Monday, March 21, 2016

Holy Week: "contrasted pageantry wherein joy and sorrow succeed each other"

"Holy Week at once recalls the contrasted pageantry of those feasts wherein joy and sorrow succeed each other, with soaring hymns and the silence of desolation, in great cathedrals and humble parish churches alike.

The week opens with the scent of freshly cut branches, the branches of our own countrysides symbolizing the palm and olive branches of the Holy Land.

"The Gloria Laus, that echo of the Hosanna of Israel, falls into silence and the night office of Tenebrae, with its alternation of lessons from the Prophets and chants from the Psalms reminds us of the coming tragedy and the repeated prophecies of which it is the fulfillment.

"Maundy Thursday, with its Altar of Repose in a mound of sweet scented flowers, is like a smile on the road to Calvary save that the Host, hidden among the flowers and the candles, is the very flesh of the Victim, to whom we bow down in adoration.

"Then comes the night when the bells are mute and the candles dead; the sad procession of the crowds making the Stations of the Cross, the veiled statues, the empty tabernacle, monument of a mourning world, until the miraculous dawn when the joyful cry goes up: 'Christ is risen!'"

- "Jesus and His Times" by Daniel-Rops

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