Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls – The Holy Door
TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK
Our Pasch is the Lamb, let us attentively consider those words of sacred Scripture, where, speaking of the Pasch, it says: ‘It is the Phase, that is, the passage of the Lord.’ God Himself adds these words: ‘I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and will kill every ﬁrst-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments.’ So that the Pasch is a day of judgment, a day of terrible justice upon the enemies of God; but, for that very reason, it is a day of deliverance for Israel. The lamb is slain; but his immolation is the signal of redemption to the holy people of the Lord.
The people of Israel are slaves to the cruel Pharaoh. Their bondage is the heaviest that can be. Their male children are to be put to death. The race of Abraham, on which repose the promises of the world’s salvation, is doomed. It is time for God to interpose: the Lion of the tribe of Juda, He whom none can resist, must show Himself.
But in this, the Israelites are a type of another and a far more numerous people,—the whole human race; and it is the slave of satan, a tyrant worse than Pharaoh. Its bondage is at its height. It is debased by the vilest idolatry. It has made every base thing its god; and the God that made all things is ignored or blasphemed. With a few rare exceptions out of each generation, men are the victims of hell. Has God’s creation of man, then, been a failure? Not so. The time is come for Him to show the might of His arm: He will pass over the earth, and save mankind.
Jesus, the true Israelite, the true Man come down from heaven, He too is made a captive. His enemies have prevailed against Him, and His bleeding, lifeless Body has been laid in the tomb. The murderers of the just One have even ﬁxed a seal upon the sepulchre, and set a guard to watch it. Here again, the Lord must pass, and confound His enemies by His triumphant passage.
In that Egypt of old, each Israelite family was commanded to slay and eat the Paschal Lamb. Then, at midnight, the Lord passed, as He had promised, over this land of bondage and crime. The destroying Angel followed, slaying with his sword the ﬁrst-born of the Egyptians, ‘from the ﬁrst-born of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, unto the ﬁrst-born of the captive woman that was in prison, and all the ﬁrst born of the cattle.’ A cry of mourning resounded through Mesraim: but God is just, and His people was made free!
The same victory was gained in the Resurrection which now gladdens us. The midnight was over, and the last shades of darkness were ﬂeeing from before the rising light: it was then that our Lord passed through the sealed stone of His tomb, unperceived by his guards. His Resurrection was a stroke of death to His ﬁrst-born people,who had refused to receive Him as their Messias, or to ‘ know the time of their visitation.’The Synagogue was hard-of heart, like Pharaoh; it would fain have held captive Him of whom the prophet had said, that He would be ‘free among the dead.’ Hereupon, a cry of impotent rage was heard in Jerusalem: but God is ust, and Jesus made Himself free ! And oh! what a happiness was this passage of our Lord for the human race! He had adopted us as His brethren, and loved us too tenderly to leave us slaves of satan: therefore, He would have His own Resurrection be ours too, and give us light and liberty. The ﬁrst-born of satan were routed by such a victory; the power of hell was broken. Yet a little while, and the altars of the false gods shall everywhere be destroyed; yet a little while, and man, regenerated by the preaching of the Apostles, shall acknowledge his Creator and abjure his idols: for this is the day which the Lord hath made: ‘it is the Phase, that is, the passage of the Lord!’
But observe how the two mysteries,—the Lamb and the Passover,—are united in our Pasch. The Lord passes, and bids the destroying Angel slay the ﬁrst-born in every house, the entrance of which is not marked with the blood of the lamb. This is the shield of protection; where it is, there divine justice passes by and spares. Pharaoh and his people are not signed with the blood of the lamb: yet have they witnessed the most extraordinary miracles, and suffered unheard-of chastisements. All this should have taught them that the God of Israel is not like their own gods, which have no power; but their heart is hard as stone, and neither the works nor the words of Moses have been able to soften it. Therefore does God strike them and deliver His people.
But this very people, this Israel, ungratefully turns against his deliverer; he is content with the types of the good things promised; he will have no other lamb but the material one. In vain do the prophets tell him, that ‘a Lamb is to be sent forth, who shall be King of the earth; that he shall come from the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion.’ Israel refuses to acknowledge this Lamb as his Messias; he persecutes Him and puts Him to death; and persists in putting all his conﬁdence in the blood of victims, that have no longer the power to propitiate the anger of God. How terrible will be the Passage of the Lord over Jerusalem, when the sword of the Roman legions shall destroy a whole people!
Satan too, and his wicked angels, had scoffed at this Lamb, they had despised Him, as being too meek and humble to be dreaded; and when they saw Him shedding His Blood on the cross, a shout of exultation rang through the regions of hell. But what was their dismay, when they saw this Lamb descending like a lion into limbo, and setting free from their bondage the countless prisoners of the four thousand previous years? and after this returning to our earth, and inviting all mankind to receive ‘the liberty of the glory of the children of God?
O Jesus! how terrible is Thy Passover to Thine enemies! but how glorious for them that serve Thee! The people of Israel feared it not, because their houses were marked with the blood of the ﬁgurative lamb. We are more favoured than they: our Lamb is the Lamb of God, and Thy Blood is signed, not upon our dwellings, but upon our souls. Thy prophet foretold the great mystery, when he said, that on the day of Thy vengeance upon Jerusalem, they would be spared whose foreheads should be marked with the Tau*. Israel despised the prophecy, which is our joy. The Tau is the sign of Thy cross, dear Jesus! It is Thy cross that shields, and protects, and gladdens us in this Pasch of Thy Passover, wherein Thy anger is all for Thine enemies, and Thy blessings all for us!
Footnote: Ezechiel, ix. 6.
*Mark Thau: Thau, or Tau, is the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and signifies a sign, or a mark; which is the reason why some translators render this place set a mark, or mark a mark without specifying what this mark was. But St. Jerome, and other interpreters, conclude it was the form of the letter Thau, which in the ancient Hebrew character, was the form of a cross.
At Rome, the Station for today is in the basilica of Saint Paul. The Church is impatient to lead her white-robed troop of neophytes to the Apostle of the Gentiles. Though he is not the foundation of the Church, yet is he companion of Peter’s labours in Rome, his fellow-martyr, and the preacher of the Gospel to the Gentiles. As he says of himself, he has laboured to form children in God—who could tell the number he has given to Christ? How must he rejoice to see these newly made Christians approach his sacred shrine, there to receive instruction from his epistles, wherein he still speaks to all generations!
TUESDAY IN THE OCTAVE OF EASTER
STATION AT ST. PAUL-WITHOUT-THE-WALLS
(Indulgence of 30 years and 30 quarantines)
Double – First Class
Ecclus. 15: 3, 4
Aqua sapiéntiæ potávit eos, allelúia: firmábitur in illis et non flectétur, allelúia: et exaltábit eos in ætérnum, allelúia, allelúia.
Psalm 104: 1
Confitémini Dómino et invocáte nomen ejus: annuntiáte inter gentes ópera ejus. Glória Patri.
Ecclus. 15: 3, 4
He gave them the water of wholesome wisdom to drink, alleluia; and she shall be made strong in them, and shall not be moved, alleluia: And she shall exalt them forever, allelúia, allelúia.
Psalm 104: 1
Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name: declare his deeds among the Gentiles. Glory be to the Father.
Deus, qui Ecclésiam tuam novo semper fetu multíplicas: concéde fámulis tuis; ut sacraméntum vivéndo téneant, quod fide percepérunt. Per Dominum.
O God, Who art ever multiplying the children of thy Church, grant unto the same thy servants that they may hold fast in their lives the mystery which they have received by faith. Through our Lord.
Acts 13: 16, 26-33
In those days, Paul rising up, and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel, and you that fear God, give ear. Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God, to you the word of this salvation is sent. For they that inhabited Jerusalem, and the rulers thereof, not knowing him, nor the voices of the prophets, which are read every sabbath, judging him have fulfilled them. And finding no cause of death in him, they desired of Pilate, that they might kill him. And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, taking him down from the tree, they laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him up from the dead the third day: Who was seen for many days, by them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who to this present are his witnesses to the people. And we declare unto you, that the promise which was made to our fathers, This same God hath fulfilled it to our children, raising up our Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 117: 24; 106: 2
This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein. V. Let them say so that have been redeemed by the Lord, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy: and gathered out of the nations.
Matthew 28: 2
Alleluia, alleluia. V. The Lord is risen from the sepulcher, He, who hangeth on the tree.
Let Christians offer to the Paschal victim the sacrifice of praise.
The Lamb hath redeemed the sheep: the innocent Jesus hath reconciled sinners to his Father.
Death and Life fought against each other, and wondrous was the duel: The King of Life was put to death; yet now he lives and reigns.
Tell us, O Mary! what sawest thou on the way? I saw the Sepulchre of the living Christ; I saw the glory of him that had risen. I saw the Angels that were the witnesses; I saw the winding-sheet and the cloth. Christ, my hope, hath risen! He shall go before you into Galilee.
We know that Christ hath truly risen from the dead. Do thou, O Conqueror and King! have mercy upon us. Amen. Alleluia.
There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents…
Luke 24: 36-47
At that time Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not. But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet. But while they yet believed not, and wondered for joy, he said: Have you any thing to eat? And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb. And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them. And he said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations.
Psalm 17: 14, 16
And the Lord thundered from heaven, and the highest gave his voice: Then the fountains of waters appeared, alleluia.
Accept, O Lord we beseech thee, the prayers with the sacrifices of the people, and grant that what we have begun at these rites of our piety and devotion, we may pass to the glory of heaven Through our Lord.
PREFACE OF EASTER
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that at all times, but more especially at this season, we should extol Thy glory, O Lord, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb that hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath overcome our death, and by rising again hath restored our life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:
Col. 3: 1, 2
If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: alleluia. Mind the things that are above, alleluia.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that the grace of the Paschal sacrament which we have received may ever abide in our souls. Through our Lord.