Hosanna in the Highest!

Hosanna in the Highest © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2012

Passion Sunday is here, and with it the holiest week of the year has begun. We initiate this day in triumph, though tinged with foreboding sorrow. As the week progresses, the mystery of salvation becomes palpable. We are called to get out of our easy-chairs and to refrain from being mere spectators of the Passion of Christ. Rather, we are called to become active participants in salvific suffering of Our Savior, and in so doing, to take up our cross and follow Him.

This morning’s reading from the Divine Office states:

“Rejoice heartily O daughter Zion,

Shout for joy O daughter Jerusalem!

See your King shall come to you;

A just Savior is He,

Meek, and riding on an ass,

On a colt,

The foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9).”

Yes, today we rejoice with the Lord as He triumphantly enters Jerusalem to shouts of:

Riding on a colt © SalveMaterDei.com 2012

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!”

“Hosanna in the Highest (Mark 11:9-10)!”

We are called to be there holding palm branches as He is honored and glorified and the dignity of His Divine mission recognized by mere humanity. Yet, this is only the beginning. Will we also turn away, and betray Him, as did the crowd who greeted Him on Palm Sunday, only to reject Him on Good Friday? No, we are called to go further; to experience His Passion, to live in His Love, and walk beside Him every step of the way.

We will be there as the repentant sinner breaks the alabaster jar or perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard, anointing His body as if in preparation for burial (Mark 14:3). Like her, we are call to repent of our sins, to find a tangible way of expressing our contrition, and live anew.

We will be there at the Last Supper, hearing Our Lord say: “Take and eat, this is My Body (Mark 14:22).” Our Lord’s institution of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist began the night before He died, yet by the miracle of His Grace, we may continue to receive His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, as often as we are prepared. This week, we are invited to realize the significance of this enormous grace.

Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit © SalveMaterDei.com 2012

We are called to participate in His Passion. This week we will witness His betrayal, and in so doing consider those times we have not been faithful to the dignity of our own Baptismal promises. Like Peter, we will regret denying Him with our words and actions. And like Peter, if we turn to Him in sorrow, we will find His unfathomable Mercy.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with those who mock our Lord and cry “Crucify Him,” our hearts will be torn, and our souls ache. We will contemplate the tear-stained face of Our Beloved Mother, Mary, as she beholds her Divine Child. Our hearts will beat in unison with Hers as we share her immeasurable pain.

We will see Him fall, and like Mary, we will be unable to offer physical assistance the strength of our humble prayers will be the only comfort we can provide. As the nails are pounded into His flesh, the blows will resonate within our own.

Standing beneath the cross, we will hear His last words, feel the earth quake, and sense the darkness of the sky. He will give Mary to us as our Mother, just as He gave her to John. With her, we will hear Him take His last breath and surrender His soul to God, His Almighty Father.

Let Me Share Thy Grief. . . . © SalveMaterDei.com 2012

With grief we will contemplate the Virgin tenderly caress the lifeless body of her Divine Son, Jesus. Our tears will mingle with hers, as we help to prepare His corpse for burial. As He is laid in the stone, cold tomb, we will lay aside our former selves as well: knowing that if we have died with Him, we shall also rise with Him. Holding fast to that promise, with Mary, we will silently wait for the joy of the Resurrection.

Have a Blessed and Spiritually Fruitful Holy Week,

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. J.M.J.

I Stretch Out My Arms All the Day Long

I Stretch Out My Arms © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

God has a way of highlighting the relevance of His Word. This morning, as I opened the Divine Office and began the reading for the Fifth Saturday in Lent, I was immediately struck by its relevance to the current political ruckus and our cultural rebellion against everything that is sacred.

“I said: Here I am! Here I am!

To a nation that did not call upon my name.

I have stretched out my hands all the day

to a rebellious people.

Who walk in evil paths and follow their own thoughts.

People who provoke me continually to my face (Isaiah 65:1b-3a).”

Our Lord continues to call “Here I AM! Here I AM!” today. Through His Divine Word we sense His nearness and the urgency of His message. He is the great “I AM” and moment by moment that reality is present to all who answer His eternal call and seek His Divine Presence. Christ perpetually nourishes us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, ever present under the veil of the Eucharist. He is ready to feed us, to heal us, to care for our every need – if only we “Turn to Him and be saved.”

In Him We Live.... © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photographer

Yet, this generation is not unlike those in ancient times. We too are a “stiff-necked people.” We continue to be a “nation that did not call upon my name.” Our nation is currently embroiled in a debate regarding religious freedom and politics. At the core of this debate is who we are as a people – are we a nation committed to life, or to death? The current fray over the HHS Mandate is just the most recent example of our nation’s willingness to turn its back on God. The path leading to the subtle erosion of codified religious freedom has been well trod.

As a nation, we have consented to the slaughter of 50 million children since Roe-v-Wade made abortion the law of the land in 1973. Approximately 1.3 million babies die annually because, collectively, we as a nation have chosen to ignore His voice, and to embrace a culture of death. The culture of death distorts promiscuity as freedom, perversion as acceptable, and sickness as health. The bonds of marriage and family life are being redefined, as efforts advance to annihilate this most sacred bedrock of society. Pregnancy is categorized as a preventable disease; the innocence of childhood is destroyed within the hallowed halls of educational institutions. The preciousness of life has been so cheapened that death becomes brokered by professionals whose Hippocratic oath has become nothing more than a mere symbol of an abandoned set of iconic ethical principles. Each of these realities has found legal expression and government oversight. As tax payers we are put in the untenable situation of funding those malignant social agendas we loathe and paying for those causes that splinter the rubric of a functional society.

Love Eternal, Love Divine © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photographer

For this nation, and others like ours, our Christ “stretched out His hands all the day long.” We are the rebellious ones for whom His Precious Blood was shed. It is for us that the lance was thrust deep into His side, and the blood and water gushed forth to purify us. His Sacred Heart beat for us from the cross, and it was for us that He cried, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”

We are the people “who walk in evil paths and follow their own thoughts.” We are a people who choose to accept language which minimizes the reality of the sin to which we acquiesce. We have exchanged a love of wisdom for a lust of all that is sensual; and true piety for open ridicule of religious truths.

How long will we choose to “provoke Him continually to His face?” As Holy Week approaches, let us endeavor to change our hearts. For as we begin to change ourselves, so too will our nation begin to change. He is still calling: “Here I AM! Here I AM!” It is for us to turn and answer Him.

Have a blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A., J.M.J.