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In Epiphania Domini

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Hebdomada Sancta, Feria V in Cœna Domini

Sacellum Immaculatae Conceptionis

Seminarium Sancti Philippi Neri


6 Aprilis 2023

Epistola: 1 Cor 11, 20-32

Evangelium: Jn 13, 1-15


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We have begun this most holy day with the praying of the Tenebrae, fixing our eyes on the Mystery of Faith which we celebrate most solemnly as we conclude our Lenten observance and enter Passiontide, Holy Week, and, today, the Sacred Triduum. It is the Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation, the most profound reality of our life. It is the living and abiding truth that God the Son has become Incarnate in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mary to offer His life for our eternal salvation, to win for us the immeasurable and unceasing gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of divine grace, pouring forth from His glorious-pierced Heart into our hearts. Fixing our eyes on the Mystery of Faith, we confront the seeming annihilation of God the Son Incarnate, the seeming victory of His enemies, of Satan, “a murderer from the beginning” and “a liar and the father of lies,”[1] by His cruel Passion and ignominious death on the Cross.

But faith in Divine Providence shows the yet more profound and enduring reality of His victory over sin and death, of His glory at the right hand of the Father, and of His abiding presence in the Church by His Resurrection, Ascension, and Sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Commenting on the fifth psalm of today’s Tenebrae, Dom Prosper Guéranger helps us to ponder more deeply and fully what the Mystery of Faith teaches us. He writes:

The fifth psalm conveys a moral teaching, which, if listened to, would correct many a false judgment of the world. It often happens that men are shaken at seeing the wicked prosperous, and the virtuous afflicted. It was the temptation which overcame the apostles, when, seeing their divine Master in the hands of His enemies, they lost their faith in Him as the Messias. The psalmist owns that he himself was troubled by the same kind of thought; but God enlightened him to see the truth, that if divine Providence permit iniquity to triumph for a time, the day is sure to come when He will punish the wicked, and avenge the just that have suffered persecution.[2]

The truth is expressed in the Gradual, taken from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, which we will pray frequently during these holiest days of the Church Year:

Christ became obedient for us unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause, God also hath exalted Him and given Him a Name which above all names.[3]

Divine Providence reveals to us that God does not will but permits certain evils, in order to make evident for us the sin of the world, while He is always at work to accomplish His saving work, to bring to fulfillment the mission of salvation, of the definitive victory over sin and death, for which He has sent His only-begotten Son into the world in our human flesh.

We celebrate tonight the institution of the Holy Eucharist and of the Holy Priesthood, for which it is the raison-d’être. Our meditation on the permissive will of God helps us to know more fully and love more ardently the action of Christ on our behalf in the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood. In their institution, we ponder how God permitted the bloody Sacrifice on Calvary so that He might provide for us always its fruit, eternal salvation, through the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass and its fruit, the Holy Communion of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. By our participation in the Holy Mass, by the uniting of our hearts with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, we fulfill most perfectly our prayer at the Introit, taken from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “But it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by whom we are saved and delivered.”[4] Recall the words of consecration of the Precious Blood: “For this is the Chalice of My Blood of the new and eternal Testament, the Mystery of Faith; which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.”[5]

How often we are confounded by the evils which we beset us personally, beset the world, and beset the Mystical Body of Christ. In the present time, we, as living members of the Church, suffer with her as she is lacerated by the lies whose fruits are division, heresy, apostasy, and schism. We are rightly scandalized as we witness the attacks on the Church by those who call themselves Christians and, most of all, by those consecrated to be true shepherds of the flock. We are tempted, as were the Apostles, to lose faith in Christ and in His promise to remain with us always in the Church “to the end of the age.”[6]

We know from whom come the lies that assault the very fiber of our life in the Church. He is Satan, the Evil One. But Christ does not lie. He is ever at work, using the lies of Satan to awaken us to the corruption which has entered into the life of the Church and leading us to remain His faithful “fellow workers in the truth.”[7] When we are tempted to discouragement, to doubt Christ’s living presence with us in the Church, may we call to mind our company with so many who have followed Christ heroically in the past and with so many who today are doing the same in the Church. May we hear once again the divinely-inspired exhortation in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside very weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”[8] So may we live throughout each day the reality of our communion with Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which He unfailingly offers for us through those He has consecrated as His brothers in the Holy Priesthood.

Let us not doubt, let us not give any place in our hearts to discouragement, but let us place our hearts, one with the glorious Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph, unreservedly into the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus. May our hearts be filled with the sentiments expressed by Dom Guéranger at the conclusion of his lengthy commentary upon the richness of today’s Sacred Liturgy:

What a day is this that we have been spending! How full of Jesus’ love! He has given us His Body and Blood to be our food; He has instituted the priesthood of the new Testament; He has poured out upon the world the sublimest instructions of His loving Heart. We have seen Him struggling with the feelings of human weakness, as He beheld the chalice of the Passion that was prepared for Him; but He triumphed over all, in order to save us. We have seen Him betrayed, fettered, and led captive into the holy city, there to consummate His Sacrifice. Let us adore and love this Jesus, who might have saved us by one and the least of all these humiliations; but whose love for us was not satisfied unless He drank, to the very dregs, the chalice He had accepted from His Father.[9]

One with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we receive in abundance the grace to embrace totally our sufferings and the sufferings of the Church and the world for love of God and of our neighbor, confident in Christ’s victory. “But it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by whom we are saved and delivered.”[10]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

[1] Jn 8, 44.

[2] “Le cinquième Psaume renferme une leçon moral destinée à réformer les idées du monde. Souvent il arrive que les hommes se scandalisent en voyant le triomphe des pécheurs et l’humiliation des justes. Ce fut en ces jours l’écueil des Apôtres, que désespérèrent de la mission de leur maitre, lorsqu’ils le virent aux mains de ses ennemis. Le Psalmiste confesse que cette tentation l’a aussi ébranlé ; mai il n’a pas tardé à reconnaître que si Dieu laisse pour un temps dominer l’iniquité, il vient au jour marqué, pour punir les méchants, et venger le juste qu’ils avaient abreuvé d’amertumes.” Prosper Guéranger, L’Année liturgique, La Passion et la Semaine Sainte, 27ème éd. (Tours: Maison Alfred Mame et Fils, 1924), pp. 352-353. [Guéranger]. English translation: Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Passiontide and Holy Week, tr. Laurence Shepherd (Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2000), pp. 318-319. [GuérangerEng].

[3] “Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum: et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.” “De Missa Solemni Vespertina in Cena Domini: Graduale,” Missale Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum Summorum Pontificum cura recognitum, Editio iuxta typicam. [Missale Romanum]. English translation: “The Mass of the Last Supper: Gradual,” The Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual with Vespers for Sundays and Feasts, Summorum Pontificum edition (London: Baronius Press, 2012), p. 550. [The Daily Missal]. Cf. Phil 2, 8-9.

[4] “De Missa Solemni Vespertina in Cena Domini: Antiphona ad Introitum.” Missale Romanum. English translation: The Daily Missal, p. 548. Cf. Gal 6, 14.

[5] “Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni Testamenti : Mysterium fidei : qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.” “Canon Missae,” Missale Romanum. English translation: “The Canon of the Mass,” The Daily Missal, p. 945.

[6] Mt 28, 20.

[7] 3 Jn 8.

[8] Heb 12, 1-2.

[9] “Cette journée est assez remplie des bienfaits de notre Sauveur : il est nous a donné sa chair pour nourriture ; il a institué le sacerdoce nouveau ; son cœur s’est ouvert pour nous dans les plus tendres épanchements. Nous l’avons vu aux prises avec la faiblesse humaine, en face du calice de sa Passion, triompher de lui-même pour nous sauver. Maintenant le voilà trahi, enchaîné, conduit captif dans la ville sainte, pour y consommer son sacrifice. Adorons et aimons ce Fils de Dieu, qui pouvait, par la moindre de ces humiliations, nous sauver tous, et qui n’est encore qu’au début du grand acte de dévouement que son amour pour nous lui a fait accepter.” Guéranger, p. 454. English translation: GuérangerEng, p. 410.

[10] “De Missa Solemni Vespertina in Cena Domini: Antiphona ad Introitum.” Missale Romanum. English translation: The Daily Missal, p. 548. Cf. Gal 6, 14.