Most glorious Lord of life

Easter Sunday
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)

In the tomb with Jesus

Holy Saturday
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

At the foot of the cross

Good Friday
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

A poem for Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday
 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)

My servant whom I uphold

April 12
“Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”
-Isiah 42: 1-7

Surely it is not I, Lord?

April 11
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.
When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”
-Matthew 26:14-25

Will you lay down your life?

April 10
Palm Sunday
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”
-John 13:36-38