O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! 'Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, unto the ages of ages. Amen
Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come; he had always loved those who were his own, and now he would show them the depth of his love.
Reading God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For
there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself a ransom for all
this was attested at the right time. - 1 Tim 2:4-6
Responsory He freely gave himself in sacrifice.
He said no word in his own defense.
I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Fatherand I lay down my life for the sheep.
Reading For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, 'The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.'. Romans 15:3
Responsory Ours were the sufferings he bore
Ours the weight of guilt he endured,
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I glory in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Reading Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. - Hebrews 9:28
Let us venerate the cross.
Through it, we have received the sacrament of reconciliation.
From a treatise on John by Saint Augustine, bishop
Dear brethren, the Lord has marked out for us the fullness of love that we ought to have for each other. He tells us: "No one has greater love than the man who lays down his life for his friends." In these words, the Lord tells us what the perfect love we should have for one another involves. John, the evangelist who recorded them, draws the conclusion in one of his letters: "As Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." We should indeed love one another as he loved us, he who laid down his life for us.
This is surely what we read in the Proverbs of Solomon: "If you sit down to eat at the table of a ruler, observe carefully what is set before you; then stretch out your hand, knowing that you must provide the same kind of meal yourself." What is this ruler’s table if not the one at which we receive the body and blood of him who laid down his life for us? What does it mean to sit at this table if not to approach it with humility? What does it mean to observe carefully what is set before you if not to meditate devoutly on so great a gift? What does it mean to stretch out one’s hand, knowing that one must provide the same kind of meal oneself, if not what I have just said: as Christ laid down his life for us, so we in our turn ought to lay down our lives for our brothers? This is what the apostle Paul said: "Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we might follow in his footsteps."
This is what is meant by providing “the same kind of meal”. This is what the blessed martyrs did with such burning love. If we are to give true meaning to our celebration of their memorials, to our approaching the Lord’s table in the very banquet at which they were fed, we must, like them, provide “the same kind of meal”.
At this table of the Lord we do not commemorate the martyrs in the same way as we commemorate others who rest in peace. We do not pray for the martyrs as we pray for those others, rather, they pray for us, that we may follow in his footsteps. They practised the perfect love of which the Lord said there could be none greater. They provided “the same kind of meal” as they had themselves received at the Lord’s table.
This must not be understood as saying that we can be the Lord’s equals by bearing witness to him to the extent of shedding our blood. He had the power of laying down his life; we by contrast cannot choose the length of our lives, and we die even if it is against our will. He, by dying, destroyed death in himself; we are freed from death only in his death. His body did not see corruption; our body will see corruption and only then be clothed through him in incorruption at the end of the world. He needed no help from us in saving us; without him we can do nothing. He gave himself to us as the vine to the branches; apart from him we cannot have life.
Finally, even if brothers die for brothers, yet no martyr by shedding his blood brings forgiveness for the sins of his brothers, as Christ brought forgiveness to us. In this he gave us, not an example to imitate but a reason for rejoicing. Inasmuch, then, as they shed their blood for their brothers, the martyrs provided “the same kind of meal” as they had received at the Lord’s table. Let us then love one another as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us.
Almighty God, as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son, help us to see and know your love for us, so that in humility, love and joy we may place at his feet all that we have and all that we are; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
V Let us bless the Lord. R Thanks be to God.
May the life-giving cross
be the source of all our joy and peace. Amen.