Holy Week

"He who exerciseth himself devoutly in the Passion of our Lord shall find abundantly all that is useful and necessary for him." -- A Kempis.

The Office of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings in Holy Week is called Tenebrae (which signifies darkness), because in ancient times it was performed at midnight.

In the sanctuary we notice a large triangular candlestick. The highest candle represents Jesus Christ, Who said of Himself, "I am the Light of the world," and the rest represent the Apostles and disciples, to whom He was pleased to communicate His own prerogative of being the Light of the world (Matt. 5:14).

These candles are successively extinguished during the Office to represent how the Apostles fled and disappeared at the time of our Saviour's Passion. Near the end the candle representing our Lord is not extinguished, but hidden behind or under the altar to represent His death. Immediately there is profound silence to signify the horror of the Redeemer's death, followed by noise representing the earthquake and, the confusion the world was in at that time.

The candlestick itself represents the Blessed Trinity, and the triangular arrangement of the candles gives us to understand that the light of truth which shone to the world from the life and doctrine of Christ and His disciples was derived from the same Blessed Trinity, and. was intended to proclaim God's glory.

"The earth is darkened -- rent the Temple's veil
Now do the hearts of men with terror quail:
Rend Thou my heart, 0 God, in this dread hour;
Break it with sweet contrition's holy power."

Example -- Count Elzear

The devout Count Elzear, despite the purity of his life, was blamed, calumniated, and otherwise badly treated even by his own subjects. Being asked one day by his wife Delphina how he could bear with indifference so many insults, he replied: "Whenever I receive an injury from anyone, I immediately turn away my heart to consider the great affronts that were put upon the Son of God by His own creatures, and I say to myself: Even if they were to pluck thee by the beard, or to buffet thee, what would that be in comparison with what thy Divine Lord endured with so much patience? Know, moreover, that sometimes in these cases I feel great movements of anger, but then I fix my mind directly upon some corresponding injury that Jesus Christ once endured; nor do I let it wander from this consideration until I find that the inclination to anger has entirely passed away."

Taken from Catholic Life (pages 40-42), available from The Neumann Press.