Friday before Ash Wednesday

Today we find ourselves immersed

in the Sacred Passion of the Crucified Christ.

It is an immersion into

            Revelation’s greatest truth….

            Wisdom’s  greatest enlightenment

            Love’s greatest gift.

                        Paul of the Cross says:

“ … the immersion of the soul in the sea of his most

                    holy passion … is his greatest and most astounding work

                        of divine love.”     ……………Bialas  p 215  n.230

             Again Paul teaches:

           “it’s true that this memory of the sacred passion

            of Jesus Christ and the imitation of his holy virtues

            should never be left aside….

            The Passion still remains the door through which

            the soul enters union with God, to profound recollection

            and true contemplation:”   ………..  Bialas 115 n. 249

This Solemn commemoration of the Passion

brings us into the liturgy.

And in the Liturgy we are united with the whole Church

in our remembering.

            Pope Benedict XVI says that when we remember with the church

            the event and the words are enriched by the presence of the Holy Spirit

            and the truths of the event remembered are opened to us.  ...... Jesus of Nazareth   p 234

                Today in our remembering of the Sacred Passion of Jesus

                graces flow abundantly…. and the fruit of the Cross nourishes our soul.

 We are gifted both

 in  adoration and worship….

 in mercy and redemption.

At the Last Supper Jesus was generous

and instructive.  He gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink.

He also gave us the command:   “Remember…..

Remember me….Remember my Passion ….

Today we come remembering … commemorating….

Today we are present to the Passion… we are in the Passion…

the Passion is opened to us…..

            It is God’s gift of God to us.

It is our gift of God to God.

            Salvation History’s greatest moment.

            Eternity’s present moment.

In the opening prayer of this Liturgy

we prayed that our God

would keep before our eyes

the Mystery of Christ Crucified.

            It is such a mystery that only God can make it present to us….

        And God alone can keep it before our eyes

        to the degree of attentive love.

Often…. Frequently…..

we must keep before our eyes the Mystery of the Passion

            Sometimes kneeling before the crucifix

            suspended  here above the altar.

                        There between heaven and earth He hangs,

                        hands raised up, nailed….

                        head bowed down, crowned,

                        hands raised in supplication,

                        head bowed in compassion….

                                    He is Redeemer…. He is redemption...

            Or to ponder the crucifix

            on the wall in your cell…..

                        and know a delicate moment of grace…

                        a moment of contemplative prayer.

            Perhaps one holds the crucifix

            lovingly in the palm of the hand,

                        and there is the touch of love….

                        the touch of the leper… healing..

The soul, seeking deeper love with the Crucified Spouse,

 must gaze at the Cross.

In this attentive act of love

            the goodness, the mercy, the grace, the divine love

            flow from the pierced side  of the Crucified Spouse

            and human hearts are transformed.  

Saint Paul of the Cross says:

                      “The Passion still remains the door

                        through which the soul enters into union with God,

                        to profound recollection and true contemplation.”  .....Bialas 115 n249


                        “It is true that the memory of the most holy Passion of Jesus Christ

                        with the imitation of his holy virtues is never to be left aside

                        even if you have a great degree of recollection and the highest

                        gift of prayer, since it is the door through which the soul

                        enters and is led to intimate union with God, to interior

                        recollection and to the most sublime contemplation.” ......Bialas 210  n215

Sometimes our gazing on the Crucified Christ

is through  the Way of the Cross….

this daily journey with the Suffering Christ.

            One can not walk this daily journey

            without compassion….. without bonding…

   a journey where suffering becomes love  and love becomes suffering.

   The soul learns the love of compassion,

   and compassion unites… compassion opens heart to heart..

The Solemn Commemoration of the Passion

takes us to the Sacred Scriptures.

            We listen and believe.

            We hear and our sorrow becomes suffering

   and our suffering becomes sorrow.

            They led Him away.

At the Skull place they crucified Him.

            Inadequate words for such an event!

            Awesome truth beyond words.

We saw Him

            a man of suffering…..

            cut off from the land of the living….

We saw Him

            oppressed and condemned…

            smitten for the sins of his people….

            as one smitten by God……

We saw Him

            crushed for our sins

            carrying the guilt of us all.

                                    To see each suffering in the eyes of faith

                                     is to receive the fruit of each suffering.

            Well has Isaiah said

   there was no stately bearing  to make us look at Him.

Yet we have to look at Him.

            Love pulls us to behold.

            No appearance that would attract us to him.

  He was One from whom men hide their faces…

                        Yet, in the Liturgy we pray that

God will keep before our eyes the mystery of the Christ Crucified.

We must gaze at the Crucified Christ.

We must believe.

The Sacred Readings of this Solemnity

never ceased to call us to profound faith.

Yet Isaiah raises the question:

 “Who would believe what we have heard?”

Here is what we have heard:

          They crucified Him… 

 He suffered and died for us.

 It was our infirmities he bore….

 our sufferings he endured….

            He was pierced for our offenses…

He was crushed for our sins…..

            He took away our sins….

He pardoned our offenses…

            Father, forgive them, for they do not know

 what they are doing…

                       The question comes again:

                       Who would believe what we have heard?


                        The answer:

                        Those who are Brides of the Crucified Spouse


                        Those called into the Passionist community


                        Those who come frequently into the Paschal Mystery


We hear

            and we believe

We listen

            and we are humbled

We are attentive

            and we cry for mercy

We contemplate

            and enter into union

            deeply aware that “the holy passion is the greatest and most

            astounding work of divine love.” .......Bialas     page 215 n 230

To commemorate the Sacred Passion of the Crucified Christ

is to fish in the sea of divine love.

          “When completely immersed in pure love

             without images, in a most pure and naked faith

             ….. the soul in an instant finds itself

   wholly immersed in the sea of suffering  of our Savior

Then with eyes of faith, without knowing how,

            the soul understands all in suffering

            because the passion of Jesus is a work of love….”  ....Bialas  204   n 197

To commemorate the Passion of the Crucified Christ

is to become aware of the virtues of the suffering Christ

and to be moved to live them:

            Obedience to the will of the Father….

            Trust to the point of total abandonment….and naked faith

            Patience in complete surrender to the love of the Father…

            Humility to the death on a Cross….His All our Nothingness

            Forgiveness:  Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

            Generosity:  Father into your hands I commend my spirit.

To commemorate the Passion of the Crucified Christ

is entering the interior chamber…. that vast solitude in the ground center of the soul

and there lose one’s self completely in that Infinite Good.

“Enter there but enter entirely clothed in the sufferings

of the Most Holy Divine Spouse.”  .......Bialas    p 211   n 221

Saint Vincent Mary Strambi  calls the Passion of Jesus a great book.

He says:

            “Come, O Christians, and consider the lessons

             which appear in this divine book…”    ....Office Book  p 27


Our Commemoration of the Sacred Passion of Jesus

is the reading of the Divine Book of the Passion.

We take with us the following blessings:

To commemorate the Passion of Jesus the Crucified fruitfully

             is to know

the suffering Christ as the Crucified Spouse…..

             is to pray

                        from the simplicity of a colloquy

                        to the sublimity of infused prayer….

             is to share in the suffering

                        from the inconvenience of a snow storm

                        to intensity of filial participation

             is to love

                        from one’s humble desire to love

                        to the heights of the gift of union.

My prayer for you is

may the Solemn commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

be abundantly fruitful.


                   Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Jesus  
                                             by  Msgr. Bernard Powers
                                                   February 20,2009