Passion Monday
March 14, 2005
vol 16, no. 73

Hidden Treasure


        The Gospel for the Traditional Rite on Passion Sunday focuses on Christ revealing Who He truly is and the Jews refusing to believe Him. Pride and arrogance are powerful allies in preventing the light from shining through. Indeed, the visible purple folds that cover the crucifix and statues illustrate how faith is hidden from today's world for the world, the flesh and the devil have enshrouded the truth, refusing to believe the truths of the Faith Christ established and seeking to deceive just as the Scribes and Pharisees did.

The Treasure of the Traditional Rite reveals the Hidden Treasure

by Kevin M. Tierney

for

      Editor's Note: We are pleased that Kevin M. Tierney has resumed his special feature simply called "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" which, of course, translated means roughly how one prays is how one believes. As you can see the differences between the two are as clear as black and white. One, the Latin Mass is full and reverent, the Novus Ordo sterile and bland. It needs innovation and novelty to spice things up. The Latin Mass merely depends on the Divine. This series compares the Propers of the synthetic Novus Ordo with the absolute Propers of the Traditional Latin Mass to show all that the NOM comes up far, far inferior, if not worse. Many might place the blame on the venom of the vernacular, but we all know what vipers injected this poison. It must be sucked out and spit out forever. Hopefully this series will give readers motivation to expedite that process in the counter-revolution dedicated to taking back the Mystical Body of Christ for Christ! Today Kevin takes a different tack and it works quite well as he explains the magnificent wisdom and meaning of the Traditional Proper for Passion Sunday. No need to even compare Propers or bring up the Novus Ordo for it is merely the 5th Sunday in Lent and can't compare.

Editor's Note: For the full Proper of the Traditional SUNDAY MASS with the Latin included, see "Judica me, Deus"

    PASSION SUNDAY
    Traditional Proper compared to
    the Novus Ordo Fifth Sunday in Lent

    The Liturgical Scholar Dom Prosper Gueranger in his monumental work The Liturgical Year describes Passiontide as a time when "The Sky of the Holy Church becomes more and more overcast." For during this time we trace the last year of our Lord's life. A year when the stage becomes more and more set for His Confrontation with the Scribes and Pharisees, ultimately leading to Calvary, and our Redemption. During this time, let us remember to be on the side of Christ, rather than those who oppose Him.

    This becomes clear in the Introit, where we read Psalm 42 Judica me, Deus, which is omitted from the beginning of Mass at the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar for this Sunday to Holy Thursday.

    Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: Deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength. Send out Thy light and Thy truth: they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, even unto Thy Tabernacles. (TM, Introit, Psalm 42: 1-2)

    The Psalmist here reminds us to beseech God, to make known where we stand. When we approach God, we do not approach Him without Hope, as do those who are ungodly. Therefore, God deals with us, judges us, as apart from the wicked. Many people seem to always have a negative connotation with the word judgment. While in some cases this is certainly so, in cases like these, it is a positive judgment we are beseeching God for. As we ask to be not counted among the evil, we ask to be delivered from them. As the world crumbles around us, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, that we are His. He delivers us by His Grace, and by the merits of His Son, Sacrificed on the Cross. That Grace leads us and sustains us "even unto Thy Tabernacles." Likewise in our day, we have been set apart from this world, indeed consecrated to God, sanctified by His grace, and led unto the tabernacles of our day, where the Blessed Sacrament is. For it is through the Mass that we Christians gather together, and ask that God judge us separately. The sacrifice we offer so He may do so is that of His Divine Son. As we enter into this Mass, this is something well worth remembering.

    Once we are led to the tabernacles, where we offer the Sacrifice, we ask that God "mercifully look upon Thy Family" in the collect. As we are set apart from this world, we also become part of God's family. This is how we are judged differently. All throughout Scripture, one sees the concept of justification as in imagery of family. The Council of Trent defines justification in such a way:

    "By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. " (Council of Trent, Session 6, Decree on Justification, Chapter IV)

    This is why we can approach God with confidence. We are not approaching him at this point as a criminal throwing himself before the court. We are approaching Him as a Father with qualities of justice. All fathers, while loving, are also just. We appeal to be judged with that love. Therefore we ask that God would look upon us as a Father would a son.

    Once He has done so, we ask that by God's "great goodness it may be governed in body", it being His Family, the Church. It is always through the grace of God that the Church carries out it's divine mission of the salvation of souls. As Jesus Christ was the means of salvation in His day, His body likewise carries out that mission today. Since God desires the salvation of all men, and that all men may come to the knowledge of His son Jesus Christ, God will want His Church to do the best job it can do. We here ask for the grace to make this possible in helping to bring about an ordered Church. In order and right time can the Church be most effective. Though there will never be perfect order in this world, we ask for the more the better.

    After petitioning for good and proper governance of that body, we ask that God preserve and protect the mind of the Church. Preserve it's doctrinal integrity. Preserve it's ability to best articulate that doctrine. For indeed once there is order, the battle is still not yet won. As Crisis after crisis ends, what do we do then? We articulate by both word and example the truth of God's love.

    We receive a bit of insight into the why this can happen when we read the Epistle, Hebrews 9: 11-15. Though some have always considered the Epistle to the Hebrews dry or not friendly to the average reader, I can't stress reading this Epistle enough. Indeed it is my favorite. It so perfectly demonstrates the difference between the covenant of law and the covenant of Grace at a time when people were going back to "the old way." St. Paul's message (it is my opinion that he wrote Hebrews) is there is nothing to go back to. Christ is the True High priest who stands before God. The High priests at that time had no standing before God, for one could say they gave away that standing by aligning with Caesar to crucify Christ.

    Not only is the High Priest better for us, but the sacrifice He offers is better, for as the Epistle states, He "offers Himself, spotless unto God." Whereas the Old sacrifices cleansed the flesh and gave a purity from the outside, the Sacrifice of Christ also does this, but does what they could not, "cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." When we are delivered, judged by God and made part of His family, our consciences are cleansed, and the life we lived before is purified, so that now we may serve Him. When we fall along the way, we must continue to rise back up, and seek our High Priest Who always offers that Sacrifice before God, so that we may be cleansed the more. We have a unique chance that those before us did not have. Let us use that gift towards the service of God, towards giving the truth and aiding to the salvation of souls.

    Such a theme is continued in the Gradual, which is Psalm 142. As in the rest of the liturgy, the theme is that of delivering us from the evil nations, and rising us above them. One is quick to note just how often the Traditional Rite reinforces these points. For in our frailties, our minds easily wander. What we may have heard and understood with zeal in the Introit might now be gone from our minds as we reach the Gradual. It is here the liturgy is our schoolmaster, teaching us the faith through repetition. For as children when we learn our multiplication tables, we learn them through repetition. Likewise, we learn our faith through repetition. Even in the modern Rite, this feature is somewhat maintained, as they do follow a schedule (albeit a less rigorous one.) This is because that stability we can frequently return to and meditate upon as we go through our lives. Our Salvation is a lifelong process, and many times we need to continue to hear the same lessons time and time again. That is why Holy Mother Church in her wisdom set a one-year cycle so that we would be reminded regularly of these lessons of faith.

    While we are part of the Family of God, we are reminded in the Gospel that there are those who are not of that family, even though they believed themselves to be. The Gospel is John 8:46-59 and recounts Christ's climatic encounter with the Scribes and the Pharisees, where He fully reveals exactly Who He is, and the path is irrevocably set towards Calvary, for from this point on, Christ now had the full wrath of the Scribes and Pharisees.

    Christ starts off with pronouncing a judgment upon them, just as He pronounces judgment upon us. While we are of God, and therefore can hear His word, the Jews He spoke to at that moment were most certainly not of God. For if they were of God, they would've recognized that Christ indeed was the Messiah foretold by the prophets. Yet these Jews believed they were of God. They had the law, their rituals, they were so pure. Indeed, they had so many more avenues to God than those around them, yet they were blinded by it. They were so blind, they couldn't even see God standing right before them! Even worse, they claimed it was a devil standing before them. So deep in pride and arrogance, in their belief they were that much better than everyone else because of what God had given them (not realizing that it was not a sign of goodness God gave them these laws!) Christ emphatically stated that He was not of the Devil, but gave honor to the Father. Those who followed Christ and honored the Father would not taste death He told the crowd.

    It was here the Jews believed they had all the proof they needed that the man claiming to be of God was really of Satan. For, blinded in the flesh, they did not grasp the meaning of Christ's words. For if anyone who follows Christ honors the Father, and will not taste death they reasoned, what about Abraham? Last time they checked, he was quite dead! How could this be? Was Christ as a prophet claiming to be greater than Abraham? What about the rest of the Prophets? Was this mere mortal really as arrogant to claim He was better than all of them?

    Christ retorted that Abraham rejoiced that he would see Christ's day, that he saw that day and was glad. This sends the Jews into a frenzy. For not only is he speaking falsely, he now must clearly be delusional. How could Abraham, a man dead for millennia, see the day of a mere mortal not even 50 years old? Christ indicates to them He is no mere mortal. That before Abraham, I AM. Christ identifies Himself with the very name of God. To the Jews, this was blasphemy. They had all the proof they needed that this man claiming to be good was in reality evil to the core. They were ready to stone him, but Christ escaped. But from that day forth, the battle lines had clearly been drawn, and sides were clearly chosen.

    It states at the end of the Gospel "Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple." This is the reason that the statues and crucifixes are covered with purple cloth for the next two weeks to symbolize His hiding and that we try to hide our sin. He knows all, as shown in today's Gospel and the Last Gospel at every Mass, including St. John's words that He was the light shining in the darkness, "the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His Own, and His Own knew Him not. But as many received Him, to them He gave power to become sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The world shrouds Him, afraid of the light, afraid of the truth. That is another reason the Traditional Rite is so powerful, so meaningful.

    Now think about this in today's world. Because of the pride the world has, it's pride in how advanced it is, it's pride in all the benefits we have, all these things that were originally from God, have now been perverted to evil use, just like the law in the time of Christ. When that happened, an inversion of the things occurred. To the Jews, their savior became He who would condemn them if they followed Him. Likewise, in today's world, that which is good is looked down upon, and that which is evil is promoted. Just like in the garden of Eden. Pride causes one to see things wrongly. Obedience to God was frowned upon, and disobedience to God was cheered in that Garden because of Pride. Pride that they knew better than God. They were weak, and the devil gave them strength, though that strength was a facade. It was pride. In today's world, as the sides are becoming ever clearly marked, whose side are we on? We better be sure. If we're not on the right side, we need to be delivered to the right side, which is exactly what the Secret asks.

    The Secret asks for that which bonds us to wickedness to be loosened. That we be loosed from our Pride when the Holy Sacrifice is offered. And once loosened, we may be granted the gifts of God's mercy. The recurring theme of today's liturgy is that there is a war, the sides are clearly chosen. There is the humble and devout Children of God on one side, and then there is the prideful and arrogant children of this world on the other. We need to be on the right side, and stay on the right side. As the Introit tells us, coming before the tabernacles of the Lord is one way to ensure this will happen. That when we come before the Lord and call upon him, and receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament, He will protect us, He will not fail us.

Kevin Tierney



    March 14, 2005
    vol 16, no. 73
    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi