Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. -Psalm 24:7
A Prayer for the beginning of Holy Week
Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Be watchful, brethren, lest the mysteries of this season pass you by without your gaining from them their due fruit. Abundant is the blessing; you must bring clean vessels to receive it, and offer loving souls and watchful senses, sober affections and pure consciences for such great gifts of grace. … All Christians practise more than usual devotion in these seven days and try to be more humble and more serious than is their wont, so that in some sort they may share Christ's sufferings. And rightly so. For the Passion of the Lord is here in truth, shaking the earth, rending the rocks and opening the tombs; and His Resurrection also is at hand. …
Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153 On Keeping Holy Week De Passione Domini
Meditation One (Introit) The Spiritual Eye of the Little Ones
Jesus acts - and the same Spirit that inspires his action moves in those about him, revealing to them its meaning. Simultaneously, their eyes see the Lord as he rides through the street, and their spirit sees what is behind the event. The physical eye and the spiritual are one. And those who so truly 'saw' in that hour were not the particularly talented, neither truly geniuses nor in any way the elite or the mighty, but' the common people,' those who happened to be in the streets at the time. For the power that opened their eyes and hearts was not human power, but the Spirit of God moving among men. Indeed, it is “the little ones,” possessors of the kingdom of heaven, as Jesus calls them, who are particularly free and open to the workings of the Spirit, for in them it can operate untrammelled by the consciousness of their own human value. This then is God's hour; were the masses to reject it, the stones beneath their feet would proclaim the Messiah. It is the last, God-given chance.
-Romano Guardini 1885-1968 The Lord
Meditation Two (Insight) Our Souls as Branches
Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.
… So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him.... Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today iin the children's holy song: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.”
-Andrew of Crete (c.650-712, 726,or 740) Sermon 9 for Palm Sunday quoted from Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, J.Robert Wright
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the LORD's doing it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
- Psalm 118:19-27
Meditation Three (Integration) Getting Involved
Those who, in the biblical phrase, would save their lives—that is, those who want to get along, who don’t want commitments, who don’t want to get into problems, who want to stay outside of a situation that demands the involvement of all of us — they will lose their lives. What a terrible thing to have lived quite comfortably, with no suffering, not getting involved in problems, quite tranquil, quite settled, with good connections politically, economically, socially — lacking nothing, having everything. To what good? They will lose their lives.
-Oscar Romero 1917-1980
The Last Word
Look for us, the faithful, with the angels and the children, loudly praising the conqueror of death: Hosanna in the highest.
- Monastic Liturgy quoted from A Lent Sourcebook II, Liturgy Training Publications
Having said that, shall I now comfort our poor beast a little? We know he cannot sing; he is not of those who can say, 'Thy statutes have been my songs in the place of my pilgrimage'! But he has something, all the same, that all the others lack; for to none other is the Lord so near. No, no even those who keep close to His side have Him so close to them as has the beast whereon He sits; the prophet says as much, 'The Lord is nigh to them that are grieved at heart.'For a mother also, when she knows her son is sick, takes all the greater care of him and folds him in her arms more frequently. Let no one, therefore, think it an unworthy or small thing that he should be a riding-beast for Christ.
Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153 from Dominica Palmarum II
That beast on which Christ sits, is it no you, who glorify and carry Christ in your own bodies, as the apostle says?