»t Of the selling of Jesus by the perfidious traitor Judas
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, of Goodness supreme, of Majesty eternal, for the wicked sale of Thee by Thy own disciple, by whom Thou wast sold for so paltry and mean a price as thirty pieces of silver.
I praise and glorify Thee for the surpassing meekness of Thy forbearance with that treacherous disciple, in that not only wast Thou not moved to anger, or to the use of harsh words, against him, but also (albeit Thou knewest the treachery against Thee which he was so soon to perpetrate) didst not at once make known his villainy to his fellowdisciples, nor didst suspend him from Holy Communion.
O most gentle Lord Jesus, how great is Thy patience, how great my impatience!
Woe is me that I find it so hard to bear with my brother, if aught is said or done to me which
I do not like. Thou didst for so long a time uncomplainingly bear with Thy disciple Judas, who was shortly to sell and betray Thee: whereas I, for some slight wrong, fly at once into a passion, and concoct all sorts of plans for revenging or excusing myself. At such a time what becomes of my meekness, and of my patience?
Help me, O good Jesus, I beseech Thee, and instil into my heart more and more fully the virtue of Thy gentleness; for without Thy special grace preventing me, I cannot have the blessing of quietness of soul amidst the worries and the troubles, of which in this life there are so many.
** Of the sadness and dread which Jesus endured for our sakes
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Maker and Redeemer of all the faithful, for the sad beginning of Thy most bitter Passion; for the exceeding distress of Thy soul; for the anxiety and dread, which, in the weakness of Thy human Nature, taken upon Thee of Thy own free will for our sakes, Thou didst feel, when, as the hour of Thy betrayal drew nigh, Thou didst begin to be fearful and very sad. Nor didst Thou think shame of confessing this sadness to Thy disciples, for Thou saidst: uMy soul is sorrowful even unto death." O wondrous dispensation of God! Thou, the Lord of all power, Who but a short while since hadst given strength to Thy disciples for the strife, dost now bear Thyself as One Who is weak, and wanting in strength and courage.
And all this Thou didst undergo in order the more perfectly to comfort us in weakness and faintheartedness, lest perchance some one of us, when sorely tempted, should despair of pardon or salvation; for if such an one should feel himself less cheerful than he should be under suffering, less brave than he should be, in enduring trials of the flesh, he may still be able to say that which Thou art recorded to have said: "Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."
O most loving Jesus, my only hope in every trouble and distress, make me, I pray Thee, to ponder with a heart full of compassion, the sorrowful beginning of this Thy blessed Passion, and from this sad prelude to go on by degrees to meditate upon the still more bitter parts of it, that so I may be able, from each several part, to gather for the wounds of my soul some healing medicine.
Grant that I may bear with patient courage, for the glory of Thy Name, whatever troubles may be awaiting me, that I may never fall into despair, no matter how severe the tribulation may be, but may in all things resign myself to the good pleasure of Thy Divine Providence.
m« The thrice-repeated prayer, the prostration be-
fore the Father of the Lord Jesus, and the resig-
nation by Him of His Own Will
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee,
O Lord Jesus Christ, Stay of Angels,
Refuge of the distressed, for Thy agon-
izing prayer, and Thy lowly falling flat
upon the ground; when thrice, upon Thy bended
knees, Thou didst earnestly and devoutly beseech Thy Heavenly Father that, if it were possible, the Chalice of Thy Passion might pass from Thee, and yet didst ever add the words: "Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."
I praise and glorify Thee, for Thy mighty struggle against the fear of death, and of the anguish of Thy most bitter Passion; when the flame of Divine Love burnt so fiercely within Thee, as to thrust out all human fear.
I praise Thee, and give thanks to Thee, for the copious shedding of Thy Sweat of Blood; when, being in an Agony, Thou didst pray yet more fervently; and, against the order of nature, didst give out from Thy body, as sweat, drops of blood.
I adore Thee, and give Thee glory, for Thy humble acceptance of the angelic consolation, which Thou, the Maker and the King of the Heavenly Host, for the more strengthening of our feebleness, didst not disdain to receive at the hands of Angels: that so, weaklings as we are, we may be led to seek, not the comfort which is but for a moment, but that true strength which comes from above.
O most sweet Jesus, with what fervour of Love must Thou have loved me, that Thou didst pray for me so earnestly as to give forth—in Thy great desire to suffer for me—in place of natural sweat, Thy Own warm Blood, trickling down upon the ground.
O Almighty Creator of my soul, and perfect Pattern of my life, I praise Thee, and magnify Thee for ever, for Thy boundless resignation; and for Thy complete conquest of Thy Own Will, and of all Thy feelings as a Man, which would have made Thee shrink from pain and death. I praise and magnify Thee for having at once, without the least wavering, when the hour of Thy Passion was at hand, resigned Thyself freely and willingly to Thy Father's Will, saying: "Father, not my will, but Thine, be done." Words indeed these were, with which Thou didst magnify Thy Heavenly Father's glory: didst heap further benefits upon us; didst yet more firmly tread the devil under foot; and didst show forth, to those who believe in Thee, more plainly than ever before, the model of perfection, the ensign of salvation, and the path of the highest virtue.
O adorable Jesus,Thou Whose example we must ever keep before us, grant, I most earnestly beseech Thee, that I may obtain the fruit of this Thy thrice-repeated prayer, and that in the life in Religion which I have taken upon myself, I may strive to imitate the example of Thy self-denial. Give me grace manfully to bring into subjection to the spirit the stubbornness of my flesh; to crush all shrinking from bodily pain; to use prayer more often than before; to be ever watchful therein; to trust lovingly to Thee for help; to leave confidently in Thy hands the issue of all my undertakings; utterly to renounce my own will in everything; and to be always ready courageously to bear whatever troubles may come upon me.
me How the Lord Jesus went to meet His betrayer
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee,
O Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and
Deliverer, for Thy cheerful readiness
to suffer; in that, after Thou hadst
offered to God the Father Thy thrice-repeated prayer, when Thy most cruel enemies, and Judas, Thy most wicked betrayer, came, in the dead ot night, with a great multitude, with swords and clubs, and torches and weapons, to take Thee, as if Thou hadst been a robber, Thou didst at once Thyself go forth to meet them, saying: "Whom seek ye? I am He. If therefore you seek Me, let these go their way." At which first word indeed of Thy power all that arrogant boldness of theirs was discomfited, and utterly put to confusion. For, as soon as Thou hadst said this unto them, they went backwards and fell to the ground. What then would have happened if, at Thy bidding, twelve legions of angels had come upon them? But it was to suffer that Thou hadst come into the world, and so, instead of using Thy Divine power, Thou didst will to show forth Thy most gracious forbearance. Thou hadst made plain, by one short word, the Majesty of Thy power: and now Thou didst allow those impious men to have dominion over Thee, and to wreak their venomous spite against Thee for a season ; that so Thou mightest make it plain that it was of Thy own free will that Thou wast entering upon Thy Passion, for the accomplishment of the work of our redemption, and for the fulfilment of the Scriptures of the Prophets.
I praise and glorify Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, most innocent Lamb of God, for Thy unspeakable gentleness, and for Thy invincible spirit of meekness, in that Thou wast not inflamed with anger against Thy most wicked betrayer, and didst not indignantly turn Thy back upon him, but rather didst deign to enter into friendly conversation with him; and addressing him with Thy wonted kindness, didst suffer him, unworthy as he was, to kiss Thy most sweet Lips, saying to him: "Friend, whereto art thou come?"—rebuking at the same time his wicked and deceitful insolence with those gentle words: "Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?" He, alas! who had been one of the company of Thy apostles, neither fearing Thee as his Judge, nor pitying Thee as his friend, shrank not from his most horrible villainy; but putting himself at tha head of that band of evil men, gave them a sign, saying: "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is He, hold Him fast." O vilest disciple of a Master most loving! O servant most perfidious of a Master most faithful!
O how wonderful was Thy love, how splendid was that patience of Thine, O most meek, most loving Jesus, Who even at the time of such an arrest, of so base a betrayal, didst not forget Thy old friendship and tenderness! Thou didst repay so great a wrong by bestowing a gift of healing; making whole, by the touch of Thy sacred Hand, the ear of the High Priest's servant which Thy disciple had cut off, and bidding Peter himself, when he would have protected Thee from Thy assailants, to hold his hand, saying: "Put up again thy sword into its place. The chalice which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? For thus it must be."
Now, therefore, O my God, I beseech Thee to give to me, frail reed that I am, greater patience when things go wrong with me; and when my enemies insult me, or when charges are brought against me, of which I know myself to be innocent, let not sudden anger get the better of me, nor a love of revenge stir me up to render railing for railing. Grant me grace not to shrink from being found fault with; but to take reproaches in good part, and to think him my friend who blames or disparages me the most. Give me grace not to feel angry at any harshness shown me, and not to bear malice for any unjust complaint made against me; but to let the thought of Thy most gentle endurance of the wrongs done to Thee strengthen me to rejoice in my own, and fill me with a desire to suffer even worse things for love of Thee.
•* The fell seizure and leading away of the Lord Jesus
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Hope of the Saints, and their strong Tower in every distress, for the violent seizure of Thee by Thy hateful enemies; for the insolent laying upon Thee of the sacrilegious hands of those who sought to hold Thee; for the fierce looks they cast upon Thee; for the threatening shouts of the soldiers; for their rough and cruel binding of Thee; for their rude and ungentle holding of Thee fast; for their hasty and disorderly leading away of Thee; for the contumely and the violence with which they dragged Thee along; when, with wild tumult, Thou wast hurried away by vile and worthless scoundrels to Thy death; while the disciples, who were so dear to Thee, either fled, or with eyes full of grief and sorrow looked upon Thee from afar.
O King of Kings, O Lord Who rulest over all Thy creatures, and alone among mortals art free, how couldst Thou bear to be thus violently seized by evil hands, and to be led away in such contumely and disgrace, by men whom Thou hadst Thyself created, and to whom Thou hadst always done good? Alas! how grievous was the crime committed against Thee, how audacious the insult to Thy sovereign Majesty, when Thou, the Deliverer of souls, wast bound with a malefactor's cord; when Thou, Who wast altogether free from sin, wast led away a prisoner, as if Thou hadst been the vilest of robbers! But Thou, my most loving Jesus, supreme Author of all virtues, didst will to endure all these things most patiently for our sakes, that so Thou mightest set us an example of perfect meekness, and mightest fulfil that most plain of the prophecies of Isaias: "He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before His shearer, and He shall not open His mouth. He was offered because it was His own will." of the bitterness of the grievous restraint thus put upon Thee may sink deep into my heart; may often rouse me, and chiefly at the hour of Matins, to fervour in the Divine Office; may drive from me all listlessness; and may make me constant, active, and watchful, in praising Thee, that so I may at least make some return for Thy love, and for the hardships endured by Thee, Who, for my sake, at night-time wast born, and at night-time wast betrayed, wast seized, and wast bound with cords. At night-time, therefore, O Lord, will I ever remember Thy Holy Name, calling to mind what great things Thou hast suffered for me, the chief of sinners.
Compassionate, then, O my soul, thy most loving Lord God, an ill-used prisoner, enduring of His own free will all these things because of thy sins. Groan deeply, and let thine eyes be wet with tears of sorrow, at the thought of the Only-Begotten Son of God being treated with such indignity for thy sake. See what those most insolent dogs, the wicked Jews, are doing. They hold Jesus captive, they lead Him bound before Annas, and before Caiaphas the High Priest: but when He is seized He does not resist; when He is bound He does not complain; when He is led away He does not struggle with His captors; when He is being dragged along He utters no ill-word; but He goes meekly on, is quiet as a lamb, follows His captors as One Who is guiltless, bears everything as One Who is humility itself.
I pray Thee, then, O my God, that the thought
May Thy painful bonds win for me true liberty, may they hold me back from unprofitable wandering abroad, and by strong discipline keep me ever in Thy service. May I not find it hard to overcome and get rid of self; and may I with a willing heart follow along the path of obedience the injunctions of my superiors, not shrinking from being led whither I would not, provided only that the command be such as is pleasing to Thee. May I never be found rebellious, quarrelsome, insolent, or noisy; but always kind, tractable and sober-minded; that so I may walk in the way of Thy commandments, and with humble devotion may observe the rites and ceremonies of Holy Church. Bow Thou down my neck to observe the rules of my Order, and bind my hands to fulfil the holy toil assigned to me. May roaming and idleness ever be distasteful to me; stiff-necked and self-willed as I am by nature, may an austere life, and the subdual of my own inclinations be made to me my greatest happiness; and may I have grace to bring my own inner life, at least in
some small measure, into conformity with the example which Thou didst set, when Thou wast bound, and held captive.
0€ The forsaking of the Lord Jesus, and the flight of the Apostles
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, good Shepherd and gracious Master, for Thy most sad abandonment and for Thy loneliness, in the extremity of Thy need; when Thou wast left, by all Thy disciples and friends, quite alone in the midst ofThy most cruel enemies. For Thy brethren, and Thy familiar friends—who had promised to die, and to give their lives, for Thee —when the need came, one and all forsook Thee, and fled.
I praise and glorify Thee, for that tenderness of Heart, which caused Thee to suffer so cruelly from the cowardice with which Thy disciples turned their backs on Thee and deserted Thee, when leaving Thee their Shepherd in the midst of wolves, they were dispersed like sheep, every one to his own, even as Thou hadst foretold to them. Great indeed must have been the sadness, great indeed the anguish and the grief, which possessed the hearts of the disciples when they beheld their Lord and Master, Whom they had left all to follow, so violently torn from them, and hurried away to death. But Thou, O Lord, to Whom all things are known, and Who dost not allow anything to happen without its fulfilling some purpose of Thy own, didst permit these chosen vessels of Thine to show such great weakness in order that out of it greater good might come. From this fall, in short, it was that they were led to know their own frailty, and to sympathize with that of other weak brethren; and so ever afterwards they remained more distrustful of themselves, more fervent in spirit, more humble and more devout.
How useful is it for me to meditate diligently upon this subject, and never to think too highly of myself; for although when in prayer I do sometimes have the grace of renewed fervour, yet I know not how long it will last, nor what may be in store for me in time of temptation. If the pillars of heaven, the Apostles of Christ, gave way in time of tribulation, what is a most frail and unprofitable weakling likely to do, when even a slight temptation assails him? Some indeed, O Lord, would cry shame upon Thy holy Apostles for their base desertion of Thee, and because, being beside themselves from fear, they tried to escape; but such men forget what an everyday thing it is for them to go astray under the stress of love or hate, as the case may be.
Do not, then, I pray Thee, my most dear Lord, suffer me to fall a victim to so great spiritual madness, as ever to turn aside from any holy purpose which I have taken in hand; and grant me grace to follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest, be it to life or to death. May I never forsake Thee in time of adversity, nor be drawn away by my own lusts so as to fall into sin; but may I rather, for the love of Thee, and in pursuit of what is good, play the man, by remaining firm under straits and hardships, of whatever kind; lest, at any time, through my own fault, I should come to lose Thee, my Highest Good. Let not the foot of pride come against me as concerning any good works done by me, nor let me ever join Peter in speaking presumptuously, putting myself before some one else, or claiming to be as good as others; but may 1 do everything in Thy fear, humbly remembering my own weakness. May the fall of holy Peter, and the flight of the apostles, be no stumbling-block to me; but may these things rather be a warning against sin. May the restoration of Thy apostles to Thy favour, which followed upon their repentance, give me a strong hope of again obtaining mercy after a fall of my own—for there is no one so holy as never to fall into venial sin of some kind—and when it so happens that my friends and acquaintances turn away from me, or those whom I love well think evil of me, and treat me as one who is of no account, and as it were a stranger to them; then, O Lord, grant that I may, for my own comfort, keep in mind Thy most grievous desertion and rejection, and count it gain to be deprived of all human consolation, if only I may thereby, in my small degree, be conformed to what Thou hadst to undergo.
Forgive me, O most merciful Jesus, for having so often offended Thee; for having been so ready to go astray after that which has profited me nothing; for not having kept my heart steadfastly fixed upon that which I had resolved to do. Also, when I consider my ways, how often do I find that I waste my time upon vain things which can never profit, and fail, alas, in keeping Thy sacred Passion ever in my view! Thou hast trodden the narrow way before me, and I pass by without a tear, as if Thy anguish were no concern of mine. Take pity, I pray Thee, upon my cold dull heart, and fill it with a loving remembrance of Thy most bitter Passion.
m€ The arraignment of the Lord Jesus before Annas, the Priest
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Guide of our life, and Author of our salvation, for Thy first arraignment before Annas, the Priest, where Thou wast questioned about many things, and in return for Thy meek and truthful answer, wast rudely smitten on the cheek.
I praise and magnify Thee, my glorious King Jesus Christ, for the dishonour thus done to Thee, and for the shameful blow which Thou didst receive from the hand of an insolent servant, when in return for Thy answer he gave Thee a heavy blow upon Thy face, saying: "Answerest Thou the High Priest so?" And even after all this Thou didst not fail, O most gentle Jesus, undisturbed in mind or speech, meekly to make answer to him again, saying: "If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me?" O most vile and impious servant, how was it that thou didst not fear to strike the Face of Thy Creator, deserving of all love, with thy guilty hands! How unspeakable, my adorable Jesus, was the virtue of meekness which shone forth in Thee, when, instead of avenging so insulting a blow with immediate chastisement, Thou didst calmly expostulate with him who struck Thee!
Bethink thee now,0 Christian, and say whether, for love of Jesus, thou couldest endure a slap in the face. Thou who canst not bear a hard word without losing thy temper, how couldst thou bear to be smitten on the mouth? Thou dost grieve over the uncalled for violence offered to thy Lord; but much more sad, surely, is it that thou shouldst be so little able to endure, for Christ's sake, even trivial wrongs. Thou makest grand resolutions, thy ideals are lofty; but the first reproachful word upsets thee, and thou findest thyself weaker than thou hadst thought thyself to be. Flee then to Jesus, and pray Him more earnestly than ever before to give thee the virtue of patience.
O good Jesus, Thou strength and stay of the troubled soul, teach me to bear, with an even mind, blame and reproach; teach me, when complaints are unjustly made against me, not angrily to fight against them, but rather to get the better of them by meekly holding my peace; or, if speech be needed, may my words be such as to make of my adversaries friends. Put a right and loving word into my mouth in the presence of those that set themselves against me; and, when the hand of the wicked is lifted up against me, give me, O most gentle Jesus, for my impregnable shield, modest and imperturbable calmness of mind.
m« Of Blessed Peter, the Apostle's, thrice-repeated denial
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Who knowest all things before they come to pass, for having warned Thy over-confident disciple Peter, by foretelling to him his fall.
I glorify Thee for the anguish of Thy Soul at the grievous dishonour brought upon Thee by the thrice-repeated denial of Thee by Peter the apostle, when, to the challenge of a woman, he made answer in the words: "/ know not the man."
I praise and magnify Thy Name for ever, for that gentle look which Thou didst mercifully vouchsafe to cast upon blessed Peter, that so, immediately upon the second crowing of the cock, he might be brought to a sense of his guilt; and going out at once from among those wicked men, might mourn with bitter tears, and with deep contrition of heart, his terrible sin of denying Thee.
He indeed did not, like wretched Judas, fall hopelessly into the pit of despair; but saved by Thy unspeakable mercy, and trusting to Thy boundless store of pity and loving-kindness, of which he had so often felt the tenderness,he sought at once with bitter lamentations that wholesome medicine of penance, which Thou hast provided for the healing of the disease of sin, and found set open wide before him the gate of infinite mercy.
O the surpassing love and pity of the Saviour! How inexhaustible is that fountain of Divine Mercy and overflowing grace, which has been opened to us; to which the sinner may always resort in the sure hope of being forgiven, and the just of always finding therein abundant stores of grace! Would to God, then, that I might always have ready such a fountain of tears, that, like blessed Peter, I might be sure of worthily bewailing my sins, and of obtaining, by the help of his merits and intercession, the pardon which they need, and the grace which I have lost. Peter, indeed, fell because, in fear of death, he thrice denied the truth; but I, on the slightest cause, daily swerve from the path of virtue, and in many things sin against eternal truth. Peter, when he fell, rose again at once: I, alas, fall more easily than he did, but my recovery is not so swift; seldom do I bewail my sins; careless is the watch I keep over myself; I shun not danger as I ought. Peter shed bitter tears of repentance; taught by his fall he avoided occasions of sin; he sought for a secret place wherein to weep; and, by prayers full of holy grief, he washed away the stains which his careless words had brought upon his soul. How fruitful is the tear, which so soon blots out the sins we have committed, and by means of which even grace, which has been lost, may be recovered.
Holy Peter, remember me, and have pity upon me, a poor weak sinner, entangled in the snare of many evil lusts; that so by thy intercession I may be kept from being overwhelmed by the burden of my sins, and from giving way to despair at the thought of the punishment they have deserved. Thou, above all other Saints, canst sympathize with the fallen, and knowest full well how great was the mercy with which the Lord helped thee.
Come then, kind shepherd, to the help of a poor sheep which has gone astray; take out of the slough one who has fallen into it, comfort one who is sad, give courage to one who is faint-hearted; defend him from the adversary, keep him from every snare laid for him; and bring with thee, to that happy kingdom above, of which thou art a prince and the door-keeper, the soul of a brother for which Christ died.
And now, with sighs, which come from the bottom of my heart, I beseech Thee, O most kind and merciful Lord Jesus, to turn upon me those
r loving Eyes, with which Thou didst look upon Peter after he had denied Thee, and to grant me speedily the grace of holy contrition; that so I may be cleansed from all the sins, whether deliberate or indeliberate, which I have committed against Thee. Listen to the groans of my heart; heal the wounds of my evil conscience; give me once more the light of Thy grace; and keep from perishing a penitent soul, for the redemption of which Thou wast content to endure such anguish, such insults, and in the end the cruel death of the Cross.
mt The leading away of the Lord Jesus from Annas to Caiaphas the Priest, and the Lord's standing before him
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Chief Priest, and Perpetual High Priest, for Thy contemptuous leadingaway from the house of Annas to that of Caiaphas the High Priest, where the Scribes and Elders were gathered together to take cruel counsel against Thee. Ah! with what unholy joy were they filled, when they saw Thee Whom they had long wished to seize, but could not, because Thy hour was not yet come, brought before them as a prisoner. But this is their hour, and the power of darkness, permitted them by God that they might fill to the brim the cup of hate which they had so long been maturing against Thee; and might now at length openly give effect—to Thy honour and glory indeed, and for the salvation of the faithful, but for the eternal damnation of unbelievers—to their inveterate malice.
I praise and glorify Thee, adorable Jesus, for so modestly standing before the High Priest and all the Elders of the people, who were impudently staring at that Face of Thine, which is deserving of all love. Grievous charges were, by the falsest of witnesses, laid against Thee; the High Priest asked Thee many questions, adjuring Thee to answer truthfully; and at last, on a charge of blasphemy, Thou wast by them all, with loud voice, declared to be guilty of death.
I praise and magnify Thee, most noble Jesus, for each and every insult and falsehood levelled against Thee; for the lowly deference, and the silence, which Thou didst for so long a time maintain amidst the wicked charges of Thy accusers; at all which Thou madest no sign of murmur or complaint, but didst set before us all an example of perfect gentleness.
Ponder, then, O loving follower of Christ, and lay seriously to heart, how great was the splendour of the lowly patience of Jesus under suffering! See what shameful reproaches He has to bear, Whose praises are sung by the heavenly hosts! For His truthful answer to the High Priest's question He is condemned as a blasphemer. And yet, assuredly, all those who so condemn Him, proclaim themselves blasphemers, and guilty of an awful and stupendous crime. In the madness of their hearts, not believing Him to be the Son of God, they wreak upon the Lord Jesus villainies of every kind; but He bears all in silence; and the more He allows Himself to be trodden under foot of the ungodly, the greater is His victory, the greater is His triumph over them.
Cease, therefore, O faithful soul, from thy passionate murmurings at reproaches cast upon thee, and from wishing to retaliate, and to be avenged, upon thy adversaries. Bow down thy back to sustain the burden of the earthly trials which come upon thee; nor seek to prosper in a world, in which Christ was content to be despised. Blush, thou proud one, at thy honours, thy high places, thy magnificent retinue, and thy fine clothing; seeing that for thee Christ was content to be absolutely poor. A disgrace it surely is for thee to covet the favours of men, and to hanker after earthly pleasures; for such desires are utterly at variance with a true following of Christ.
O most adorable Jesus, most meek, altogether lovely, grant to me, a miserable sinner, the grace of Thy favour, and teach me, by Thy shining example, not to be afraid of the threats and insults of the wicked, and not to be distressed at being unjustly accused; but rather to pray for the forgiveness of those who have wronged me, and to submit myself in all humility to Thee, and to my superiors; that so the gifts of Thy love may be more abundantly shed forth upon me, and I may have grace to praise Thee more earnestly for those already received.
mt The insults, the mockings, and the smitings of the Head, of the Lord Jesus
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Crown and Glory of the Saints, for the grievous contempt, and the foul insults to which Thou wast subjected, when, after Thou hadst been condemned to death, Thou wast so shamefully abused, and mocked with so many disgraceful words, by hard-hearted menials, and wast moreover frequently and roughly smitten on the head and face by them.
Oh, the thought that Thy altogether lovely countenance, upon which Angels delight to look, should be basely dishonoured by the filthy spitting of Jews, and be violently buffeted by the palms of their hands! Nor can we doubt that tears from Thy eyes mingled abundantly with the blood which was flowing from Thy nostrils. Thy beauteous neck is sorely bruised by the blows rained upon it by the fists of those who smite Thee. Those Eyes of Thine, clear as crystal, which are ever over the righteous, are blindfolded in derision, like the eyes of fools. Thy adorable Head, exalted far above all creatures, is rudely struck by the polluted hands of sinners; and with mocking shouts they insult Thee, saying: "Prophecy unto us, O Christ. ' Who is he that struck Theef"
Who, O Lord, can hear of the indignities thus heaped upon Thee without being moved to deep sorrow and anguish of heart? Of a truth Thy capacity for suffering far surpasses ours; but the hearts of those who love Thee cannot but be deeply wounded at the thought of all the shame and disgrace which Thou hadst to undergo. From Thy friends Thou wast estranged; by Thy followers Thou wast deserted; Thou wast made a scoff and derision to them that hated Thee without a cause, who winked at Thee with their eyes. Ah, my Lord and my God, how canst Thou suffer Thyself, as if Thou wert the most foolish of men, to be thus mocked, and spitted on and buffeted by the ungodly? Those raging Jews! All that night did they spend in mocking and in striking Thee; and by the time they had glutted themselves with Thy sufferings, they had so disfigured Thy Countenance, that scarce anyone would have known Thee: and yet, all the while, Thy unspeakable gentleness was unfailing, and although Thy impious tormentors could not discern it, the incomparable beauty of Thy Soul was unchanged. To all Thy chosen ones, however, Thou hast become still fairer and more precious, because, by the eye of faith, they recognize Thee as the most High God, and know that for love of them, all innocent as Thou wert, Thou didst suffer all these things.
I pray Thee, O most patient Jesus, that Thou wouldst teach me, in my meditation on the surpassing insults heaped upon Thee, to realize my own vileness, and how by my sins I have richly deserved to be despised, and to be condemned amidst the scoffs and hisses of my fellow men. Pity my shortcomings, and strengthen me to bear harsh words spoken to me, even when I blush for shame at their violence. For Thou, because Thou wast supremely humble, didst on behalf of me, a contemptible sinner, endure, without complaining, and with supreme meekness, many despiteful words, besides bonds and stripes. Oh how unlike Thee am I; how far from being truly humble am I, who for some trifling wrong or inconsiderate word, am angry with my fellow man; and, whereas I ought to be grateful for a reproof which was good for me, lose heart and feel impatient, and make no use of it!
Forgive, O Lord, I pray Thee, these my misdoings, and pardon my having so often offended Thee by my follies, my not having kept a pure conscience in my heart, and my not having shown towards Thee, and towards my fellow men, due humility and respect. Give me wholesome sorrow, and a fount of tears. Make me to welcome discipline, calling to mind the blows which Thou didst endure. Grant that even from the harshest charges brought against me, I may, by patience under them, win profit to my soul; and may, from my hearts of hearts, feel that I deserve to be looked down upon and put to shame.
May the thought of the hard smiting of Thy Head help me to bear my own bodily pain, of whatever kind it be; may the thought of the scornful blindfolding of Thine Eyes check the curiosity of mine; may the thought of the filthy spitting upon Thy beauteous Countenance repress within me every fleshly lust; and may it teach me not to be dazzled by outward glitter, but to cultivate more earnestly than ever, the inward graces of the soul. May the thought of the mocking which Thou hadst to bear make me shrink from all levity of behaviour,and from all foolish jesting; and may the thought of the utter setting at naught of Thy Majesty quench in me all desire of being made much of, and lead me rather to seek a mean and lowly state. Amen.
•€ The arraignment, and the standing, of the Lord Jesus before Pilate
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, most just Judge both of the living and of the dead, for _ the disorderly and noisy arraignment of Thee before Pilate, the Governor. For indeed, when morning was come, at the hour of Prime, the Chief Priests, having come together, and taken wicked counsel how they might put Thee to death, and having caused their attendants to bind Thee with cords, brought Thee before a man uncircumcised, a heathen Governor; and making against Thee, innocent as Thou wert, the most grievous charges, dared to proclaim Thee, Whom the holy Prophets of old had hymned as the Saviour of the world, a malefactor, and a perverter of their nation.
How dreadful was the wickedness of those Jews in seeking, upon the testimony of witnesses who were perjured, the condemnation of One Who was innocent; in compassing the death of the Author of life; in urging the crucifixion of Christ their King, and the putting to the most shameful of deaths of the Holy One and the Just. May all Thy enemies, O Lord, be confounded, and put to shame; for they deserve far worse punishments than those which they meted out to Thee.
I praise and glorify Thee, adorable Jesus, for Thy perfect demeanour, and for the deference shown by Thee, when Thou wast standing before the tribunal of Pilate, Thy judge; for Thou didst stand bound with cords, like a most meek lamb, in the presence of Thy accusers; with Thy Head bent down; with Thy Eyes fixed upon the ground; with Thy Face calm; speaking but few words, and those in a soft voice; content to bear reproach, and even blows.
Behold, then, and lay to heart, O devout disciple of Christ, how Thy Lord and Saviour, Who is the King and Judge of all men, submitting Himself humbly, and of His own free-will, to the secular power, allows Himself to be taken before the judgement-seat—in all which He has set before thee an example, that thou, too, who in so many ways art verily guilty, mayest learn to accuse thyself in Chapter, and to bear patiently being denounced by thy brethren. Submit thyself humbly to the judgement of thy Superiors; nor, if thou wouldst escape the pains of hell, venture to resist the power which is ordained of God: but, for the love of Jesus bear patiently an unjust condemnation, even if the punishment imposed be severe. Let not the thought of the patience of thy God— a patience shown when so many false charges were brought against Him—pass from thee without leaving its mark upon thy heart. Fall, then, at the sacred Feet of Jesus bound with cords, and plead for pardon and grace; entreat His forgiveness for all thy negligences, and that He will correct, in this thy mercy's day, thy offences, rather than, by reserving their punishment, cast thee out for ever with the reprobates.
Have mercy upon me, O good Jesus, have mercy upon me; for my soul trusteth in Thee. Breathe into me a right spirit, such as may kindle in me a fervent longing for progress in the inner life; that so I may strive with all my heart to humble myself, to give way and to submit to my superiors, and to bear all the burdens laid upon me. Grant that I may not stand in awe of men's judgements, and may not angrily defend myself against charges brought against me; but rather may love to be kept in order, to be censured, and punished; that so, the swellings of my pride being utterly trodden under foot, and my own will entirely brought into subjection, I may, by despising myself, come to love Thee more and more, and may be carried further and further onward on the road to Heaven.
CHAPTER XII m€ How the Lord Jesus was set at nought hy Herod
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Wisdom of the Father; Thou Who art Truth itself, and the Infinite Power of God; for the foul insolence and bitter mockery, with which Thou wast mocked and derided by Herod and his soldiers. For indeed Herod had himself of a long time been desirous to see Thee; and, moved by curiosity, was hoping to see some sign wrought by Thee. But when, to his questioning in many words, Thou answeredst nothing, and didst-work no sign—the time not being fit for so doing, because it was Thy hour for suffering, not for working miracles—soon, being moved to anger, he ceased to pay Thee respect, and treating Thee as a madman, insolently set Thee at nought; and having mocked Thee, by clothing Thee in a white garment, sent Thee back to Pilate.
I praise and magnify Thee, my glorious Jesus, for the fatigues Thou didst endure in being hurried about, as they led Thee, with shouts of derision, backwards and forwards, from place to place, through the streets and lanes of Jerusalem, from Judge to Judge; before each of whom they defamed and grievously maligned Thee; and of whom at length, after Thou hadst been long time examined and questioned, they demandedThy punishment by crucifixion.
O how brightly shone forth in Thee at this time the patience, which was unmoved when goaded by mockings such as Thine. Surely the thought of Thy open setting at nought cannot but touch deeply the hardest heart; cannot but assuage the wrath of the angriest; cannot but bring tears to the eyes of those who love Thee! Thou, the most High God, art brought as low as the lowest of mankind; Thou, the Almighty One, art rejected as one of no account; Thou, the All-Wise, art derided as a fool; Thou, the All-Holy, art adjudged -to be the wickedest of men!
Woe to me, a miserable sinner, lying under a heavy burden of sin; for so far as my own merits are concerned I have deserved endless torments; and I must have passed to them, hadst not Thou, my loving, holy, and just God, vouchsafed to be mocked and despised, in order to save me, wretch as I am, from the mockings of the devil and his angels, and from everlasting death.
I beseech Thee, therefore, All-powerful Jesus, Whom no malignant, no contemptuous words could provoke, that Thou wouldst root out from me all vanity and daintiness, and that Thou wouldst give me grace to be content with poor clothing; for it is a shameful thing that one, who is but dust and ashes, should wish to be clothed in handsome or soft garments, when Thou, the King of Heaven, wast content to be set at nought in a white garment. Keep ever before my eyes the shame and the derision which Thou hadst to endure; teach me to follow Thee in willingness to be set at naught, and to be glad to be despised; teach me not to put my trust in the sons of men, nor in the princes of this world, nor in what friends can do for me; teach me to despise all earthly good, and those who run after it; to follow, with a steadfastness from which nothing can turn me, Thee, O Lord Jesus, the Author of my salvation; and ever to keep in remembrance the reproach which Thou didst endure for my sake, who am unworthy of the least of all Thy mercies.
•C Concerning the savage clamour of the Jews,— "Away with Him. ' Crucify Him.'"
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, perpetual Joy of Saints, for the great and insolent uproar with which the Jews raged against Thee, crying out in their fury:—" Away with Him. ' Away with Him. ' Crucify Him.'" Alas,how great was the savagery of those miserable Jews; how inhuman was the cruelty of the Priests and of the Pharisees, who felt no fear at putting Thee to death, who felt no compunction at shedding innocent blood! The heathen Judge is moved to some sort of pity; but the hearts of the Jews are hardened to yet more cruel malice. Pilate would discharge Thee, he seeks to release Thee, he declares that he finds no cause of death in Thee; but the Jews, forgetting all the good works Thou hadst wrought among them, will not listen to him, crying out again:—" If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar's friend: for whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar."
Alas, with what utter falseness do they allege these things against Thee, Who never, either by word or deed, soughtest earthly honours; Who, when the people—whom, by working a miracle, Thou hadst fully satisfied with food—were anxious to make Thee a King, didst at once go forth alone to a mountain to pray, and to hide Thy self from them!
Nor are these lies enough for them; they go on to add still worse, seeking at any cost to force the Judge to put to death Him Who is very God. "We have a law," they say, "and according to the law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." When the Governor hears these words, he fears the more, and asks :—" Whence art Thou?" And then he asks, " What is truth?" But there is no answer; for the Jews are instant in demanding sentence of death. At length, anxious for the favour of princes, and led astray from the path of justice by the impious wickedness of the Jews, the Governor yields to their iniquitous demand.
What a sad and wicked a thing it was that the words of execration, "Crucify Him. ' Crucify Him.'" spoken of the Blessed Jesus, should have resounded through the streets of Jerusalem. Who of those who love Him would not have mourned and wept, had he heard those accursed crucifixion cries repeated against his most loving Lord Jesus. What, then, must the most tenderly-loving Virgin Mother have felt, when those dreadful shouts, those death-dealing words fell upon her ears; when that cruel doom, that tumultuous demand from the lips of all the people for the death of her Son upon the cross filled the air!
Weep with her, O faithful servant of Jesus, no matter of how little account thou mayest be, weep with her, and draw forth from the recesses of thy heart moans of sorrow and compassion. Try to think with what anguish the heart of the Mother of God must have been torn, when she heard her blessed Son claimed for the shameful death of the cross. He in Whose Ears ever resounds the Angelic Song, " Holy. ' Holy.'" ringing
O thou to whom the Passion of thy Lord is dear, lay seriously to heart the thought of this hour, shut close the ears of thy heart against profitless chatter about things of this world, and throw them open wide to hear this miserable outcry for the crucifixion of Jesus. Be sure, O faithful soul, that it will profit thee more to meditate on it, than to know all about the wonders of the stars. If Jesus be indeed dear to thee, thou wilt not quit this theme without a bitter sigh.
When, therefore, the world is against thee; when it overwhelms thee with reproaches; be not overmuch disturbed by the spiteful words or threats of thy enemies, but call to mind the boundless patience of the Lord Jesus, and the accursed words, which He was content to hear for thy sake; and let idle talk pass thee unheeded. Should even thy good actions be distorted, and many set themselves up against thee, cavilling at thy words, bear all this meekly; for thou art not more innocent than Christ, Who was assailed with shouts of "Crucify Him. ' Crucify Him.'" Be warned beforehand, and know that in the way, along which God would have thee walk, thou wilt have to endure much opposition; and that thou wilt not have praise of God, unless thou hast been exercised by many sufferings for His sake. For it was He Who said to the friends whom He loved: "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and shall reproach you, for the Son of Man's sake." Follow, then, thy sinless Jesus, rejected indeed by evil men on earth, but chosen of God the Father, and crowned with glory and honour in Heaven. Let not evil words, which are things of a moment, get the better of thee, for whom is laid up by God an eternal weight of glory.
Now, therefore, O most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, I invoke Thy boundless charity, and pray Thee to kindle in my heart the flame of great sorrow for Thy Sufferings, to make it aglow with such a fervent love of Thee, that it may be joy to me calmly to endure evil-speaking, and accusations, of whatever sort they be. Grant that I may not fear the threats and annoyances of men, but may strive with all my might to imitate Thee in bearing the reproach of the Cross. Arm me against the inordinate desires of the flesh; and grant that, by fitting correction, I may crucify its evil lusts; may wash away my past faults by abundant tears of contrition, and may never deliberately yield to any further assaults of the evil one. Finally, I pray that in every spiritual conflict, and in every trial that may be laid upon me, Thou wouldest succour and defend me from the snares of the enemy, by holding above me Thy life-giving Cross. Set up though It was to put Thee to shame, may It be to me an ever-present help; that so I may render to Thee with faithful lips the sacrifice of thanks and praise for victory won under its shadow!
•€ The stripping naked, the binding to the pillar, and the scourging of the Lord Jesus
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, most kind Protector of all who hope in Thee, for the shame Thou didst endure in being stripped naked, in the sight of those who mocked Thee, when, by the cruel order of the wicked Governor, Thou wast ordered to be stripped by the Roman soldiers of Thy clothing, and to be hung upon the Cross quite naked, to be bound with hard cords, to be beaten with sharp-cutting rods, and to be scourged as if Thou hadst been a wicked seducer of the people, and the vilest of malefactors—all which was done to conciliate the wrath of the priests, who sought to glut themselves with Thy Blood, and to bring Thee down with sorrow to the grave.
I laud and magnify, and humbly praise Thee, especially for the fast binding to the stony pillar, which Thou didst endure, that so Thou mightest loose us from the bonds of our sins, and mightest restore to us that freedom which knows no end.
I praise and glorify Thee with thanksgivings which shall never cease, for Thy most cruel scourging; and for each of the hard stripes, and most sharply cutting wounds, inflicted on Thy most sacred and tender Body by those fierce soldiers who mercilessly struck Thy virgin Flesh, and rent it deeply, adding blow to blow, bruise upon bruise, that so there might remain no sound part in Thee, and that at each stroke numberless streams of Thy Precious Blood might gush forth like those of a crimson river—all which Thou didst endure that Thou mightest purge us from the deep-rooted pollutions of our sins, and mightest cleanse our souls from every guilty stain by Thy own most Precious Blood.
Alas, alas, O Lord my God, how great was the fury of those most wicked Jews, what hearts of stone were those of the men who struck Thee, who shrank not from scourging Thee, the fairest of men, all sinless as Thou wert; but reared themselves like giants over Thee, and did their very worst against Thee!
O Thou Holy and Well-Beloved Son of my Lord, Thou Who art Innocence itself, what hadst Thou done to deserve such bitter pains? Nothing, nothing. Why then was all this? It is I—I a man lost and undone—who am the cause of all Thy misery and distress. Woe be to thee, thou mighty burden of my sins, to rid me of which it was needful that the Son of God should endure such torments!
Keep therefore ever in remembrance, O faithful soul, redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ, the Scourging of thy Lord; and, suffering so far as thou mayest with Him, give to Him in return the obedience of a heart filled with a lively sense of gratitude.
And thou, humble servant of God in religion, who livest under the strict rule of monastic life, fail not hither to turn the eye of thy mind in meditation. For if thou hast anything hard, anything contrary to the flesh, to endure; if only thou wilt meditate on the scourging of Jesus, it will be to thee light and easy to be borne. When, therefore, thou art reproved for thy faults, or art even to be scourged for thy transgressions, call to mind at once the thought of the all-sinless Jesus stripped, for thy sake, of His clothes, and for thy sake grievously scourged; and willingly get thyself ready to receive discipline in memory of the Passion of thy Lord, and to expiate thy sins. Fall humbly upon thy knees, lay by thy scapular, take off thy habit, bow thy neck, offer thy whole body to the discipline which has been ordered thee, and between the strokes, as they fall upon thee, meditate devoutly thus: "I gave my back to the smiters, and my affliction is ever in my sight: wash me yet more, O Lord, from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin: against Thee only have I sinned, and done evil in Thy sight: therefore have I justly deserved to receive discipline.'' It is better for thee now with good will to receive temporal punishment, than hereafter to be condemned to everlasting torments. For those who shrink now from being scourged as Jesus was, will, in the life which is to come, be shut out from the Kingdom of Christ, as children who are unworthy of it.
O altogether sweet Jesus, Who for me, the chief of sinners, wast most cruelly scourged, grant that I may gaze with a heart full of sorrow upon each wound made upon Thy sacred Body by the scourge, and that I may kiss it with heartfelt fervent love; and so may feel the savour of life, and the medicine of eternal salvation, flowing forth from thence upon me. Set me aflame with the fire of that boundless love, with which Thou didst prove that Thou lovedst me, when Thou didst vouchsafe most patiently to endure so many blows of the cruel scourge for me, Thy servant lying under condemnation. When tribulation of any kind comes upon me, grant, I pray Thee, to my weakness the help of Thy grace; that so I may not be cast down under its burden, nor be too much distressed by it; but, remembering Thy undeserved scourging, may be found meek and submissive under what I have to bear, no matter how heavy it may be. Make me a partner in Thy sufferings, and stir me up to amendment of life by the chastening of sons, that so, by bearing punishment with due meekness and humility, I may in this life present become more pleasing to Thee, and in the life to come may rejoice with Thee more gloriously, in that Place, where all Thy Saints, no longer in fear of sin, rejoice for ever in the victory which Thy sufferings have won for them.
•€ Of the stripping, the mocking, the crowning, and the smiting of the Head, of the Lord Jesus
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, illustrious King of Saints, and shining Crown of everlasting glory, for the many unheard-of outrages and affronts, to which Thou wast once more subjected by Thy impious tormentors, when Thou hadst been brought by the cruel soldiers into the Praetorium. There, the whole band being gathered together unto Thee, Thou wast shamefully stripped of Thy own garments, and instead of them, wast mockingly clothed in a scarlet cloak; that so Thou mightest clothe us, who are devoid of all goodness, with the cloak of Thy own holiness, and mightest adorn us with the sweetness of Thy Own nature.
I praise and glorify Thee, with the special devotion of a heart full of compassion, for the very great pain Thou hadst to bear for us poor worms of earth, when the Crown of Thorns was forced upon Thy sacred Head. For at that time Thy ever-blessed Head, hallowed above those of all other Nazarites, was oppressed by such a multitude of thorns, and was so grievously pierced, even down to the brain itself, that large streams of blood ran down everywhere over Thy Neck and Ears, over Thy Eyes and Cheeks, and made Thy sweet Face, which was as yet scarce dry from the spitting of the Jews, bloody and disfigured.
O sight of all sights the saddest; to see the Son of God, in Whom no spot of sin could be found, so ignominiously and so cruelly crowned!
How surpassingly cruel was the rage of the soldiers, who shrank not from piercing with so many thorn-points that Head, so noble and so worshipful; and who even dared to insult the King of Angels by saluting Him in mockery, by smiting Him, and by making Him a gazing-stock to the multitude!
O most gentle Jesus, King deserving of all love, Crown of Confessors, Stay of the Church Militant, Joy of the Church Triumphant, Model for all who would follow Thee, how outrageously art Thou treated, how cruelly art Thou tormented; outwardly what affronts are heaped on Thee; inwardly with what unspeakable distress art Thou filled—and all for my sake; that Thou mightest save me from being confounded for ever, in the torments of Hell; that Thou mightest pluck out from my heart the thorns, which my sins have left in it; and that Thou mightest crown me, in the Heavenly Mansions, with a crown of glory and of honour that fadeth not away!
I laud and magnify Thee, for the mocking salutation, and pretended respect, shown to Thee; when Thy tormentors, bowing the knee before Thee, struck Thee on the Head; when they contemptuously adored Thee, and ironically styling Thee King, acclaimed Thee in the words: "Hail, King of the Jews.'"
Behold, O man who must die, O servant of sin, to what anguish and contempt the Only Begotten Son of the Father is subjected for thy sake! Set open the ears of thy soul, and pour forth loving sighs and tears, as thou hearest Pilate's cruel words: "Behold the Man .'" If thou hast any bowels of love, let all that is in thee burst forth in groans and tears of compassion for the Creator of the Universe.
I praise and bless Thee, my adorable Jesus, for the despiteful mockery which Thou didst endure, when, to add to Thy distress, a frail reed was put into Thy right Hand instead of a royal sceptre; as if to proclaim Thee an audacious pretender to kingly rank.
I laud and magnify Thee for the most cruel smitings of Thy already wounded Head, which Thou didst endure when those pitiless men and most brutal tormentors, lifting high the reed, struck Thee many blows with it on the top of Thy sacred Head; and, yet again covering Thee with loathsome spittle from their filthy mouths, thrust out their tongues at Thee.
Come forth, now, ye daughters of Jerusalem, and behold Solomon your King, wearing the crown with which His mother, the Synagogue of the Jews, crowned Him, on the day of His Passion.1
1 [This passage was probably suggested by a sermon of St. Bernard, part of which is set down in the Roman Breviary as Lesson IV., 2 Noct. of Friday after Ash Wednesday.]
Behold how mighty is He Who goes out before you! See amid what outrages and insults He is, by Pilate's order, led forth; that so the pitiable condition, to which He has been brought, might be made known to all! In very sooth, to behold all this is misery, to think thereon is painful; with such affliction faithful love cannot but suffer in unison. See, from the Judgement Hall, goes forth the most meek and patient Jesus, wearing on His Head the Crown of Thorns, and clothed in a purple robe, that so perchance the rage of the fickle mob might be ever so little changed into compassion, at seeing their victim so dishonoured and illtreated! But alas, alas, the angry crowd rages only the more fiercely; and, as the Governor calls out: "Behold the Man," it shrieks back its answer: "Away with Him. ' Away with Him: Crucify Him.'"'
When thou hast heard all this, O faithful lover of Jesus, and laid it to heart, tremble, and grow pale, at the thought of the extremity of His affliction. Beat thy breast, pour forth thy tears, and fall low upon thy knees, at the sight of Jesus crowned, and made believe to be a King, maltreated all the while like the most contemptible of slaves—remembering that He bore all this terrible pain and distress that He might check in thee the longing for earthly renown, and subdue in thee the fatal disease of pride.
Be ashamed, O man, slime of the earth that thou art, of seeking earthly renown, when thou beholdest the most noble Head of Thy Lord treated with such contempt. As member of a Body, the Head of which is crowned with thorns, be not for very shame, fond of pleasure: having before thee thy Lord, in all His Majesty, submitting to this hardship and disgrace, shrink thou from choosing a life of greater softness; and aim rather at a passionate longing for a severer discipline than any thou hast yet had to undergo. Stand in awe, ye proud ones, who pant to rise higher in the world, who crane your necks that your heads may seem to overtop your neighbours', not thinking that the more ye put yourselves forward the more ye demean yourselves. Blush with shame, ye exquisites, who dare to carry yourselves proudly in the presence of Jesus scourged and crowned; take shame to yourselves ye who dress yourselves up in jewels and silk attire, ye who pile gold and silver ornaments upon your bodies, so soon to perish and decay; take shame to yourselves ye who tire your heads, and flaunt your grand apparel, and all the while are neglecting the work of your salvation, and are forgetting at the cost of what dire pains your redemption was purchased.
Be comforted, be comforted, poor Lazarus full of sores, and thou, whoever thou art, who in this world art of no account; for thou, in thy distress, and in thy low estate, art more in the likeness of Jesus of Nazareth than the rich man, as he goes his evil way, clothed in purple and fine linen.
And thou, cowled monk, take no shame to thyself for the meanness of thy habit, coarse, and covered with patches, though it be; for thou shalt have praise of God, and of His Angels, if it be thy outward apparel only which is mean and poor, and inwardly thou art adorned by a holy life! But take shame to thyself, thou monk, who oughtest to be dead to the world, and to rejoice in being poor, if thou wish for more dainty clothing
What true and refreshing consolation is in store for a Religious needing comfort in distress, when he does not fail often to meditate out of a sad heart, upon the most painful crowning of Jesus, His Lord! As often, then, as thou findest thyself ill at ease, call to mind the many thorns with which the Head of Jesus was pierced, and thy pain will be made easier for thee to bear, whether it come from being vexed by others, or because thou hast a grievous headache, or (which is very often harder to bear) because the many-pointed stings of detraction are wounding thee. Better far, surely, is it for thee to suffer now with the suffering Jesus; and by bearing trials, of whatever kind they be, to wear thy crown of thorns with thy crowned Jesus; than hereafter, by reason of having followed thy own will and pleasure in thy life on earth, to have to suffer the pains of Hell, and to have to bear that worst of all the torments of the damned, the being cast out for ever from the presence full of joy of thy Saviour Jesus, and the being shut out for ever from the sweet company of the saints in Heaven. How joyously and fearlessly, at the dreadful Judgement Day, will that man stand before the King Eternal, who in this world does not shrink from bearing the reproach of His dishonour, and the anguish of His sufferings in the Flesh! How pleasing and how dear to God is that soul, and how fruitful is its meditation, which is inwardly bruised at the thought of the sufferings of Jesus, which is wounded to the heart by His Wounds, and at the thought of His death, expires with Him in a death of love.
I mourn over Thee, my loving Jesus, full ot patience and meekness, in Thy cruel scourging, in Thy shameful mocking, in Thy painful crowning for my sake; and, that I may mourn the more deeply, I pray Thee to grant me the grace of a pity that may pierce me through and through. Humbly falling, therefore, at Thy Feet, I adore Thy glorious Majesty, subjected, in Thy Human Nature, to such insults and contempt; and, with lips vowed to Thy service, I earnestly beseech Thee to imprint plainly, and to stamp firmly, upon the tablet of my heart the image of Thy afflicted Face, as It was in that hour when Thou wast thrust forth as a leper abhorred of all men; and, crowned with thorns, wast made a gazing-stock for the raging multitude. May this most distressful vision of Thee so pass into the secret recesses of my heart; may it so powerfully afflict and pierce it, that every worldly longing may perish from my eyes; that every lust of the flesh may utterly die within me; and that, for Thy sake, everything that is humiliating and distasteful may seem to me sweet and pleasing. May the thought of Thy sufferings crush within me all my evil affections; and may the remembrance of Thy most cruel anguish make my daily worries easier for me to bear. May the holy vision of Thy crowning, borne in upon my mind, and carefully and deeply meditated upon, bring me great comfort under the assaults of the enemy, and help me firmly to resist temptation to impurity in thought. For a heart occupied with heavenly things, and truly contrite, has no room for evil imaginations, and is shielded from the flying darts of the enemy. Strip me, too, O Lord Jesus, of the filthy rags, which are all that I have of my own. Clothe me with true righteousness, and grant me to bear contempt cheerfully; that so I may learn not to take offence if I am deprived of necessaries, nor to lose my temper if old clothes are served out to me instead of new, or rough instead of soft. Keep me from being angry with those who flout me, and from paying back in their own coin those who find fault with me. Remembering Thy Crown of thorns, may I, for my own Salvation's sake, take calmly everything painful and distressing that comes upon me. Finally I pray that Thou wouldest pierce the hardness of my heart, and wouldest drive one of the sharpest thorns of Thy Crown right through its very centre; that so all the bad blood which is in my flesh may flow out through the wound which it makes, and the sharp goad of Thy holy love may remain fixed therein, till the thorns of my besetting sins, and the thistles of my temptations are thoroughly purged out of it, and I have become fit to be a seed-plot for virtues; and so the soil of my heart, poisoned as it is by the primeval curse, may again receive a blessing from the inpouring of Thy sacred Blood; and, in place of the thorn of envy, may bring forth the rose of charity, in place of the nettle of lust, the lily of chastity, in place of the burdock of vanity, the violet of humility, and in place of the bramble of harshness, the flower of gentleness.
•€ Of the unjust condemnation of Jesus to death
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Author of life, and Model of justice, for Thy unjust condemnation to death, although guilty of no offence at all; whilst a man guilty of murder and sedition, who had deserved sentence of death, was released. How perverse was such a judgement! How unjust was such an exchange! But when a mighty tumult was made of the people, and the judge saw that in no other way could he satisfy the ferocity of the Jews, he took his place upon the judgement seat, and pronounced against Thee the wicked sentence, that Barabbas the robber, who for a capital crime was worthy of death, should go scot-free; and that Thou, who wast altogether guiltless, shouldst be condemned to suffer that most shameful of deaths, the death of the Cross. Of what sort, alas, is the judgement of this world, and how shockingly is justice trodden under foot when the wicked begin to have dominion! Behold how the just perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart. ' Alas, alas, He Who is Truth is delivered over to men who are false, the Holy One is scourged by sinners: He Who is guiltless is condemned instead of him who is guilty: a robber is chosen instead of Christ: and Barabbas, who had been cast into prison, is set free instead of Jesus of Nazareth! The lamb takes the place of the wolf; the Holy One that of the malefactor; the Best of men that of the worst; the man whose life was forfeit escapes, instead of Him Who is very God. Darkness is more highly esteemed than light, vice than virtue, death than life, clay than gold, a shell than a pearl, one who is infamous than One Who is most noble.
Which of us on hearing these things can withhold a sigh? Which of us can help burning with anger against the Jews? Which of us can help blaming the Judge? The Judge may wash his hands, he may excuse himself before men; we may grant that he acted in fear of Caesar, and that he was overborne by the uproar of the Jews; yet is he not wholly free from guilt; for he knew that they had delivered Him up out of envy. Better, surely, would it have been to have sacrificed high place, and the honours of this world, than to have condemned One Who was innocent, and Whom the Governor knew to be such. More profitable had it been to have lost the whole world, than to have sinned against God, and to have put Christ to death!
How terrible, at the last day, will be the judgement of the ungodly and unbelieving, when God the Judge, Who is now condemned unjustly, shall have come in His glorious Majesty! Then shall all the godly and faithful rejoice, who now mourn over, and lament, the unjust condemnation of Jesus Christ, their Lord. Then shall they be joyous and free from care, who now patiently bear the hardships of this world, and submit to being wronged and despised.
O my sweet and loving Lord, Who wast unjustly condemned by Pilate the Governor, and sentenced to the shameful death of the Cross, grant that, whatever sentence may be passed against me in Chapter for my faults, I may humbly submit to it, and may never rashly judge my Superior, nor reply angrily to my accusers; but, after the example of Thy patience, may keep that silence which becomes me. Grant that I may not take unduly to heart being put upon by one who is above me, but may always leave my cause in Thy hands: for the servant is not greater than his Lord; and if Thou, Who art the Judge of all men, and wast absolutely guiltless, didst make no resistance to the violence of Thy adversaries, but didst submit to be unjustly condemned, how much more ought I to be ready to bear; and how cheerfully oughtlto submit to the judgement of my brethren, who have, in so many ways, and so often offended? Help me, O gracious Lord Jesus, willingly to bear the yoke of subjection, and the rod of correction, and in every trouble that comes upon me, to call to mind Thy anguish.
•€ Of the bearing by Jesus of His Cross, and His being led forth to the place which was called Calvary
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, true Vine, Way of Life, and our Salvation, for bearing before all men Thy heavy and shameful Cross. For the Salvation of the whole human race, Thou didst vouchsafe humbly to take it up, and most patiently to bear it; that so, upon Thy own Shoulders, Thou mightest bring back, to Thy home in Heaven, the lost sheep so long sought after, and found with so much toil and trouble.
I laud and magnify Thee, illustrious Standardbearer of the army of Christ, for Thy sorrowful and distressing journey, when, with the heavy wood of the cross roughly laid upon Thee, Thou wast ignominiously led forth outside the walls of that renowned city, in which Thou hadst so often manifested forth Thy glory by miracles worked, and holy doctrine taught therein. Now, however, amid the furious outcries of the whole people arrayed against Thee, Thou art treated as a comrade of thieves, and a chief of robbers, and art going forth to be hanged, as one utterly vile and worthless, upon the highest cross of all, between two of the worst of malefactors.
I praise and glorify Thee, most gracious Jesus, for that cruel and most wearisome progress, for that journey amid such horrible surroundings, which Thou didst undertake for us. I praise and glorify Thee for each step Thou didst take; for the exceeding weariness and weakness of Thy Body caused by Thy previous sufferings; for the ascents and descents of the winding road, made more grievous to Thee by the burden of Thy Cross; for the haste with which Thou wast at one time urged forward from behind, and at another time dragged roughly on from in front, by the hard-hearted men of the guard in charge of Thee; hither and thither buffeted about by them. For Thou couldst only move with Thy Body bent almost double from the weight of that burden, so far beyond Thy strength, which Thou wast compelled to bear to the Hill of Calvary. Never before hadst Thou trodden so cruel a road; never before hadst Thou borne so grievous a yoke.
I laud and magnify Thee for the despiteful usage Thou hadst to endure from those brutish men who led Thee forth to execution, at one time abusing Thee, at another ill-treating Thee. I laud and magnify Thee for the many vile words which they used to Thee; for the many false slanders against Thy innocence which they hurled at Thee, as Thou wentest Thy weary way; for the insolent exultation of Thy enemies at the cruel death awaiting Thee, and for their savage joy at the hope of seeing Thee hang upon the shameful Cross— amidst all which horrors, heaped upon Thee from every side, Thou didst go as a meek lamb carried forth for sacrifice, having before Thee our salvation as Thy aim; pitying the blindness of the Jews; and sorrowing over the malice of those who were leading Thee to the place of execution.
I praise and bless Thee for the loving hearts of Thy friends; for the abundant tears of compassion which they shed for Thee; and for the faithful companionship of the sad-hearted women, who step by step followed Thee on Thy way, with looks modestly downcast, most bitterly bewailing Thee. Turning to them, Thou didst restrain their mournful sobs with these gracious words: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?" O how bitter at that time was the grief of those who were dear to Thee, and how above all bitter was the lamentation of the holy women, who looked at Thee with eyes full of compassion, but were unable to come near to Thee, or to save Thee from going to Thy death.
And how inconceivably great must have been the woe which filled, and racked, the Mother's heart of Mary the Virgin, as she saw Thee, her only, her most dearly loved Son, bearing the Wood of the Cross, and going forth to die! O how willingly, had it been possible, would Thy blessed Mother, the most loving Virgin Mary, have endured for Thy sake the terrible shame of the Cross; and how gladly would she have offered herself to die instead of Thee, had she thought that this would have been pleasing to Thee. But that which was actually not possible, nor permitted, that mentally she did indeed bear to the full; for who, among the sons of men, could compassionate Thee so fully, could mourn for Thee so keenly, could so truly bear Thy cross with Thee, as she, who loved Thee so fervently? No other heart of those who loved Thee could Thy anguish have so deeply pierced, as the loving heart of the one who was Thy Mother, the Virgin of surpassing love.
Nor may we doubt that Mary Magdalene, whose love for Thee burnt so brightly, and the bitterness of whose sorrow for Thee had made her scarcely able to stand, would, with a supreme effort of love, have willingly joined Thy Virgin Mother in laying hold upon Thy Cross, and would gladly have borne it with her in Thy stead.
The inward burden of Thy anguish was thus in many ways increased; for beside it, Thou didst also have to bear the things that came upon Thee from without, Thy being forsaken, namely, by Thy disciples, Thy Mother's grief, the stumbling-block which Thy tribulation was to many, and the faintheartedness of those who despaired of Thy Resurrection: for, except that of the glorious Virgin, the faith of all was wavering, or seemed to be extinct.
O faithful disciple of Christ, make thou also haste to share the burden of the mystic Cross; and, if thou wouldst attain to joys eternal, strive now to follow thy Redeemer's steps. Shrink not from the slight hardship of a penance set thee, seek not to have the severity of discipline made less; but think that to be easy and light which the Rule of thy Order bids thee bear; fulfil with joy whatever holy obedience requires of thee. Should it seem to thee hard to obey its every precept, remember that for thy sake Christ became obedient to precepts harder still, even to the most shameful death of the Cross. Keep, then, the strict Rule of the Fathers, quit not the path which leads to a throne. Shun that easier lot, by choosing which the slothful are so often brought to a bad end. On entering Religion, thou didst indeed take upon thy shoulders the Holy Cross, and, on being Professed, thou didst bind thyself to it still closer. To lead a holy and perfect life in Religion is to follow the Crucified. By observing the Rule of thy Order with all thy heart, thou bearest thy cross cheerfully. If thou bearest it unwillingly and grudgingly, not the Glory of Jesus, but the cross of the impenitent thief, will be thy reward; but if thou endurest all things willingly and joyfully, thou hast in great part Won thy victory over the evil one. Fear not, therefore, the strictness of thy Order, nor count the days long that thou passest in it: the love of Christ and the sweetness of a good life will lighten the burden of thy hardships. There is One Who lived a life far harder, and Who set thee an absolutely perfect example, even Jesus the Son of God, the great Patron of the Cross, Who Himself made full proof of its weight. Follow, therefore, thy Saviour along the way of the Cross, by holding fast to thy life in Religion, and by never growing careless in the observance of thy vows, and thou shalt be safe for ever. For hadst thou wished to enjoy the good things of this life, or to follow thy own business or pleasures, thou mightest have remained in the world. As, however, thou hast chosen to follow Christ by entering Religion, hold fast to the Rule to which thou hast promised obedience. Pray Jesus to give thee His powerful help in doing this; for He Who at the outset gave thee grace to begin well, will doubtless perfect the good work which He began in thee.
O my dearly loved Jesus, Prince of the kings of the earth, Leader of the Angelic Host, illustrious Standard-bearer of all Christians, Who, for the salvation of Thy servants, and that Thou mightest set them a perfect example, didst bear upon Thine own shoulders Thy cross, amidst the jeers and scoffs of the Jews who surrounded Thee, grant me grace, slow of heart though I be, to follow Thee along Thy weary road; be with me to the end; and then lead, I pray Thee, my soul, now absent from its true home, from this body of sin to the Mount of Calvary, the hill of myrrh and frankincense, where Thou wast, for my sake, crucified and slain, that there I may rest under the shadow of Thy Cross, safe beneath its holy sign. Grant that I may now make a fresh start, and may follow Thee, not with the infirmity of purpose of those who are neither hot nor cold, but with renewed fervour of heart; keeping my eyes steadily fixed upon Thee, the Cross-bearer, and not letting them stray hither and thither like those who are inconstant in their ways. Be Thou my guide along the narrow road, and my companion as I follow it: be Thou at hand to help me when things are going well with me, to comfort me when they are going wrong, to sustain me in all the trials which I may have to undergo for the sake of Thy Holy Name. Help me to bear the burden and heat of the day, that I may be able to join my brethren in every Divine Office and holy observance. Grant me also, in my more serious troubles and anxieties, to call to mind Thy most cruel weariness under the burden of Thy Cross; for the paltry burden which is laid upon me will seem the merest trifle, if I think of the weight of the heavy Cross which Thou wast content to bear.
May I, then, trusting to the help of Thy grace, with a willing heart submit to, and even rejoice in, the burden of the life in Religion which I have taken upon me; for even if for a while, in order that I may win the merit of humility, Thou dost suffer me to feel it heavy, yet afterwards, at such time, and in such way, as Thou seest fit, Thou dost mercifully give me the grace of Thy ready help in bearing it. Teach me to conquer my own will,to be content with few things, andnot to hanker after leave to walk abroad. May my hands be ever busy in the work which I have to do; may my heart be ever occupied in meditating upon Holy Writ; may all my limbs be employed in Thy service, all my senses kept under strict control; number me, I beseech Thee, poor and of no account though I be, among Thy true cross-bearers. Keep me from mixing with men of the world, and mortify in me all the desires of the flesh. May I never concern myself with the affairs of others, nor deal in idle gossip; but may I strive to keep my thoughts fixed upon the concerns of my own inner life, and to grieve in secret, with many a sigh and groan, over all the various things which I have done that I ought not to have done, and have left undone that I ought to have done. May I lay aside everything that would hinder my spiritual progress. May I run in the way of those who seek Thee, and have learnt to rise above things temporal by keeping their thoughts fixed upon the things that are above. May I ever keep carefully in mind Thy Cross, so lovingly borne for my sake; and while I burn with love of the Cross, may I at the same time commit all my ways into Thy hands, and resign my will to Thine: and so, patiently and submissively bearing the burden laid upon me, until my appointed time shall come, may I at length reach the wished-for haven of safety and of peace.
#0 Of the Crucifixion, naked, of the Lord Jesus; and of His hanging for many long hours aloft upon the Cross
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, most gracious Fashioner of man, and Restorer of his fallen nature, for the shame of nakedness endured by Thee at the foot of the Cross, when before the eyes of the mob who, like beasts of prey howling for their food, were roaring at Thee, Thou wast stripped of Thy clothes, and put to open shame. After all Thy clothes had been roughly taken from Thee, and had been given away as prize, there didst Thou stand blushing, trembling, girt only about the loins with a thin linen cloth, and crowned, instead of a diadem, with a garland of thorns, set at nought of men and utterly despised and rejected: there didst Thou stand, absolutely stripped of this world's goods, as an outcast of the people and a poverty-stricken alien, nay rather as the very poorest of the poor, bereft of everything and of every human consolation. For as, in the Garden of Eden, before Paradise was lost, the first Adam went naked; so now Thou too dost, in like manner, ascend the Cross naked, to regain for us that lost Paradise, from which Adam was cast out, and driven forth. For it was in order that the innocence which had been lost might be restored to fallen man; and in order that he might be clad in a robe of righteousness, and might be made an heir of everlasting life, that Thou didst submit to be deprived of Thy clothing, to be overwhelmed with anguish and distress, and in the end to pay the penalty of a most cruel death.
I praise and magnify Thee, Who wouldest all men to be saved, for the merciless way in which Thou wast stretched out upon the hard wood of the Cross, so roughly spread for Thee as Thy reclining-board; for the sharp piercing of Thy hands and feet, and for the driving into them of huge nails, the noise caused by which could be heard far off, and must have moved to tears even the hardest-hearted of the beholders. Thou wast, also, so firmly nailed to the Cross that Thy veins suddenly burst, and streams of Thy precious Blood poured forth from all parts of Thy Body. So ruthlessly indeed was Thy Body stretched out lengthwise and breadthwise, as if it had been the skin of a drum, that all Thy joints were loosened, and Thy bones could be distinctly counted. Thou didst allow Thy Hands and Thy Feet to be thus pierced by the ungodly, in order that by having Thy sacred Hands fastened to the Cross, Thou mightest discharge the debt incurred by Adam in stretching forth wicked hands to touch the forbidden tree; and, by shedding Thy innocent Blood, mightest wipe out the long-standing obligation of a sacrifice for sin.
I praise and glorify Thee for Thy being lifted up on high upon the Cross, and for remaining hung so long upon the arms of that Tree of shame —the Tree which was at that time held by all Jews to be accursed, but is now held in supreme honour by all Christians, and blessed above every tree that grows. On It, for our Salvation, didst Thou hang, for three full hours or more, working out those great and wonderful mysteries of the Cross, from which were to flow such inestimable benefits for all the world. Thou wast lifted up from the earth that Thou mightest draw up after Thee the loving hearts of those who believe in Thee, and prevent their leading a mere butterfly life in pursuit of earthly joys; that, by commiserating Thy sufferings, the tender hearts of Thy faithful ones might become yet more tender, and, at the sight of Thee upon Thy Cross, their love might burn still brighter; that in Thine Own Person Thou mightest triumph fully and openly over the powers of the air; that by thus humbling Thyself, Thou mightest make for transgressors intercession which could not fail of being heard, and mightest assure to the truly penitent full and free forgiveness of their sins; and that, by Thy death, Thou mightest reconcile the things which are in Heaven and the things which are in earth, and mightest make all things new.
Lift up thine eyes, then, O faithful servant of Jesus, and with sad heart, and mournful countenance, look upon thy Redeemer and thy God, hanging between the lofty arms of the Cross. Thy loved One hangs there naked, that thou mayest look on Him; His feet cannot move, but He waits for thee to come to Him, He longs for thee freely to draw near to Him. He lovingly opens wide His Arms, He shows thee His gaping wounds, He bends forward His Head to kiss thee, He is ready to receive thee into His favour, and without delay to forgive thee all thy sins. Draw near, then, boldly to the Cross, touch lovingly that which represents it, embrace it fervently, hold it firmly, kiss it devoutly. Throw thyself at its feet, lie there, cling to the ground it hallows, go not from the Cross; that so at least one drop of the Blood which is trickling from it may fall on thee; or that thou mayest win to hear some word spoken by the Crucified, or, when the end comes, to stand by His side. May the same earth which received Jesus at His death, receive.thee too; and where Jesus was buried, there mayest thou too find the place of thy rest, that as thou art one with Him in spirit, so also thou mayest be in the last resting-place of thy body.
Pay to Him the duty, which thou owest Him, of thy tears; enter into the secret chamber of thy heart; let the Crucified find in thee a loving and a sorrowing disciple, one who is thankful and devout, a cherisher of the inner life, and one who is drawn by the cords of love to His wounds; that so the whole world may be crucified to thee, and thou to the world; that so to thee to live may be Christ, and to die with Him thy greatest gain. Be it far from thee to glory, save in the Cross of Jesus Christ, thy Lord. Be it far from thee to trust in thy own merits; because upon the Cross of Jesus alone depend thy Salvation and thy Redemption, and on Him thou art most firmly bound to place thy only hope. Through Him it is that thy sins are forgiven, from Him it is that rich merits flow forth abundantly; with Him are the rewards of the righteous; and He will give to every man the just recompense of his deeds.
Strive therefore, after the example of the Crucified, to cast off the burden of things earthly, and to withdraw thy heart from all that may be hurtful to its inner life; to hold thyself aloof from the unrealities of thy passions and of worldly cares; and to live thy life in the pure nakedness of truth; that so thou mayest be able, by despising thyself and all transitory things, purely and humbly to fashion thyself after the pattern of Him, Who hung naked upon the Cross; and so, by meekly bearing, because of thy burning love for thy suffering Redeemer, detraction and disgrace, thou shalt be made strong, and worthy of being raised upon a cross of thy own. Learn to rejoice in being despised and set at nought, to grieve more than thou art wont over the sins of others; and pray that all men may lead better lives. Deem thyself fit only for contempt, and yearn for the salvation of those who do thee wrong. Put small trust in men: few are faithful in time of need; and friends, who will stand by you, are seldom to be had. Wonder not at this; nor think it sad. Christ knew what it was to be forsaken by His friends, and to be surrounded by enemies: He Who went about doing good was repaid by base ingratitude. Put thy trust in the Crucified, thy Guide, and gracious Master; even in the time of trouble hold last to Him, as He hangs upon the Cross, and thou shalt find grace, and be victorious over all thy enemies. But make ready a place for Him, and prepare, by humble and devout contrition of heart, a way for God's grace; that so thou mayest be able to draw sweet comfort from the wounds and sufferings of Jesus, and mayest taste how pleasant a thing it is to bear reproach, and to be treated as of no account, for the sake of His Holy Name. Choose a solitary life, so as to be able to get rid of causes of distraction; to find comfort in the Cross; to withstand sensuality; to guard against venial faults; not easily to fall a prey to idle vanities; to hold thy peace as to matters which do not concern thee; carefully to cherish the good that is within thee. For it ill becomes one, who is devoted to the Passion, to give way to immoderate laughter; and to be wanting in gravity of behaviour is not consistent with a life in Religion. All these things are to be learnt from the Passion of the Crucified, and happy is the man who is daily exercised therein; for his spiritual progress will be sounder than that of his brethren, he will be fed with the fruit of the tree of life, and he will have joy therein for ever.
Look, O Heavenly Father, upon the Face of Thy Christ, as He hangs upon the Cross for me; and for the sake of the all-sufficient merits of Thy Only-Begotten Son, pierced with nails, and besprinkled with blood, be merciful to me a sinner, tied and bound with the chains of so many sins. For He was wounded to blot out my iniquities, He will make satisfaction to Thee for all my sins, He will answer to Thee in my stead. Him I offer to Thee as my Surety; Him I choose as my Advocate; Him I put forward as my Mediator; to Him I leave the defence of my cause. He will make good all in which I have fallen short; He, the blessed Fruit of the Virgin's Womb, will fully atone for all my transgressions of Thy commands. His pleading on my behalf, O most merciful Father, Thou wilt surely take pleasure in accepting; and thus, on account of His exceeding love, and great desire for my eternal salvation, I may always feel that hope and consolation, which in this life are profitable for me, and without which, in the life to come, I must needs be undone.
O good and tender Jesus, All-Holy Son of God, Who, in fulfilment of Thy Father's Will, didst vouchsafe to take upon Thee, without any spot of sin, the substance of our flesh, and to offer the same upon the altar of the Cross for the salvation of the world, have mercy upon me, Thy servant, who pray to Thee for pardon and for grace. Of Thy goodness, and for the infinite merit's sake of Thy Passion, forgive, I beseech Thee, all my sins, whether new or old, whether committed against Thee knowingly, or unknowingly. Thy merits far outweigh the sins of all mankind; and the fullness of Thy atonement far exceeds my every sin, no matter how often committed. To Thee, therefore, do I flee for refuge, invoking the protection of Thy Cross, to which I trust for mercy greater than all my need; to Thee, from the bottom of my heart, do I cry, beseeching Thee to help me, and to save me. I venerate the sign of the Cross, I honour the banner of the Cross, I kiss the foot of the Cross, I invoke the aid of the Cross. Hearken to me in my distress; receive me, who flee to Thee for help; heal me, who come to Thee in contrition of heart; justify me a sinner. Till I am taken back into Thy favour, I will not leave Thee, nor let Thee go.
Root out of my heart, I pray Thee, O my Crucified Lord Jesus, all love for the things of this world. Take me by the arms, and raise me to the height of Thy Cross; let me follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. With Thee at hand, and keeping close to Thee, and so lifted up above all earthly things, gladly will I share Thy poverty and nakedness, passing my life in this world as an exile and unknown. Implant in my flesh the fear of Thee, lest I give way to sloth or laziness; transfix my feet, that so I may steadfastly persevere, and may bravely endure toil and sorrow. May Thy nails be driven through the centre of my heart, and rack me with a wholesome wound, that so I may shed abundant tears of true contrition, and be as itwere beside myself withthe intensity of my love. Inspire me with sorrow, increase my devotion, till nothing is dearer to me, and nothing closer to my heart than Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified.
iMf Of the Wounds of Jesus, and the shedding of His precious Blood
LORD JESUS CHRIST, Author of our Salvation, most gracious Giver of pardon, most patient in Thy long-suffering of man's wickedness, I bless Thee, and give thanks to Thee for all the pain, and for each several blow and bloody wound, so cruelly inflicted on Thy most precious and most tender Body; so that from the sole of the foot even to the top of the Head there was no soundness in Thee, but either a grievous wale, or an aching wound, or a stream of warm red Blood trickling down Thy whole Body.
I praise and glorify Thee with the worthiest adoration of which I am capable, and with all the powers of my soul laid at Thy Feet, for the generous outpouring of Thy precious Blood from Thy five sacred Wounds, and from all Thy other wounds, great and small, bleeding and sending forth a life-giving stream, more precious than any balm, to be an effectual remedy for all our sins. Ah! most gentle Jesus, how cruelly wast Thou tortured and wounded by savage men, so that all Thy bodily strength being exhausted, and Thy veins wide-opened, scarcely a drop of Blood remained in Thee; but whatever of that sacred Stream, whether living or dying, Thou hadst in Thee, was all lovingly poured forth for our souls' use, and as the price of our Salvation.
0 ye five precious Wounds, pre-eminent tokens of surpassing love, full of Divine sweetness, whence the sinner takes good heart, keeping thereby his guilty conscience from driving him to despair! In you is found the medicine of life, fullness of grace, plentiful forgiveness, boundless mercy, the gate which leads to the glory which is in store for us. Whatever pollution I incur, whatever sins of the flesh I commit, in your five fountains I may wash all away, and may be purified, and made faultless.
1 praise and glorify Thee, O Christ, only and beloved Spouse of Holy Church, for that inestimable love, which moved Thee, to redeem my soul, by the covenant of Thy Own Blood, from the chains of Adam's sin, to cleanse it from all its sins, and to endow and adorn it with the merits of Thy Own holiness; that so, made holy by Thy grace, it might be found meet in this life to be joined and united to Thee, and hereafter to be made happy and glorious in the Kingdom of Thy excellent Majesty.
Mark carefully, O faithful soul, and see at what great and notable cost He redeemed Thee, Who, of His own unbought goodness, made thee, at the beginning, to His own image and likeness. For thou wast not redeemed from the guilt of original sin, nor from the many actual sins which, by the exercise of thy own free will, thou hast wickedly added thereto, with contemptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled. And not only upon the Cross, for thy cleansing, did He shed His Blood; but He also vouchsafed to leave the same in the Chalice for thee to drink with faithful devotion in the Communion of that Sacrament, by which the daily sins of the world are purged and blotted out.
Alas! of what terrible punishment will he be thought worthy, who shall have accounted the Blood of the Covenant of the Son of God an unholy thing, and shall not have paid the debt of thanksgiving which he owes to the Wounds of the Crucified. Be careful, then, to render thanks to Him Who has so loved thee, to Him Who has wrought for thee this His inestimable benefit, by at least one short prayer, or one devout meditatation, at some time, either of the day, or night. Many faithful soals, burning with love for Him, have rejoiced to shed their blood for Him: and yet more, taking part in His sufferings by using the rough ways of penance, have, for the Chalice of His Blood, humbly offered the waters of a bitter contrition.
Learn thou from their example to crucify thy flesh with its affections and lusts, manfully to resist temptation, and to bear until death the yoke of willing obedience; to offer to Christ thy Redeemer, upon the altar of thy heart, in place of a martyrdom of blood, the sacrifice of a troubled spirit. Seek by diligent meditation to keep ever before thee the benefits purchased for thee by the Cross, and to find in the deep wounds of Jesus, as in the clefts of a rock, a hiding-place from the face of the enemy and the avenger.