“It is in the wounds of Christ the Church builds its nest and waits, for it is in the Passion of Our Lord that she places her hope of salvation...”
–St. Thomas Aquinas
As the world strangely rushes on to meet deadlines and to make it to yet another weekend, the Church is called in these days to play the role of a fool who stops in a busy intersection with eyes raised aloft, rapt by a sort of vision above. There is a deeper drama and a hidden reality beyond all that appears most real and dominates our attention here below. As St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians would have it, “While the world turns, the Cross stands still.” So it is that the Church is called to stand at this one still point as the world turns more and more feverishly without knowing why or to what end.
The Cross of Christ is the true axis around which the world turns. We must stop then to get our bearings and ponder the mystery of the salvation won for us, lest we become even dizzier. As a compliment to the staggering solemnity of Liturgy that the Church proposes through the Sacred Paschal Triduum, perhaps we can allow the Angelic Doctor to be our guide for a moment, to make sure that our hope reposes in the Passion of Our Lord.
Along with the below excerpted meditation of St. Thomas, may this scene of the Crucifixion with St. Dominic and St. Thomas Aquinas from the holy hand of Blessed Fra Angelico stir our hearts to a more ardent faith, hope and charity as we take our place beneath the Cross. John Ruskin, the English art critic of the nineteenth century, famously said of Fra Angelico frescos in the Cloister of San Marco that they were “not works of art, but visions”. May our eyes be opened more fully today to share in that vision and to see the cleft of the rock that lies open to us in pierced side of our Lord.
From all of us at the Roccasecca Project, we wish you a graced celebration of the Paschal Festivities and look forward to being together in the radiance of the Easter Season on Monday, May 1st for an evening honoring St. Joseph. For more information on the upcoming event click here.
Ave Crux, Spes Unica,
The Roccasecca Project
And now, we pass the word to our patron, that he may lead us into the cleft of the rock, into the mystery of the pierced side of Christ, into the mysterium fidei and the only reason for our hope:
“That Christ should die was expedient…
To increase our faith, our hope and our charity. With regard to faith the Psalm says (Ps. cxl. 10), I am alone until I pass from this world, that is, to the Father. When I shall have passed to the Father, then shall I be multiplied. Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die itself remaineth alone (John xii. 24).
As to the increase of hope St, Paul writes, He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things? (Rom. viii. 32). God cannot deny us this, for to give us all things is less than to give His own Son to death for us. St. Bernard says, “Who is not carried away to hope and confidence in prayer, when he looks on the crucifix and sees how Our Lord hangs there, the head bent as though to kiss, the arms outstretched in an embrace, the hands pierced to give, the side opened to love, the feet nailed to remain with us.”
Come, my dove, in the clefts of the rock (Cant. ii. 14). It is in the wounds of Christ the Church builds its nest and waits, for it is in the Passion of Our Lord that she places her hope of salvation, and thereby trusts to be protected from the craft of the falcon, that is, of the devil.
With regard to the increase of charity, Holy Scripture says, At noon he burneth the earth (Ecclesiasticus 43:3), that is to say, in the fervour of His Passion He burns up all mankind with His love. So St. Bernard says, "The chalice thou didst drink, O good Jesus, maketh thee lovable above all things." The work of our redemption easily, brushing aside all hindrances, calls out in return the whole of our love. This it is which more gently draws out our devotion, builds it up more straightly, guards it more closely, and fires it with greater ardour.”
An excerpt from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Meditations for Lent, translated by Fr. Philip Hughes from MEDULLA SANCTI THOMAE AQUINATIS seu Meditationes ex Operibus Thomae depromptae, auctore Fr. D. Mézard. Two vols. Paris: P. Lethielleux. 1907.