Friday, March 19, 2021

The Secret for Passion Sunday

Jesus Christ the High Priest
Lost in Translation #43

In the 1962 calendar, the last two weeks of Lent constitute a veritable season within a season. “Passiontide,” which begins with Passion Sunday, is a heightened anticipation of, and preparation for, the Paschal mystery of Our Lord’s death and resurrection. Whereas the earlier weeks of Lent, while still cognizant of Our Lord’s imminent Passion, focus more on the penance and mortification of the faithful, Passiontide focuses more on, well, the Passion of the Christ. During this time, sacred images in the church are covered as a sign of sorrow, as a way of enlivening our sense of unworthiness, and in order to direct our attention to the mystery of the season. Similarly, the “Judica me” and the “Glory be to the Father” are omitted from the Mass on Sundays and regular weekdays.

The Secret of Passion Sunday ties into these themes in a subtle way:
Haec múnera, quáesumus, Dómine, et víncula nostrae pravitátis absolvant, et tuae nobis misericordiae dona concilient. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
May these offerings, we beseech Thee, O Lord, dissolve the chains of our depravity, and conciliate for us the gifts of Thy mercy. Through our Lord.
We have already seen “depravity” during the season of Lent, on the Second Sunday, having prayed for deliverance from pravae cogitationes in the CollectHere, we pray that the chains of depravity may be dissolved. But how? Through the conciliation of the gifts of God’s mercy. Consilio is a difficult verb to translate. It literally means to “cry out together,” to be of one voice in clamoring to God. It has the connotation of reconciliation, of coordinating our pleas to God with one voice and making peace with our God, against whom we have sinned. But how to coordinate? The question brings us to the Sunday’s Epistle reading. In Hebrews 9, 11-15, we are confronted with the reality of Christ the High Priest, who in His humanity enters into the Holies with His own Blood, obtaining eternal redemption for those who whose “transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As we enter into the final phase of Lent, we pray that Christ the High Priest may act as Mediator between God and man, who in His suffering, death, and resurrection reconciles us to the Father and dissolves the chains of death and sin that keep us from Him.

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