Friday, April 10, 2009

Tenebrae

EXCERPTS FROM GOOD FRIDAY AT TENEBRAE: The Office of Darkness, ACCORDING TO THE USE OF THE CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF SAINT LOUIS.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Maudy Thursday 2009, preparation for Tenebrae
Photo taken at the Cathedral at the time of preparation of Tenebrae.

Now, O kings, understand
take warning, rulers of the earth
serve the Lord with awe
and trembling, pay him your homage
— Psalm 2


Aleph.  I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath.
Aleph.  He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light.
Aleph.  Surely he turns his hand against me again and again the whole day long.
Beth.  My skin and my flesh he has made old; he has broken my bones.
Beth.  He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation.
Beth.  He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
Ghimel.  He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me.
Ghimel.  Although I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.
Ghimel.  He has blocked my way with hewn stones, he has made me desolate.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn back again to the Lord your God.
— Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah


O my chosen vineyard, it is I who have planted you. How have you become so bitter that you should crucify me, and release Barabas? I have hedged you in, and cleared you of stones, and have built a tower. How have you become so bitter that you should crucify me, and release Barabas?
— Responsory


If we wish to understand the power of Christ's Blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down for the Cross, flowing from the Master's side. The Gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the Cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out Water and Blood. Now the water was a sign of baptism and the Blood of the Holy Eucharist.  The soldier pierced the Lord's side: he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own.  So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

There flowed from his side Water and Blood. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that the Water and Blood symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from Baptism, the cleansing water that gives re-birth through the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gave a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!  As God then took a rib from Adam's side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us Blood and Water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the Blood and Water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and are nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own Blood those whom he himself has given life.
— From the catechesis by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop


Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.


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