Good Friday, The Descent of Christ!In the first part of this hymn, the paradoxical ‚self-emptying‛ of theDivine Word is described as he divests himself of his glory and takes onthe human condition. -Pope Benedict XVIChrist Jesus, from the splendour of divinity which by nature belongs tohim chooses to descend to the humiliation of ‘death on a cross’. In thisway he shows himself to be truly man and our Redeemer, with anauthentic and full participation in our human reality of suffering anddeath. -Pope Benedict XVIChrist is descending into the human nature, from the ‚splendor ofdivinity.‛ Enabling Christ to take expiate our sins upon the Cross andbring us salvation. This mystery is culminated in the Good FridayLiturgy most especially with the veneration of the Cross.
Veneration of the CrossEvery celebration of mass is re-presentation of thebloody sacrifice of the Cross. By the sacrifice of the mass we are drawn into a deeper communion with Christ, and the Trinity as a whole. Through our communion with Christ we are able to unite our suffering with his, thereby receiving as a gift from God, merit from it, his sanctifying grace. Thus, the mass culminating in the Eucharist, as a sacrifice and the unification of man with God, is the apex of the Christian life, which would not be possible without the Cross on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter.Christ, incarnate and humiliated by the most shameful death of crucifixion, is heldup as a vital model for Christians. Indeed, as is clear from the context, their‚attitude must be that of Christ,‛ and their sentiments, humility and self-giving,detachment and generosity. -Pope Benedict XVI
Veneration of the Cross - The ReproachesOn Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of theChurch tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremoniesof Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, chanting the Reproaches, reading the Passion, andthe mass of the pre-Sanctified, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own deathto sin in the Death of our Lord.The Church - stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernaclestanding open - is as if in mourning. In the fourth century the Apostolic Constitutions describedthis day as a day of mourning, not a day of festive joy, and this day was called the Pasch (passage)of the Crucifixion.The liturgical observance of this day of Christs suffering, crucifixion and death evidently has beenin existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the serviceof Mass of the Pre-sanctified is celebrated in which the Eucharsit consecrated on Holy Thursday isgiven to the people .The omission of the prayer of consecration deepens our sense of loss because Mass throughout theyear reminds us of the Lords triumph over death, the source of our joy and blessing. The desolatequality of the rites of this day reminds us of Christs humiliation and suffering during his Passion. Catholic Online
The CrossLord, by thy Cross and Resurrection thou hast redeemed the world’In the symbol of the Cross we see the magnitude of the human tragedy, ravages of original sin, andinfinite love of God. Good Friday is a particularly appropriate time to attempt to penetrate the truemeaning of this sacred image represents through prayerful contemplation.Looking at the Cross in prayer helps us to truly see it. Most Christians have crosses in their homes.Many wear a cross around their necks. Some of these are very beautiful, perhaps made of preciousmetal and embellished with jewels. The beauty of these devotional objects may emphasize theglory and the victory of Our Lords Cross; but too often representations of this central symbol ofour faith are regarded primarily as decorative, and its true message is lost.It is fitting that we glorify the Cross as a sign of Christs resurrection and victory over sin anddeath, of course. But we should remember each time we see a cross that the Cross of Jesuscrucifixion was an emblem of physical anguish and personal defilement, not triumph-ofdebasement and humiliation, not glory-of degradation and shame, not beauty. It was a means ofexecution, like a gallows or a gas chamber. What the Son of God endured for us was the depth ofugliness and humiliation. We need to be reminded of the tremendous personal cost of love.The image of the Cross may help each of us to learn more fully the meaning of Christssacrifice, and how we are to imitate His example. We can hope that our prayers which focus onthe Crucifixion of our Lord will help atone for our own sins and the many grave sins of oursociety. Catholic Online
Common Prayers for VenerationRejoice, O Cross, thrice-blessed and divinewood,a light to those in darkness.Shining on the four corners of the earth,thou dost prepare us for the dawn ofChrist’s resurrection.O grant to all the faithful that they maycome to the festival of Easter. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17) On this day the wood anointed with life, the cross of Christ, fills all things with the perfume of divine grace. Let us smell its God-given fragrance, venerating it with faith for ever.
Common Prayers for Veneration Down from the Tree Joseph of Arimathea took Thee dead, who are the Life of all,We worship you, Lord, and he wrapped Thee, O Christ, in a linenwe venerate your cross, cloth with spices.we praise your resurrection. Moved in his heart by love, he kissed ThyThrough the cross you brought most pure body with his lips;joy to the world. yet, drawing back in fear, he cried to Thee rejoicing: Glory to Thy self-abasement, O Thou who lovest mankind. (Byzantine liturgy 614) O come, ye faithful, and let us drink, not from a well of earthly water that perishes but from the fountain of life, as we venerate the cross of Christ; for his cross is our glory.
Philippians Christological HymnThis hymn of inestimable theological value presents a complete synthesisof Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Good Friday to the Sunday ofthe Resurrection. These words from the Letter to the Philippians,progressively repeated in an ancient responsory, will accompany usthroughout the Triduum Sacrum. -Pope John Paul II The beginning three verses help us to recall the humiliation that Christ suffered for us, and to reflect on what we have done to follow him in embracing God’s will, especially when it is contrary to ours. The final three verses tell us what we have to look forward to, both on Easter morning, and at the end of time. It also communicates in what our salvation consists, to a degree.
Philippians 2:6“Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equalitywith God something to be grasped at.”This first verse of the Christological Hymn identifies two elements ofChrist.First, that Jesus was ‚in the form of God‛ or that he was of the samedivine nature as God.Second, that Jesus did not use this divine nature as a means of prideand superiority, rather he did not deem the divine nature ‚somethingto be grasped at.‛This transcendent reality is not interpreted or lived out under thebanner of power, greatness and dominion. -Pope Benedict XVIBy man it is lived out in complete submission to the will of the Father.
Philippians 2:7“Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born inthe likeness of men.”Instead of using his divine nature as a means of glory and triumph, Jesusdid the opposite and ‚emptied himself‛ by taking on human nature.In this emptying of himself, Jesus it taking on every part of human nature(except sin), transforming it by his death andresurrection.‚Immersing himself without reserve in outweak and wretched human condition. In Christthe divine ‚form‛ (morphe) is consealed beneaththe human form‛ (morphe), that is, beneath ourreality marked by suffering, poverty, limitationand death.‛ -Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVIPhilippians 2:8 ‚This radical and true sharing in the human condition, with the exception of sin, leads Jesus to the boundary that is a sign of our finite condition and transience: death.‛ “He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!” It was through taking on human nature that Christ ‚humbled himself.‛ As well as, through his obedience to the Father in laying down his life for all. Jesus was ‚known to be of human estate‛ or he was fully man. Jesus was not God taking on the appearance of God. No He was both Fully God and Fully Man. We too must humble ourselves taking up our crosses and suffering through them, as our model Christ.
Ascent of Christ to Paschal GloryThe second half of the hymn shows Christ’s ascent toglory. Christ is raised to the right hand of God Christ, by his name, is given the worship previously reserved for God alone.This is the fulfillment of Christ’s mission.Christ bears up our humanity, transforming it,and enabling our communion with God,through the humiliation of his Cross.It is precisely from this extreme humiliation that thegreat movement of ascension takes off. -Pope John Paul II‚The sacrificial obedience of the Son is followed by theglorifying response of the Father, to which adoration isunited on the part of humanity and creation. -Pope Benedict XVI
Philippians 2:9“For, this God has raised him high, and given him the name above every other name.”The Father’s response to Christ’s perfect obedience is exaltation His exaltation is expressed first by enthronement at God’s right hand.Then God gave him a name. In biblical language a ‘name’ conveys a persons true essence and specific functionTherefore the name given by the Father is a definition of the being of Jesus. It contains his role in the Father’s plan for salvation and type of his nature. Now this ‘name’ Kyrios or ‘Lord’, the sacred name of the biblical God, is given to the risen Christ. -Pope John Paul II
Philipians 2:9Christ resurrected from the dead is the foundation of our faith that radiatesthroughout the Churchs liturgy, giving it content and meaning ... Christsresurrection is the door to a new life that is no longer subjected to the termination oftime, a life immersed in the eternity of God. With Jesus resurrection begins a newcondition of human being, which illuminates and transforms our daily path andopens a qualitatively new and different future for all humanity. -Pope Benedict XVIThe raising of Christ by God the Father, inaugurates a turning of the world on itshead. It is no longer in seeking pleasure that we end in suffering, because only Godcan satisfy; rather we seek suffering that through the merit, sanctifying grace,bestowed by God, we may have eternal life and joy.Through his death, Christ not only denounced and conquered sin, he also gave newmeaning to suffering. The new meaning that Christ gave to suffering was not so muchmade manifest in his death but rather in his victory over death, that is, theResurrection. Raniero Cantalamessa
Philippians 2:10“That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” This is a mirror of Isa 45:23, referring to the universal worship due YHWH. Assuming our creaturely nature, the Savior comes to redeem the whole of the universe as expressed by the threefold division. From the Greek, we understand that it is ‚when the name is uttered in the heavenly court they prostrate themselves in subjection and acknowledgement that this is the name over all.‛ Carmen Christi: Philippians 2:6-11 We are being prepared to receive a name which gives us partial understanding of our God, which will command a response. A response which is the subjugation of ourselves to Christ, that we may be raised up with him unto our salvation. A powerful profession of faith is raised not only from within the whole horizon of human history, but also from heaven and from hell. -Pope John Paul II
Philippians 2:11“And every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father, Jesus Christ is Lord.”We are given to understand this is not a simple declaration, but rather it isa personal witness of faith by those who proclaim it. The root of the Hebrew name Yehôšûa, Jesus, means salvation, thus Christ’s name speaks of his essence and work, for our salvation. Christos is Greek for messiah, showing the connection between the Old Testament prophesies and the New Testament fulfillment. Kyrios is the Greek word used for the Hebrew word adoni, which is the title used by Jews for the one God.It serves as an early creedal formula attesting to Jesus’ cosmic submission anduniversal acclaim. For us it is a reminder of our necessity to submit, in Christ by the Holy Spirit, and receive our acclaim, salvation.‚To the Son, who, for love, was humiliated in death, the Father confers an incomparabledignity, the ‚Name‛ above all others, that of ‚Lord‛, of God himself. -Pope Benedict XVI
Philippians 2:11“And every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father, Jesus Christ is Lord.”This last phrase signifies Christ role in salvation fulfillment of God’s promise to man (Gen 3:15 and Isa 52:13-53:12) his fitting absolute power and majesty his consubstantiality with the Father and in worship of him we glorify and worship the FatherThrough the humiliation of Christ on the Cross and his Resurrection afterdeath, the Gates of Heaven are now opened to us. ‚On one hand, there is the recognition of the universal sovereignty of Jesus Christ, who receives honor from all creation. On the other, however, the acclamation of faith declares Christ existing in the divine form or condition, thereby presenting him as worthy of adoration. -Pope Benedict XVI
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