Wednesday of Holy Week
Judges, Chapter 14, Verse 11
Out of their fear of him, they brought thirty men to be his companions.
This verse is about Sampson the strongman of the bible; who struck fear into the hearts of the pagan Philistines. Nevertheless, how different was Sampson from his pagan neighbors?
Justyn Rees has an interesting shortened tale of the tragedy of Sampson that is available online that is a quick thought-provoking read in his book entitled, “Old Story New”.
Sampson who was born endowed with great physical strength started out following God but failed to continue walking in the spirit of He that Is. John Maxwell points out that like Gideon many men fail toward the end of their life because they dilute the vision God had given them, and have become too comfortable with their success and lack the self-control to overcome their weaknesses. John’s advice to leaders is to be self-disciplined using a quote from Plato, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” John points out a five-step plan to develop self-discipline in your life.
1. Develop and follow your priorities. Time is a precious commodity, do what’s really important first and release yourself from the rest.
2. Make a disciplined lifestyle your goal. Set up systems and routines to ensure you feed the mind, body, spirit and love of neighbor daily.
3. Challenge your excuses. We all make them; push the envelope.
4. Remove rewards until you finish the job. Eat your vegetables first.
5. Stay focused on results. Focus on the outcomes and not the difficulties in accomplishing it; envision the change.
Our model for transformation: Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
Wednesday of Holy Week
Prayer. GRANT, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who are continually afflicted through our excesses, may be delivered by the passion of Thy only- begotten Son.
EPISTLE. Isaias Ixii. 11, 12; Ixiii. 1-7
Thus, saith the Lord God: Tell the daughter of Sion Be hold thy Saviour cometh: behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. And they shall call them, The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord. But thou shalt be called: A city sought after, and not forsaken. Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful one in His robe, walking in the greatness of His strength?
I, that speak justice, and am a defender to save. Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the wine press?
I have trodden the wine- press alone, and of the gentile, there is not a man with Me: I have trampled on them in My indignation, and have trodden them down in My wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My apparel. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, the year of My redemption is come. I looked about, and there was none to help: I sought, and there was none to give aid: and My own arm hath saved for Me, and My indignation itself hath helped Me. And I have trodden down the peoples in My wrath, and have made them drunk in My indignation, and have brought down their strength to the earth. I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord, the praise of the Lord for all the things that the Lord our God hath bestowed upon us.
Instead of the gospel the Church reads to-day:
THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,
According to St. Luke xxii. and xxiii.
At that time: The feast of unleavened bread, which is called the Pasch, was at hand. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death: but they feared the people. And Satan entered into Judas who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. And he went and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised. And he sought opportunity to be tray Him in the absence of the multitude. And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the Pasch should be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying: Go and prepare for us the Pasch, that we may eat. But they said, where wilt Thou that we prepare?
And He said to them: Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him into the house where he entereth in: and you shall say to the goodman of the house: The Master saith to thee: Where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the Pasch with My disciples?
And he will show you a large dining-room furnished: and there prepare. And they going, found as He had said to them, and made ready the Pasch. And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer. For I say to you, that from this time I will not eat it, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And having taken the chalice He gave thanks, and said: Take, and divide it among you. For I say to you, that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God come. And taking bread, He gave thanks, and brake: and gave to them, saying: This is My body which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of Me. In like manner the chalice also, after He had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the New Testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you. But yet behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table. And the Son of man indeed goeth, according to that which is determined: but yet wo to that man by whom He shall be betrayed. And they began to inquire among themselves which of them it was that should do this thing. And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be greater. And He said to them: The kings of the gentile’s lord it over them: and they that have power over them, are called beneficent. But you not so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger: and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. For which is greater, he that sitteth at table, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at table? but I am in the midst of you, as He that serveth: and you are they who have continued with Me in My temptations: and I dispose to you, as My Father hath disposed to Me, a kingdom: that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom: and may sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren. Who said to Him: Lord, I am ready to go with Thee both into prison and to death. And He said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that thou knowest Me. And He said to them: When I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes, did you want any thing?
But they said: Nothing. Then said He unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip: and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written, must yet be fulfilled in Me: And with the wicked was He reckoned. For the things concerning Me have an end. But they said: Lord, be hold here are two swords. And He said to them: It is enough. And going out He went according to His custom to the Mount of Olives. And His disciples also followed Him. And when He was come to the place, He said to them: Pray, lest ye enter into temptation. And He was withdrawn away from them a stone’s cast: and kneeling down He prayed: saying: Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from Me: but yet not My will, but Thine be done. And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven strengthening Him. And being in an agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground. And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow. And He said to them: Why sleep you? arise, pray, lest you enter into temptation. As He was yet speaking, behold a multitude: and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus for to kiss Him. And Jesus said to him: Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?
And they that were about Him, seeing what would follow, said to Him: Lord, shall we strike with the sword?
And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answering, said: Suffer ye thus far. And when He had touched his ear, He healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests, and magistrates of the temple, and the ancients that were come unto Him: Are you come out, as it were against a thief, with swords and clubs?
When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. And apprehending Him, they led Him to the high priest’s house. But Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were sitting about it, Peter was in the midst of them. Whom when a certain servant maid had seen him sitting at the light, and had earnestly beheld him, she said: This man also was with Him. But he denied Him, saying: Woman, I know Him not. And after a little while another seeing him, said: Thou also art one of them. But Peter said: O man, I am not. And after the space as it were of one hour, another certain man affirmed, saying: Of a truth this man was also with Him: for he is also a Galilean. And Peter said: Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately as he was yet speaking, the cock crew. And the Lord turning looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, as He had said: Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter going out wept bitterly. And the men that held Him, mocked Him, and struck Him. And they blindfolded Him, and smote His face. And they asked Him, saying: Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?
And blaspheming, many other things they said against Him. And as soon as it was day, the ancients of the people, and the chief priests, and scribes came together, and they brought Him into their council, saying: If Thou be the Christ, tell us. And He said to them: If I shall tell you, you will not believe Me. And if I shall also ask you, you will not answer Me, nor let Me go. But hereafter the Son of man shall be sitting on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all: Art Thou then the Son of God?
Who said: You say that I am. And they said: What need we any farther testimony?
For we ourselves have heard it from His own mouth. And the whole multitude of them rising up, led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying: We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar, and saying that He is Christ the King. And Pilate asked Him, saying: Art Thou the King of the Jews?
But He answering, said: Thou sayest it. And Pilate said to the chief priests and to the multitudes: I find no cause in this man. But they were more earnest, saying: He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place. But Pilate hearing Galilee, asked if the man were of Galilee. And when he understood that He was of Herod’s jurisdiction he sent Him away to Herod, who was also himself at Jerusalem in those days. And Herod seeing Jesus was very glad, for he was desirous of a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things of Him: and he hoped to see some sign wrought by Him. And he questioned Him in many words. But He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes stood by, earnestly accusing Him. And Herod with his army set Him at naught: and mocked Him, putting on Him a white garment, and sent Him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate were made friends that same day: for before they were enemies one to another. And Pilate calling together the chief priests, and the magistrates, and the people, said to them : You have presented unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people, and behold I, having examined Him before you, find no cause in this man in those things wherein you accuse Him. No, for Herod neither. For I sent you to him, and be hold, nothing worthy of death is done to Him. I will chastise Him therefore, and release Him. Now of necessity he was to release unto them one upon the feast-day. But the whole multitude together cried out, saying: Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas, who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for a murder, was cast into prison. And Pilate again spoke to them, desiring to release Jesus. But they cried again, saying: Crucify Him, crucify Him. And he said to them the third time: Why, what evil hath this man done?
I find no cause of death in Him: I will chastise Him therefore, and let Him go. But they were instant with loud voices requiring that He might be crucified: and their voices prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him who for murder and sedition had been cast into prison, whom they had desired: but Jesus he delivered up to their will. And as they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country: and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus. And there followed Him a great multitude of people, and of women who bewailed and lamented Him. But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the day shall come wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall upon us: and to the hills, Cover us. For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?
And there were also two other malefactors led with Him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified Him there: and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they dividing His garments, cast lots. And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided Him, saying: He saved others, let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the elect of God. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying: If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself. And there was also a superscription written over Him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew: THIS is THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of these robbers who were hanged, blasphemed Him, saying: If Thou be Christ, save Thyself, and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise. And it was almost the sixth hour: and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit. And saying this, He gave up the ghost. [All kneel]. Now the centurion seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed, this was a just man. And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts. And all His acquaintance, and the women that had followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off beholding these things. And behold there was a man named Joseph, who was a counsellor, a good and a just man (the same had not consented to their counsel and doings), of Arimathea, a city of Judea, who also himself looked for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And taking Him down, he wrapped Him in fine linen, and laid Him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid.
INSTRUCTIONS ON TENEBRAE
The prayers and chants sung by the choir on the evenings of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week are called; Tenebrae. The Church thereby expresses her grief over the passion and death of Our Saviour, and over the sins which were the cause thereof, in order to move the sinner to return to God.
Why are these matins called; Tenebree? Because they are usually said in the evening, and because, also, they are mournful, and call us to sorrow.
Why is this service held at night? In memory:
1. Of the evening when Christ was by force taken prisoner, like a murderer.
2. Of the darkness which lasted three hours at His crucifixion.
3. Of the spiritual darkness, confusion, and grief which prevailed in the minds of His disciples during Our Saviour’s passion.
4. Of the darkness which overspread mankind while Jesus was suffering for them.
What is meant by extinguishing, one after another, the twelve lights on the triangular candlestick, and finally all the rest? The twelve lights signify the twelve apostles, and the extinguishing of them is to represent how, one after another, they deserted Jesus. The putting out of all the lights reminds us of the darkness which prevailed upon the earth at the death of Jesus, of the blindness of the Jews, and of the gradual extinguishment of belief in Him.
What is the meaning of the last light, which is hidden for awhile, and then brought forth again when all is ended? It signifies Christ, Whose body was buried in the grave, from which He soon after arose by His own power, and thereby showed Himself more clearly than before to be the Light of the world.
What is signified by the noise made at the end of; Tenebrae, while the last light is hidden? It signifies the earthquake at the death of Jesus.
Wednesday of Holy Week Spy Wednesday
The account of Christ's Passion according to St. Luke during the daily Mass; and the nocturnal office of Tenebrae, a sustained reflection on the treachery of Judas, the privation of holiness, and the need for conversion. Tenebrae consists of the divine office of Matins and Lauds for Maundy Thursday. It is generally held on the night of "Spy Wednesday" of Holy Week, so-called because it is believed to be the night on which Judas Iscariot betrayed our Lord. The service thus explores the nature of Judas' betrayal, the mental anguish of our suffering Lord, and the desecration of what was once holy and beautiful. Its ceremonies include the use of a "hearse," a triangular candelabrum that holds fifteen candles which are successively extinguished during the liturgy until the entire church is enveloped in darkness. Only one candle remains lit at the end, which is hidden by the Epistle side of the altar before the Miserere is chanted. The service concludes with a banging noise, followed by silence. The extinction of the fourteen candles calls to mind the fourteen holy men mentioned in the Bible who, from the foundation of the world to the very threshold of Christ's coming, were slain by their own wicked brethren. The hiding of the fifteenth candle, on the other hand, signifies the murder and resurrection of Christ Himself, while the banging noise commemorates the confusion of nature when its Creator died (Mt. 27.51).
The Service of shadows is silenced
· Up to 1955 the three consecutive Tenebrae services for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, including the typical ceremonies such as the extinguishing of candles, and each of these three services anticipated on the previous day, were widely celebrated as an integral part of the liturgy of Holy Week in churches with a sufficient number of clergy wherever the Roman rite was followed. A rich tradition of music composed for these central occasions had developed. From 1956 to 1970 the practice largely declined:
· The 1955 papal document restored the celebration of Matins and Lauds of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday to their original timing as
o morning services, with only a little allowance for anticipating any of them on the evening before. On these three days attention shifted from what became morning services to the services that were now to be held in the afternoon or evening. Communal celebration of Matins and Lauds became limited generally to communities that observed the full Divine Office in congregational form. Matins and Lauds, having lost their exceptional character, provided composers with little incentive to produce new music for them and there was no demand for grand performances of the existing music earlier composed for Tenebrae.
o The Roman Breviary, as updated in 1961, did not mention any specific Tenebrae ceremonies to accompany the no longer anticipated Matins and Lauds of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
· Finally, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Matins and Lauds throughout the year were completely reformed. Matins, for instance, no longer had the nine psalms and Lauds the five psalms that determined the number of candles extinguished in the Tenebrae celebration.
Read: “Out of love he chose ‘to empty himself’ and make himself our brother; out of love he shared our condition, that of every man and every woman.” (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, April 8, 2009)
Reflect: Watch a video reflection on the day’s readings.
Pray: Pray in thanksgiving for the challenges that were presented to you during this Lenten season and the spiritual growth you experienced.
Act: Before embarking on these next three days of the Triduum, remember that in the end, God wins the day. Our long fast is followed by the greatest of feasts. Before long, we will be sharing Easter joy!
Timeline of Holy Week
· Wednesday, the supper and anointing in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8) Mark’s account is just after he says that it was two days before the Passover.
The Bible doesn't say what the Lord did on the Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover. Just a short time previously, Jesus had revealed to the disciples, and the world, that he had power over death by raising Lazarus from the grave. After seeing this incredible miracle, many people in Bethany believed that Jesus was the Son of God and put their faith in him. Also, in Bethany just a few nights earlier, Lazarus' sister Mary had lovingly anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume.
Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid.
Gnosticism is a belief that the material world is created by an emanation of the highest God, trapping the Divine spark within the human body. This Divine spark could be liberated by gnosis.
Gnosticism is a heresy that gave way to another heresy, likewise present in our day. As time passed, many came to realize that it is not knowledge that betters us or makes us saints, but the kind of life we lead. But this subtly led back to the old error of the gnostics, which was simply transformed rather than eliminated. The same power that the gnostics attributed to the intellect, others now began to attribute to the human will, to personal effort. This was the case with the pelagians and semi-pelagians. Now it was not intelligence that took the place of mystery and grace, but our human will. It was forgotten that everything “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy” and that “he first loved us”.
A will lacking humility
Those who yield to this pelagian or semi-pelagian mindset, even though they speak warmly of God’s grace, “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style”. When some of them tell the weak that all things can be accomplished with God’s grace, deep down they tend to give the idea that all things are possible by the human will, as if it were something pure, perfect, all-powerful, to which grace is then added. They fail to realize that “not everyone can do everything” and that in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace. In every case, as Saint Augustine taught, God commands you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot, and indeed to pray to him humbly: “Grant what you command, and command what you will”. Ultimately, the lack of a heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us, for no room is left for bringing about the potential good that is part of a sincere and genuine journey of growth. Grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us superhuman all at once. That kind of thinking would show too much confidence in our own abilities. Underneath our orthodoxy, our attitudes might not correspond to our talk about the need for grace, and in specific situations we can end up putting little trust in it. Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift. Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us and transforms us progressively. If we reject this historical and progressive reality, we can actually refuse and block grace, even as we extol it by our words. When God speaks to Abraham, he tells him: “I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be blameless”. In order to be blameless, as he would have us, we need to live humbly in his presence, cloaked in his glory; we need to walk in union with him, recognizing his constant love in our lives. We need to lose our fear before that presence which can only be for our good. God is the Father who gave us life and loves us greatly. Once we accept him, and stop trying to live our lives without him, the anguish of loneliness will disappear. In this way we will know the pleasing and perfect will of the Lord and allow him to mould us like a potter. So often we say that God dwells in us, but it is better to say that we dwell in him, that he enables us to dwell in his light and love. He is our temple; we ask to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life. “For one day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere”. In him is our holiness.
· Manhood of Christ Day 1, Seventh Week.
· pray the Rosary for the United States of America.
 John Maxwell, The Leadership Bible, 1982.
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896