"We are not unaware," says St. Leo, "that among all Christian celebrations the mystery of the Pasch holds the first place. Our manner of living throughout the whole year, by reforming our ways, ought to give us the dispositions for keeping it worthily and in a fitting manner.
These present days which we know to be close to that most glorious mystery of God's mercy, require devotion in a yet higher degree." The mystery of which St. Leo speaks is our Redeemer's Passion, whose anniversary is close at hand. Priest and Mediator of the New Testament, Jesus will soon ascend His Cross, and the blood which He will shed He will offer to His Father, entering into the Holies which is heaven itself (Epistle). The Church sings: "All hail, thou Mystery adored! Hail, Cross, on which the Life Himself died, and by death our life restored!" (Hymn of Vespers).
What is the response of man to all these divine favors? "His own received Him not," says St. John. The Jews, who ought to have recognized in Jesus the Son of God, greater than Abraham and the prophets, because He is eternal, misunderstood the meaning of His words, insulted Him by treating Him as a blasphemer and one possessed, and tried to stone Him (Gospel).
In recalling our Lord's Passion, the anniversary of which draws near, let us remember that if we are to experience its saving effects we must, like the Master, know how to suffer persecution for justice sake. And when as members of God's family, we are persecuted with and like our Lord, let us ask of God, that we may be "governed in body" and "kept in mind".
Until Maundy Thursday, in masses of the season, the psalm Judica is omitted as well as the Gloria Patri after the Introit and the Lavabo.
Source: Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, OSB, 1945, adapted and abridged.