Solemn Vespers on Palm Sunday at the Basilica

Solemn Vespers on Palm Sunday at the Basilica

I attended Palm Sunday Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC yesterday. I got there in time to hear Solemn Vespers, which was sung in the half hour leading up to Mass and to the start of this Holy Week at the end of which we anticipate Easter.

I took these photos after Mass. Notice Jesus Christ, regnant, who no longer calls us slaves but friends. Notice Simon of Cyrene. Notice the expression of Our Mother of Sorrows. Notice the play of the light from stained glass in the last photo.

The Basilica streamed Solemn Vespers:

Fr. Sebastian White, O.P., writes in Magnificat for this Holy Week:

After the fall, the entire human race was the lost generation: lost in sin, lost to the happiness attained only in friendship with God. In Jesus, however, the words of the merciful father in the story of the prodigal son can apply to each of us: let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found. In Jesus, we have become the found generation.

We must never forget, then, what was accomplished for us on a certain Friday two thousand years ago: cruelty was overcome by love, and the burial of a dead Man was the burial of death itself. …

Yet, for all of this emphasis on recollection, the Church also teaches that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present” (CCC 1104).

Consequently, as Cardinal John O’Connor once explained, Holy Week is “not a stage show, not simply a memorial of something that took place two thousand years ago. Our divine Lord spiritually and mysteriously is present once again in the power generated by his sufferings.”

This means that even today the sacrificial love of Christ that was consummated on Calvary is poured out upon us. The historical event of his Passion occurred in a particular place at a particular time, but the interior oblation of his heart lives eternally. Year in and year out—day in and day out, in fact—we unite ourselves to the saving Passion of the Lord in the liturgy of the Church. And as we endure our own “passions”—the sufferings and trials that each of us faces—we know that he is with us. Importantly, we can also entrust to Jesus the circumstances of our own death, whenever it will come, hoping to share in his resurrection.