Rorate Caeli

"When you have lifted up the Son of Man,
then you will know that I am He."

Sacrifice demands tranquility: including at Holy Mass

"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that of Myself I do nothing; but that I preach only what the Father has taught Me. And He Who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, because I do always the things that are pleasing to Him." (Gospel for Monday following the II Sunday in Lent, St. John viii, 28-29)

Today, a meditation on the tranquility of Christ, the High Priest, as He offers His Sacrifice of His own Self:

On the eve of His death,... Our Lord sweats, trembles and shudders at the terrible vision of His torture that rises before Him; but when His heavy troubles have actually come upon Him, He seems to be another man, to whom torments are indifferent. He talks quietly to the happy thief; He looks upon and recognizes all those of His own people who are at the foot of the Cross, speaks to them, and comforts them; and, at last, seeing that He has accomplished all He had to do, and carried out the Will of His Father in every particular, He gives up His Soul to Him in such a peaceful, free and deliberate manner that there can be no doubt of its being His own act. It is just as He had said: "No man taketh it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself!"

... [T]he reason probably is that the scheme of our redemption was necessarily a work of strength and weakness combined. Christ wished to show by His fears that, like us, He felt trouble keenly; while by His firmness He had to prove that He could perfectly master His feelings and make them yield to His Father's Will. Such is the reason of our Redeemer's attitude at this supreme moment, given by Saint John Chrysostom; and doubtless it is a solid one. Yet other reasons too may be found; and I venture to suggest one (...).

I think we may believe that one most probable cause of Our Lord's peace on Calvary, when the Mount of Olives had witnessed His agony, was the fact that the Cross on Mount Calvary found Him in the very act of His Sacrifice, and there is no action in the world that should be performed in so calm a spirit as this one. Those who let their thoughts wander here and there without restraint, according as curiosity or inclination suggest, while present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, cannot have the least idea of what Sacrifice means.

Sacrifice is an act by which we offer our homage to God; and who does not know that any act of respect demands a quiet and collected demeanor? It is the very nature of respect to require this, God sees into the depth of all hearts, and holds us to be wanting in due respect for His majesty when our souls are uncontrolled and distracted in His presence. How important, then, that the High Priest who actually offers the sacrifice should do so with a perfectly calm mind! The oil with which Aaron is anointed, that symbol of peace poured so abundantly over his head, is in fact intended to warn him of the peace that he should attain to in his own mind and heart by banishing every distracting thought and feeling.

Hence it was, we cannot doubt, that Our Divine Pontiff Jesus Christ showed Himself so perfectly calm in His death-agony. If He had appeared troubled on Mount Olivet, it was, says St. Augustine, a voluntary anguish that He suffered, for only by his own will could it affect Him, and for this reason: He was then, in His own eyes, simply the victim, and He willed to behave as a victim. Therefore He adopted, if we may be allowed to say so, the very actions and posture of a victim which was being dragged, terrified and shuddering, to the altar.

But on the Cross it is quite otherwise. He it now at the altar, as Priest; and from the moment that His innocent hands have been raised to present Himself as our victim to the Wrath of Heaven, He is exercising His priestly function, and He will allow no more fear to be seen lest it should imply any repugnance for the sacrifice. His Divine Will, to which all His emotions are subject, prevents the peace of His Soul from being troubled and represses all outward sign of anguish; and thus we are made to understand that our most merciful High Priest offers Himself for us quite freely and from pure love of our salvation. According to St. Augustine, again, "He dies as gently as we might go to sleep".

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Sermon sur la Compassion de la Sainte Vierge