop by drop, all the sands of the sea and everything the sea contains, to be Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Oh Jesus, I offer You the leaves of the trees, all the fruits that they mmight have, the little flowers offered petal by petal, all the little grains of seeds and cereals in the world, and everything contained in the gardens, fields and mountains, I offer everything as Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Oh Jesus, I offer You the feathers of the small birds, their own warbling, the fur and the voices of all the animals, as Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Oh Jesus, I offer You the day and the night, the heat and the cold, the wind, the snow, the moon, the moonlight, the sun, the sunset, the stars of the sky, my sleep, my dream, as Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Oh Jesus, I offer You everything the world contains, all its greatness, wealth and treasures, everything which happens to myself, everything I use to offer to You, everything one can imagine, as Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Oh Jesus, accept the sky, the land, the sea, everything, everything they contain, as if everything was mine and everything I could make use of and offer You as Acts of love for your Tabernacles.

Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa, pray for us.

20 April 2017

Recalling the Oklahoma City Bombing


Most of us know nothing of U.S. Brigadier General Benton K. Partin's letter to then Senator Trent Lott or his report on the Oklahoma City Bombing. There is no mention of him, the letter, or his report observations in the Wikipedia article on the Oklahoma City bombing. An informal survey showed me that no one knew anything of this (including myself), so I offer the following links, one to an article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (who was Assistant Secretary of Treasury)) and the actual letter by General Partin to Senator Lott:

1. Article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: LINK
2. Gen. Partin to Senator Lott: LINK

There is always more to an historical event than is found in the Official Story. I expect there will be a great deal uncovered in the years to come, but if the past is any indication, many will still prefer to hold onto the Official Story long after it has been disproven.

For the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, may they rest in peace in the arms of the Divine Mercy, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  

18 April 2017

Proposed St Elizabeth Ann Seton Hall at Our Lady of Walsingham Cathedral


There is currently an appeal underway at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas to build a new building for Catholic Education and Sacred Music. The building is to be named Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Hall.  Link here.

St Elizabeth Ann Seton was a convert to the Catholic Church from the Episcopal Church (part of the Anglican Communion of churches).  If memory serves, there is a major relic of St Elizabeth Ann Seton at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham. If my memory is indeed correct, her relic is in the High Altar of the Cathedral.  

To me it is a most wonderful thing to see a building dedicated to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton at the Cathedral of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.

Syria: The Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Soufanieh Today


The miraculous icon of Our Lady of Soufanieh in Syria is weeping oil again.  

Please read the story on Spirit Daily.

The Banner of Five Wounds of Christ


Flying above the Catholic Chaplaincy and Halls of Residence in Cardiff

There has been a renewed interest of late in the Banner of the Five Wounds of Christ.  The banner has appeared in the right hand column of this blog since its inception in A.D. 2006.  

The Banner of the Five Wounds was the symbol of The Pilgrimage of Grace, that great Catholic uprising against the monarch who had suppressed the abbeys and monasteries, turned out the monks and nuns, and sold or gave away the sacred precincts to friends of the King for their own estates.  Since Henry VIII was a liar who did not keep his word, the Pilgrimage of Grace did not succeed in stopping the destruction of the Catholic Church in England. Nevertheless, the banner remains as a visual symbol of the Faith once delivered to the Saints as it had been believed in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland before the innovations of those who sought to destroy the Catholic Church and supplant it with pale forged copies of what had gone on before.

The Devotion to the Five Holy Wounds of Christ was at the very heart of the Christian faith in the British Isles before Henry VIII and the revolution of the Reformation.  It is a most amazing development that The Mass of the Five Wounds (found in the pre-reformation Sarum Missal) has found its place again in the new Missal of the Personal Ordinariates established by Pope Benedict XVI for those of Anglican heritage and the Anglican patrimony.

I find it a remarkable sign that the Mass of the Five Wounds has returned through the Ordinate Missal and that there has been a surge of interest in the Banner. I would never have imagined that I would live to see new Banners of the Five Wounds created and flying outside in the open air.  

A most sincere and humble Thank You to the Lord of All. Deo gratias.

A replica Banner of the Five Wounds of Christ
Deo gratias.

§ 49. An Aspiration and Prayer. (St. Anselm's Book of Meditations and Prayers]


O how good and sweet Thou art, Lord Jesus, to the soul that seeks Thee, Jesus, Redeemer of the captives; Saviour of the lost; Hope of the exiles; Strength of those that labour; Repose of the anxious spirit; dear Solace and sweet Refreshment of the tearful soul that runs toiling after Thee; Crown of them that conquer; sole Reward and only Joy of the citizens above; full Fountain overflowing with all graces; glorious Offspring of great God; Thyself great God. Great God, let all things that are in heaven above and in earth beneath bless Thee, for Thou art great and great is Thy Name. O unfading Beauty of the most high God, and purest Brightness of Eternal Light; O Life enlivening all life, O Light enlightening all light, and sustaining in eternal splendour the thousand thousand thousands of lights that blaze before the Throne of Thy Divine Majesty, on from the distant dawn of their first early shining. O Thou welling Fountain, hidden from mortal sight in the eternal and exhaustless outgushing of Thy fresh limpid floods, Whose springs have no beginning, Whose deeps are deep and infinitely deep, Whose height attains no limit, Whose breadth broadens onwards marginless for ever, Whose purity is unruffled through eternity! The Bosom of unfathomable God pours thee forth from the unsearchable abyss of His own profound, Life begetting Life, Light begetting Light, God begetting God, eternal God begetting eternal God, infinite God, God infinite and in all things coequal with Himself. And, Of Thy fulness we have all received (St. John i. 16).

Thee too, all-plentiful Spring of every good, priceless Light of sevenfold grace, Thee, O most merciful Spirit, I implore to vouchsafe to illuminate me by Thy visitation, whereinsoever, by reason of my frailty, I have too feebly grasped the truth of Thy majesty and grandeur, and whatsoever of all that I have understood of Thy Divine precepts I have by carnal wantonness disesteemed; so may I correct what is amiss, and, helped by Thee, whom, voyaging over this life’s sea of perils, I have invoked to my assistance, may I be guided without shipwreck to the harbour of eternal peace. 

Thee, too, I entreat, all-pitiful Father, that, as Thou didst first make me and then re-make by the Passion of Thy only-begotten Son, so Thou wouldst give me to think and love whatsoever tends to Thy glory. I am frail and unequal to my undertaking, but do Thou grant me by diligent confession to attain the grace of redemption and salvation. And whatever work I undertake henceforth, make it tend altogether, by Thy grace, through Thy grace, and in Thy grace, to Thine only praise. Keep me henceforth from sin, teach me to be more constant and courageous in good works; and so long as I live in this body, let me show myself some way Thy servant. And so grant me, after my soul’s exit from the flesh, to obtain pardon of all my sins and reap life ever lasting. Through Him who with Thee liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Anselm's Book of Meditations and Prayers
Translated by M.R.
London: Burns and Gates,
Portman Street and Paternoster Row

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips' Easter Hymn


Please head on over to Fr. Christopher G. Phillips' blog and do read his splendid Paschal hymn 'God our Father, Lord of Glory' (which is to be sung to the vigorous Welsh hymn tune 'CWM RHONDDA').  [Note: the original page is no longer online, but I have linked to the page saved by the Internet Web Archive.]

Allow me to share with you the first verse so as to whet your appetite for more:

God our Father, Lord of glory,
Thanks and praise we give to Thee;
In Thy mercy to our fathers,
Thou didst bring them through the sea.
So by water hast Thou saved us,
|: Now from Adam's sin set free. :|

I sincerely hope that this hymn will be sung in Eastertide by those of us of the Anglican diaspora wherever we may be. 


17 April 2017

An Easter Day Sermon: Fr Phillips


Dear reader, I want to commend to you the text of Father Christopher Phillips' Easter Day Sermon.  You may find the text at the link printed at the bottom of this blog post. 

Fr Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas — a parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

The Strife Is Oe'r, The Battle Done, Alleluia!


Although the following is from an All Souls Day mass, the hymn is a very famous hymn for Easter and Eastertide. It is one of my very favourite hymns.

Congregation and Choir of Saint Peter's Catholic Church: 
Columbia, South Carolina USA 
Mark Husey, Organist 2002 
III/38 Peragallo Pipe Organ

Easter Hymn: He is risen, He is risen!


St. Andrew's Church

Easter Monday: Healey Willan's HAEC DIES


I think those in the Catholic Church who love the Anglican Patrimony as well as the Anglican and Episcopalian faithful would be interested in the composer Healey Willan's contributions to an older Basilian hymnal entitled The New Saint Basil Hymnal.   This hymnal bears the Imprimatur of H.E. James Cardinal McGuigan of Toronto.  

Willan's Mass of Saint Teresa (No. 227) is included as one of the congregational Mass settings in Latin. There is also a very singable four-part setting of HAEC DIES for Easter at No. 43.  Willan's HAEC DIES is an elegant composition that a quartet, a modest chorus or a large choir could sing successfully.  Anyone familiar with Willan's Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena in THE HYMNAL 1940 would find the musical idiom of The Mass of Saint Teresa very familiar.  (I would think that Ordinariate communities would be well served by having in common a congregational setting in Latin by such an august Anglican composer.)  

It is not as easy to find copies of The New Saint Basil Hymnal as once it was, but copies still can be found from time to time on eBay and online booksellers.  

Healey Willan's The Mass of St. Theresa can be purchased separately from the Healey Willan Society (Fr. Scott Haynes of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago)at this LINK.

Online I can only find one recording of Willan's HAEC DIES, and that audio recording was uploaded to Soundcloud by Trish Castro together with repertoire for Easter Vigil 2016. The Willan setting is the first recording in the list she has so graciously provided: LINK.


16 April 2017

Easter Hymn: Welcome, Happy Morning

St. John's Episcopal Church, Detroit, USA

As far as I know the following is the original text of the hymn:

"Welcome, happy morning!"
Age to age shall say:
Hell today is vanquished,
Heaven is won today!
Lo! the dead is living,
God for evermore!
Him their true Creator,
All his works adore!

Earth her joy confesses,
Clothing her for spring,
All fresh gifts return
With her returning King:
Bloom in every meadow,
Leaves on every bough,
Speak his sorrow ended,
Hail his triumph now.

Months in due succession,
Days of lengthening light,
Hours and passing moments
Praise thee in their flight.
Brightness of the morning,
Sky and fields and sea,
Vanquisher of darkness,
Bring their praise to thee.

Maker and Redeemer,
Life and health of all,
Thou from heaven beholding
Human nature's fall,
Of the Father's Godhead
True and only Son,
Mankind to deliver,
Manhood didst put on.

Thou, of life the Author,
Death didst undergo,
Tread the path of darkness,
Saving strength to show;
Come then, true and faithful,
Now fulfill thy word,
'Tis thine own third morning!
rise, O buried Lord!

Loose the souls long prisoned,
Bound with satan's chain;
All that now is fallen
Raise to life again;
Show thy face in brightness,
Bid the nations see;
Bring again our daylight:
Day returns with thee!

Words: Fortunatus, (ca. 535-600)
translation by John Ellerton (1826-1893), 1868
Tune: Fortunatus (Arthur S. Sullivan, 1872)
Meter: 65 65 D

15 April 2017

William Byrd: HAEC DIES [Easter Day]


Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge
William Byrd: HAEC DIES

Easter Hymn: Hail Thee, Festival Day


Hail Thee, Festival Day
Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams

English Choirs: Stainer's God so loved the World, Hymn: Jesus Christ is Risen Today


Resurrection icon written by the hand of a Coptic artist

John Stainer: God So Loved The World: 

Saint Paul's Cathedral Choir

Hymn: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

King's College Choir

Ronald Knox: On Miracles


"And a miracle- a miracle is a very simple thing by comparison. It happens when, once and again in these long aeons of the world's existence, God expresses His will more directly, by suspending for a moment, at one tiny pin-point of space, the operation of those laws which could have no force and no validity but from Him.

"Just in the millionth instance God does, without the aid of secondary causes, what He is continually doing by means of secondary causes. Just in the millionth instance He multiplies bread instead of multiplying the wheat. Just in the millionth instance He will have the dew form not everywhere but just here. Is that so much of a privilege to claim for the Omnipotent? Is that impossible with God, with such a God?"

Monsignor. Ronald Knox

14 April 2017

Good Friday: A Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows

An Anglo-Catholic litany

Be merciful, O Lord, to us sinners, and at the pleading of thy mother, sorrowing in thine agony and sharing in thy bitter cup, O Jesus mercy.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Be merciful O Lord, to us sinners and at the pleading of thy mother, suffering in thy sufferings and bruised with thy stripes, O Jesus mercy.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Be merciful, O Lord, to us sinners, and at the pleading of thy mother, who saw thee crowned with thorns and robed with shame, O Jesus mercy.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Be merciful, O Lord, to us sinners, and at the pleading of thy mother, whose love unvanquished trod thy way of sorrows, O Jesus mercy;
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Be merciful, O Lord, to us sinners, and at the pleading of thy mother, whose soul was pierced beneath thy Cross, O Jesus mercy.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Eric Milner-White

"Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me."
Saint Margaret Clitherow

Good Friday: Pange lingua gloriosi Corporis mysterium


Pange lingua gloriosi Corporis mysterium
Gregorian Chant notation from the Liber Usualis (1961), pp. 957-959. 
Latin lyrics sung by the Choeur Gregorien de Paris.

St Catherine of Sienna: "To Prior Nicholas"


 To Prior Nicholas

Saint Catherine writes:

"Our King [she refers to Christ] behaves like a true knight who perseveres in battle until the enemies are defeated…. [W]ith unarmed hand, nailed fast to the cross, he defeated the prince of the world, with the wood of the holy cross as his mount. This knight of ours came armed with the breastplate of Mary’s flesh, flesh that bore the blows to make up for our wickedness. The helmet on his head is the painful crown of thorns, driven right into his brain. The sword at his side is the wound of his side, revealing to us the secret of his heart; it is a sword with a point of light that ought to pierce our inmost heart with the force of love. The staff in his hand is there in mockery. And the gloves on his hands and spurs on his feet are the scarlet wounds in the hands and feet of this gentle loving Word." 

Compassionate Blood: Catherine of Siena On the Passion
Romanus Cessario O.P.  

Good Friday: A Pleading of the Passion

The following Litany is an example of the extraordinary treasury of Anglican litanies and prayers that are almost entirely forgotten or unused. 

ORD, have mercy upon us.
...........Christ, have mercy upon us.
........................LORD, have mercy upon us.


O Saviour of the world, who by the Cross and Precious Blood hast redeemed us ;
Save us and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.

JESUS, who to thine awed disciples didst foreshow thy body broken, and thy blood shed ;
Have mercy upon us.

JESUS, who in an agony of prayer, didst take the cup of pain ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, betrayed by a kiss ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, forsaken by thy friends ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, denied by Peter ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, who bound before Caiaphas,
didst confess thyself the Son of God ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, blindfolded, struck, and spat upon ;
Have mercy upon us.

who while thine enemies were instant
with loud voices before the governor,
wast silent ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, whom Herod mocked and arrayed in a gorgeous robe ;
Have mercy upon us

Jesus, crowned with thorns ;
Have mercy upon us

Jesus, brought forth that all might behold their king ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, acclaimed by the people, "Crucify him crucify" ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, rejected for Barabbas ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, condemned to death ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, scourged ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, who wast led forth in shame along the way of sorrow ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, falling beneath the Cross ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, who amid uproar and weeping didst come to Calvary ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, stripped naked before men ;
Have mercy upon us.

Jesus, laid on the cross ;
Have mercy upon us.

By the nails through hands and feet ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy parched lips ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy ears filled with ribaldry and scorn ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the forgiveness of thy foes ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy promise to the penitenet ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy love to thy beloved ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy broken heart ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy soul all desolate ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy spirit rendered to the Father ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thy death ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all evil and mischief; from sin, from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

From fornication, and all other deadly sin; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all dread of thy service, and distrust of thy love; from enmity to thy cross and scorn of thy passion ;
Good Lord, deliver us.

Let us confess our sins, saying together :

We confess to God Almighty, 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 
before the whole company of heaven, 
that we have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, 
through our fault, our own fault, our own most grievous fault; 
wherefore we pray God to have mercy upon us. 
May God Almighty have mercy upon us, 
forgive us our sins, 
and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy upon you, and forgive you all your sins, deliver you from all evil, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and bring you to everlasting life. Amen.

The Almighty and merciful Lord grant unto you pardon, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for true repentance, and the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood and hath made us kings, and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Cambridge Offices and Orisons
E. Milner-White, B.T.D. Smith

13 April 2017

Need for a little help ...


With extraordinary medical expenses since the beginning of 2017, the death of my computer has been followed by a need to forego internet service at the end of this month. That means this blog would go on an indefinite hiatus.

I would like to be able to continue this blog. If you think this a worthy idea and would like to contribute so that I can purchase a new computer and continue with internet access, you can send financial help via the following link:

Many thanks for considering this, and if you are able to help, more than thanks you will have my prayers of thanksgiving for your generosity.


Rosary of Abandonment of Fr Ruotolo


The sainted Neopolitan priest Father Don Dolindo Ruotolo taught the Rosary of Abandonment:

God come to my assistance
Lord, make haste to help me.

Say a Glory Be, Our Father, Hail Mary.

1st Decade: Jesus, You take over!
(10 times). Glory be.

2nd Decade: Mother Mary, guide me.
(10 times). Glory be.

3rd Decade: Jesus you take over!
(10 times). Glory be.

4th Decade: Mother Mary, guide me.
(10 times). Glory be.

5th Decade: Jesus, you take over!
(10 times). Glory be.
In conclusion: Hail Holy Queen

O Jesus, I am nothing,
and You are everything.

12 April 2017

Not Between Candlesticks (Revd Geo.MacLeod)

This morning I am ruminating upon something written many years ago by the Reverend George MacLeod, Baron MacLeod of Fuinary, the founder of the Iona Community:

The Revd George MacLeod

“I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the centre of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. 

I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap; at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek . . . at the kind of place where cynics talk smut and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where he died. And that is what he died about.”

10 April 2017

Holy Week: from a Sermon by Pope St Leo the Great


Our understanding, which is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, should receive with purity and freedom of heart the glory of the cross as it shines in heaven and on earth. It should see with inner vision the meaning of the Lord’s words when he spoke of the imminence of his passion: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  

Afterward he said: Now my soul is troubled, and what am I to say? Father, save me from this hour. But it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your Son. 

When the voice of the Father came from heaven, saying, I have glorified him, and will glorify him again, Jesus said in reply to those around him: It was not for me that this voice spoke, but for you. Now is the judgment of the world, now will the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.

How marvellous the power of the cross; how great beyond all telling the glory of the passion: here is the judgement-seat of the Lord, the condemnation of the world, the supremacy of Christ crucified.

Lord, you drew all things to yourself so that the devotion of all peoples everywhere might celebrate, in a sacrament made perfect and visible, what was carried out in the one temple of Judea under obscure foreshadowings. 

Now there is a more distinguished order of Levites, a greater dignity for the rank of elders, a more sacred anointing for the priesthood, because your cross is the source of all blessings, the cause of all graces. 

Through the cross the faithful receive strength from weakness, glory from dishonour, life from death.

The different sacrifices of animals are no more: the one offering of your body and blood is the fulfillment of all the different sacrificial offerings, for you are the true Lamb of God: you take away the sins of the world. In yourself you bring to perfection all mysteries, so that, as there is one sacrifice in place of all other sacrificial offerings, there is also one kingdom gathered from all peoples.

Dearly beloved, let us then acknowledge what Saint Paul, the teacher of the nations, acknowledged so exultantly: This is a saying worthy of trust, worthy of complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. 

God’s compassion for us is all the more wonderful because Christ died, not for the righteous or the holy but for the wicked and the sinful, and, though the divine nature could not be touched by the sting of death, he took to himself, through his birth as one of us, something he could offer on our behalf.

The power of his death once confronted our death. In the words of Hosea the prophet: Death, I shall be your death; grave, I shall swallow you up. 

By dying he submitted to the laws of the underworld; by rising again he destroyed them. He did away with the everlasting character of death so as to make death a thing of time, not of eternity. As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.

Pope Saint Leo the Great