Meditations for Each Day of Lent – Good Friday

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Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Good Friday

The Death of Christ

That Christ should die was expedient.

1. To make our redemption complete. For, although any suffering of Christ had an infinite value, because of its union with His divinity, it was not by no matter which of His sufferings that the redemption of mankind was made complete, but only by His death. So the Holy Spirit declared speaking through the mouth of Caiaphas, It is expedient for you that one man shall die for the people (John xi. 50). Whence St. Augustine says, “Let us stand in wonder, rejoice, be glad, love, praise, and adore since it is by the death of our Redeemer, that we have been called from death to life, from exile to our own land, from mourning to joy.”

2. To increase our faith, our hope and our charity. With regard to faith the Psalm says (Ps. cxl. 10), I am alone until I pass from this world, that is, to the Father. When I shall have passed to the Father, then shall I be multiplied. Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die itself remaineth alone (John xii. 24).

As to the increase of hope St, Paul writes, He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things? (Rom. viii. 32). God cannot deny us this, for to give us all things is less than to give His own Son to death for us. St. Bernard says, “Who is not carried away to hope and confidence in prayer, when he looks on the crucifix and sees how Our Lord hangs there, the head bent as though to kiss, the arms outstretched in an embrace, the hands pierced to give, the side opened to love, the feet nailed to remain with us.”

Come, my dove, in the clefts of the rock (Cant. ii. 14). It is in the wounds of Christ the Church builds its nest and waits, for it is in the Passion of Our Lord that she places her hope of salvation, and thereby trusts to be protected from the craft of the falcon, that is, of the devil.

With regard to the increase of charity, Holy Scripture says, At noon he burneth the earth (Ecclus. xliii. 3), that is to say, in the fervour of His Passion He burns up all mankind with His love. So St. Bernard says, “The chalice thou didst drink, O good Jesus, maketh thee lovable above all things.” The work of our redemption easily, brushing aside all hindrances, calls out in return the whole of our love. This it is which more gently draws out our devotion, builds it up more straightly, guards it more closely, and fires it with greater ardour.

Feast of Good Friday

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Feast of Good Friday

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

“Now there stood by the cross, Mary His mother.”–John xix, 25.

Yesterday, beloved in Christ, the example of Judas the traitor was held up to us as a terrible warning upon which every sinner might meditate, and, perhaps, realize the consequences of such total atrocity and utter hardness of heart. That warning might be, for many, the very last grace vouchsafed by God! Oh, may it not be in vain! What reason has not the sinner to strike his breast, and cry out: “O God, be merciful to me, for my sins have been as great, perhaps, as those of Judas, and more frequent!” Yes, sinners, it is even so; for Judas, wretch though he was, did not try to pervert his fellow-laborers, the Apostles; while you, how many innocent souls have you not led astray, both by word and example? How many souls, most dear and precious to the Heart of Jesus, have you not turned away from Him?” Woe to him by whom scandals come. It were better for that man that a millstone be hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” And yet, my brethren, if, among my hearers there are any who have been guilty of grievous sin, I would say to them, do not despair. Even though each passing year has witnessed the commission of crimes, each one more terrible than the last; nay, even if you have lived as an incarnate devil, do not despair. Look upon Mary beneath the cross. Call upon her; she will take you under her maternal protection; lead you to her divine Son, who can refuse her nothing; and obtain for you the grace of a true conversion; for is she not the one chosen by God, and destined to be the Mother of mercy, the refuge of sinners?

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INSTRUCTION ON GOOD FRIDAY

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INSTRUCTION ON GOOD FRIDAY

The Church’s Year
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

This day was formerly for the Jewish people a day of preparation for Easter, and was called by them the Parasceve; for us Christians it is the anniversary of the death and burial of our Lord who on this day, being Himself both High-Priest and Victim, offered Himself upon the cross for the salvation of the world.

Why do Catholics hold this day in such veneration?

Because it is one of the greatest days from the beginning of the world to its end. On this day the designs which God had from all eternity were perfected, as Jesus Himself expressed when He said, All is consummated; for on this day He was given up to the Gentiles by the Jews, was scourged, crowned with thorns, loaded with the cross, dragged to Calvary amid taunts and sneers, there nailed to the cross between two thieves, and by His painful death finished the great work of redemption.

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THE MONTH OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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THE MONTH OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

Since the 16th-century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The Church traditionally encouraged the month of April for increased devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. “The Church in the course of the centuries has introduced various forms of this Eucharistic worship which are ever increasing in beauty and helpfulness; as, for example, visits of devotion to the tabernacles, even every day; Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; solemn processions, especially at the time of Eucharistic Congresses, which pass through cities and villages; and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament publicly exposed . . . These exercises of piety have brought a wonderful increase in faith and supernatural life to the Church militant upon earth and they are re-echoed to a certain extent by the Church triumphant in heaven, which sings continually a hymn of praise to God and to the Lamb ‘Who was slain.'” –Pope Pius XII.

ACT OF ADORATION

I adore Thee, 0 Jesus, true God and true Man, here present in the Holy Eucharist, humbly kneeling before Thee and united in spirit with all the faithful on earth and all the blessed in heaven. In deepest gratitude for so great a blessing, I love Thee, my Jesus, with my whole heart, for Thou art all perfect and all worthy of love.

Give me grace nevermore in any way to offend Thee, and grant that I, being refreshed by Thy Eucharistic presence here on earth, may be found worthy to come to the enjoyment with Mary of Thine eternal and everblessed presence in heaven. Amen.

Meditations for Each Day of Lent – Maundy Thursday

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Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper

It was most fitting that the sacrament of the body of the Lord should have been instituted at the Last Supper.

1. Because of what that sacrament contains. For that which is contained in it is Christ Himself. When Christ in His natural appearance was about to depart from His disciples, He left Himself to them in a sacramental appearance, just as in the absence of the emperor there is exhibited the emperor’s image. Whence St. Eusebius says, “Since the body He had assumed was about to be taken away from their bodily sight, and was about to be carried to the stars, it was necessary that, on the day of His last supper, He should consecrate for us the sacrament of His body and blood, so that what, as a price, was offered once should, through a mystery, be worshipped unceasingly.”

2. Because without faith in the Passion there can never be salvation. Therefore it is necessary that there should be, for ever, among men something that would represent the Lord’s Passion and the chief of such representative things in the Old Testament was the Paschal Lamb. To this there succeeded in the New Testament the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is commemorative of the past Passion of the Lord as the Paschal Lamb was a foreshadowing of the Passion to come.

And therefore was it most fitting that, on the very eve of the Passion, the old sacrament of the Paschal Lamb having been celebrated, Our Lord should institute the new sacrament.

3. Because the last words of departing friends remain longest in the memory, our love being at such moments most tenderly alert. Nothing can be greater in the realm of sacrifice than that of the body and blood of Christ, no offering can be more effective. And hence, in order that the sacrament might be held in all the more veneration, it was in His last leave-taking of the Apostles that Our Lord instituted it.

Hence St. Augustine says, “Our Saviour, to bring before our minds with all His power the heights and the depths of this sacrament, willed, ere He left the disciples to go forth to His Passion, to fix it in their hearts and their memories as His last act.”

Let us note that this sacrament has a threefold meaning :

(i) In regard to the past, it is commemorative of the Lord’s Passion, which was a true sacrifice, and because of this the sacrament is called a sacrifice.

(ii) In regard to a fact of our own time, that is, to the unity of the church and that through this sacrament mankind should be gathered together. Because of this the sacrament is called communion.

St. John Damascene says the sacrament is called communion because by means of it we communicate with Christ, and this because we hereby share in His body and in His divinity, and because by it we are communicated to and united with one another.

(iii) In regard to the future, the sacrament foreshadows that enjoyment of God which shall be ours in our fatherland. On this account the sacrament is called viaticum, since it provides us with the means of journeying to that fatherland.