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Reflections on the Divine Office during the Triduum

a t h to

R edemption

P r e fac e

hrough the liturgy, the Church is able to enter more fully into the mysteries of Christs passion, death, and resurrection. In a way, the liturgy becomes a path on which we come to experience the fruits of our redemption (prayer for benediction). In her wisdom, the Church has organized the Divine Office, or the Liturgy of the Hours, to accompany the movements of Christs redeeming acts. This is especially clear during the Sacred Paschal Triduum where we enter into those acts most proximate to our salvation. Aside from the Mass of the Lords Supper, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, and the Easter Sunday Mass itself, the Divine Office fills out the moments and events through which Christ went as He journeyed on the path of our redemption. These brief reflections are meant to help us understand what is happening in the Divine Office during these most holy days and to aid us so that we might enter into those very events and more fully appropriate the saving grace of Christ. While some of the Offices are not prayed if one attends the main liturgical events of the day, the reflections here are designed to double as helpful spiritual insights to help us punctuate our time with reflections on what action Christ is doing in these moments. Thanks should be given to Fr. Andrew Hofer, O.P., for assisting in the preparation of this text with his many helpful thoughts. May the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord bring grace into our lives so as to bring about our redemption. Br. Peter Martyr Joseph Yungwirth, O.P. Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, 2012 Priory of the Immaculate Conception Washington, DC

Thursday of the Lords Supper

[H O L Y T H U R S D A Y ]

V e sp ers Christs Acceptance of Death

or our sake Christ was obedient, accepting even death (antiphon in place of the responsory). Christ accepts His death. He accepts to give Himself completely in order that we might be saved. To free the poor from the grip of the powerful (ant. 2), He accepts that His own life will be the price to ransom man from the hands of the enemy. Thus, Christ prefigures His sacrifice on the Cross with the Passover sacrifice. In this sacrifice, Christ is both the eternal High Priest (collect) and the true victim offered to us and for us (cf. Magnificat ant.). Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, this sacrifice is no longer a type or an image. It is indeed the sacrifice offered to sanctify the people so that we might continually offer God a sacrifice of praise (reading). As the Lord was obedient unto death, may He grant us the grace to enter into this sacrifice, that we, like the saints, may win victory over death through the blood of the Lamb (ant. 3).

Thursday of the Lords Supper

Compl i n e Adoration in the Garden

or those who go to the Mass of the Lords Supper, this Office is particularly striking. For them, this would be the first Office celebrated. It is striking because the Office itself is stripped down to its barebones just like the altar. There are no introductory verses, there is no antiphon to accompany the Gospel canticle, and there are no antiphons to the Blessed Virgin Mary or to Holy Father Dominic at the end of the Office . The Office for the next few days will be sung more quietly. We just have the essentials. Here, we find ourselves in the garden with Christ. We are present to Him in adoration, trying to stay awake just like Peter, James, and John were. Even in the darkness of Gethsemane, we are able to gaze upon the Lord face to face (reading). Here, we need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God is our light (reading). In fact, He is the Light of Lights shining in the darkness and driving the clouds of night away (hymn).

Seeing Christ, we sing to Him of the Father, He will free you from the snare of the fowler who seeks to destroy you; he will conceal you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge (Psalm 91). The Father then responds to us, Since he clings to me in love, I will free him; protect him for he knows my name. When he calls I shall answer: I am with you. I will save him in distress and give him glory (Psalm 91). All this because Christ was obedient, accepting even death (antiphon in place of the responsory).

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

[G O O D F R I D A Y ]

I n v i tatory Redemption through the Blood of Christ

ome, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood (ant.). These words are the first words we speak this day. They lead us to contemplate the death of Christ, and at the same time, to remember that through His death, we have been redeemed.

May the Lord grant us that grace not to grow stubborn, as our fathers did, but rather to remain faithful and listen to the voice of the Lord this day as we sing to the Lord and approach him with praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 95). M at i n s Accusation of the Innocent One

he princes conspired together against the Lord and his Anointed (ant. 1) in an effort to take his life by violence (ant. 3). Yet, their conspiracy cannot harm God nor His chosen Messiah. Rather, God has set up His king, on Zion, His holy mountain (Psalm 2), and He has made haste and come to Christs help (Psalm 38). No matter what

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

charge is leveled against Christ, He is innocent, and God is there to strengthen Him. Even in this false accusation, Christ does not complain. Rather, he surrenders himself to give his people life (first responsory). He knows that His blood is the true blood that will keep the angel of death from men. Just as the lambs blood was sprinkled on the doorway during the time of Israels slavery in Egypt, so too will Christs blood flow from His side to wash all men clean (second reading). For if the blood of the sacrificial lamb in Egypt could save men from death, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself up unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God (first reading)! May Christ, who was innocent, grant us, who are guilty, the grace of penitence for our sins and thanksgiving for our redemption. L au d s Condemnation of the Savior

od did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to suffer for our sake (ant. 1). Christ is condemned to death a death which will become clear to all, for even those who have not been told shall see (reading). He will be displayed high on the cross, and over his head will hang their accusation: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (Benedictus ant.).

Like the lamb led to the slaughter, Christ accepts this death because for our sake He was obedient, accepting even death, death on a cross (antiphon in place of the responsory). In a unique Dominican liturgical element, the Preces, we are led to more fully understand this obedient death: Life dies upon the tree; hell and death, mourning, are robbed of their prey. You who willed to be fettered and have set us free from the bonds of death (Dominican preces in place of the intercessions). And amidst the surrounding repitions of Lord, have mercy...Christ, have mercy...Have mercy, Lord, Christs death on the cross will become even more palpable. This cross will become the means by which Christ will show His love for us as He pours out his own blood for us to wash away our

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

sins (ant. 2). It will become the tool by which He will fashion our salvation and through which He will bring joy to the world (ant. 3). Thus, on this day, above all days, we look to the cross and praise God saying: We worship your cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify your holy resurrection, for the wood of the cross has brought joy to the world (ant. 3). As the Paschal Lamb was led to the slaughter on Calvary, may He even now lead us to Calvary to partake of His Blood that we may be washed clean of our sins. Day time Prayer Crucifixion

n this day, the three daytime Offices strictly follow the chronology of events. At Terce, Christ is nailed to the Cross. At Sext, darkness covers the land. At None, Christ cries out for the last time. Yet, each of these hours goes deeper than just reminding of us what happened at those times. They also lead us to the Cross itself so that we might participate in its fruits. At Terce, we look at Christ being nailed to the Cross. We see Jesus who has in him no stately appearance that would attract us to him (reading). If we look with the worlds eyes, we see a man spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces (reading). Yet, looking upon Him in faith, we see the Christ, who by His cross has redeemed the world (versicle). It is that man, the God-man, whom we worship and praise (cf. versicle).

At Sext, we continue to gaze on Christ even as we think of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted because he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, and upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole (reading). It is through this death, His paying the ransom for our salvation, that we are saved. By his stripes we were healed (reading). And so we call out to him like the converted Dismas, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom (versicle). Lastly, at None, we see that the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all even though it is we who have gone stray like sheep, each following

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

his own way (reading). Christ, the Innocent Lamb, suffers for us, the guilty sheep. Even though we have followed our own ways, He leads us on the true path, a path which ultimately leads us to be plunged... into darkness, like the dead, long forgotten (versicle). It is through this darkness that we must follow the Light of Lights. May Christ, who died for us and was raised from the dead, grant us the grace to die with Him and thus be born unto eternal life.

V e sp ers Death and Redemption

here is a dramatic shift during this Office. We begin by accompanying Christs last moments so that we might look welland see His sufferings (ant. 1). For His soul is in anguish, His heart is in torment (ant. 2). Yet, even as the enemy pursues His soul (Psalm 143), He remains faithful and calls upon the Lord, For your names sake, Lord, save my life; in your justice save my soul from distress (Psalm 143). It is here, after reaching the climax of His dialogue with the Father, that Christ offers up His last breath and consummates His sacrifice, It is accomplished (ant. 3). At this moment of death on the summit of Calvary, the liturgy now directs us to turn inward to interiorly examine ourselves who have followed Him on the way to the Cross. We are led to remember that Christ suffered for us and left us an example, to have us follow in his footsteps, and that he delivered himself

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

up to the One who judges justly, all for our sake (reading). For it is by his wounds that we are healed (reading). And so, we are reminded that when we were his enemies, God reconciled us to himself by the death of his Son (Magnificat ant.). As Christ reconciled us to the Father through His death on the Cross, may He now continue to intercede for us and give us the grace to imitate His sacrificial love in all that we do. Com pl i n e Burial of Christ

his night leads us to the tomb. After Christs body is prepared, He is laid in a new tomb, finally having a place to rest His head. As He is taken down from the cross, He is lovingly held by His mother and His beloved disciples who bear Him upon their hands lest He strike His foot against a stone (Psalm 91). They then anoint His body and prepare it for burial. Finally, after the tumultuous past two days, Christ no longer fears the terror of the night...nor the plague that prowls in the darkness nor the scourge that lays waste at noon (Psalm 91). This last earthly blessing, the love of a mother and friends, comes to Christ who was obedient, accepting even death, death on a cross (antiphon in place of the responsory). As Christs soul leaves His body, it is as if He is crying out, Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled (Nunc dimittis). Just as Christ was finally granted rest, may the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and peaceful death (blessing).


I n v i tatory Journey to Hell

ome, let us worship Christ, who for our sake suffered death and was buried (ant.). With these words, we follow Christ, even after His death. They lead us down with His soul to hell where He has gone to lead forth the just who died before Him. Thus, we begin the day continuing to accompany Him as we sing: Come, then, let us bow down and worship our God, who is God even in the nether world (Psalm 95). Let us bend the knee before the Lord, our maker. For he is our God and we are his people, the flock he shepherds (Psalm 95). As Christ rested after His death, may He also lead us to enter into His rest (Psalm 95). M at i n s The Buried Christ and the Spoiling of Hell


n peace, I will lie down and sleep (ant. 1). My body shall rest in hope (ant. 2). These words accompany our journey to the nether world with Christ as the King of glory enters through the ancient portals of hell (ant. 3). Oddly enough, Christ, who has just undergone a most

Holy Saturday


gruesome and painful death now rests in peace and in hope. What a striking contrast on the morning after the most violent day man has ever known. Yet, here we are. The world is in silence awaiting its Savior (second reading) who now rests in peace and in hope. All of the sudden, a strange sound breaks through the silence. Those gates, those ancient doors of hell are thrown open (Psalm 24) as Christ breaks through the gates of death and destroys the barricades of hell (second responsory). His voice rings out, calling anew to the just: Today, if you should hear my voice, harden not your hearts (first reading). The Lord approaches them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory and cries out, Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and I will give you lightI now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to ariseRise, let us leave this place The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are preparedThe kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity (second reading). May Christs words, heard in the silence of this day, guide us, like the just, into the eternal dwelling places of the Lord. L au d s The Souls of the Just Crying for the Lord

n response to Christs plea of salvation, the souls of the just reply with a cry of repentance, Come, let us return to the Lord, for it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds (reading). They cry to Him, Save us, O Savior of the world. On the cross you redeemed us by the shedding of your blood; we cry out for your help, O God (Benedictus ant.). You who came to suffer for us... You who said in prophecy, O death, where are your plagues?, Christ, have mercy. Have mercy, Lord (Dominican preces in place of the intercessions).

We rejoice in the Lordand fly to you for refuge (Psalm 64). From the jaws of hell, Lord, rescue our souls (ant. 2), you who hold the keys of death and of hell (ant. 3). Once we doubted and thought, To the gates of the nether world I shall be consigned for the rest of my years.


Holy Saturday

But, now, we cry out for your help your help, O Lord, I am in straits; be my surety (Isaiah 38)! For you have preserved our lives from the pit of destruction, and so we give you thanks and will declare to our sons, O God, your faithfulness (Isaiah 38). Even from the depths of hell, we shall sing to stringed instruments (Isaiah 38). Just as God came to lead forth His people from the depths, may He also rescue us from our sins, leading us to sing out, Praise God in his holy placePraise him for his powerful deeds, praise his surpassing greatness (Psalm 150).

Day time Prayer The Lord Saves His People

aving just proclaimed their repentance and acknowledged their sins, the souls of the just trust that Christ will forgive their sins and cleanse them from every wrong (Terce reading). Christ, in turn, does bring about their salvation and saves their souls from hell (cf. Sext ant.). And so they cry out in thanksgiving, O Lord, we cried to you for help, and you, our God, have healed us (Psalm 30). You listened and had pity; you came to our help (Psalm 30). Some wondered, Can dust give you praise or proclaim your truth? Today, the answer is finally, Yes! So our souls sing psalms to you unceasingly. O Lord our God, we will thank you for ever (Psalm 30). As Christ draws closer to the glory of the resurrection, may He draw our hearts ever closer to the great moment of our redemption.

Holy Saturday


V e sp ers Stirrings of the Resurrection

eath, you shall die in me; hell, you shall be destroyed by me (ant. 1). These are Christs words as He prepares for His resurrection so that He can bring about His new creation a creation that He, through whom all things were created, will carry out on the new day of creation, the third day: Destroy this temple, says the Lord, and in three days I will rebuild it (ant. 3). Deaths own death is imminent for Christ will soon rise from the dead just as Jonah came forth from the belly of the whale after the third day (ant. 2). Through His resurrection, Christ will destroy death, and at the same time, He will manifest Gods glory. For in the defeat of death, the Son of Man has been glorified and God has been glorified in him (Magnificat ant.). Therefore God raised him on high and gave him the name above all other names (antiphon in place of the responsory). In this destruction of death and the subsequent glorification of Christ, we too are able to follow. Just as Christ led forth the just from the bondage of death, so too does He lead us forth from our bondage of sin: Realize that you were delivered from the futile way of life your fathers handed on to you, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christs blood beyond all priceIt is through him that you are believers in God, the God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory (reading). May Christs redeeming actions free us from bondage so that we too may be remade on the day of the new creation. Com pl i n e A Light Shining in the Darkness

n the midst of the darkness of hell we need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God shall give us light and we shall see forever (reading). With Christ, God will reveal to the nations...the glory of His people Israel (Nunc dimittis). God will show us how the wicked are repaid as we see His saving power (Psalm 91). For we, who have said, Lord, my refuge! and have made the Most High our dwelling,


Holy Saturday

will dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shade of the Almighty (Psalm 91). Soon, very soon, Christ who was obedient, accepting even death, death on a cross will be raised...on high and given the name above all other names (antiphon in place of the responsory).

eASTER sUNDAY of the rESURRECTION of the Lord

M at i n s Remembrance of Salvation History

hroughout this Holy Night in which we await the impending resurrection, we are reminded of the history of our salvation as are the patriarchs, prophets, and kings of old. The first man comes first before the New Man. At the foundation of the world, God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created themand he found them very good (first reading). Yet, Adam sinned, and his descendents bore his sin through the ages. Nevertheless, in His merciful love, God established a covenant with him and his offspring.

Abraham, then, comes forth to meet Christ, reminding himself and the just of the covenant which God had established because of Abrahams faithfulness in being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac (cf. second reading). Christs presence reminds Abraham and all the rest of the just, how the true sacrifice of a Son has now been offered, and that God still is faithful to the covenant.


Easter Sunday of the Resurrection

Moses comes before the Lord. His presence reminds all of the just of Gods abundant love for His people. Even after they had broken their part of the covenant, God continued to bless them by leading them out of slavery in Egypt (cf. third reading). Now, God is preparing to draw them out of their current slavery and lead them to the true Promised Land forever. The prophet Isaiah comes forth, and the people are reminded of their sinfulness for worshiping false gods. Yet, just as God forgave them once before, so too does He now forgive them (cf. fourth reading). And just as he once reestablished His covenant with them, so too now does He reestablish His covenant for ever. So, Christ tells them, Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David (fifth reading). Then, Baruch approaches Christ, and all remember how he had told them to follow the way toward wisdom and live in prudence, following the commandments of God. His presence reminds them of how they are to follow God even now, Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor (sixth reading). So, they turn their gaze back toward Christ, the Light shining in the darkness. Finally, Ezekiel comes forth from the shadows, and his presence reminds the people of Gods tender compassion even after they had fallen away. He repeats those words which He once uttered on behalf of the Word, Thus says the Lord God: Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy nameI will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural heartsyou shall be my people, and I will be your God (seventh reading). Having been reminded of the goodness and the faithfulness of the Lord, they wait in patience for the gates of hell to be thrown open and the glory of God to be fully manifested. So, too, do we wait.

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection


I n v i tatory The Lord is Risen!

he Lord is risen, alleluia (ant.)! This day brings a joyous beginning to the Office. After the Holy Night, in which Christ was victorious over sin and death, we begin the new day of creation with the words of victory the Lord is risen, alleluia (ant.)!

On this day, let us sing to the Lord and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us. Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving and sing joyful songs to the Lord (Psalm 95). Let us remember that just as he made the sea and the dry land, so too is He the maker of the new creation (Psalm 95). May the Lord lead us to come and bow down and worship and bend the knee before Him (Psalm 95).

L au d s Rising from the Dead

his is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad, alleluia (antiphon in place of the responsory). A new day indeed dawns, and the dawn from on high breaks upon us and shines on those who dwelt in darkness and the shadow of death as they are led into the way of peace (Benedictus). For the splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by his blood (ant. 1). He leads forth his people into life, and gives their mortal nature the gift of holiness (intercessions). This day, then, is the fulfillment of the oath God


Easter Sunday of the Resurrection

swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from our enemies, for God has raised up for us a mighty savior (Benedictus). The Lord once again takes delight in his people (Psalm 149). He once again crowns the poor with salvation (Psalm 149). Thus, the faithful rejoice in their glory, shout for joy and take their rest (Psalm 149). They sing a new song to the Lord,rejoice in their maker, and exult in their king (Psalm 149). May God fill our hearts with the grace to sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God (ant. 2) for He is risen as he promised, alleluia (ant. 2)! Day time Prayer Savoring the Resurrection

o often in life, we are rushed. Rushed to go places, meet people, do things. Our fast paced world often dictates to us the speed at which we need to operate so that we might truly be effective in our work. On the other hand, the Churchs liturgy allows us to slow down and savor each instant. It allows us the chance to take a break and really enter into the moments in which our salvation was truly won.

Rather than moving straight from the empty tomb to the appearance of Christ to the disciples, the Church gives us the chance to reflect on the power of the event that just occurred. The tomb was found empty. Thus, something mysterious has happened. Formerly, death, in a certain sense, was the end, but now, in a very real sense, it is a new beginning. A beginning to eternal life. So we are brought back to Christ to reflect on the fact that Christ has indeed risen form the dead, and that He will never die again (Terce ant.). We are led to remember that He was really handed over to death for our sins, and that after death, he was raised to life to justify us (Sext ant.). Furthermore, reflection on these things naturally leads us to an increased love for our Savior and to seek the things that are above (None ant.). On this day which was made by the Lord, may He grant us the grace to rejoice and be glad because He has truly brought us salvation (Psalm 118).

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection


V e sp ers The Lord Appears to His Disciples

he great moment of the fullness of the resurrection is finally made known. Christ appears for the first time to His faithful who waited for Him these past three days when He had gone into the depths of the earth. The Light in the darkness of hell that the just had enjoyed is now shared with those who see Him anew for the first time.

Earlier this day, the women came to see the Lords tomb, but they found it empty (ant. 1). Yet, angels appeared and instructed them to Come and see the place where the Lord was buried (ant. 2). They could only think that something strange was taking place. There must have been a trembling of their hearts like the trembling of the earth before the Lord, before the presence of the God of Jacob (Psalm 114). So they turned to return to the disciples to share with them these strange tidings. At that moment, with their hearts open to the mystery, Christ appeared! Magdalene fell to His feet, and He instructed her, Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see me (ant. 3). So the women returned, and Mary informed the disciples of Christs resurrection. And now, finally, He manifests Himself to all of them: On the evening of the first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors; suddenly, Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you, alleluia (Magnificat ant.). Just as Christ revealed Himself to the disciples and offered them His peace, may He likewise grant us a share in this same peace.