'When I survey the wondrous cross' A Sermon for Good Friday

by Sr Ann Catherine Swailes o.p.

'When I survey the wondrous cross', we have just sung, as we sing, year by year, in one of the best known and best loved, of all English Passiontide hymns.  It is so familiar indeed, that perhaps we rarely stop to consider the oddity of that first line, but it is odd, to say the least.   Of course, the one who hung on the Cross is wondrous, with a wonder beyond human words, the fairest of the children of men and the image of the invisible God. But the Cross? How can anyone talk of a barbaric means of execution as “wondrous”?

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Holy Week Poems 3: O vos omnes....

by Sr Tamsin Mary o.p.

His trying took three days.  No, not a day:

his execution lasted some short hours.

Granted, He suffered, but how can you say

His pain and grief was greater than all ours,

who here upon the rack of this world's woe

live years of suffering and bitter pain?

Because He suffered what we hardly know:

What goodness suffers from the touch of sin;

because He knew, before He suffered death,

how He would suffer, struggling for breath

on nail-torn hands and slipping iron bonds

the splinters of the Cross in scourged wounds.

And with His mother's milk He tasted gall,

and swaddled sweetly knew the tomb and pall.


Holy Week poems 1. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

by Sr Ann Catherine Swailes

There is an ancient legend that identifies Veronica, who comforted Jesus on the way to Calvary, with the woman whom he healed of a haemorrhage earlier in His ministry.  

Salted with grains of blood his cheek

Pearls flung from the crazy crown 

That jaunts on his burning, sweat-thatched head

Through the leering, holy-day town:

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by Sr Valery Walker o.p 

Cardinal Schönborn who is a Dominican, tells an anecdote he heard himself: At a community gathering a Dominican academic announced that he had almost finished writing a book that would prove that human beings were no more than animals. Another father responded, “Is it an autobiography?”

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To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.