Fulget Crucis Mysterium

Diego_de_la_cruz-pradoThis lovely medieval image depicts Our Lady Saint Mary, Saint John the Beloved Disciple, and the Wounded Side of Christ. Together, Our Lady and Saint John teach us the contemplation of the Sacred Heart and of the Holy Face.

Yesterday’s feast of the Transitus of our father Saint Benedict led us directly into Passiontide, the last phase of preparation for the Pasch of the Lord. Last evening, the Church placed on our lips the great hymn of Our Lord’s glorious Cross and blessed Passion, and so we sang: Fulget Crucis mysterium, “the mystery of the Cross shines out”.

The second to the last verse of this age-old hymn, traditionally sung kneeling in homage to the wood of the Cross, is a confession of hope in the Tree of Life:

O Cross, all hail! Sole hope, abide
With us now in this Passiontide:
New grace in loving hearts implant
And pardon to the guilty grant!

The stational church is none other than Saint Peter’s Basilica: the faithful of Rome assemble at the tomb of Saint Peter. The purple veils that hide our sacred images recall the great veil that in ancient times was stretched across the whole sanctuary, obliging the faithful to go by faith and longing into the inner sanctuary, the invisible one where Christ is victim, altar and priest.