The Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection

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Thoughts of the Passion of Christ abound today, the silliness of the blasphemers to the contrary notwithstanding.

What follows is a very good reflection on the Resurrection by Bro Andre Marie….

I have to say the Byzantine Rites do a much better job of explaining and expanding on the Passion and Resurrection than the Latin Rites….the violence of the Resurrection, as Brother Andre Marie points out below is confirmed with “by death he conquered death”  repeatedly chanted over and over during the Divine Liturgy until Pentecost…the Byzantine prose of the various Matins, Vespers and Royal Hours are astounding words of wisdom, both from Old Testament fluid language and that of the great early Christian  “stylists”, and hymnographers of the eastern Slavic and Greek influences, as they call this day GREAT Friday for on it, our redemption was worked out.

If you want to make good use of your short amount of time today, get to a church to reflect on the violent and redeeming Passion of Christ to loose the bonds of sin and free us to have everlasting life, if we just take Him up on His generous offer….you can also watch the excellent movie of the same name here for free…

Great and Holy Friday

April 18, 2014

Matthew 27:45-50 – Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (ESV)

Christ God put to death! – What mockery! The innocent Christ endured the crown of thorns, the scourging, being nailed to the Cross, thirst, vinegar and gall and finally death. Christ God put to death for our sins on top of the hill at Golgotha. He accepted and endured all of this willingly because of His great love for us. At the moment of His death he cried “It is finished” (John 19:30). At that moment we were saved.

At his general audience on Holy Wednesday in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI quoted St John Chrysostom speaking about the crucifixion: “Before, the cross meant disdain, but today it is venerated. Before, it was a symbol of condemnation, today it is the hope of salvation. It has truly been converted into a fount of infinite goods; it has liberated us from error, it has scattered our darkness, it has reconciled us with God. From being enemies of God, it has made us his family, from foreigners it has converted us to his neighbors: This cross is the destruction of enmity, the fount of peace, the coffer of our treasure” (“Decruce et latrone,” I, 1, 4).

Scripture

  • Matins – 1) John 13:31-18:1, 2) John 18:1-28, 3) Matthew 26:57-75, 4) John 18:28-19:16, 5) Matthew 27:3-32, 6) Mark 15:16-32, 7) Matthew 27:33-54, 8) Luke 23:32-49, 9) John 19:25-37, 10) Mark 15:43-47, 11) John 19:38-42, 12) Matthew 27:62-66
  • First Royal Hour – Zechariah 11:10-13, Galatians 6:14-18, Matthew 27:1-56
  • Third Royal Hour- Isaiah 50:4-11, Romans 5:6-11, Mark 15:16-41
  • Sixth Royal Hour – Isaiah 52:13-54:1, Hebrews 2:11-18, Luke 23:32-49
  • Ninth Royal Hour – Jeremiah 11:18-23; 12:15,9-11,14,15, Hebrews 10:19-31, John 18:28-19:37
  • Vespers – Exodus 33:11-23, Job 42:12-16, Isaiah 52:13-54:1, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2, Matthew 27:1-38; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:39-54; John 19:31-37; Matthew 27:55-61 (Composite Reading)

What Happened in the Tomb?

A blessed Triduum and Easter to all our readers!

Every year around Holy Week, the publishers of America’s popular reading material let loose a volley of blasphemies against our Lord’s Resurrection. Citing one or another perfidious “noted scholar,” the glossy-covered journals that accost us at the checkout counter vie with one another in perverting the populace with contempt for the sacred. Professor Bart D. Ehrman has obliged us this year. These reheated leftovers from last year’s editions would be laughable in their dogmatic adherence to pseudoscientific “scholarship,” but we dare not laugh at the offense against our Savior.

On the appointed day, the Resurrected One will end His patient silence, and the poor wretches who produce this foulness will, like Caiphas, “see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk 14:62). If they have not first converted, this will be much to their chagrin, to put it mildly.

And what of us? Do we treasure the Resurrection at least as much as these two-bit blasphemers despise it? If we do not feast our faith on this mystery and take our delight in it — real delight, not just a general relief that Lent’s finally over — then this Pasch will see us yet again unequipped to battle the terrestrial antichrists just mentioned; much less will we be able to fight the real enemy: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Eph. 6:12).

To delight in this mystery, we must first reflect on it. But for many people, the Resurrection is not the easiest mystery to imagine, since the Gospels don’t give a description of it. We get something of a before-and-after shot of the tomb and its sacred Deposit, but no narration of the event itself. Instead of letting that bother us, we should supplement the Gospel’s silence on the point with the dogmatic truths that the Church’s magisterium presents to us.

Foundational among these truths is that Christ is true God and true Man. As God, He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father. As man, He is like us in all things except sin. This means that He has a created human body and soul, the latter having an intellect and will. By this union of two natures in one Person (called the “hypostatic union”), Christ’s divinity was united to His humanity so perfectly that even death did not separate them. Although the body and soul of Jesus truly separated — for that is what death is — the divinity was ever united to each.

During the Triduum Mortis (the three days of death), the body of Christ in the tomb — truly dead as it was — was adorable because it was still the body of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. This is why St. Peter could cite Psalm 15 as a prophecy of our Lord in the tomb: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27). The Precious Blood, spilled on the ground from Pilate’s praetorium and along the Via Dolorosa all the way to Mount Calvary, could be similarly accorded divine honors, being yet the Blood of God. Finally, the soul of Christ, which descended into hell, also took with it the divinity. This means that God Himself traveled into the netherworld in Person. In Dante’s Inferno, there are poetic images of this “harrowing of hell”: As Virgil and Dante traverse there, they see the rubble that remained as evidence of the great cataclysm the infernal regions suffered when a divine Person, united to a human soul, came and “preached to those spirits that were in prison” (I Pet.3:19). Dante’s poetic imagination thought it unlikely that hell would be left the same after this surprise visit from the Son of God.

What happened, then, in the Holy Sepulcher that first Easter? Christ’s divinity, ever united to His body, blood, and soul, simply brought those constituent parts of His sacred humanity back together again. “O death, I will be thy death; O hell, I will be thy bite!” (Osee 13:14). It was an act of divine energy, exerted by the same One who truly experienced death. And we may speculate that this supernatural destruction of death was carried out with an intensity proportionate to the horrific violence of the Passion. Relevant to that is the Greek word used by St. Luke to describe Our Lord’s agony in the Garden; it is agonia, meaning literally “a struggle for victory” — as in Graeco-Roman wrestling. In the tomb, there was another agonia: the “Agony of the Resurrection,” when the victory was achieved. As the liturgical sequence, Victimae Paschale Laudes, expresses it: “Death and life to the combat: O wondrous conflict! The prince of life, having died, reigns living.”

Life and death’s “wondrous combat” produced a flash so brilliant that the consequent impress of our Lord’s image yet remains on the Holy Shroud.

If we feast on the same Flesh that rose again, do we not become heirs to the solemn promise of Jesus: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day” (Jn 6:55)? When we eat that Flesh, with which Mary clothed God, we become one with Him who said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25).

Then our resurrection is simply the natural terminus of Christ’s “Mystical Incarnation” in our soul, and the Eucharist really is, as St. Thomas called it, “the pledge of future glory.”

From our religious family, to the families of all our tertiaries and benefactors: Have a blessed and grace-filled Triduum, and a glorious Easter!

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.

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