A Lenten calendar, day 40 — 19 April : Holy Saturday

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Job 14.1-14 | Psalm 31.1-8 | 1 Peter 4.1-11 | Matthew 27.57-66 |

image_40He Qi. (China/USA) Women arriving at the tomb ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

Of gratitude for the Grace of God

10.1 Why do you seek rest when you are born to labour? Prepare yourself for patience more than for comforts, and for bearing the cross more than for joy. For who among the people of this world would not gladly receive consolation and spiritual joy if they might always have it? For spiritual comforts exceed all the delights of the world, and all the pleasures of the flesh. For all worldly delights are either empty or unclean, whilst spiritual delights alone are pleasant and honourable, the offspring of virtue, and poured forth by God into pure minds. But no one can always enjoy these divine comforts at their own will, because the season of temptation ceases not for long.

2. Great is the difference between a visitation from above and false liberty of spirit and great confidence in self. God does well in giving us the grace of comfort, but we do ill in not immediately giving God thanks. And thus the gifts of grace are not able to flow unto us, because we are ungrateful to the author of them, and return them not wholly to the fountain whence they flow. For grace ever becomes the portion of him who is grateful and that is taken away from the proud, which is wont to be given to the humble.


11.4. Rarely is any one found so spiritual as to be stripped of all selfish thoughts, for who shall find a person truly poor in spirit and free of all created things? “His value is from afar, yea from the ends of the earth.” You may give away all your goods, yet that is nothing; and if you do many deeds of penitence, yet that is a small thing; and though you understand all knowledge, yet that is afar off; and if you have great virtue and zealous devotion, yet much is lacking to you, especially one thing which is the most necessary of all. What is it then? That having given up all things besides, you give up yourself and go forth from yourself utterly, and retain nothing of self-love; and having done all things which you knows to be your duty to do, that you feel that you have done nothing.

Do not reckon that much which might be much esteemed, but pronounce yourself to be in truth an unprofitable servant, as the Truth Himself said, “When ye have done all things that are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants” (Luke 27.10). Then may you be truly poor and naked in spirit, and be able to say with the prophet, “As for me, I am poor and needy” (Psalm 25). Nevertheless, no one is richer, no one stronger, no one freer. For such a one knows both how to give up themself and all things, and how to be lowly in one’s own eyes.

Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). Tenebrae Responsories, no. 18 Sepulto Domino
The Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers.

Sepulto Domino, signatum est monumentum,
volventes lapidem ad ostium monumenti:
Ponentes milites, qui custodirent illum.
Accedentes principes sacerdotum ad Pilatum, petierunt illum.
Ponentes milites, qui custodirent illum.
Sepulto Domino, signatum est monumentum,
volventes lapidem ad ostium monumenti:
Ponentes milites, qui custodirent illum.
When the Lord was buried, they sealed up the tomb,
rolling away a stone before the entrance to the sepulchre:
Placing soldiers to guard it.
The chief priests went to Pilate and petitioned him.
Placing soldiers to guard it.
When the Lord was buried, they sealed up the tomb,
rolling away a stone before the entrance to the sepulchre:
Placing soldiers to guard it.

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

A Lenten calendar, day 39 — 18 April : Good Friday

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12 | Psalm 22 | 1 Corinthians 1.18-31 or | Hebrews 10.16-25 | John 18.1-19.42 |

image_39He Qi. (China/USA) Crucifixion ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

12.5 If you willingly bear the Cross, it will bear you, and will bring you to the end which you seek, even where there shall be the end of suffering; though it shall not be here. If you bear it unwillingly, you make a burden for yourself and greatly increase your load, and yet you must bear it. If you cast away one cross, without doubt you shalt find another and perchance a heavier.

12.9. It is not in human nature to bear the cross, to love the cross, to keep under the body and to bring it into subjection, to fly from honours, to bear reproaches meekly, to despise self and desire to be despised, to bear all adversities and losses, and to desire no prosperity in this world. If you look to yourself, you will of yourself be able to do none of this; but if you trust in the Lord, endurance shall be given you from heaven, and the world and the flesh shall be made subject to your command. You shall not even fear your adversary the devil, if you be armed with faith and signed with the cross of Christ.

Antonio Lotti (1667-1740). Crucifixus. The Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato:
Passus, et sepultus est.
Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas.
Et ascendit in coelum: sedet ad dexteram Patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos;
Cujus regni non erit finis.
For our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate:
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again, in accordance with the scriptures.
He ascended into heaven: and is seated on the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead;and his kingdom shall have no end.
—Nicene Creed.

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

A Lenten calendar, day 38 — 17 April : Maundy Thursday

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Exodus 12.1-14 | Psalm 116.1-2,11-18 | 1 Corinthians 11.23-26 | John 13.1-17,31b-35 |

image_38He Qi. (China/USA) Praying at Gethsemane ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

Of the intimate love of Jesus

8.1 When Jesus is present all is well and nothing seems hard, but when Jesus is not present everything is hard. When Jesus speaks not within, our comfort is nothing worth, but if Jesus speaks but a single word great is the comfort we experience. Did not Mary Magdalene rise up quickly from the place where she wept when Martha said to her, The Master is come and calls for you? (John 11.28) Happy hour when Jesus calls you from tears to the joy of the spirit! How dry and hard are you without Jesus! How senseless and vain if you desire anything beyond Jesus! Is not this greater loss than if you should lose the whole world?

8.2 What can the world profit you without Jesus? To be without Jesus is the nethermost hell, and to be with Jesus is sweet paradise. If Jesus were with you no enemy could hurt you. Whoever finds Jesus finds a good treasure, good above all good; and whoever loses Jesus loses exceeding much, more than the whole world. Most poor is the one who lives without Jesus, and most rich is the one who is much with Jesus.

8.3 It is great skill to know how to live with Jesus, and to know how to hold Jesus is great wisdom. Be you humble and peaceable and Jesus shall be with you. …

8.4 Let all be loved for Jesus’ sake, but Jesus for his own sake. Jesus Christ alone is to be specially loved, for he alone is found good and faithful above all friends. For his sake and in him let both enemies and friends be dear to you, and pray for them all that they may all know and love him. Never desire to be specially praised or loved, because this belongs to God alone, who hath none like unto himself. Nor wish you that any one set his heart on you, nor do you give yourself up to the love of any, but let Jesus be in you and in every good man.

William Byrd. Agnus Dei from the Four Part Mass. Members of The Sixteen.

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

A Lenten calendar, day 37 — 16 April : Wednesday in Holy Week

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Isaiah 50.4-9a | Psalm 70 | Hebrews 12.1-3 | John 13.21-32 |

image_37
He Qi. (China/USA) Washing feet ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

Of the joy of a good conscience

6.1 The testimony of a good conscience is the glory of a good person. Have a good conscience and you shalt ever have joy. A good conscience is able to bear exceeding much, and is exceeding joyful in the midst of adversities; an evil conscience is ever fearful and unquiet. You will rest sweetly if your heart does not condemn you. Never rejoice unless you have done well. …

3. If your conscience is pure, you will easily be contented and filled with peace. You are none the holier if you are praised, nor the worse if you are reproached. You are what you are; and you cannot be better than God pronounces you to be. If you consider well what you are inwardly, you will not care what others will say to you. People looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16.7). People look at the deed, but God considers the intent. It is the token of a humble spirit always to do well, and to set little by oneself. Not to look for consolation from any created thing is a sign of great purity and inward faithfulness.

4. Whoever seek no outward witness on their own behalf, show plainly that they have committed themselves wholly to God. For not those that commends themselves are approved, as St Paul says, but those whom the Lord commends (2 Corinthians 10.18) To walk inwardly with God, and not to be held by any outer affections, is the state of a spiritual person.

William Byrd (c.1540–1623). Ave verum corpus.
The Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers.

Ave, verum corpus natum
ex Maria Virgine:
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine:
cuius latus perforatum
unda fluxit et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum,
in mortis examine.
O dulcis, O pie, O Jesu, Fili Mariae.
Miserere mei. Amen.
Hail the true body, born
of the Virgin Mary:
You who truly suffered and were sacrificed
on the cross for the sake of man.
From whose pierced flank
flowed water and blood:
Be a foretaste for us
in the trial of death.
[O sweet, O merciful, O Jesus, Son of Mary.]
[Have mercy on me. Amen.]

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

A Lenten calendar, day 36 — 15 April : Tuesday in Holy Week

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Isaiah 49.1-7 | Psalm 71.1-14 | 1 Corinthians 1.18-31 | John 12.20-36 |

image_36He Qi. (China/USA) Knocking at the door ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

Of self-esteem

5.1 We cannot place too little confidence in ourselves, because grace and understanding are often lacking to us. Little light is there within us, and what we have we quickly lose by negligence. Oftentimes we don’t see great is our inward blindness. We often do ill and excuse it worse. Sometimes we are moved by passion and count it zeal; we blame little faults in others and pass over great faults in ourselves. Quickly enough we feel and reckon up what we bear at the hands of others, but we reflect not how much others are bearing from us. If you weigh well and rightly your own doings you will not judge another severely.

5.2. The spiritually-minded man puts care of himself before all cares; and he who diligently attends to himself easily keeps silence concerning others. You will never be spiritually minded and godly unless you are silent concerning other people’s matters and take full heed to yourself. If you think wholly upon yourself and upon God, what you see out of doors shall move you little. Where are you when you are not present to yourself? … If you wouldst have peace and true unity, you must put aside all other things, and only look at yourself.

5.3. You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from all temporal care. You will lamentably fall away if you set a value upon any worldly thing. Let nothing be great, nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable unto you, save God Himself or the things of God. Reckon as altogether vain whatsoever consolation comes to you from a creature. The soul that loves God looks not to anything that is beneath God. God alone is eternal and incomprehensible, filling all things, the solace of the soul, and the true joy of the heart.

Aaron Copland. Four Motets – III. Have mercy on us, O my Lord.
The Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers.

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

A Lenten calendar, day 35 — 14 April : Monday in Holy Week

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Isaiah 42.1-9 | Psalm 36.5-11 | Hebrews 9.11-15 | John 12.1-11 |

image_35
He Qi. (China/USA) Mary with the ointment ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

Of a pure mind and simple intention

4.1 We are lifted above earthly things by two wings, simplicity and purity. Simplicity ought to be in the intention, purity in the affection. Simplicity reaches towards God, purity apprehends God and tastes God. No good action will be distasteful if you are free within from inordinate affection. If you reach after and seek nothing but the will of God and the benefit of your neighbour, you will entirely enjoy inward liberty. If your heart is right, then should every creature be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine. There is no creature so small and vile but that it shows us the goodness of God.

2. If you are good and pure within, then you will look upon all things without hurt and understand them aright. A pure heart sees the very depths of heaven and hell. Ads you are inwardly, so you judge outwardly. If there is any joy in the world surely the pure-hearted person possesses it, and if there is anywhere tribulation and anguish, the evil conscience knows it best. As iron cast into the fire loses rust and is made altogether glowing, so the one who turns altogether to God is freed from slothfulness and changed into a new person.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-94). Gloria, from Missa Papae Marcelli.
The Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers.

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.

A Lenten calendar, sixth Sunday — 13 April : Passion / Palm Sunday

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.

Lectionary readings (Click the links to see the readings):
| Isaiah 50.4-9a | Psalm 31.9-18 | Philippians 2.5-11 | Matthew 26.14-27.66 or | Matthew 27.11-54 |

image_s6He Qi. (China/USA) The triumphal entry ©2013 All rights reserved.

Thomas á Kempis. The imitation of Christ. Book 2.

Of the good, peaceable person

3.1 First keep yourself in peace, and then you will be able to be a peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a well-learned. The passionate person turns even good into evil and easily believes evil; a good, peaceable person converts all things into good. Whoever who dwells in peace is suspicious of none, but whoever who is discontented and restless is tossed with many suspicions, and is neither quiet nor allows others to be quiet. Such a one often says what he ought not to said, and omits what it were best to do. Such a one considers to what duties others are bound, and neglects their own duties. Therefore be zealous first over yourself, and then you might righteously be zealous concerning your neighbour.

3.2 You know well how to excuse and to colour your own deeds, but you will not accept the excuses of others. It would be more just to accuse yourself and excuse your brother and sister. If you wish that others bear with you, yourself bear with others. Behold how far you are as yet from the true charity and humility that knows not how to be angry or indignant against any save self alone. It is no great thing to mingle with the good and the meek, for this is naturally pleasing to all, and every one of us willingly enjoys peace and likes best those who think with us: but to be able to live peaceably with the hard and perverse, or with the disorderly, or those who oppose us, this is a great grace and a thing much to be commended and most worthy of a man.

3.3. There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also with others, and there are who neither have peace nor suffer others to have peace; they are troublesome to others, but always more troublesome to themselves. And there are who hold themselves in peace, and study to bring others unto peace … Whoever best knows how to suffer shall possess the most peace; that person is conqueror of themselves, lord of the world, the friend of Christ, and the inheritor of heaven.

G.F. Handel. Zadok the priest. The Sixteen with the BBC Symphony, conducted by Harry Christophers.

[This not usually a Holy Week piece, but it does echo the people's rejoicing as Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph!]

May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.