[Disclaimer: Same as first post (here).]
As I mentioned in my post on Holy Thursday, this is my first time participating in the Paschal/Easter Triduum as a Catholic. In this post I will reflect upon the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and today’s Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the Stations of the Cross, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Like Joshua, I went to the Holy Thursday mass (see his post here). Much of the Mass was in Latin, done in plainsong (chant) or polyphony. I am familiar with masses using Latin since our usual 11 a.m. Sunday mass is a sung high Mass and is done in Latin, as is the monthly Sung Mass according to the Dominican Rite. Nevertheless, my soul is always moved when I hear plainsong and polyphony. The homily, delivered by Rev. Emmerich Vogt, OP, was the right for the occasion; the focus was on love and service. We had a foot-washing, carried out by the priest upon a chosen group that was representative of the congregation, and finally the procession. The Thursday Mass never actually concludes as Mass usually does—there was no blessing. Instead, Mass ended with the procession and visit to the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose. That last event felt as though we were accompanying Jesus into His Passion and keeping watch with Him.
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
Like the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday mass was also a sung Mass in Latin—even the Passion account according to John was sung (but in English). Because I did not see last evening the stripping of the church, I was surprised today by the bareness of it all. One of the significant points of this Mass was the General Intercessions. These are prayers for all people and situations. Here is an outline:
- For the Church
- For the Pope
- For the Clergy and Laity of the Church
- For Those Preparing for Baptism
- For the Unity of Christians
- For the Jewish People
- For Those Who Do Not Believe in Christ
- For Those Who Do Not Believe in God
- For All in Public Office
- For Those in Special Need
The other significant part was the unveiling of the crucifix, which took place in three stages. At the beginning, the crucifix is completely covered, and at each stage, parts are uncovered until at the last stage, the entire crucifix is revealed. During each stage, the priest celebrating the Mass intones “This is the wood of the cross,” and each stage it is sung at a higher pitch than the previous. After each intonation, the congregation responds with “Come, let us worship.” The cross is then venerated, and most of us did it according to the ancient custom of venerating without shoes. Like Thursday, the Mass does not officially end, and this causes us to anticipate the queen of all Masses, the Easter Vigil Mass.
Stations of the Cross
After Mass ended, we had the Stations of the Cross. It consists of fourteen meditations on the Passion of Christ. These stations are usually sculptures depicting a particular scene. Pope Benedict describes the meditations as
. . . a school for interiority and consolation. . . . for the examination of conscience, for conversion, for inner transformation and compassion – not as sentimentality, as a mere feeling, but as a disturbing experience that knocks on the door of my heart, that obliges me to know myself and to become a better person.
Here is a description of the Stations:
- Jesus is Condemned to Death
- Jesus Bears His Cross
- Jesus Falls the First Time
- Jesus Meet His Mother
- Jesus is Helped by Simon
- Verconica Wipes the Face of Jesus
- Jesus Falls a Second Time
- Jesus Speaks to the Weeping Women
- Jesus Falls a Third Time
- Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
- Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
- Jesus Dies on the Cross
- Jesus is Taken from the Cross
- Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
Although the Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion, it seems most beneficial when done in a church so that the Stations could be looked upon. The Rosary meditations for Friday is the Sorrowful Mysteries and is something like a compressed form of the Stations. The Sorrowful Mysteries are: the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion (and Death) of Jesus. The Rosary is many times a private devotion, but is also done in community.
Chaplet of Divine Mercy
After the Stations of the Cross, we had the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which is an intercessory prayer based on the Passion of the Lord Jesus. This was a prayer given in the early 1900s by Jesus to the Polish Saint Faustina Kowalska. The prayers are done on a regular set of Rosary beads. On each “Our Father” bead, the following prayer is said:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the body and blood, soul and divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
On each “Hail Mary” bead is said this prayer:
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
On the center piece of the Rosary, this is said three times:
Holy God, Holy Mighty one, Holy Immortal one, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Now we await the completion of the Triduum with the Easter Mass.