Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

The remaining days of Lent … and a king’s requiem

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Very shortly we will be moving into the end of Lent. To help you make the most of these final days of the season, to observe the most solemn days on our calendar, and to celebrate the joy of Easter, I offer you this wonderful resource from the Irish Jesuits and Loyola Press.  It is called Sacred Space and it is much more than a website. It is a virtual community of which you can be a member and it is available in a variety of languages.

Ignatian Spirituality can sometimes appear to be a bit complicated, but it really isn’t if you have the right guide. Sacred Space has been offering this online service for 16 years. I discovered it about 10 years ago and have treasured it ever since. I hope you will, too.

On another note…

King Richard III of England, whose remains were located  under a parking lot in the city of Leicester in 2012, 527 years after his defeat by Henry Tudor and death at Bosworth Field, is being buried Thursday, March 26, in Leicester Cathedral. He will be buried in the rite of the Church of England, which is causing a bit of a stir. You might be interested in the way the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, addressed this. Richard, of course, lived before the English Reformation, which was set in motion by Henry Tudor’s son, King Henry VIII. The British Jesuits have the story on their website, Thinking Faith.

Cardinal Nichols also addressed the sticky business of whether or not Richard really was that terrible villain portrayed by Shakespeare in Richard III or was the victim of a deliberate attempt to blacken his name and therefore legitimize what some believe was the dubious claim of Henry Tudor to the throne.  Does it matter now?

I have always considered Richard’s fate in history to be a cautionary tale about believing what we today call “spin.” It also reminds me that, as George Orwell pointed out, history is written by the winners.

Holy Week with Bach

Friday, March 30th, 2012

For those who are involved in the various ministries of the church, Holy Week can be very hectic. By the end of the last service on Good Friday, many of us are physically exhausted and somewhat burnt out. Those serving in the Catechumenate cannot rest until after the Easter Vigil because the needs of the catechumens and candidates need to be nurtured right through their full initiation at the Vigil.

I have always found music to be an antidote to Holy Week fatigue, in particular the St. Matthew Passion of J.S. Bach. I pick out the pieces from the oratorio that are most meaningful to me and listen to them through the week. By allowing this incredibly beautiful music to wash over me, I have a greater appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice. That makes Easter even more glorious.

Note: Mark’s account of the passion will be read on Palm Sunday this year and, as always, John’s is read on Good Friday. According to his obituary, Bach wrote five passion oratorios, including one based on Mark, but only the Matthew and John have survived. The St. John Passion is magnificent, too, but St. Matthew Passion is my favorite. The English Chamber Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic recorded them in English some years ago and these  versions are still available.  If, miraculously, you do have the time, go to a live performance. There will be plenty this week.

This is the opening chorale of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, “Come ye daughters, share my wailing.” It’s in German, so here’s a translation. I hope it will enrich your appreciation of this most solemn time of the year and of the indescribably generous act of love it commemorates.

“Come, ye daughters, share my wailing.

See ye! Whom?

The Bridegroom see!

See Him! How?

A Lamb is He!


O Lamb of God, most holy,

The bitter cross Thou hast taken.

Look ye! What?

How patient He.

At all times meek and lowly,

Though by Thy children forsaken.

Look! Ah, where?

Upon our guilt.

All sins by Thee were taken,

Else hope had us forsaken.

Look on Him, for love and grace,

He Himself His cross must carry!

Have mercy on us, O Jesu.

Come, ye daughters, share my wailing.

See ye! Whom?

The Bridegroom see!

See Him! How?

A Lamb is He!”