This is Palm Sunday. We enter now into the most solemn week of the year as we withdraw more and more from the world and its false allurements to unite ourselves as never before with the events of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Passion and Death prior to experiencing the glory of His Resurrection following the Easter Vigil Mass this Saturday, April 19, 2014, and on Easter Sunday, thus beginning a marvelous celebration of the Octave of Easter and the Easter season.
We need Our Lady’s help to keep and to intensify our Lenten penances this week. May our reliance upon the Most Sorrowful Mysteries of her Holy Rosary aid us in understanding what our sins did to her Divine Son and to her and how grateful we must be for being the unmerited beneficiaries of the Mercy won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross and for being given from that Cross so great and wonderful and perfect a mother as she, Our Blessed Mother, is to us by Our Divine Redeemer Himself.
From Eden to the Empty Tomb is a substantial revision of a reflection that I wrote for the printed pages of Christ or Chaos in 1997. Given the vastness of the subject, this reflection is pitifully inadequate. The revised article is really a condensed version of what is gone into in greater detail in the Living in the Shadow of the Cross lecture program. About half of the lecture program deals with material condensed in the current article. Obviously, Holy Week is not time to watch this lecture program! However, it is there for those who are interested at some point during the months that follow.
One of the things that has been added to the current article is a reflection from Father P. Gallwey’s The Watches of the Sacred Passion with Before and After:
“A great multitude that was come to the festival-day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna, blessed is He that comethin th the name of the Kng of Israel” (St. John xii. 12, 13.)
“An a very great multitude spread their garment in the way; and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way” (St. Matt. xxi. 8).
A. A great multitude therefore comes out from Jerusalem to meet the crowd that is accompanying Jesus from Jericho and Bethany.
The crowd coming out from Jerusalem perhaps consists more of strangers arrived in Jerusalem than of the inhabitants of that unfortunate city. The people there are too much afraid of their jealous Rulers to pay honour to Jesus. With what reason holy writers warn us all to strengthen ourselves against human respect! “For Jesus says: Fear yet not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul. . . . He that shall deny Me befoe men, I will also deny him” (St. Matt. x).
This is what our Lord had said: “No prophet is accepted in his own country” (St. Luke iv.) “He came into His own, and His own received Him not (St. John i.). In His own favoured city He is not welcome. We are now His own people, the favoured ones. Are we giving Him any cause to say, “Woe to you! for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, long ago they would have done penance?
B. “A very great multitude spread their garments in the way.”
Not out of their superfluities are they now giving alms to our Blessed Lord. The grace of devotion given them is so fervent that they give the garments they are wearing–probably their best, their holiday clothes–to be trodden down and spoiled, in order to do Him hour: Fac cor dulce Jesu mei, Fac ut nos amemus Te. Cast into our hearts some spark of the Divine fire, which warmed the hearts of the crowd on this day of grace.
C. “Others cut boughs.”
This, we may presume, was done by the owners of the trees, or with their full sanction. The watchful providence of the Heavenly Father would not suffer this holy procession to be disfigured by any lawless excesses.
If were were to to witness now such enthusiasm at a procession of the Blessed Sacrament Sacrament, many would be consoled and edified; but we might, on the other hand, find some secretly saying, “Ut quid perdito haec“–To what purpose this waste? (St. Matt. xxvi.) Should not the police be asked to prevent this destruction of the trees?
St. Thomas in his glorious hymn for the Feast of Corpus Christi sides with the devout multitude, and exhorts us to vie with them.
Quantum potes tantum aude, Quia major omni laude, Nec ladare sufficis. Dare all thou canst through all thy days, And still seek new an worthier lays, For Still He soars beyond thy praise.
“And when He was now coming near the descent of Mount Olivet, the whole multitude of His disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed be the King Who cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in Heaven and glory on high” (St. Luke xix.; St. Mark xi.).
A. “O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte“–O all you who pass by the way, stay a little while and see and listen. Our good angels watch us as we pass to and fro thoughtlessl, and they earnest ask us to pause a little while, and observe with a holy envy this burst of gladness of devotion and thanksgiving from of old and young around our Blessed Saviour. “Look, they say, and do according to the Model” (Exodus xxv.). O Christian soul, contemplate attentively this crowd of men and women and children, praising God with a loud voice for all His mighty works–and go thou and do the like. Ought we to rest content, till praising God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost has become an easy, a pleasant and habitual exercise of our soul? How often do we hear Holy Church reminding us that “it is God’s right, it is due to Him, it is only common justice and fairness, and besides, it is wholesome and salutary for our elves that in all places and at all times we give thanks to Him”? Speaking to yourselves, St. Paul writes, in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, singing and making a melody in your hearts to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father (Ephes. v.). This ought to be our habitual state. How near have we come to it?
B. But we must bear in mind that we have to eat our bread in the sweat of our brow. Holy thoughts and holy habits do not come naturally in our fallen state. We have by spiritual industry to learn a language of praise and thanksgiving. Under our Lady’s teaching we must practice until from our hearts we can say: “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour, because He that is mighty hath done great things for me.”
C. Remember how oftentimes one small slight, or even an imagined slight, from a man, takes away all our thoughts from the countless good things that God is giving us! What a strange prodigy! One hasty word, one rude gesture from a man has more effect than all God’s immense bounty! It is right, no doubt, to leave the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one that is lost; but is it wise to forget entirely ninety-nine blessings from God to go after one slight from a man, and follow it till, like the will o’ the wisp, it leads us into the depths of the quagmire?
This was Aman’s folly. “He called together to him his friends and Zares his wife: and he declared to them the greatness of his riches and the multitude of his children, and with how great glory the King had advanced him above all his princes and servants. And after this he said: Queen Esther also hath invited no other to the banquet with the King but me; and with her I am also to dine to-morrow with the King. And, he continues, whereas I have all these things, I think I have nothing so long as I see Mardochai the Jew sitting at the King’s gate” (Esther v.). Why is this? What magic power has Mardochai to counteract and embitter and poison such wonderful prosperity? All Aman’s blessings are effaced and blotted out simply because this one Jew will not rise up to honour the great Chancellor when he passes, nor even so much as to move from the place that he sits. If Zares had been a sensible wife, and if Aman’s friends had been true friends, they would have come round the poor dotard and said urgently: “You foolish man, why need you go out by the gate where the Jew is? Forget that Jew entirely, and fix your thoughts on all your many blessings.” But they were all evil counsellors, and advised him to turn his back on all his good things and go after this one vexation, to follow this one poor Jew, to persecute this one captive to the bitter end. What was the outcome? The foolish man lost all his ninety-nine blessings and was hanged on the one gibbet which he had prepared for Mardechai. (Father P. Gallwey, The Watches of the Sacred Passion with Before and After, Volume I, published by Maressa Press, Roehampton, England, 1930, pp. 152-155.)
To greet Christ the King this Palm Sunday and every day of our lives, we must not let anything get in the way of letting Him treat us according to the tender mercies of His Most Sacred Heart, remembering that nothing anyone does to us, says about us or causes us to suffer is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Him to suffer in His Sacred Humanity during His fearful Passion and Death on the wood of the Holy Cross and that caused those Swords of Sorrow to be pierced through and through the Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother.
Our fervor during this week of weeks must be genuine, and we must beg Our Lady, especially by meditating upon the Sorrowful Mysteries of her Most Holy Rosary, to help us persist in this fervor moment by moment, day by day, week in and week out, month after month, year after year until the time when we meet Christ the King, Our Crucified and Risen Saviour, at the moment of our Particular Judgment.
The next original article on this site will deal once again with the likes of Barack Obama/Barry Soetoro, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius, Lois Lerner and Harry Reid, each and every one a figure of Antichrist.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Saint Hermenegild, pray for us.