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Preface I of the Passion of the Lord
For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)
This preface is used during the final week of Lent, all the way up to Palm Sunday, because as we draw near to the Lord’s Passion it’s as if we enter into the long shadow of the Cross. In that first week, before Our Lord’s Passion, events began to foreshadow the Passion. Today the Cross casts a long and somber shadow throughout history, and Lent reminds us not only of the shadow of the Cross that marks our earthly life, but the love of Our Lord that turns the Cross into our hope and salvation.
The power of the Cross
It is common wisdom today that you should be “passionate” about what you do if you really want to be happy. That typically translates into feeling good about what you’re doing, almost driven to do what you do by agreeable feelings. However, it is common experience that life presents important things that are tedious, even boring, but necessary for some greater good. It is doubtful that a parent is “passionate” about changing a diaper. Imagine a world where we only acted if we were “passionate” about something: it’d be a messy, sloppy, dysfunctional world.
We do, in fact, live in a messy, sloppy, dysfunctional world because of people getting “passionate” in the wrong sense of the word: sin, often driven by passion, messed up our world. Some people go off the rails when they let their passions consume them and the world must address the mess.
In the case of Our Lord’s Passion being passionate means suffering out of love. Passion in the original understanding of the term means “suffering” as well as intense feelings. If Our Lord had been “passionate” in the wrong sense of the word he would have probably quit when he received the first blows. Instead he was passionate about us and Our Father: his love kept him going when his feelings were ready to quit.
“For through the saving Passion of your Son the whole world has received a heart to confess the infinite power of your majesty, since by the wondrous power of the Cross your judgment on the world is now revealed and the authority of Christ crucified.”
When we consider Our Lord’s Passion we consider the suffering he endured, but also the love for us with which he endured it. He may seem to have been condemned and executed, but he is actually passing judgment on us: how much he loves us and how little we have loved him. That noble love shows a majesty and authority that makes us appreciate that of which true passion consists: unconditional love for another.
The realization of how much God loves us, especially on the Cross, is meant to put a new heart into us: a heart that realizes how much God loves it and how much it should love him in return. Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, when we recall Our Lord’s Passion. Let’s live it in such a way that we become passionate in the true and noble sense of the term that Our Lord has shown us on the Cross.
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