Holy Week and Easter
O happy fault which merited to have such and so great a redeemer.

CrossWe are privileged to offer a new original translation of the hymn for Passiontide, Vexilla Regis as well as the Easter vigil proclamation, the Exultet. Both Latin texts were translated by Abbey friend and classicist, Joseph T. Moller. Included here are the translator's notes with the history of the hymn Vexilla Regis as well as the etymology of key words of the text, Vexilla and Mysterium, derived from ancient Roman military terms. May a "new look" at ancient texts enrich your spiritual insights during Holy Week and help you to savor the miracle of Easter.

We are also blessed to have artists and crafts women whose works draw us into the mysteries we celebrate. We offer here visuals and descriptions of the sacramentals that have been created, such as the Pascal candle and sculptures of life-sized sheep inspired by the days of Holy Week.



Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
Fulget Crucis mysterium,
Quo carne carnis conditor
Suspensus est patibulo.

Quo vulneratus insuper
Mucrone diro lanceae,
Ut nos lavaret crimine,
Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata Regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cuius brachiis
Pretium pependit saeculi:
Statera facta corporis,
Praedam tulitque tartari.

O Crux ave, spes unica,
Hoc Passionis tempore!
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

Te summa Deus Trinitas
Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quos per Crucis mysterium
Salvas rege per saecula.

The banners of the King are marching forth
Refulgent the emblem of the cross and its mystery,
In the flesh was the Creator of the flesh
Splayed onto a crossbar;

Wounded by the direful point of a lance
That He might wash us from our sins,
Flowing forth a wave of water and blood.

Fulfilled were the words which
David sang in faithful song
Saying: Among the nations
He has reigned from the wood of the cross, our God.

Tree shapely and shining forth
Adorned with the royal purple of our King’s blood
Trunk chosen and worthy
Such holy limbs to touch.

And blest on whose branches
Hung the ransom of the world.
And made the cross arm on which was weighed the body
That took away the victory-prize from hell.

O, Cross, hail, our one hope,
In this time of the Passion
For the pious, increase grace
And from us sinners, take away our guilt.

To You, Highest, Trinity,
May every soul offer praise:
For to them salvation through the mystery of the cross
You have granted, so may you reign throughout the ages.

Translator's Notes
This translation is of the text in the Monastic Diurnal. The original hymn was written by Venantius Fortunatus in the 6th century on the occasion of a procession bearing a relic of the True Cross sent to St. Radegund, Queen of the Franks by the Emperor Justin II. Since the time of Fortunatus the hymn has been revised several times and there are textual variants as well. In the 17th century under Pope Urban the hymn was modified to conform with classical prosody. The original text was restored under Pope Pius X. This was most likely the version that was used in the Roman liturgy as the hymn at Vespers from the Saturday before Holy Week and on the days of Holy Week and on Good Friday.

Vexilla and Mysterium
Are the banners (Vexilla) the sacraments or the emblems of the Passion: scourge, crown of thorns, etc.? The image is drawn from a military metaphor. Vexilla were the banners of the Roman legions; after Constantine with crosses at the top. In Christian liturgical processions starting in late antiquity, they were metal poles with cross pieces to which banners were attached (as in some parish liturgies today.) So the first line is a concrete visual as well as a metaphorical image of the procession. Mysterium was a military emblem, so it has that connotation as well as that of a mystery of our faith.

(Translation of Vexilla Regis and translator's notes courtesy of Joseph T. Moller: Copyright © 2017 The Abbey of Regina Laudis. All rights reserved.)


A procession of life-size welded steel sheep can be seen leading visitors into the Abbey Church or in other locations on the Abbey grounds. These were created by Mother Praxedes Baxter as the basis of her final project for her Masters Degree in Fine Arts at Michigan State University. They are made from cast cement and welded steel, many pieces of which are recycled from a broken, rusty water tank. Inspired by the liturgy of HOLY WEEK, the sheep represent the movement of the Lamb of God through his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Each day of Holy Week a particular mystery is highlighted in the Scripture Reading or the Collects of the Mass and the texts of the Divine Office.

• The Saturday before Palm Sunday, known as Commitment Saturday presents Jesus saying to His disciples, “I must go to Jerusalem,” publicly stating His unflinching commitment to His redemptive mission.

Palm Sunday brings us into the mystery of Procession as we witness Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.

• The Gospel for Monday of Holy Week presents Mary Magdalene who bathes the feet of Jesus with her tears and dries them with her hair, embodying the mystery of Intimate Extravagance.

• The collect at Mass of Tuesday of Holy Week accents Per Agere or Compulsion to Complete the Mission as Christ proceeds in His inexorable movement toward the Father.

Aloneness is the mystery of Wednesday of Holy Week; Christ stands alone in the face of His Passion.

Holy Thursday celebrates Body Given when Christ gives His Body and Blood to the disciples through the bread and wine of the Last Supper.

• The theme of Good Friday Non est Lex is taken from the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah: the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus in His innocence fall outside the boundaries of rational law.

• We are immersed in the mystery of Night on Holy Saturday as Christ lies dead in the darkness of the tomb.

• Joyfully we enter the mystery of Miracles on Easter Sunday. "He has risen from the dead. Alleluia!"

Click on photographs in the sidebar on the right to see full size and details of the sheep sculptures.

At the beginning of the Easter Vigil we have the Liturgy of Light. An immense Easter fire is lit in the parking lot of our church Jesu Fili Mariae and that fire is used to light the newly-made Paschal candle. As we follow the priest and servers into the darkened church, Lumen Christi is proclaimed three times. The flame from the Paschal candle is shared from taper to taper held by each person in the church. By the light of these tapers the ancient Easter Proclamation the Exsultet is sung in Latin.

We are pleased to share this beautiful English translation of the Exultet by classicist and Abbey friend, Joseph T. Moller. Going back to critical Latin sources, Joseph offers us a fresh poetic expression of the text, rather then a conventional translation. His unique use of rhythm and word ordering, reminiscent of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, grabs our attention:
...the earth instruck with the rays flashing of such a light!
We are grateful to Joseph for opening our ears and hearts more profoundly to the wonder of this Blessed Night.

Fire Exult now the Angelic Throng in the heavens: let the divine mysteries exult: and for such a king in his victory, let the trumpet insound salvation. Rejoice also the earth instruck with the rays flashing of such a light; and with the eternal king’s splendor alight, from the whole world, let her feel the darkness sent away. Joyful also be Mother Church, with such a light adorned, flashing brilliancies: and great with the voicings of the people let this church leap re-echoing. Wherefore, you standing here, dear brothers, to this so wondrous brilliance of holy night, together with me, I ask, Almighty God’s mercy invoke. That he who, not through my merits, has deigned me within the number of the Levites to ingather: the brilliance of his light pouring out may this candle full in praise perfect.

FireTruly worthy and just it is, the invisible God, Father Almighty and His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the whole heart and affection of mind, in ministration of voice and praise to persound. Who for us, Adam’s debt to the eternal Father, has absolved: and the old impediment of impious guilt with His blood in compassionate honor has wiped away. These are indeed the paschal feasts, in which truly that Lamb is slain, by whose blood the doorposts of the faithful are consecrated.

This is the night, in which first our fathers, the sons of Israel, led out of Egypt, the Red Sea dry-trod you made to cross. This therefore is the night, which has the darkness of sinners with the illumination of a pillar of light purged. This is the night, which today, throughout the world, those believing in Christ, from the vices of the times and the darkness of sin, gathers apart, restores to grace, joins to holiness.

This is the night, in which torn down were the chains of death and Christ, from Hell, the victor ascended. Nothing indeed to us in birth would there have been of benefit, except that it brought us to be redeemed. O the wonder that you deemed us worthy of your compassion. O the inconceivable love beyond love, choosing, caring: the slave to ransom, the son you handed over. O surely the necessary sin of Adam which by Christ’s death was blotted out. O happy fault which merited to have such and so great a redeemer.

CandleO truly blessed night, which alone merited to know the time and the hour in which Christ from Hell arose. This is the night, of which it is written: And the night like the day will be lit up: And night, my light in my joy. Therefore the sanctifying act of this night puts to flight crime, guilt it washes away: and it restores innocence to the fallen and to the sorrowful joy. It puts to flight hatreds, harmony it readies, it bends power to mercy.

In this night of grace, therefore, accept, Holy Father, the evening sacrifice of this incense: which to you in the solemn offering of this candle, through the hands of her ministers, from the work of the bees, Holy Church renders. But now already we experience the proclamation spreading of this column of light, which to the honor of God shining red in fire burns, which though divided into parts, still not diminished, experiences no loss of the light borrowed from it. For it is fed by the liquid wax, which into the substance of this precious candle the mother bee has brought forth. O truly blessed night which despoiled the Egyptians, enriched the Hebrews. Night in which to things earthly, the heavenly; and to things human, the divine are joined.

paschal candleWe therefore pray thee, Lord: that this your candle to the honor of your name consecrated, the darkness of this night to destroy, unfailingly persevere. And may it, in the fragrance of its sweetness accepted, with heavenly light-bearers be mingled. Its flames may the morning star find. That morning star light bearer, I say, which knows no setting. He, who returned from hell, brought to humankind serene light.

We pray you therefore, Lord: that to us your family, and all the clergy, and your most devout people: together with our most blessed Pope and our Bishop, a time of peace yield, amidst these paschal joys, and under your assiduous protection, deign to rule, govern, and keep us. Look also to those who rule us in their power, and by the ineffable gift of your compassion and mercy, direct their thoughts to justice and peace, so that from earthly labors they may reach their heavenly home together with all your people. Amen.

(Translation of the Exsultet courtesy of Joseph T. Moller: Copyright © 2005 The Abbey of Regina Laudis. All rights reserved.)

paschal candleOur Paschal candle, made by Mother Lioba, is made from beeswax, 51% of which is from the Abbey hives. The candle measures 4 by 32 inches and weighs 15 pounds. She hand-carves the cross and the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, symbolic of Christ as the Beginning and the End. The symbols are highlighted with gold-tinted mica and the year on the candle is highlighted with bronze-tinted mica, a silicate mineral indigenous to Connecticut. The tapers for persons to hold during the Easter Vigil are hand-dipped 14 times—a daunting task when one considers that 200 tapers were made this year for the Vigil. We are blessed to have these beautiful sacramentals, made at the Abbey, to enrich our liturgies during Holy Week and Easter.

GALLERY Easter 2014
The Fabrication of the Paschal Candle and Tapers for the Easter Vigil—2014


paschal candleOur Holy Week this year began with powerful practical commitments by the Monastic Community and Lay Oblate Communities in relationship. On Palm Sunday the Oblate Choir sang the Passion of Our Lord According to St. Mark with soloists singing the parts of Christus and the Chronista (Narrator) and other choir members singing the part of the Synagoga (Crowd). As is our custom the Passion Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke were reenacted on Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. During the Triduum we were blessed by the presence of Father Jack Siberski S.J. as our main celebrant and homilist with Father Thomas O'Brien, Dean for Catholic Mission at Saint Thomas Academy, MN, concelebrating. Professor Aaron Brown of the University of St. Thomas, MN graciously stepped in to sing the part of Christus in the Passion According to St. John beautifully with the Monastic Choir. During Tenebrae each day we heard the beauty of new voices in our choir as younger members sang solos: Lamentations of Jeremiah and Lessons of Tenebrae for the first time.

At the Easter Vigil our Christmas tree from last year was the base of the Easter Fire and its branches could be seen through the flames and sparks. Abbey friend Michael Briney sang the Exultet surrounded by members of the Oblate Choir. His gorgeous rendering of the ancient text and the seven Old Testament readings, each one proclaimed uniquely by the members of the Auscultatores, brought the wonder of this "Blessed Night" to life. On Easter morning in his homily Father Jack took us across the globe imagining the good news of the Resurrection spreading from country to country:
Haec dies quam fecit Dominus; exultemus et laetemur in ea.

As our eyes adjust to the the soft new light of Easter morning, may we keep our hearts open to the Good News that we do not yet fully understand and be patient with ourselves and with each other, remembering that the risen Christ appears to each of us at slightly different times and in different places, and everyone has a slightly different version of the story of the Resurrection, but the News belongs to all of us across the world from New Zealand to Bethlehem, Connecticut and back again.
Mother Abbess' Prayer of the Faithful on Easter Morning April 5, 2015

Watch a live recording of Mother Dolores Hart reading the Epistle to the Romans at the Easter Vigil.

We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
From the Epistle to the Romans
Mother Dolores
GALLERY of Holy Week and Easter 2015

We were plunged into the mystery of Holy Week this year with the terrorist attack and tragic events in Brussels on Tuesday of Holy Week, March 22nd. On that day, as is our custom, in our church the Passion Gospel was reenacted by Mother Augusta as Christ and our novices and interns who participate in our weekly Saturday work afternoons on our land. You will see in the gallery below they included their tools, work boots, gloves and helmets which intensified the stark reality of the Passion. On Wednesday members of the Education Deanery reenacted the Gospel beautifully and their creative use of a sheet as a table for the Last Supper, as a robe around Christ's shoulder's before Pilate and a shroud was powerful.

This year we were again blessed with the presence of Father Jack Siberski S.J. as our main celebrant and homilist during the Triduum. On Holy Thursday, taking our keynote from our Holy Father Pope Francis, for the first time we welcomed Lay Women into the sanctuary to represent "Apostles" in the Washing of the Feet. At the Easter Vigil the Exsultet was sung beautifully by Oblate Choir member David Stein who was surrounded by other choir members illuminating his book with candles. Our Monastic interns and friends brought new life to the Liturgy of the Word reading the seven Old Testament readings, recounting Salvation History. On Easter morning the model for our projected Monastery Chapel was in the sanctuary of our church as a sign of hope and the miracles that await us.

Holy Thursday
For the Apostles representing the call of all the men and women in the Lay Priesthood, for their families, their colleagues and all those they serve as they daily carry out the spiritual and corporal works of mercy: feeding, visiting, assisting, comforting, instructing, healing those in need, each through a committed area of service.
Let us pray to the Lord.

In solidarity with the millions of Christians across the world gathering on this holy night, may we be a sign of hope for the suffering nations and may we be a reminder of the bonds of love that are stronger than any human terror. Let us pray to the Lord. For the people of Brussels. Let us pray to the Lord.

Holy Saturday
On this sacred night in the newness of what we have heard and seen, voices proclaiming the story of our salvation—in Chant, in Scripture, in fire, and in water—and as our eyes struggle to adjust to the new light, may we be alert to the signs of the small fragile miraculous resurrections that are happening all around us.
Let us pray to the Lord.

May the mercy we have all received in coming to this day be multiplied now a thousand times by the Grace being poured out through Christ’s risen Body, that even the darkest corners of our world and of our hearts may be flooded with new hope.
Let us pray to the Lord.

Easter Morning
Acknowledging that we humans don’t resurrect all at once like Christ but only gradually and over time, may we be patient with those parts of ourselves that are still not yet fully alive but reach out to another equally in need, in humor and mercy, just as St. Mary Magdalene went to St. John and St. John deferred to St. Peter, may we all go together to find the Risen Christ.
Let us pray to the Lord.

As we accustom ourselves again to the return of the Alleluia, to the glorious sound of the bells, and the flowing holy water which we have missed, may we take the time to enjoy those apparitions of the resurrection. So as Christ precedes us to Galilee, may this apparition of the model for our new chapel for the Lower Monastery precede the reality, reminding us of the future and giving us courage to go forward.
Let us pray to the Lord.
Mother Abbess' Prayers of the Faithful

Gallery of Holy Week and Easter 2016

Gospel Book held high during Ascension
Procession with the Relics of the Saints
May we take deep into our hearts this most mysterious and hopeful event in the life of Christ when He returned in glory to the Father, and first opened the gates of heaven for all of fallen mankind to enter in, so that when we encounter the Ascension mystery in our own lives we may overcome fear, confusion, anger, grief over seeming loss, remembering His words to the ‘graduating’ Apostles: ‘Stay together, stay in Jerusalem, wait for the promise of the Father, be my witnesses, do not be sad, you are not alone.’
Let us pray to the Lord.

May the world reawaken to the truth of the necessity of the Ascension movement, so that wherever there is human impasse, brokenness or stagnation, someone in mission may risk to take a step up above the fray, giving a new perspective to familiar problems, acknowledging that for us the Ascension is not so much a straight line or a one time event, but a spiral by which we ascend and descend over and over again in process on our way to the Father,
Let us pray to the Lord.

May we not hold each other back, but be willing to build the scaffolding, hold the ladder, clear the path for another to ascend, no matter what the cost to ourselves, trusting that the Holy Spirit may use that very path to come and lift us all,
Let us pray to the Lord.

lilacs That we may be graced to see the tongues of fire resting on the heads of the very people we are with every day as each serves the body from a particular place of mission and unafraid of this fire burning in another, may we allow each other to be swept up into the synergy of the Spirit who alone can multiply and unite our numerous acts of goodness.
Let us pray to the Lord.

As we go forward from this Blessed Paschal season may we implore the Advocate to remain with us, remembering that if we invite Him into any exchange, no matter how difficult, we just might hear in our language what someone is laboring to tell us in theirs, and in that moment may we know the joy of true and intimate communion.
Let us pray to the Lord.

May all our humble efforts to renew the face of the earth be undertaken first and last through the guidance of the Holy Spirit who alone has the power to sanctify and renew creation in its primal integrity.
Let us pray to the Lord.

In gratitude for the beauty of this spring and in particular for the lilacs which surely speak so eloquently of the mighty works of God.
Let us pray to the Lord.

Authorities May we hear St. John’s words in this morning’s Gospel as directed to us today, that we may always be open to learning more and therefore able to do more, growing more closely in union with Christ as we gradually become capable of bearing more of His truth.
Let us pray to the Lord.

In gratitude to the early Fathers of the Church who labored to articulate as precisely as humanly possible the astounding truth of God as the perfection of love as a dynamic center of personal relationship in which there is no shadow of domination, or fear, or jealousy, or confusion, but only eternal self-giving one to another in love.
Let us pray to the Lord.

May we renew our humble daily efforts to love one another as we have been loved, in a unity of differentiation, so that in all of our undertakings someone is holding the stability of the Father, someone goes out in mission like the Son, and someone expresses the leap of love between the two, that the Spirit of Wisdom might always be found playing somewhere on the face of the earth and God may not lose His delight in Mankind.
Let us pray to the Lord.