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The Passion and Death of Jesus: The Minor Players

by Theresa Cavicchio

The final days of Lent call us to reflect more deeply on the Sorrowful Mysteries – key scenes in the climax of Jesus’ earthly life from Holy Thursday night through the Friday we call Good. As Pope Saint John Paul II writes, “the Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 22).

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Easter Sunday

April 21

Most glorious Lord of life that on this day Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin, And having harrowed hell didst bring away Captivity thence captive us to win; This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin And grant that we, for whom Thou didst die Being with Thy dear blood clean washed from sin, May live forever in felicity. And that Thy love we weighing worthily, May likewise love Thee for the same again; And for Thy sake that all like dear didst buy, With love may one another entertain. So let us love, dear love, like as we ought, Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

–“Easter”, Edmund Spenser (1553-1598)


Today's Reflection

JESUS LIVES! How am I experiencing His life in me on this glorious day?

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Holy Saturday

April 20

I am not moved to love Thee, O my Lord,

By any longing for Thy Promised Land;

Nor by the fear of hell am I unmanned

To cease from my transgressing deed or word.

‘Tis Thou Thyself dost move me, — Thy blood poured

Upon the cross from nailed foot and hand;

And all the wounds that did Thy body brand;

And all Thy shame and bitter death’s award.

Yea, to Thy heart am I so deeply stirred

That I would love Thee were no heaven on high,

That I would fear, were hell a tale absurd!

Such my desire, all questioning grows vain;

Though hope deny me hope I still should sigh,

And as my love is now, it should remain.

-To Christ Crucified (16th or 17th C.), Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Walsh

Today's Reflection

On this Holy Saturday I enter into the tomb with Jesus. What one area of my life is most in need of resurrection? How is Jesus showing me He wants to bring this part of me “back to life?”

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Good Friday

April 19

Jesus: O Mother dear, didst thou but hear My plaint of desolation, Thy tender heart would burst apart With grief of separation!

I am not stone, yet all alone I hush My soul’s outcrying, -- Alone to tread the wine-press red, To bear the pain of dying.

My lips are dumb, the night has come; Ah! Solace I might borrow Had I but thee to bide with Me In this wild waste of sorrow.

Mary: “Gentle moon and start of midnight, Golden apples born of sunshine, Precious pearls and jewels rare, -- All things glorious, all things shining,” Thus the sorrowing Mother spake; “E’en ye bright, transfigured faces, Mourn with me for Jesus’ sake.

“Sparkle, gleam, and glow no longer: Only moan and mourn for Him. Shine not, shine not, weep forever, Till your thousand eyes are dim; For the mighty One has fallen, And my Beautiful is slain; In the dense wood pierced, my Shepherd, -- Weep ye, weep ye for my pain! O most oppressed of all oppressed, Heart of my heart, my all, my Son! Grief’s keenest sword doth pierce my breast: I die with Thee, my only one! Alas! the pain is all too great, Since, living, still I share Thy fate.

“Yes, mine Thou wert to bear and rear Through life and light, and pain and loss; And now, ten thousand times more dear, I yield Thee to the cruel cross!”

-“Dialogue at the Cross,” Frederick Spee, S. J. (1591-1635) translated from the German by Mary E. Mannix


Today's Reflection

Today I stand at the foot of the Cross with Mary my mother. What pain, sorrow, suffering, trial, and contradiction do I yield to the “cruel cross”? How does Mary give me guidance in this surrender?

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Holy Thursday

April 18

Prone in Gethsemene upon His face, His eyelids closed, — lay Christ of all our world, The winds with endless sorrows seemed enswirled; A little fountain murmured of its pain Reflecting the pale sickle of the moon; Then was the hour when the Angel brought From God’s high throne the Cup of bitter horn, While on His hands tears trembling fell like rain.

Before the Christ a cross arose on high; He saw His own young body hanging there Mangled, distorted; knotted ropes half-tear The sinews from their sockets; saw He nigh The jagged nails’ hot rage, the direful Crown Upon His head, and every dripping thorn Red-laden, as in fury of its scorn The thunder battered all kind voices down. He heard the pattering drops, as from the cross A piteous sobbing whispered and grew still. Then Jesus sighed, and every pore did spill A bloody sweat.

-From Gethsemene by Annette Von Droste-Hulshoff (1797-1848)


Today's Reflection

Take this poem into your prayer time meditation as you consider the great gift of our redemption. How is Jesus speaking to me in it?

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