Song of Songs (Holy Week)
April 11, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


Palm Sunday (Song 7:9-10)




9 Your mouth like the best wine,
that goes down smoothly for my beloved,
gliding through the lips of those who are asleep.
10 I am my beloved's.
His desire is toward me.



How should we interpret the words, Behold he comes, leaping over the mountains?Perhaps they foresee the divine plan, spoken of in the Gospel and foretold by the prophets, whereby the Word of God became visible to us by his coming in the flesh. See, there he stands, looking through the windows, peeping through the lattices. The Word unites humanity to God methodically, step by step. First he enlightens us through the prophets and the precepts of the law; for we take the prophets to be the windows admitting the light and the network of the law’s commands to be the lattice. Through both of these steals the brilliance of the true light. Afterward comes the full illumination when by union with our nature the true light shines upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. First the light of the ideas contained in the prophets and the law shines upon the soul through windows and lattices apprehended by our minds, filling it with a desire to see the sun in the open air. Then the desire is fulfilled. (St Gregory of Nyssa)

The church is beautiful in [those recently baptized]. So that God the Word says to her: “You are all fair, my love, and there is no blemish in you,” for guilt has been washed away. “Come here from Lebanon, my spouse, come here from Lebanon, from the beginning of faith you will pass through and pass on,” because, renouncing the world, she passed through things temporal and passed on to Christ. And again, God the Word says to her, “How beautiful and sweet are you made, O love, in your delights! Your stature is become like that of a palm tree, and your breasts like bunches of grapes.” The laurel and palm are emblems of victory. The heads of victors are crowned with laurel; the palm adorns the victor’s hand. Hence the church, too, says, “I said: I will go up into the palm tree, I will take hold of the heights thereof.” Seeing the sublimity of the Word and hoping to be able to ascend to its height and to the summit of knowledge, he says, “I will go up into the palm tree.” So he may abandon all things that are low and strive after things that are higher, to the prize of Christ, in order that he may pluck its fruit and taste it, for sweet is the fruit of virtue.  Imitate the palm, so that it may be said also to you, “Your stature is like a palm tree.” Preserve the verdure of your childhood and of that natural innocence of youth which you have received from the beginning, and may you possess the fruits, prepared in due time, of what was planted along the course of the waters—and may there be no fall to your leaf!… Remain, therefore, planted in the house of the Lord so as to flourish like a palm in his halls, whence the grace of the church may ascend for you and “the odor of your mouth may be like apples and your throat like the best wine,” so that you may be inebriated in Christ. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

The bride therefore says, that after she has entered in within the divine wisdom--that is, the spiritual marriage, which is now and will be in glory, seeing God face to face--her soul united with the divine wisdom, the Son of God, she will then understand the deep mysteries of God and Man, which are the highest wisdom hidden in God. They, that is, the bride and the Bridegroom, will enter in--the soul ingulfed and absorbed--and both together will have the fruition of the joy which springs from the knowledge of mysteries, and attributes and power of God which are revealed in those mysteries, such as His justice, His mercy, wisdom, power, and love.... Notwithstanding the marvellous mysteries which holy doctors have discovered, and holy souls have understood in this life, many more remain behind. There are in Christ great depths to be fathomed, for He is a rich mine, with many recesses full of treasures, and however deeply we may descend we shall never reach the end, for in every recess new veins of new treasures abound in all directions.... The soul longs to enter in earnest into these caverns of Christ, that it may be absorbed, transformed, and inebriated in the love and knowledge of His mysteries, hiding itself in the bosom of the Beloved. (St. John of the Cross)


Musical Selection (John Michael Talbot)

Listen my daughters
Listen my bride
You are found to be lowly
You are found without pride
And the King seeks the beauty
Of the lowly and the poor

You have knelt down to worship
So obtain your reward
You will enter in glory
In a robe spun with gold
And embroidered in heaven

Your grace is foretold
And behind you are virgins
Shall carry your train
As you enter the kingdom
To be wed to the King

So listen my daughters
Listen my bride
You are found to be lowly
You are found without pride
So your name will be blessed
To the end of all time
And the nations will pray you
As the King's gentle bride.




O God of eternal glory,
you anointed Jesus, your servant,
to bear our sins,
to encourage the weary,
to raise up and restore the fallen.
Keep before our eyes
the splendour of the paschal mystery of Christ,
and, by our sharing in the passion and resurrection,
seal our lives with the victorious sign
of his obedience and exaltation.
We ask this through Christ, our liberator from sin,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God for ever and ever. Amen.


Holy Monday (Song 7:11-13)


11 Come, my beloved, let us go out into the field.
Let us lodge in the villages.
12 Let’s go early up to the vineyards.
Let’s see whether the vine has budded,
its blossom is open,
and the pomegranates are in flower.
There I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes produce fragrance.
At our doors are all kinds of precious fruits, new and old,
which I have stored up for you, my beloved.


 God has given all creatures the power to nourish and to seek the end for which they were made. How then can I not seek my end? I must return to God who is my Creator through nature, my Brother through humanity, my Bridegroom through love. I belong to him forever! Do you think that fire has only destructive results for my soul? No; love can fiercely scorch but it can also be tender and consoling. Therefore, do not be troubled! You can still teach me. When I return, I shall need your teaching, for the earth is full of snares. Then the beloved soul goes into the Lover, into that secret hiding place of the sinless Godhead.... There, the soul was fashioned into the very nature of God so that no further hindrance could come between it and God. It was then that the Lord said, "Now stand up, O soul...." Our mutual communion is Love eternal, which shall never die. Then came a blessed stillness that both welcomed. He gave himself to her and she fully gave herself to him. The soul knows what shall now happen to her and she is comforted by it. Where two lovers come together in secret, they must often part but yet the parting is without parting. (St. Mechtilde of Magdeburg)

I HAVE said that God is pleased with nothing but love; but before I explain this, it will be as well to set forth the grounds on which the assertion rests. All our works, and all our labours, how grand soever they may be, are nothing in the sight of God, for we can give Him nothing, neither can we by them fulfil His desire, which is the growth of our soul. As to Himself He desires nothing of this, for He has need of nothing, and so, if He is pleased with anything it is with the growth of the soul; and as there is no way in which the soul can grow but in becoming in a manner equal to Him, for this reason only is He pleased with our love. It is the property of love to place him who loves on an equality with the object of his love. Hence the soul, because of its perfect love, is called the bride of the Son of God, which signifies equality with Him. In this equality and friendship all things are common, as the Bridegroom Himself said to His disciples: “I have called you friends, because all things, whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you....” THE soul, or rather the bride having given herself wholly to the Bridegroom without any reserve whatever, now recounts to the Beloved how she fulfils her task. “My soul and body,” she says, “all my abilities and all my capacities, are occupied not with other matters, but with those pertaining to the service of the Bridegroom.” She is therefore not seeking her own proper satisfaction, nor the gratification of her own inclinations, neither does she occupy herself in anything whatever which is alien to God; yea, even her communion with God Himself is nothing else but acts of love, inasmuch as she has changed her former mode of conversing with Him into loving. (St. John of the Cross)

O my God, how different from merely hearing and believing these words is it to realize their truth in this way! Day by day a growing astonishment takes possession of this soul, for the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity seem never to depart; it sees with certainty, in the way I have described, that They dwell far within its own centre and depths; though for want of learning it cannot describe how, it is conscious of the indwelling of these divine Companions You may fancy that such a person is beside herself and that her mind is too inebriated to care for anything else. On the contrary, she is far more active than before in all that concerns God’s service, and when at leisure she enjoys this blessed companionship. Unless she first deserts God, I believe He will never cease to make her clearly sensible of His presence: she feels confident, as indeed she may, that He will never so fail her as to allow her to lose this favour after once bestowing it; at the same time, she is more careful than before to avoid offending Him in any way. (St. Teresa of Avila)

Musical Selection (Sebastian de Vivanco)

Veni, dilecte mi, egrediamur in agro, Commoremur in villis. Mane surgamus ad vineas, Videamus si floruit vinea, Si flores fructus parturiunt Si floruerunt mala punica: Ibi dabo tibi ubera mea. Mandragorae dederunt odorem suum, In portis nostris omnia poma, nova et vetera Dilecte mi, servavi tibi.

Come, my beloved; let us go forth into the field, Let us abide in the villages. Let us arise early and go to the vineyards, Let us see if the vines flourish, If the blossom be ready to bring forth fruits, If the pomegranates are in flower. There I will give you my breasts. Mandrakes give forth their fragrance, And at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, Which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.


All-powerful God,
as often as we grow faint through human weakness,
grant us new life and breath
through the passion and death of your beloved Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Tuesday (Song 8:1-5)



1 Oh that you were like my brother,
who nursed from the breasts of my mother!
If I found you outside, I would kiss you;
yes, and no one would despise me.
2 I would lead you, bringing you into my mother’s house,
who would instruct me.
I would have you drink spiced wine,
of the juice of my pomegranate.
3 His left hand would be under my head.
His right hand would embrace me.


4 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
that you not stir up, nor awaken love,
until it so desires.


5 Who is this who comes up from the wilderness,
leaning on her beloved?


Under the apple tree I aroused you.
There your mother conceived you.
There she was in labor and bore you.


 The God of all, after the manner of wise Solomon, distributes everything in time and season, to the end that, at the right time, the salvation of humankind should be everywhere spread abroad. In this way, “the Wisdom of God,” our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ … “passed into holy souls, making them friends of God, and prophets.” Although very many were praying for his coming and saying, “O that the salvation of God would come out of Sion,” the spouse also, as it is written in the Song of Songs, was praying and saying, “O that you were like a brother to me, that nursed at my mother’s breasts.” And the meaning of that prayer is, “O that you were like humanity and would take on human nature for our sake.” After all, it was God who set up times and seasons, and he knows our needs better than we do. Because he loves us, he exhorts us to do right things at right times so that we may be healed. Thus, when the appropriate time had come, the Father sent the Son, just as he had promised. (St. Athansius of Alexandria)

You see how, delighted with the gifts of grace, she longs to attain to the innermost mysteries and to consecrate all her affections to Christ. She still seeks, she still stirs up his love, and asks of the daughters of Jerusalem to stir it up for her, and desires that by their beauty, which is that of faithful souls, her spouse may be incited to ever richer love for her. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

The pomegranates here are the mysteries of Christ and the judgments of the wisdom of God; His power and attributes, the knowledge of which we have from these mysteries; and they are infinite. For as pomegranates have many grains in their round orb, so in each one of the attributes and judgments and power of God is a multitude of admirable arrangements and marvellous works contained within the sphere of power and mystery, appertaining to those works. Consider the round form of the pomegranate; for each pomegranate signifies some one power and attribute of God, which power or attribute is God Himself, symbolised here by the circular figure, which has neither beginning not end....The wine of the pomegranates which the bride says that she and the Bridegroom will taste is the fruition and joy of the love of God which overflows the soul in the understanding and knowledge of His mysteries. For as the many grains of the pomegranate pressed together give forth but one wine, so all the marvels and magnificence of God, infused into the soul, issue in but one fruition and joy of love, which is the drink of the Holy Ghost, and which the soul offers at once to God the Word, its Bridegroom, with great tenderness of love....This divine drink the bride promised to the Bridegroom if He would lead her into this deep knowledge: “There Thou shalt teach me,” saith the bride, “and I will give Thee a cup of spiced wine, and new wine of my pomegranates.” The soul calls them 'my pomegranates,' though they are God's Who had given them to it, and the soul offers them to God as if they were its own, saying, 'We will taste of the wine of the pomegranates'; for when He states it He gives it to the soul to taste, and when the soul tastes it, the soul gives it back to Him, and thus it is that both taste it together. (St. John off the Cross)

Musical Selection (Palestrina)


Leva eius sub capite meo et dextera illius amplexabitur me. Adiuro vos, filiae Jerusalem, per capreas cervosque camporum, ne suscitetis neque evigilare faciatis dilectam, quoadusque ipsa velit.

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me. I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and the harts of the field, that you stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake, till she please.


All-powerful and ever-living God,
enable us to celebrate worthily
the mysteries of the Lord’s passion and death
and so experience the grace of your tender pardon.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Wednesday (Song 8:6-7a)


6 Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
for love is strong as death.
Jealousy is as cruel as Sheol.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a very flame of Yahweh.
7 Many waters can’t quench love,
neither can floods drown it.


Christ is the seal on the forehead, the seal in the heart—on the forehead that we may always confess him, in the heart that we may always love him, and a sign on the arm that we may always do his work. Therefore let his image shine forth in our profession of faith, let it shine forth in our love, let it shine forth in our works and deeds so that, if it is possible, all his beauty may be represented in us. Let him be our head, because “the head of man is Christ”; let him be our eye, that through him we may see the Father; let him be our voice, that through him we may speak to the Father; let him be our right hand, that through him we may bring our sacrifice to God the Father. He is also our seal, which is the mark of perfection and of love, because the Father, loving the Son, set his seal on him, just as we read, “Upon him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.” And so Christ is our love. Good is love, since it has offered itself to death for transgressions; good is love, which has forgiven sins. And so let our soul clothe itself with love, and love of a kind that is “strong as death.” For just as death is the end of sins, so also is love, because one who loves the Lord ceases to commit sin. For “charity thinks no evil and does not rejoice over wickedness, but endures all things.” For if one does not seek his own goods, how will he seek the goods of another? Strong, too, is that death through the bath through which every sin is buried and every fault forgiven. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

When death comes, it cannot be resisted. By whatever arts, whatever medicines, you meet it; the violence of death can none avoid who is born mortal; so against the violence of love can the world do nothing. For from the contrary the similitude is made of death; for as death is most violent to take away, so love is most violent to save. Through love many have died to the world, to live to God. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

My most cherished Jesus, I wish to take up the rule of love with you whereby I may be capable of renewing my life and spending it in you.... Place my life in the guardianship of your Holy Spirit that I may be found most ready for your commandments at all times. Make my conduct like yours: in peace. Enclose my senses in the light of your charity so that you alone may teach, guide, and instruct me within the penetralia of my heart. Absorb my spirit in your Spirit so powerfully and so deeply that, truly, I may be totally buried in you and grow faith in myself in union with you; and that no one else, apart from your love, may know of my burial in you. There, may love lock me under its seal and entrust me to you in an indivisible nexus. Amen. (St. Gertrude of Helfta)

Musical Selection

Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum/Set me as a seal upon thine heart


For our sake, O God, you willed
that your Son should climb the scaffold of the cross
to lift from our shoulders the dark yoke of Satan.
Grant that we may come to share
the grace and power of Christ’s resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.

Paschal Triduum; Song 8:7b-14

The following verses, found in most editions of the Bible, are thought by many scholars to be secondary additions to the original Song.  While they may be regarded as inspired Scripture, they are presented here for those who might want to extend their engagement with the Canticle beyond Lent into the Triduum when the Bridegroom offers himself for his radiant Bride the Church that she might be without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless in his sight; cf. Eph. 5:27.


7b If a man would give all the wealth of his house for love,
he would be utterly scorned.


8 We have a little sister.
She has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister
in the day when she is to be spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build on her a turret of silver.
if she is a door,
we will enclose her with boards of cedar.


10 I am a wall, and my breasts like towers,
then I was in his eyes like one who found peace.
11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon.
He leased out the vineyard to keepers.
Each was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.
12 My own vineyard is before me.
The thousand are for you, Solomon;
two hundred for those who tend its fruit.


13 You who dwell in the gardens, with friends in attendance,
let me hear your voice!


14 Come away, my beloved!
Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices!

Holy Thursday


With the sacraments Christ feeds his Church; by them the soul’s very being is strengthened. And, seeing her continuous growth in grace, he rightly saith to her, How fair are thy breasts become, my sister, my spouse! how fair are they become from wine! and the smell of thy garments is better than all spices. Thy lips, O my spouse, are a dropping honeycomb; milk and honey are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed. Whereby he signifies that the mystery should remain sealed with thee, that it be not profaned by the works of an evil life and the betrayal of chastity, that it be not divulged to those for whom it is not meet, that it be not spread among the unbelieving by babbling loquacity. Thou ought, therefore, to keep a good watch over thy faith, that an unblemished perfection of life and silence may be maintained.

Whence also the Church, guarding the deep and heavenly mysteries, repels the fiercer storms of wind and invites the sweetness of vernal grace; and knowing that her garden cannot displease Christ, she calls the Spouse himself, saying, Arise, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, and let my unguents flow down. Let my brother come down into his garden, and eat the fruit of his fruit-trees. For it has good and fruitful trees, which have wet their roots with the stream of the sacred font, and have burst out into good fruit from the bud of a new fertility, so that they are no longer cut down with the axe of which the prophet spoke, but are fertilized with the richness of the Gospel.

Thus, too, the Lord, rejoiced by their fruitfulness answers, I have come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my unguents; I have eaten my food with my honey; I have drunk my drink with my milk. Why he speaks of food and drink, understand, O believer. Nay, this is not doubtful. Thou hast read that he tells us that in us he is in prison: even so in us does he eat and drink. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

Musical Selection (John Michael Talbot)

I found my Beloved, in the mountains

On the lonely and far and distant isles;

Over resounding waters, I hear the whispering

Of love's breezes, to heal my heart.

Oh tranquil evening, silent music;

And the sounding solitude, of the rising dawn;

It is there that I hear You, there that I taste of You

In love's banquet, to fill my heart.

And I found Your footprints in the sand, by the sea;

And like Your maiden, I ran along the way

To a secret chamber...

And there You gave to me, there You taught me, oh so well

And I drank of Your sweet spiced wine, the wine of God.

And there I gave to You, keeping nothing for myself

There I promised You, forever, to be Your bride.

And I found Your footprints, in the sand, by the sea

And like Your maiden, I ran along the way

To a secret chamber...

So, I have abandoned, all I ever sought to be;

And in dying, my spirit has been release.


O God,
in the fullness of time you revealed your love
in Jesus the Lord.
On the eve of his death,
as a sign of your covenant,
he washed the feet of his disciples
and gave himself as food and drink.
Give us life at this sacred banquet
and joy in humble service,
that, bound to Christ in all things,
we may pass over from this world to your kingdom,
where he lives with you now and always in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.

Good Friday


Do you know what it is to be truly spiritual? It is for men to make themselves the slaves of God—branded with His mark, which is the cross. Since they have given Him their freedom, He can sell them as slaves to the whole world, as He was, which would be doing them no wrong but the greatest favour. Unless you make up your minds to this, never expect to make much progress, for as I said humility is the foundation of the whole building and unless you are truly humble, our Lord, for your own sake, will never permit you to rear it very high lest it should fall to the ground. Therefore...take care to lay a firm foundation by seeking to be the least of all and the slave of others, watching how you can please and help them, for it will benefit you more than them. Built on such strong rocks, your castle can never go to ruin. I insist again: your foundation must not consist of prayer and contemplation alone: unless you acquire the virtues and praise them, you will always be dwarfs; and please God no worse may befall you than making no progress, for you know that to stop is to go back—if you love, you will never be content to come to a standstill. (St. Teresa of Avila)

Musical Selection (John Michael Talbot)


One dark night
Fired with love's urgent longings
Ah, the sheer grace
In the darkness
I went out unseen
My house being all now still

In the darkness
Secured by love's secret ladder
Oh, the sheer grace
In the darkness
And in my concealment
My house being all now still

On that glad night
In the secret, for no one saw me
Nor did I see any other thing at all
With no other light to guide me
Than the light burning in my heart

And this light guided me
More surely than the light of the noon
To where he lay waiting for me
Waiting for me
Him I knew so well
In a place where no one else appeared

Oh guiding night
A light more lovely than the dawn
A night that has united
Ever now
The Lover now with his beloved
Transforming two now into one

Upon my flowering breast
There he lay sleeping
Which I kept for him alone
And I embraced him
And I caressed him
In a breeze blowing from the forest

And when this breeze blew in from the forest
Blowing back our hair
He wounded my soul
With his gentle hand
Suspending all my senses

I abandoned, forgetting myself
Laying my face on my Beloved
All things ceasing, I went out from myself
To leave cares
Forgotten with the lilies of the field.


Lord God,
by the suffering and death of your Son
you dissolved the legacy of darkness and death
that had fallen to the lot of every generation.
We were shaped in the likeness of Adam
and must bear the image of his earthly nature.
Reshape us in the likeness of Christ,
that we may bear the stamp of his heavenly glory
through the sanctifying power of your grace.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Saturday


Rise up my companion, my fair one, my dove, and come. How much the Word teaches us in these few words! We watch him leading the bride to the heights along the ascending path of virtue, as though up a flight of steps. First he sends her a ray of light through the windows which are the prophets and the lattice which is the precepts of the law, calling her to approach the light and to become beautiful as she takes on in the light the form of a dove. Then when she has taken on as much of the divine beauty as she can, as though she had not yet received any part in it, he draws her once again from the beginning toward the supreme Beauty in which she is to share. As a result her desire becomes more intense the further she advances toward what is continually being revealed to her. Moreover, because of the surpassing greatness of the blessings she is always receiving by his grace who surpasses all, she seems to be making the journey for the first time.

And so, after she has risen the Word again says ‘Rise’ and after she has come he says ‘Come’. One who has thus risen never lacks the opportunity to rise further and one who is running toward the Lord never reaches the end of the space available for the divine race. We should always be rising and those whom the race is bringing close to the goal should never stop. Each time the Word says ‘Rise’ and ‘Come’ he gives the power to ascend to still loftier heights. (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

Musical Selection (John Michael Talbot)


Come my love, pass through my will
As through a window
Shine on my life as on a meadow
Like the grass to be consumed
By the rays of the sun
On a late summer's morning

Come my love, all through the night
I lay longing eagerly to wait for love's union
Like dawn's flower awaits
for the wedding with the sun
Consummated in the light

Your light, my love is stealing my heart
As a secret I'm left
Like a vanishing form that leaves no shadows
Exposed, naked, alone between
The heavens and the earth
Lifted high on the cross with the Savior

Oh life-giving tomb
Prepared through the night for dawn's dying
Like a womb, like the mansions of Heaven
Await the rebirth of a child, New Jerusalem
So come to my life, light of Heaven

Come my love, pass through my will
As through a window
Shine on my life as on a meadow
Like the grass to be washed
In the rays of the sun
On the late summer's morning


All-powerful and ever-living God,

your only Son went down among the dead

and rose again in glory.

In your goodness

raise up your faithful people,

buried with him in baptism,

to be one with him

in the eternal life of heaven,

where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Liturgy of the Hours)


Principal Sources:

Juan G. Arintero, The Song of Songs: A Mystical Exposition

Blaise Arminjon, The Cantata of Love: A Verse by Verse Reading of the Song of Songs