Sacred Paschal Triduum 2008: March 2008 Archives

Sacred Triduum in Buffalo

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Father Jacob Restrick, O.P., Mother Mary Gemma, O.P., and the community of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Buffalo, New York were most gracious hosts during the Paschal Triduum. My friendship with Father Jacob goes back thirty years. It was a joy to see him again and to serve at the altar with him.

The Dominican Nuns of the Buffalo monastery sing Gregorian Chant, using both the Roman Gradual and the chant books proper to the Order of Preachers. I was invited to sing the Exultet in Latin, using the distinctive Dominican melody with its glorious melisms over key words, such as haec.

This was, by far, the most restful Sacred Triduum I have had in over three decades. Father Jacob and I were able to share the preaching and the officiating. Paul Z. acted as Master of Ceremonies with his customary competency. The community took care of the chant. It was lovely to be able to take a more quiet approach to the heart of the liturgical year!

On Holy Saturday morning, I was very happy to meet young Brendan Y., a Vultus Christi reader in Buffalo. In the afternoon, Father Jacob drove us to Lackawanna to visit the magnificent Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Victory, built by Father Nelson Baker in 1925.

Easter Sunday Mass was at 8:30. After a festive breakfast, Father Jacob drove Paul Z. and me to the airport to catch our flight back to Connecticut. Deo gratias, alleluia, alleluia.

Christ is risen!

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Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!

More majestic than the crashing thunder
that echoed in the night!
Christ is risen!
In a silence more thunderous
than the cracking of the heavens over our heads,
Christ is risen!!
In a brightness brighter
than the lightning that illumined even the ravines around us,
Christ is risen!
“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky
from one side to the other,
so will the Son of Man be in His day” (Lk 17:24).
Christ is risen!

David sings the mystery
and the Church takes up his song!
This is the night foretold in prophecy:
“And the night shall be enlightened as the day;
and the night is my light and my delight” (Ps 138:12),
for Christ is risen!

Tonight the light of His Face is signed upon us,
for Christ is risen!
Tonight the veil is lifted from the Countenance of Love,
for Christ is risen!

Blessed the veil that covered His beauty in death!
Blessed the veil that Simon Peter saw,
“not lying with the linen cloths
but rolled up in a place by itself” (Jn 20:7),
for Christ is risen!

Holy Saturday

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"The last day of Holy Week: a fruitful stillness before the breathtaking action of the night. Perhaps only the greatest Russian writers have succeeded in painting it as it is, a pause, a last moment of waiting, made holy by the Lord's rest in the tomb. The Church is waiting at the tomb and weeps. She sees where the Lord has been laid, where the woman had buried Adam, where man is buried where he had come to grief through her evil counsel. She sees it and weeps. She weeps at the Lord's tomb, as the Lord wept for Lazarus': for sin which killed the giver of all life. But her tears are soft, and she is at peace. . . . The death of Adam has lost its terrors in the tomb of Christ. The death for obedience' sake has snuffed out sin. No longer does a massa damnata blunder on from sin to sin and death to death, but the body of the obedient Christ rests in hope. A foreboding of the happy chance of fault which merited such and so great a redeemer. It is a foreboding of the blessedness of suffering earning 'the name which is above all names', and the 'glory of God the Father', which makes the seers — men and the Church — at peace and full of hope."

D. Aemiliana Löhr, The Great Week

Timely Mercies

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Paul Z. and I arrived in snowy Buffalo last night after a nine hour trip. Father Jacob was at the airport to welcome us. You can imagine my joy when, shown to my room, the first thing I saw was an image of the Vultus Christ, the Holy Face of Christ, on the wall. After a good night's sleep and a brief meeting to look over this evening's Mass In Cena Domini, I was happy to repair to the chapel for a time of adoration. As I had not yet said Lauds, I did it then.

Savouring the Grace

As much as I love chanting the Divine Office in choir, there is a special unction attached to praying the Hours quietly in solitude, or alone before the Blessed Sacrament. One is free to pause frequently, to linger over a particular verse and to savour the grace concealed within it. After such experiences, one returns to the Choir Office refreshed and more attentive.

The Sacramental Word

Certain verses of the psalms and canticle, incisive and fresh in the translation of Monsignor Knox, were like sacramentals, communicating a particular grace as soon as they made contact with the "palate of the soul."

From Psalm 50:

Have mercy on me, O God,
as thou art ever rich in mercy.

In the abundance of thy compassion,
blot out the record of my misdeeds.

My God, bring a clean heart to birth within me:
breathe new life, true life, into my being.

From Psalm 89:

And at last thy hand comes upon us in mercy,
for our correction.

Alas, that so few heed thy vengeance,
measure thy anger by the reverence we owe thee!

With such correction thou must needs assert thy power,
chasten us and make us wise.

Relent, Lord; must it be for ever?
be gracious to thy servants.

For us thy timely mercies:
for us abiding happiness and content;

Happiness that shall atone for the time when thou didst afflict us,
for the long years of ill fortune.

Look upon thy servants, thy own fashioning,
and be the guide of their posterity.

Brightly may the splendour of the Lord shine upon us!
Prosper our doings, Lord,
prosper our doings yet.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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