My Dear Faithful,
The first half of Lent is now over and we are approaching the climax and most important part. The first half should have been a preparation for the important finaltwo weeks of Passiontide. Now is the time to renew our resolutions and to intensify our efforts to enter the spirit of this solemn season.
Passiontide is a period of two weeks during which we have the special final week called Holy Week, and this particular week is marked by the Sacred Triduum from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday. No matter how successful our preparation during Lent has been, this coming period has to be spent in a more special way. During these two weeks, all of our energy and love should be concentrated in the contemplation of Our Lord in His Passion. Many saints have repeatedly said that there is no other meditation as important as to constantly remember the Passion of Our Lord. We absolutely need to keep meditating upon the Passion and Death of Our Lord if we want to learn the essential message which He came to teach us, which is the love He has for our souls.
Naturally, when we look at the Crucifix, we think of the consequences of sin, whether it is original sin committed by our first parents or our own manifold sins. It is true that all of the sufferings of Our Lord were borne for the purpose of paying the debt required by God for all of our sins. However, the Catholic theology, the doctrine which is given to us from God by means of Revelation, says that any action from Our Lord would have been sufficient to made complete reparation for all sin. Not even a small suffering, but any prayer, or the least good deed from Our Lord would have been enough since all of these are divine actions and consequently of infinite merits. Why then did Our Lord want to suffer His Passion? Let Saint John Chrysostom give us the answer: “The principal cause of the Passion of Our Lord was that He wished to demonstrate how great was the love of God for man,—of God, who would rather be loved than feared.” By saying this, the golden-tongued, as we call him, told us that the principal end Our Lord Jesus Christ had in His Passion was to discover to us His love, and thus to draw our hearts to Himself by the remembrance of the pains that He has endured for us.
The Passion is surely the height of God’s mercy which prevails over His justice. Nevertheless, God’s justice is still a reality that God applies. However, His justice alone as well as the reparation for our sins by a small action from Our Lord might not have attracted our hearts to begin a new life of love for God. Our Lord put the price to redeem our souls much higher so that all might see His love for us and then be attracted to love Him in return.
Let us understand and enter Passiontide with this in mind: Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, wants to show me how much He loves me. Such Love should induce us to return love for Love, unless our hearts are made of stone. We should never tire of asking Our Lord to give us the grace to love Him more. True love is obedient love and will be best manifest by our showing our devotion to the Passion by carrying our Cross as He did, with resignation, patience and a spirit of reparation for the dishonour Almighty God had to suffer from our sins. Let us start this proof by accepting any suffering caused by the effort to attend the ceremonies of Holy Week. These ceremonies, set up by the Church, are the opportunity of great graces for us, which will enable us to grow in the love of God and consequently to secure our salvation.
This is what I wish for you and your loved ones during this the holiest time of the Church’s year.
Rev. Vianney Vandendaele (Prior)