Monday, March 30, 2009

Tempus Passionis

Passiontide is celebrated from the First Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday.

During these last two weeks of Lent, leading up to Easter, the Church is at pains to make us relive with her the events which went before and surrounded our Saviour's death, and which, above all others, were decisive in effecting the salvation of the world. Passiontide, by its close connection with Eastertide even now sets before us our redemption in the blood of Jesus, but it is the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ and the humiliations of his passion to which the Church now turns particular attention. Before applying to our souls the fruits of grace in the triumphant celebration of our Saviour's resurrection, she desires to make us follow Christ step by step in the dire struggle which he underwent in order to redeem us.

Thus the long retreat of Lent draws to a close, as we contemplate that unique contest, which could alone wrest man from sin and earn salvation for him. It is essential that we should be reminded of this and it is a source of great consolation for us. Our personal effort at self-correction and reparation is not thereby rendered useless, but it is only effective and of value in union with the passion of him who took on himself the sins of the world and expiated them all. Through that mysterious solidarity, which exists between all members of the human family, Jesus, Son of God made man, takes the place of his guilty brethren. He takes our sins upon him..."He was made sin for us," says St. Paul, so as to bear our sins in his body on the tree. (Peter 2.24)

But Christ was victorious in the very act of his self-immolation. He triumphs over evil, and over Satan; he re-establishes God's rights over the world and the devil; the "prince of this world" is cast out. David's prophecy is fulfilled, "God reigns from the tree." At the very heart of Holy Week, when on Good Friday the Church is plunged in sorrow in memory of our Saviour's Death, she brings us before the Cross to hail in it the source of our joy. "Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the Saviour of the world; come let us adore." And already we are conscious of the resurrection: "We adore your Cross, O Lord, we praise and glorify your resurrection. For behold, by the wood of the Cross joy came into the whole world."

-From the Saint Andrew Missal