Category Archives: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, 3/31/1146 – St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, Doctor Mellifluous, preaches the Second Crusade


-“St. Bernard Preaching the Second Crusade in Vezelay”, 1840 (oil on canvas), Signol, Emile (1804-1892)

Now is a time for holiness and saints within the Church. Would that we had a Bernard now to preach a Crusade of Holiness. It has often been the case, when the Church has faced its greatest crises, its greatest saints have arisen.

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.” -Joel 2:13

-by Hugh O’Reilly

“Born in 1091, died in 1153, made Abbot of Clairvaux in 1115, St. Bernard exercised strong influence on 12th century Europe. When the Crusader State of Edessa fell in 1144, Pope Eugene III, who himself had been a monk in Clairvaux, called on his spiritual father to preach a Second Crusade to bring succor for the distressed condition of the Holy Land.

Abbot Bernard girded on the sword of the Divine Word and inspired many for the overseas Crusade.

This is one of his most famous speeches, preached at Vezelay, a little city of Burgundy, on Palm Sunday, March 31, 1146. The orator of the Crusade preached on a large tribune on the side of a hill outside the gates of the city. With King Louis VII of France in his royal robes present, St. Bernard first read the letters of the Sovereign Pontiff calling for a Crusade, then made this plea to arms to the large crowd that had gathered there to hear his words:

“How can you not know that we live in a period of chastisement and ruin? The enemy of mankind has caused the breath of corruption to fly over all regions; we behold nothing but unpunished wickedness. Neither the laws of men nor the laws of religion have sufficient power to check the depravity of customs and the triumph of the wicked. The demon of heresy has taken possession of the chair of truth, and God has sent forth His malediction upon His sanctuary.

“Oh, ye who listen to me, hasten then to appease the anger of Heaven. But no longer implore His goodness by vain complaints; clothe not yourselves in sackcloth, but cover yourselves with your impenetrable bucklers. The din of arms, the dangers, the labors, the fatigues of war are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the infidels, and let the deliverance of holy places be the reward of your repentance.

“If it were announced to you that the enemy had invaded your cities, your castles, your lands; had ravished your wives and your daughters and profaned your temples – who among you would not fly to arms? Well, then, all these calamities, and calamities still greater, have fallen upon your brethren, upon the family of Jesus Christ, which is yours. Why do you hesitate to repair so many evils; to revenge so many outrages? Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed on Christian people?

“Remember that their triumph will be a subject for grief to all ages and an eternal opprobrium upon the generation that has endured it. Yes, the living God has charged me to announce to you that He will punish them who shall not have defended Him against His enemies.

“Fly then to arms! Let a holy ire animate you in the fight, and let the Christian world resound with these words of the prophet, ‘Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood!’ “If the Lord calls you to the defense of His heritage think not that His hand has lost its power. Could He not send twelve Legions of Angels or breathe one word and all His enemies would crumble away into dust? But God has considered the sons of men, to open for them the road to His mercy. His goodness has caused to dawn for you a day of safety by calling on you to avenge His glory and His name.

“Christian warriors, He Who gave His life for you, today demands yours in return. These are combats worthy of you, combats in which it is glorious to conquer and advantageous to die. Illustrious knights, generous defenders of the Cross, remember the example of your fathers, who conquered Jerusalem, and whose names are inscribed in Heaven. Abandon then the things that perish, to gather unfading palms and conquer a Kingdom that has no end.”

All the barons and knights applauded the eloquence of St. Bernard and were persuaded that he uttered the will of God. Louis VII, deeply moved by the words he had heard, cast himself at the feet of St. Bernard and demanded the Cross. Then, clothed with this sign, he exhorted all those present to follow his example.

The hill upon which this vast multitude was assembled resounded for a long period of time with the cries of Deus vult! Deus vult! (God wills it). Then, many counts and a crowd of barons and knights followed the example of the King. Several Bishops threw themselves at the feet of St. Bernard, taking the oath to fight against the infidels.

The crosses that the Abbot of Clairvaux had brought were not sufficient for the great number who asked for them. He tore his vestments to make more.

To preserve the memory of this day, Pons, abbot of Vèzelay, founded upon the hill where the knights and barons had assembled a Church that he dedicated to the Holy Cross. The tribune upon which St. Bernard had preached the Crusade remained there a long time, the object of the veneration of the faithful.”

Today, a cross marks the spot on the hill in Vèzelay where Bernard preached.

“O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise Him, all ye people.

For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.” -Psalm 117

Love,
Matthew

Christus Factus Est – Phil 2:8-9

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens
usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.
Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum et dedit illi nomen,
quod est super omne nomen.

Christ became obedient for us unto death,
even to the death, death on the cross.
Therefore God exalted Him and gave Him a name
which is above all names.

Christus Factus Est is a gradual in the Catholic liturgy of the Mass on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The melody is found in the Graduale Romanum, 1974, p. 148.

Love,
Matthew

Palm Sunday

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

“Presence of God: O Jesus, I want to follow You in Your triumph, so that I may follow You later to Calvary.

MEDITATION

Holy Week begins with the description of the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His Passion. Jesus, who had always been opposed to any public manifestation and who had fled when the people wanted to make Him their king (cf. John 6:15), allows Himself to be borne in triumph today. Not until now, when He is about to die, does He submit to being publicly acclaimed as the Messiah, because by dying on the Cross, He will be, in the most complete manner: Messiah, Redeemer, King, and Victor. He allows Himself to be recognized as King, but a King who will reign from the Cross, who will triumph and conquer by dying on the Cross. The same exultant crowd that acclaims Him today will curse Him in a few days and lead Him to Calvary; today’s triumph will be the vivid prelude to tomorrow’s Passion.

Jesus enters the holy city in triumph, but only in order to suffer and die there. Hence, the twofold meaning of the Procession of the Palms: it is not enough to accompany Jesus in His triumph; we must follow Him in His Passion, prepared to share in it by stirring up in ourselves, according to St. Paul’s exhortation (Philippians 2:5-11), His sentiments of humility and total immolation, which will bring us, like Him and with Him, “unto death, even to the death of the Cross.” The palms which the priest blesses today have not only a festive significance; they also “represent the victory which Jesus is about to win over the prince of death” (Roman Missal). For us too, they must be symbols of triumph, indicative of the victory to be won in our battle against the evil in ourselves and against the evil which roams about us. As we receive the blessed palm, let us renew our pledge to conquer with Jesus, but let us not forget that it was on the Cross that He conquered.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, I contemplate You in Your triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Anticipating the crowd which would come to meet You, You mounted an ass and gave an admirable example of humility in the midst of the acclamations of the crowd who cut branches of trees and spread their garments along the way. While the people were singing hymns of praise, You were filled with pity and wept over Jerusalem. Rise now, my soul, handmaid of the Savior, join the procession of the daughters of Sion and go out to meet your King. Accompany the Lord of heaven and earth, seated on an ass; follow Him with olive and palm branches, with works of piety and with victorious virtues” (cf. St. Bonaventure).

O Jesus, what bitter tears You shed over the city which refused to recognize You! And how many souls, like Jerusalem, go to perdition on account of their obstinate resistance to grace! For them, I pray with all my strength. “My God, this is where Your power and mercy should be shown. Oh! what a lofty grace I ask for, O true God, when I conjure You to love those who do not love You, to answer those who do not call to You, to give health to those who take pleasure in remaining sick!… You say, O my Lord, that You have come to seek sinners. Here, Lord, are the real sinners. But, instead of seeing our blindness, O God, consider the precious Blood which Your Son shed for us. Let Your mercy shine out in the midst of such great malice. Do not forget, Lord, that we are Your creatures, and pour out on us Your goodness and mercy” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 8).

Even if we resist grace, O Jesus, You are still the Victor; Your triumph over the prince of darkness is accomplished, and humanity has been saved and redeemed by You. You are the Good Shepherd who knows and loves each one of His sheep and would lead them all to safety. Your loving heart is not satisfied with having merited salvation for the whole flock; it ardently desires each sheep to profit by this salvation….O Lord, give us then, this good will; enable us to accept Your gift, Your grace, and grant that Your Passion may not have been in vain.”

Love,
Matthew

Palm Sunday – “All Glory, Laud, & Honor!!!”

Lodewijk_I_de_Vrome_778-840
Louis the Pious, (778-840 AD), only surviving sone of Charlemagne, who imprisoned Theodulf

Theodulf_of Orleans
-Theodulf, called to the court of Charlemagne, stained glass, oratory at Germigny-des-Prés, after a restoration in the 19th century

-by Theodulf of Orléans (ca. 760–821 AD)

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest,
The King and blessed One.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

The company of angels
are praising Thee on high,
And mortal men and all things
created make reply.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

The people of the Hebrews
with palms before Thee went,
Our praise and pray’rs and anthems
before Thee we present.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou didst accept their praises
accept the pray’rs we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

dan_graves
-by Dan Graves

“Life, which has cast both smiles and frowns on Theodulf, now frowns. He is facing imprisonment in the year 818 AD. As a refugee from Spain, which was overrun by Moorish conquerors in the eighth century, Theodulf had made his way to Italy where he became an abbot, and from there he moved on to the court of Charlemagne.

Always on the lookout for literary talent, Charlemagne appointed him bishop of Orleans. Theodulf wrote poems and epitaphs for state occasions and served as scholar, church reformer, educator, and theological advisor to the Frankish emperor. His writings included sermons and theological treatises on baptism and the Holy Spirit. He opposed the use of icons and revised the text of the Bible. But following Charlemagne’s death in 814, his sons squabbled over his empire, which began to tear apart.

Now, in 818, one of these sons, Louis the Pious, suspects Theodulf of conniving with an Italian rival. He strips Theodulf of his honors and orders him to a monastery in Angiers on the River Maine.

The walls of Saint-Aubin seal him in. Lost to him is his personal estate at Germigny. Lost is the radiant chapel he built there. No more will he be called to direct the church or write epitaphs for the imperial court.

There is, however, a greater Emperor by far, to Whom he can appeal and from Whom earthly rulers can never deny him access. He need never lose this other Emperor’s favor. Walls cannot shut Him out. However much Theodulf bemoans the injustice done to him, he can still laud the King of Kings. In his monastic cell, he composes the verses of one of the greatest paeans ever written to our savior:

“All glory, laud, and honor
to Thee, Redeemer, King
To Whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.”

Within four years of the start of his imprisonment, Theodulf dies. More than a thousand years later, an English translation of his hymn will remain a favorite in the church’s Palm Sunday festivities.”

Love,
Matthew

Vexilla Regis = “Let Royal Banners fly!”

Jesus-Crucifixion

Vexilla Regis was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609 AD) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy. Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

The hymn has, thus, a strong connection with the Cross and is fittingly sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The hymn was also formerly sung on Good Friday when the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the repository to the altar.

Abroad the royal banners fly,
The mystic Cross refulgent glows:
Where He, in Flesh, flesh Who made,
Upon the Tree of pain is laid.

Behold! The nails with anguish fierce,
His outstretched arms and vitals pierce:
Here our redemption to obtain,
The Mighty Sacrifice is slain.

Here the fell spear his wounded side
With ruthless onset opened wide:
To wash us in that cleansing flood,
Thence mingled Water flowed, and Blood.

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song, of old:
Unto the nations, lo! saith he,
Our God hath reignèd from the Tree.

O Tree! In radiant beauty bright!
With regal purple meetly dight!
Thou chosen stem! divinely graced,
Which hath those Holy Limbs embraced!

How blest thine arms, beyond compare,
Which Earth’s Eternal Ransom bare!
That Balance where His Body laid,
The spoil of vanquished Hell outweighed.

Fragrant aromatics are thrown,
sweetest nectar is sown,
Dearest fruit of tree!
Be my noble victory!

Hail wondrous Altar! Victim hail!
Thy Glorious Passion shall avail!
Where death Life’s very Self endured,
Yet life by that same Death secured.

O Cross! all hail! sole hope, abide
With us now in this Passion-tide:
New grace in pious hearts implant,
And pardon to the guilty grant!

Thee, mighty Trinity! One God!
Let every living creature laud;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost deliver,
O guide and govern now and ever! Amen.

Translation from “The Psalter of Sarum”: London 1852.

Love,
Matthew

Palm Sunday – The Donkey

palm-sunday-Quotes

“When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.”
-G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 – 1936) was a prolific author, writing on a variety of topics including religion, economic theory, and philosophy.  He wrote poetry, plays, novels, and the famous Father Brown detective series.  Chesterton’s most famous novel was “A Man Called Thursday”, which is about a policeman who infiltrates a secret organization of anarchists.  Although it has been over seventy years since Chesterton’s death, he continues to be one of the most quoted authors of the last century.

What I love about Chesterton is that he has a way of bringing clarity to the most muddled of subjects.  Sadly, many people believe that Chesterton is too difficult to read and don’t even make an attempt to tackle his writings.  I do admit that I find a second, more careful, reading is sometimes necessary when I read Chesterton’s heavier works (work is involved?), but it is usually because I am so astounded at the man’s wit that I want to make sure that I understand him correctly.

A convert to the Catholic Church in 1922, Chesterton’s private writings show his desire to move toward the Church as early as 1911.  It is believed that his long wait was due to his desire to have his wife Francis convert alongside him. After all, it was Francis who led him from Unitarianism to Anglicanism. Chesterton’s conversion was the big news of his day.  The kind of news that is fervently discussed around the water cooler at the office.  Chesterton wrote of his decision, “The difficulty of explaining why I am a Catholic, is that there are 10,000 reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.”

“The Donkey” is a microcosm of Chesterton and his philosophy. Already present in this sweet little poem are all the elements that would fill his writing for the rest of his life: paradox, humor, humility, wonder, the defense of the poor and the simple, the rebuke of the rich and worldly wise. The other recurrent theme, seen in everything from his Father Brown stories to his public debates, is the presentation of a character we would at first dismiss, but who surprises us by being in direct contact with Truth itself. Be careful before you call someone an ass. He may be carrying Christ.

Chesterton’s writings – stories, essays, poems, books, journalism – are infused with an unequalled joy and love of truth.

In youth, he went through a crisis of nihilistic pessimism and it was his recovery from this that led him to God and ultimately to conversion.  “The Devil made me a Catholic,” he said – meaning that it was the experience of evil and nothingness that convinced him of the goodness and sanity of the world and his creator.  His poem “The Ballade of a Suicide” celebrates the salvific value of ordinary things; his novel, “The Man who was Thursday,” narrates the fight for sanity in an insane world and ponders the paradox of God; and “Orthodoxy”, written long before he became a Catholic, highlights orthodoxy not as a dead and static thing but as the only possible point of equilibrium between crazy heresies any one of which would drive us mad.

He took part in all the major controversies of his age, and was a lifelong adversary and friend of socialists and atheists such as George Bernard Shaw.  These controversies were conducted with passion but with unfailing charity: he never sought to defeat his opponents, only to defeat their ideas.  He would never cheat to score a point: and his love for the people he fought against is something that all controversialists should imitate, however hard it may be.

Blessed Palm Sunday!
Love,
Matthew