»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.
CHAPTER XIII •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! r CHAPTER XIV •€ 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. CHAPTER XV •€ 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.'"'
•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.
Come to my help, O most gentle Jesus, in my every need, in every crisis of the strife. Stretch forth over me Thy hands, and with Thy right arm ever protect me; put devotion in my heart, truth in my mouth, energy in my work. Purge me from all the corruption of my sins, heal my wounds with Thy precious Blood. Let no hidden thing of darkness, nothing impure, nothing that defiles, remain in me; but may Thy sacred Blood, so abundantly shed, thoroughly cleanse me from all that is hurtful, and sanctify me wholly; that so, when, at the last day, Thou shalt come in Judgement, my spirit, and my soul, for the deliverance of which Thou didst endure so many and such grievous pains, and didst expend such boundless treasure, may be presented before Thee pure and undefiled.
CHAPTER XX «€ Of the tender pleading of Jesus for His enemies
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Fountain of love and sweetness, for Thy most perfect charity, and most devoted prayer on behalf of Thy enemies, and of those who were crucifying Thee. With Thy hands stretched out upon the cross Thou didst plead for them, imploring pardon for them, and making loving excuses for them, in the words: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do "—words so full of sweetness and of love that they might well have softened the heart of the most hardened of sinners, and have led him to repent. O most sweet Jesus, how ready art Thou to forgive, how easily art Thou appeased, how plenteous art Thou in mercy! How vast, O my Lord, must be the stores of Thy tender mercies towards those who love Thee, when Thou couldst show forth such loving kindness towards Thy savage enemies; when, raised aloft upon Thy cross, Thou wast not moved
to anger against Thy crucifiers, and didst not seek to be revenged upon Thy tormentors, didst not pray that the earth might swallow up alive those wicked men, or that fire from heaven might consume them in a moment; but didst shed forth upon Thy cruel enemies, like healing dew from Heaven, the words: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In this was manifested Thy most excellent charity and Thy unspeakable tenderness, which nothing could overcome, nothing could hold back from loving intercession. They were crying out: "Crucify Him, crucify Him..'" and Thou sayest: "Father, for give them." They pierced Thee with hard nails, and Thou makest excuses for their foul iniquities, in the words: "For they know not what they do." O Christ, how wondrous is Thy love!
But alas for the obstinacy of the stiff-necked people, whose hearts were not touched by words so full of love. Thou didst feel more anguish on account of the blindness of their malice, than on account of the wrong which was being done to Thee: and the working of so great wickedness caused Thee more pain than the torture of all the wounds which had been inflicted on Thee. They did Thee all the harm they could; and Thou didst repay them by doing for them Thy best. The best and most loving thing Thou couldst do for men so wicked, was to pray that they might be turned from their evil ways, and might confess that Thou, the Son of God, hadst truly come in the flesh. And thus were fulfilled those memorable words of Isaias, which of old he had spoken concerning Thee: "And He hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors," that they may not perish.
When to those who crucified the Pardon-Giver so great loving-kindness was shown, who can despair of the forgiveness of his sins? Cease, then, O my soul, to despair, self-accused though thou be of so many sins. Entangled as thou art in the snares of so many evil lusts, assailed as thou art by so many temptations, thou hast still, unhappy one, the hope of life: bowels of mercies yearn for thee—of this the Cross, the Nails, the Lance, all the blood-stained Wounds of Jesus are witnesses. Hide thyself, O my soul, hide thyself within the deep Wounds of the Crucified, kiss the wales of His Stripes, clasp with loving arms the Tree of life, hold fast to that most sure pledge of thy Salvation, Jesus hanging on the Cross. Devoutly adore. Him, commit thyself to Him in full assurance of faith, put thyself wholly into His hands; for He, Who so abounded in love to those who hated Him, will surely be yet more gracious to thee, when thou art sorrowing for thy sins.
But if thou wouldst be heard speedily, if thou wouldst find grace at the hands of thy Redeemer, and wouldst obtain mercy from Him in all its fullness, thou too must, from the bottom of thy heart, forgive thy brother his trespasses against thee. Forgive him the few small matters in which he has offended thee, that God may forgive thee thy many sins against Him; and pray for his salvation as much as for thy own: so doing, thou shalt find grace; and, by imitating the example of Jesus, Who bade us love our enemies, and pray for them that persecute us, thou shalt become a child of the Most High. If, when suffering unjustly, thou wilt school thyself to forgive the wrong done thee, and wilt lovingly pray for those who have trespassed against thee, thou shalt lay up for thyself, against the hour of thy death, a store of sure and certain hope. It was this holy prayer which won for the apostles the blessedness of Heaven, which gave to martyrs their crown, which made Confessors renowned, which adorned Virgins, and made all the Saints Christ-like and meet for everlasting life. O most gracious Lord Jesus, Who of Thy infinite love didst vouchsafe to pray for Thy enemies, vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, in the same spirit of charity, to pray the Father for me, that He will grant me full pardon for all my sins, and will of His great mercy deliver me from the punishments which they have deserved. Qrant that I may have a perfect and unwavering trust in Thy love and mercy, and that I may not give way to despair on account of the greatness of my sins; but may remember, in the full assurance of faith, that Thou eamest into the world to save sinners, and didst will to suffer, to be crucified, and to die, for the ungodly. May, then, that prayer for Thy enemies, which, in fulfilment of this Thy blessed purpose, Thou didst pray upon Thy Cross, bear fruit to the salvation of my soul; and grant to me, I pray Thee, a sure hope of obtaining pardon through it; that so I may be found meet to obtain, through Thy most holy intercession, that which by my own merits I could never hope to win. Grant me boldly and fearlessly to seek refuge under the shadow of Thy wings, and to be kept by the invincible sign of Thy Holy Cross from all fear of the old enemy. As I haste to lay hold upon Thy Cross, spread over me, I beseech Thee, the shelter of Thine arms; that so, whenever my last hour shall come, my helpless and sorrowing soul may neither be afraid nor despair; and take, I pray Thee, to Thyself, me, a miserable sinner, trusting not at all to my own works, but solely to Thy great mercy.
•€ Of the plundering, and the sharing, of the garments of Christ
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, and Giver of all good things, for the rude plundering and the mocking partition of Thy garments; when, as soon as Thou hadst been cruelly nailed to Thy Cross, Thou wast savagely despoiled of all Thy clothing, and wast driven forth disinherited even to the last farthing; so that there was not left Thee even a stitch of clothing wherewith to cover Thy nakedness, nor even a piece of linen for a shroud, in which after Thy death Thou mightest be wrapped, and be decently laid in Thy grave. If Thou art not to go to Thy grave naked, a winding-sheet will have to be obtained for Thee from strangers, and will have to be given as an act of kindness to one utterly poor and destitute. How hungry was the covetousness of those soldiers—soldiers indeed, nay rather low vagabonds! How shameless was the rapacity of those base men of the guard set over Him, who in their unholy greed were not ashamed of despoiling Jesus of His scraps of worldly goods; but sated, as best they might, their thirst for gain by making the meagre garments of the Crucified their prey! Having taken His garments, they made of them four parts, to every soldier a part, leaving entire the coat only, because it had no seam; and for it they cast lots,
because they could not share it otherwise without wasting it. Alas for the wickedness of those robbers! Alas for the spite of those extortioners, who had not even so much pity for Jesus hanging on the Cross, poor and naked, as to give Him back some little thing, or to leave even a shred of one of His garments for His sorrowing Mother to keep as a remembrance of Him Whom she had lost! Not one of these things did they, because, urged on by the Devil, they were working out their sacrilege, without thought of a judgement to come. O my most dearly loved Jesus, neither by word, nor by deed, dost Thou offer any opposition to all this: Thou dost endure it all in silence; and surely, in thus bearing the loss of all that belonged to Thee, Thou makest it plain to me what I ought to do when anything which I think needful for me is taken from me; for it is Thy Will that I should show myself more ready to bear the loss of worldly goods, than to claim things which belong to me of right. Thy garments were not, as I suppose, elegantly made, nor of brightly coloured stuffs, but rather plain and simple, such as poor folk would wear; or were, may be, made after the fashion of the clothing of the Nazarites or of the prophets of old; doubtless they were not the dainty work of a cunning tailor, but rather were woven and put together by the hands and the needle of the Holy Virgin, with skill inspired by the Holy Ghost; or were, may be, bought, during His childhood, for the use of her Son, by the Virgin Mother, with money earned by her by work done for her neighbours. To think of the Supreme Creator of Heaven, true God, and true Man, reduced to such straits as this! At His birth he had scarcely a few poor rags to cover Him, and now at His death, He has
no clothes at all! Then a narrow manger held His infant limbs; now deprived of all His worldly goods, He has, in all the world which He created, no place to lay His Head except His Cross; for as He came into the world poor and needy, so now He willed to leave it naked and an outcast. At His birth He was tightly wrapped in swaddlingclothes; at His death He is pierced by lance and nails. The thought of so great misery calls surely for compassion; the showing forth of so great patience calls surely for imitation. Be thou, then, more patient than ever before, when things that seem needful to thee are taken from thee, or when things upon which thou hast set thy heart are denied thee. Learn to do with little, and to be content with what is mean and poor; so shalt thou be kept from grumbling, and shalt have peace in thyself, and favour with Almighty God.
O that I could possess, or could devoutly touch or kiss, even one small piece of those sacred garments of Jesus, my Lord, from whence so often went out such great virtue that the sick were healed thereby! How holy are the relics of those garments, and in what veneration should they be held, wherever they are to be found! Truly, if those soldiers had but known their worth, they would never, in their greed, have cut them up, or sold them for some mere trifle; but rather would most carefully, and with due reverence, have preserved them in caskets of silver-; for they were indeed more precious than all the royal mantles of kings, and all the robes of bishops, nor has any metal been found so precious as to deserve to be compared with them. But their sanctity and high distinction were hidden from those ungodly men, whose anxiety to satisfy their greedy thirst for gain, made them unable to perceive the fragrance of their holiness. Alas! How sad it is to think that so noble a jewel should have been broken up, and rent asunder by men who cast lots for it. It seems to me that if some rich and powerful follower of Christ had been there at the time, he would willingly, for the redeeming of those holy relics, have offered a great sum of money; or would at any rate have secured some part of them; and having thus acquired a treasure of untold value, would have gone home rejoicing.
And now, O most sweet Jesus, patient endurer of so many wrongs, grant that, to the increase of Thy praise and glory, I may be able, by pious meditation, in some measure to undo the tangle which those soldiers, by way of causing Thee distress, set themselves to weave. Blessed be the holy and spotless garment, with which Thy virginal Body, born of Mary the Virgin, was for many years becomingly clothed. Blessed be the hem of Thy garment, on touching which all who had need of healing, and came to Thee in devout faith, were, as we read, at once made whole. Blessed be Thy coat, woven without seam, that should never have been used by man, but should have been kept for God's holy service only.
For it ought to have been kept intact, not only on account of the special reverence due to it, but also as a symbol of the unity of Holy Mother Church throughout the world. She indeed, although divided by countries, nations, and languages, and although she has within her fold men of different ranks and stations of life, yet lives, and is governed and sustained under one head, and one chief pastor, as one whole body of the Church, keeping one faith, acknowledging one baptism, believing in God, One in Undivided Trinity; having one Spouse, Jesus Christ, reigning in Heaven, from Whose Side no temptations of whatever kind can separate her: for Thou, O Lord, hast indeed given to Thy Bride, the Catholic Church, an impregnable shield against all error—the word of truth, the light of knowledge, and the fervour of charity—that so she may obtain the crown of everlasting life which fadeth not away.
O Jesus, King of kings, at once the richest and the poorest of men, O Lord most poor, as stripped of Thy clothes, and deserted by Thy friends; but at the same time most rich in the fullness of Thy spiritual gifts; grant, I beseech Thee, to me, Thy poor servant, out of the abundance of Thy excellences, to have one at least in its fullness, that, namely, of not being found naked and ashamed before Thee, like the man who was found at the marriage supper not having on a wedding garment, and was presently, for this defect, cast out from the company of the Saints. May my heart be torn to pieces by a wholesome sorrow for sin, in remembrance of the tearing of Thy garment into four parts, so that by one at least out of four motives I may be moved to repentance; by fear of Hell, by hope of future glory, by sorrow for past sin, or by thankful love for grace given me. Give me also that of which Thy seamless coat is the symbol—the unity, namely, of brotherly love in the bond of peace, that so I may get rid of everything which may lead to dissension; may shun the hubbub of the world; may, for love of inward peace, abstain from foolish talk and speculation; may rejoice to lead a poor and hidden life with Thee; and may have no hankering after this world's pleasures. May I not be anxious to have anything of my own; since Thou, when on earth, hadst no worldly goods, and the little that Thou thoughtest fit to use for Thy actual need, that even Thou didst allow robbers to take from Thee, and to waste; thus setting to all those who are suffering wrong, an example of patience, that so they may not regret overmuch the loss of what belongs to them.
mt Of the revilings of the Jews, and the strong perseverance of Jesus on the Cross
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Who art the Glory and the Crown of Rejoicing of the Citizens of Heaven, for all the reproaches and blasphemies hurled at Thee by the perfidious Jews, as Thou hangedst on Thy Cross. From the least of them to the greatest they took part against Thee, and came running together like mad dogs to devour Thy innocency. Like dogs they barked at Thee with their mouths, like lions they gnashed upon Thee with their teeth, like snakes they hissed at Thee with their tongues. With their lips they cursed Thee, with their faces they mocked Thee; they clapped with their hands, they danced with their feet, they rejoiced in their hearts; because they had before them, hanging on the Cross, Thee, Whom they would not willingly let die without being harassed and insulted. Those, therefore, who passed by shook their heads, like frantic and drunken men, full of the gall of bitterness and the poison of ill-will, crying out: "Wah . ' There is the man that destroys the temple of God, and in three days builds it up again.'"
Moreover the Chief Priests with the Elders and the Scribes, who were by way of being the rulers of the people, and ought to have restrained their malice, were worse than the others in deriding Thee; for, with glaring eyes, and stretched out necks, they stood over against the Cross, casting up at Thee impudent glances; and, jesting one with another, poured forth their shameful blasphemies, saying: "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." Thus did they strive to misrepresent and to disparage the wonders which Thou hadst divinely wrought, and the gifts of healing, which Thou hadst so mercifully dispensed, but of which they were known to be envious. They suggest therefore that Thou shouldst come down from the Cross, falsely pretending that they, who had so often shown themselves the enemies of true believers, would then believe in Thee. When Thou didst work yet greater miracles than this, they piled up false accusations against Thee, instead of believing in them: clearly, therefore, what they now wanted was, not to believe, nor to seek for Salvation, but to provoke Thee by their malice. And so, at length, brimming over with presumptuous insolence, they flung at Thy Divine Nature impious words; and, addressing Thee as the Son of God, they said: "He trusted in God: let Him now deliver Him, if He will have Him: for He said: I am the Son of God."
O most cruel and most savage persecutors of the Son of God, why were ye not content with perpetrating the horrible crime of the Crucifixion? Why must ye add to your sins that of blaspheming and deriding the Son of God? Alas! Alas! what do ye? Why sharpen your venomous tongues upon One so loving and so spotless? Wherein has He sinned; or in what has Christ at any time done you harm? Has He not done all things well, Who hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak? Has He not made your whole land famous by many excellent miracles, and by His doctrine full of sweetness and grace? Did He not pray even for His enemies? What evil recompense did He deserve for all these things? Why do ye return evil for good, and hatred for love? Fitter were it that, by way of expiating so great wickedness, ye should have shed tears, than that ye should laugh in the face of the Crucified. But alas, ye know not, neither do ye care. In stubborn hearts there is found no place for compassion, nor for contrition, nor for thought of benefits received; nay rather a devilish madness, breaking out in yet more bitter taunts and insults, ever urges such men on to more atrocious crimes. Being no longer able to wreak their vengeance by means of swords and clubs, they set to work to use the even sharper weapons of their tongues.
And now, in the same way, the soldiers, to whom was committed the execution of the cruel sentence, proud of the work assigned them, knowing nothing of the Law of God, and made worse by the attentions and the encouragement of the Rulers of the people, go nearer to the Cross, and in mockery offer vinegar to the Crucified, saying: "If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself:" Ye stupid soldiers, base in your manners and in your deeds, who has taught you so to fight that ye should war against God? It is not the work of gallant men to persecute One Who is holy, One Who is poor; to leave naked One Who has been robbed, to tear His garments in pieces, to mock the Crucified, to offer vinegar (which no man likes to drink) to God Who is about to die. Nevertheless ye cannot harm Christ: for wisdom overcomes malice, and the patience of Jesus no insults can exhaust.
The thief, too, who hung on the left hand, and remained impenitent in his sin, joined in these reproaches, saying: "If Thou be Christ, save Thyself, and us." That unhappy man, alas, treats Thee with contempt, and plunges into an abyss of horrors. Instead of praying, as he should, for forgiveness of his evil deeds, he insulted Thee, the Bestower of pardon. And so, the wretched man met his death in despair, and perished miserably.
I praise and glorify Thee for Thy unflinching steadfastness in clinging to the Cross to which Thou hadst submitted Thyself, and from which no revilings, no specious suggestions, could move Thee to descend—not even for one short moment wouldst Thou leave that Cross upon which, of Thy Own free will, Thou hadst been raised on high It was Thy will there to abide to the end, where of Thy exceeding love Thou hadst placed Thyself; there to remain and to die, and there to consummate, in a way fitted to accomplish Thy purpose, the work which for our sakes Thou hadst begun. Thou Who didst teach men to persevere in every good work, didst Thyself upon the Cross first make profession of obedience, and didst affirm Thy precept by leaving to Thy followers Thy own example.
Come near now to the Tree of the Crucified, thou who art a despiser of the world, a lover of the Holy Cross, and professed in Religion. Play the man, and hold fast to the holy purpose thou hast laid down for thyself. To hold fast thy rule, to live under obedience, and to persevere in discipline is work for Christ, and the perfecting of thy salvation. Therefore let no one prevail on thee to give up life in religion (the way of perfection), to cease to love the religious life, to be false to the vow made at thy Profession. Remember always the Apostle's words: "Christ became for us obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross." Whatever therefore the world may promise, however the flesh may allure thee, however sorely the devil may tempt thee, however much thy friends may seek to dissuade thee, however much men of the world may laugh at thee, turn not thou aside, take no heed, throw scorn upon it all. Stand fast in Christ, look upwards, raise thy eyes to the Crucified, Who invites thee with outstretched arms, and promises thee in return for thy brief toil an everlasting reward. "If," He says, "thou wilt suffer with Me, thou shalt reign with Me; and if thou wilt die with Me, with Me shalt thou be glorified."
O Jesus Christ, most brave and most powerful Champion, most fervent Lover, and Consecrator of the Holy Cross, grant, I pray Thee, that I, who have taken upon me life in Religion, may ever serve Thee with cheerful steadfastness, and may never allow the irksomeness of duties assigned to me to quench the fervour of my loving zeal; but may always press onwards to the things that are before, and may bravely resist the temptations of the flesh, and the assaults of the enemy of my soul. Grant that I may ever be patient in adversity, and may not fear the taunts of men, nor seek to win their praise; that I may turn away my eyes from the things of this life, and may look for all my comfort to Thee, my only Saviour. Grant that I may never shun the embrace of the Blessed Cross on account of any man's favour or displeasure; but under its protection, and with it for my banner and device, may bring to a happy end a life of willing obedience.
*e Of the Word spoken on the Cross to the thief
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee,
O Lord Jesus Christ, chief and only
Comfort of sinners, for the boundless
ove and exceeding mercy, which Thou
didst vouchsafe to show to him who hung at Thy right hand upon his cross. He had been a most wicked thief, but was now at length converted, and a true penitent. As soon as he acknowledged his sinfulness, and was truly sorry for his evil deeds, he obtained, by Thy sure promise, remission of all his sins, and entrance into Paradise; for when a man's contrition is true, and his conversion complete, his repentance, however late it may be, will not fail of its reward.
How blessed and life-giving are the conversion and contrition of sinners, by which, without delay, a man may win a place in the Kingdom of Heaven! That penitent, who had been a thief, but was now a blessed Confessor, although he had long and grievously sinned, yet at last, and in the hour of his greatest need, came to himself; and grieving with heartfelt sorrow for all that he had done, humbly sought forgiveness, and obtained full pardon. For when he owned that he was justly condemned to death, he admitted that he had been guilty. He had a zeal for righteousness, when he reproved his comrade at his side for the wickedness of his blasphemy. He shows that his heart is in its right place, when he laments that Christ, Who is altogether free from guilt, has been unjustly condemned. He had great faith ; for he did not despair of obtaining mercy from Christ; but asked to be remembered by Him in the Kingdom of God: and so, being full of the gifts of grace, he appealed, in the full assurance of faith, to Thee, O Lord Jesus, Whom he owned as the loving Shepherd of souls, the true Priest, and the Confessor of all confessors the most faithful; and having in his mind's eye the whole course of his life, he said: " Lord, remember me when Thou shall come into Thy Kingdom." And Thou, O most gracious Jesus, didst answer him in those most sweet and most comforting words: "Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise." O words sweet indeed, and altogether lovely, laden with encouragement from the Mouth of God, bringing joy to the heart of the contrite sinner in his agony, and overflowing with comfort for one who was in such anxiety and distress. With what a sense of safety can he now die, to whom it has been given to hear such a promise! He shall have no fear in the evil day, whom the Lord Jesus has promised to uphold. To this thief, confessing the Lord Jesus, is granted that which was refused to Peter, entreating Him. Peter wished to set up tabernacles on the Mount of the Transfiguration, but his request was not granted; and when the hour of the Passion was at hand, and Peter wished to be with the Lord through it all, he was told: "Thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me hereafter." To the Apostleship Peter was the first to be called; but in entering the Kingdom the thief went before him. How marvellous, O Lord, are Thy works! Thy thoughts are exceeding deep. How unfathomable are Thy judgements, and how past finding out are Thy words! An unwise man will not well consider, and a fool will not understand these things. How blessed was the opportunity of this robber, who was permitted to suffer with Thee, to die with Thee, and with Thee to enter Thy Kingdom. I know not what good he had before this done in all his life; but of this I am sure, that when its end came he got rid of all his evil deeds by his humble confession. How boundless, then, was the mercy by which one so steeped in guilt had no sooner made to Thee his humble prayer: "Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy Kingdom," than all was forgiven him! Thou, O Lord, merciful and gracious, gavest ear at once to the penitent, and didst comfort the soul of him who had confessed his sin with the gracious answer: "Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise."
How comforting and wholesome a thing is it for me thoughtfully to consider the circumstances of this thief's death, and of Thy most sweet answer to his prayer; not in order that I may be more fearless in sinning, or may put off amendment longer than I should; but that, from the fact of a man, who had been such an evil-doer, being so suddenly converted, being made an heir, by Thy merciful grace, of everlasting life, and restored to Paradise, I may learn, when suddenly overcome by temptation, that I need not despair. I should indeed, O Lord, be sorely troubled on account of my many sins, did I not know of Thy mercies, had I not heard of cases of penitents most graciously taken back into Thy favour. It is Thou Who by the mouth of Thy Prophet didst say: "/ would not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live": and again by Thy own mouth: "God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting": and again: "I am not come to call the just, but sinners." It was Thou Who without delay didst forgive to Mary Magdalene all her sins, as she knelt weeping at Thy Feet. It was Thou Who didst take back into Thy favour Peter, who had thrice denied Thee, when he went out and wept bitterly. It was Thou Who, in Thy mercy, didst heal those who were taken with divers diseases, and, in the abundance of Thy love, didst loose those who were bound with the chain of very grievous sins—witness the woman taken in adultery, whom Thou didst save from the hands of her accusers, who were about to stone her.
O most gracious Jesus, my hope of mercy, and my refuge; Thou Who undertake st for me, and deliverest me from my cruel enemies; be merciful to me, and suffer not my soul to perish, to redeem which Thou wast content to endure the shameful death of the Cross. Remember Thy sacred words spoken to the thief, by which to me also Thou hast left a hope so firm that it can never be shaken. Say, then, to my soul, O Saviour of my life, when the hour of my departure shall draw nigh: " This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." What more joyful words could a dying man hear, in what sweeter sounds could his senses be steeped, than those of that answer of good comfort: "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise"? Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom; forsake me not in the awful hour of death, when my strength is failing, when my voice is a mere whisper, when my sight is almost gone, when my ears are almost deaf. Then, O my good Jesus, haste Thee to help me, and send Thy holy angels to comfort me in my agony, that the cruel enemy, who lies in wait for us at our last hour, may not prevail against me. He even dared to look for some weak point in Thee, that might be open to his attack; but finding none, he was utterly confounded, and departed from Thee. So let them be confounded that seek after my soul to destroy it, let them be turned backward and be put to shame suddenly. But let my soul be joyful in Thee, and rejoice in Thy Salvation, O Lord, meditating on Thy gracious second Word from the Cross: "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." May those words, made sweeter by the thought that Thou didst speak them from Thy Cross, be often on my lips, and more often still in my heart. Words coming from the lips of my Lord as He hung upon the Cross, have a more grateful sweetness, and a fuller power, than any others, and call therefore for more thoughtful attention, more anxious meditation. Oh that I may have grace so to live; Oh that I may strive so to serve my Lord, that when the hour of my departure from the body shall come, I may be found worthy to hear that most sweet word spoken from on high: "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise "I And Oh that Thou wouldst also speak to Thy poor servant those other most joyful words: "Well done, thou good servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." For at that hour nothing can profit more, nothing bring more joy, than to have led a good life, and to have served Thee faithfully until death.
mi Of the illustrious title of the Name of Jesus set up above His Head upon the Cross
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Almighty Power, and King of every creature, for the illustrious title of Thy Holy and Blessed Name, openly displayed above Thy Head. It was carefully written, by Pilate the Governor, in the three most renowned languages of the world, in letters of Hebrew and Greek and Latin, in this form, and in these words: Jesus Of Nazareth, The King Of The Jews.
O title in very truth illustrious, not the creature of man's ingenuity, but rather of Divine ordinance, foreseen, and dictated by God, from all eternity. Pilate, indeed, could not, and ought not, to have written otherwise than as he was inspired by Thee to write; and so it is that the mystic sense of this title is found in the famous scriptures of the prophets expressed in their own words. What, therefore, the sacred page had long before predicted, what clear tradition had handed down along the ages, in praise of Thy life-giving Name, that the heathen Governor, inspired by God, wrote upon a small tablet, as an everlasting memorial of the Crucified, in these words: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." When, therefore, many of the Jews had read this title, the priests, in the fury of their ill-will, could not bear that the glory of Thy Name, which they had been struggling with all their might to obscure, and—which was yet more senseless—to wipe out at the same time as Thy life, should be thus proclaimed to the world: and so they came to Pilate the Governor with their complaints as to the honour needlessly conferred by such a title, saying: "Write not, the King of the Jews; but that He said: I am the King of the Jews." For they feared that they would be confounded, and that their wicked cruelty in having crucified their King would be laid to their charge; and to prevent this being any longer spread abroad, they asked to have the title changed, so that Jesus might not appear to have been crucified on account of their malice; but that He might rather seem to have been condemned as a pretender to a throne, and because He Who had never in this world exercised any royal authority, had dared to say that He was a King.
O ye Jews, most impious of men, the fact is not as ye would make it out to be; but it is ye yourselves who are guilty of all this, it is ye who are the ringleaders in the killing of the Son of God. Ye are without excuse, try with all the artful cunning that ye may to cover up your grievous crime; for, before Pilate, ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you: and now ye have come to this, that ye would fain get rid of the truth of this title, and make yourselves out to be guiltless. But Pilate, who, in condemning the Lord to death, was much less guilty than yourselves, and in writing the title was more truthful, in his answer to your envious appeal showed himself to be also more consistent; for he said: "Whatlhavewritten, I have written." It was as if he had said: "Read it, or not, as you please, but do not think to turn me from my purpose: what I have written I have written: I did not take your advice as to the title
I should write; nor will I change what I have written because you wish it: it will remain as I have set it out: God inspired it, not man: I affirm it, therefore, and maintain its truth: nor will I be prevailed upon by any one to alter it: to all people and languages I declare His dignity and order Him to be proclaimed, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." O brave Governor, thy inscription was very good, and thy answer to those priests was just. I praise thee for having framed so holy and beautiful a title for the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth, and for having so boldly put the Jews to silence: but in this I praise thee not, that thou didst consent to the death of Christ—in so doing thou didst grievously sin.
And be thou also careful, O faithful disciple of Jesus, discreetly to think over the words of this sacred title, to read them thoughtfully, and to utter them reverently; for to read this title, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," is a very strong protection against fear of the enemy. Make the sign of the Holy Cross, sign thyself with it on thy forehead and on thy breast, and then read devoutly the words of this title; and in place of anxiety and distress, thou shalt perceive in thyself such help as will leave its mark on thee: for if thou invoke the saving Name of Jesus by using the words, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," the power of Christ, and a sure trust in God, will not suffer thee to be exposed to danger. The full sweetness of this most illustrious title no words can express, no mind can adequately grasp. The words are but four' in number; and yet do they invite the whole world to give.honour to the Holy Name. All ye princes of the world, there1 [Jestis Nazarenus, Rex Judaeorum.]
fore, all ye nations and people, give ear to them, read them and say: "Hail, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, Who didst suffer for the Salvation of all men."
O Jesus of Nazareth, bright flower of the Virgin Mary; O illustrious Son of David, the Only-Begotten of the Supreme Father, write, I pray Thee, with a strong and clear hand, upon the tablets of my heart, Thy sweet and glorious Name, along with that sacred and brightly-shining Title of Thy Passion, which declared the cause of Thy death; that so I may keep it ever before my eyes, and may often read it to the praise of Thy Most Holy Name. May that Title be the comfort of my heart in distress, may it be my special protection when temptations assail me; may the evil spirit depart from me; may the lust of concupiscence die out within me; may the whole world have a bitter taste to me, when I think, or read, of " Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." For of a truth nothing is more sweet than Jesus, nothing more wholesome, nothing more helpful; nothing can be brighter, nothing more pure, nothing more holy than the Nazarene; nothing can be more worthy of honour than the King of the Jews, nothing more powerful, nothing more exalted. Therefore let no enemy think to withstand me; let no plague think to touch me; let no calamity think to crush me, so long as I humbly invoke Thy aid, O my Jesus, or call to mind Thy Passion, or dwell with heart and lips upon Thy Title "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
O Jesus, above all else deserving of my love,
Thou art my King and my God, dear to me above
everything, far above all the praise that I can give
Thee. Dear to me wert Thou in the Manger, still dearer wert Thou on the Cross; dearest of all art Thou when sitting upon the Throne of Thy Kingdom; for though, in the weakness of Thy flesh, Thou didst hang upon the Cross, yet now by the Power of God, Thou livest, and art sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, exalted above every creature for ever and ever. Amen.
m€ Of the suffering of the Lord with His Mother's grief, and His commendation the one to the other of Blessed Mary and St. John
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Comforter of all that mourn, for the sorrowful glance which, in Thy mercy, Thou didst cast upon Thy dearly-loved Mother as she stood beneath Thy Cross, worn out with the intensity of her grief. How intense that grief was, Thou alone best knew, from Whom the most secret motions of her heart were not hid; for, upon earth, there was nothing more dear to Thee than Thy Virgin Mother; and she loved nothing so much as Thee, her God and her Son, Whom, although Thou wert the Fruit of her womb, she knew, without doubt, to be her Maker and the Lord of all things. When, therefore, she saw Thee, Whom she loved above all else, hanging upon the Cross, her heart was in Thee, rather than in herself; and being lifted, as it were, outside herself, she will, in spirit, have hung with Thee upon the Cross, even when, in the body, she was standing weeping at its foot.
I praise and glorify Thee for the exceeding great compassion with which, as a Son, Thou didst condole with Thy most sorrowful Mother, to whom all Thy anguish was as if it had been her own; who wept over each wound of Thine, as if it had been inflicted upon herself; and whose heart was racked with fresh pain as often as, with a mother's eye, she saw blood flowing from Thy Body, or heard Thy voice as Thou spakest to her from the Cross.
I laud and magnify Thee for those most gracious words, few in number though they were, which Thou didst at length speak to Thy disconsolate Mother, when Thou didst commend her to Thy wellbeloved disciple John, as to a most faithful steward, and didst bring together in an indissoluble bond of love the Virgin and him who was vowed to chastity, saying to her: "Woman, behold thy son," and then to Thy disciple: "Behold thy mother."
O happy union, and pleasing commendation, shared and consecrated by virgin purity! For in these words Thou didst on the one hand show forth Thy loving care for Thy Mother's honour, by giving her the protection of Thy chaste disciple, and on the other hand Thou didst, as it were, supply Thy place to her, by assigning to her another son, who, by the chastity of his life was suited to give her a home, and who might be depended on to provide her with the necessaries of life. What Thou didst was what Thy feelingas a son prompted Thee to do, that so the spotless Virgin, who was Thy holy Mother, might always have a faithful attendant; and when deprived of Thy most sweet presence, might never feel as if she were left alone in the world, and as a stranger among the Jews.
May this sacred arrangement, this most fitting
commendation by thy Son, be pleasing to thee,
O loving Mother of God: welcome thankfully the
disciple whom thy Son Jesus has assigned to thee. This is John, the Apostle, chosen as one of unstained life, more beloved than the other apostles, gentle in his manners, kind in his speech, bashful in his looks, modest in his carriage, temperate in his food, homely in his dress, dutiful and obedient: this is the disciple whom thy Son loved, who is related to thee by blood, well spoken of by all, pure in mind, chaste in body, pleasing to God, beloved of all men, fitted in every way to be thy companion, O Mother of God. I know indeed full well, that thy will was, and is, in accordance with thy Son's will, and that it must always have been thy supreme wish to do what was ordained by Him, Who in all that He did sought not His Own Will, but His Father's glory; and so I cannot doubt that when, as the hour of His departure was at hand, He left John to supply His place to thee, what He did was pleasing to thee. commendatory injunction, and thou shalt be wellpleasing to all men, and honoured throughout the world.
Take to thyself, then, holy John, the precious treasure thus made over to thee. Take to thyself the holy Virgin, the Mother of Jesus, worthy of all reverence, the Queen of Heaven, the Mistress of the World, thy own beloved aunt, thy mother's sister. Till now the Blessed Virgin Mary has been called thy aunt by right of blood; henceforth, by special grace entrusted to thy care, she shall be called thy mother, by a more sacred title, that is by right Divine: and thou too, who hast hitherto been known as the son of Zebedee, according to the flesh, as the brother of James the Greater, as the kinsman of thy Lord and Saviour, and afterwards as his disciple, shalt now receive the new name of Mary's adopted son; and shalt minister to her with the love of a son, over and above that love of a nephew which thou always hadst for her. Do then as Christ bids thee; fulfil the holy
Most blessed John did as Jesus had bidden him from the Cross. From that hour the disciple took her to his home, watched over her, carefully ministered to her, most faithfully submitted himself to her, and loved her with his whole heart, as if she had been his own mother.
Be glad and rejoice, O blessed Saint John, in the trust committed to thee: for what in all the world Christ held most dear, that He made over to thy care. He gave thee great wealth, when He bequeathed to thee Mary, whom even the Holy Angels cannot worthily praise. To Saint Peter Christ gave charge of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, but He made thee His Own Mother's chamberlain. Formerly Mary was betrothed to holy Joseph, but now she is entrusted to thee as to her second guardian. To holy Joseph an Angel had said: "Fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife," now it is the Lord of Angels Himself Who says to thee: "Behold thy Mother," in order that, as Joseph was not wanting in his duty to the Virgin at the birth of her Son, so neither shouldst thou fail in thy duty to her, whether at the hour of Christ's Passion, or in the long years that will follow after His Ascension into Heaven. Had indeed most blessed John the Baptist been alive, I should have thought that he, by right of near kinship, and on account of his chaste life, would have been a fitting person to act as guardian, and as the Bridegroom's friend: but since Joseph is no more,1 it is for thee so supply the place of all those dear ones, and to be to her as a son instead of Christ, Who has been taken from her side.
1 We do not know for certain whether he was then alive or dead; but John, after he had been long kept in prison, had been put to death; and now Jesus also was about to die, and soon to pass from His Mother's sight.
I trust in the Lord Jesus, that thy brother James and the rest of the Apostles will hail with joy this arrangement; that not one of thy friends will be envious of thee, and that every faithful soul will contentedly rejoice with thee.
O blessed Saint John, this high reward was won for thee by thy many virtues, to wit, by thy perfect contempt of the world, thy love for Jesus, the gentleness of thy manners, thy virginal chastity, thy even-mindedness, thy frankness, the purity of thy conscience, and the probity of thy life. Take, then, the Mother of Christ into thy care, and so doing thou shalt win abundant grace; much profit shalt thou have through her, and high shalt thou rise; for by her words thou shalt be instructed, by her example thou shalt be edified, by her prayers thou shalt be helped, by her admonitions thou shalt be inspirited; thou shalt be inflamed with love; thou shalt rise higher in devotion; thou shalt be lifted up in meditation; thou shalt be filled with joy; thou shalt abound in consolation; thou shalt enjoy the things of heaven: from her lips thou shalt hear Divine mysteries; thou shalt be taught things hidden from the world; thou shalt understand what others can only wonder at; thou shalt comprehend things unspeakable. By dwelling with her, thou shalt become more chaste than before; thou shalt remain altogether pure; thou shalt increase in holiness; thou shalt become more and more devout. Her every glance is modesty itself, her every word prudence, her every act justice, her scripture-reading Jesus, her meditation Christ, her contemplation God. The beauty of her countenance bursts forth as light; her looks, though awe-inspiring, keep no one from approaching her; her refinement brings purity to all who behold her; her words drive away every evil thing. Such, and so great, is the high rank of Mary, that she surpasses all other Saints in purity and grace; and to her shalt thou be as a guardian1 assigned to her by the Most High King of Heaven Himself. Be, then, diligent in thy attendance on her; pay to her the honour which is her due; watch over her to the best of thy ability. Stand at the foot of the cross; watch by the Virgin's side; when she is worn out support her in thine arms; embrace Mary; when she is fainting, raise her up; when she is bathed in tears, comfort her; weep with her when she weeps; sigh with her when she sighs; go with her when she walks; stand with her when she stands; sit with her when she sits. Leave her not in her grief; do that work of mercy; and then get ready for the burial of Jesus, Who is about to die. Take the Mother with thee to the Sepulchre, bring her back to the city, take her to thy house; comfort her who is the comforter of all who are forlorn. Thou art in this case permitted to be the consoler of one of higher rank than thyself; be then to her as a ministering angel. In His Agony Christ was strengthened by an angel; although He needed it not, yet He willed to be attended by one beneath Him, and He refused not the angelic consolation.
1 [The word used in the original is secretarius, sacristan. Probably the idea meant to be expressed is that St. John was the Divinely appointed custodian (trhorier) of the most precious treasure of the Church.]
Behold, O John, who art so very dear to me, to what holy duties thou art called; of what high estate that Virgin is who has been commended to thee, and Whose Mother she is who has been entrusted to thy care!
Now, therefore, I humbly beseech thee to pray earnestly for me, a sinner, that I too may be on fire with love for Christ, and may be more devout than ever in praising the Blessed Virgin, and more and more full of compassion for her grief.
«€ Of the transcendent virtues of the Blessed Virgin, and of her grief and tears
BLESS thee, and I praise and glorify thee, O Virgin Mary, holy Mother of God, for all the good gifts abundantly bestowed upon thee by God; for thy virtues without number; and for the very great privileges of grace, by which thou wast so remarkably distinguished above all the Saints upon earth, in being thought worthy to become the Mother of God, to hold in thy lap, to clasp in thy blessed arms, to lift and to carry about, the Word of God, Who of thy substance had taken Flesh.
I bless, and praise, and honour thee, O chosen Mother, and lowly handmaid, of God, for all the loving service, and all the needed help, which thou didst render to Christ, thy Son according to the flesh; for all the persecution and want, and for all the toil and fatigue, which thou didst so uncomplainingly undergo for Him.
I bless, and praise, and venerate thee, O illustrious Mary, Mother and daughter of the Everlasting King, for all the sweet converse which thou so often hadst with Jesus; for all the Divine words to which, as they fell from His Lips, thou didst so discreetly listen, treasuring them up in thy chaste breast, and sweetly meditating upon them in thy heart. I venerate thee for the splendid consolations which thou didst so often receive from Him; for the very great joy and rejoicing of heart which thou didst, so long, and so wistfully, experience from His presence, and from the grace breathed forth upon thee by the Holy Spirit of God.
I bless thee, and I praise and magnify thee, my adorable Lady, Holy Mary, for that most pure and holy life, so pleasing to God and to His Angels, which thou didst so long time live with Jesus in retirement, and in great poverty; in which thou wast tried by many afflictions and distresses; by which thou didst leave to all faithful servants of Christ an example to be by them devoutly imitated; and by which thou wilt have very greatly profited the universal Church, in the difficulties which she must encounter so long as the world shall last.
I bless thee, and praise and celebrate thee, O Mary, most kind and most devoted Mother of God, for all thy devout exercises and sacred meditations on the law of God by day and by night; for thy most fervent prayers, and tears and fastings, offered with such great earnestness before the Throne of God, for the conversion of sinners and the perseverance of the just; for thy profound compassion for the poor and infirm, for those tempted and in anguish of soul; and for thy consuming thirst for the salvation of the human race, the price of which thou knewest to be the cruel death of thy Son. And although thou didst love thy only Son with love unspeakable, yet didst thou not hold Him back from ascending the dreadful Cross, but didst with all thy heart submit thyself, together with thy Son, to what had been ordained of God. Thou wast ever forward in condoling with Him in all His pain and anguish, and didst bravely follow Him to the foot of the shameful Cross, taking no heed of the flight of His disciples, nor fearing the savagery of the Jews, preferring to go to death with Him, to deserting thy Son at a time of such anguish and distress.
I bless thee, I praise and extol thee, most faithful and loving Mother of God, heavenly Mary, for that constancy in firm faith and perfect love, which thou didst show, when, on the flight of some of the apostles from fear, and when others only followed their Lord, as if ashamed of Him, thou alone, in the Passion of thy Son, didst never cease to keep burning the unquenchable light of faith; nothing doubting that in three days thy Son would rise again, as He, with His Own Lips, had very clearly foretold. For, when all the friends of Jesus had forsaken Him and fled, thou, O most sorrowful Mother, passing through the raging, surging mob, didst, with a humble following of women, hasten to the Hill of Calvary; that so thou mightest be as near as could be to thy Son, about to die upon the Cross; and mightest once more behold alive Him, from Whom, before His death, thou wert about to hear the words of loving committal to Saint John.
I bless thee, I praise and heartily commend thee, O holy and immaculate Virgin Mary, for thy sorrow-stricken presence at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, where, weary and in anguish, thou didst so long stand, pierced with the sword of grief, as the prophet Simeon had foretold of thee. I praise and heartily commend thee for the many tears which thou didst at that time so freely shed; for the supreme fidelity, and unswerving constancy, which thou didst show to thy dying Son, in His last need; for the anguish of heart which thou didst so acutely feel at the moment of His death; for thy face running down with tears, when thou didst behold Him hanging before thee dead; for that loving embrace with which thou didst take Him into a Mother's arms, and with a wail of lament didst clasp Him to thy bosom; for thy mournful journey to the place of burial, when, in spite of thy excessive grief, thou didst follow the bearers of the sacred corpse, and didst see It placed in the tomb, and enclosed therein by a great stone; for thy sorrowing return from the tomb, and for thy entrance into thy new abode, where, together with the many faithful ones there assembled, thou didst again bitterly mourn the death of the Son of thy love, and from the eyes of them all didst draw forth tears of sympathy with thy grief.
Do thou, then, O my soul, mourn also with the sorrowing Virgin, the weeping Mother, the loving Mary. If thou lovest Mary, thou oughtest to share her sorrow, that so she may come to help thee in thy time of need, See how the loving Mother bewails her only Son, Mary of Cleophas bewails her dearly loved Nephew, Mary Magdalene bewails the Physician of her soul, John bewails his most sweet Master, all the apostles bewail their Lord taken away from their midst. Who would not shed tears when so many shed tears together? Great indeed was that wailing in Jerusalem. Stand thou, then, here a while, and let that Virgin Mother, whose bitter tears cannot fail to stir the inmost recesses of thy heart, teach thee what mourning means. She who is now standing at the Cross's foot, pierced through with grievous sorrow, was only a few short years ago standing by a manger's side, her ears ringing with the music of the heavenly choir; she who is now tormented by the shrieking of the Jews, was but a short while since being comforted by the voices of Angels; she who is now clothed in a garment of mourning was not long ago being venerated by the Holy Kings. The lifeblood of that Son, Whose snow-white cheek was once pressed so fondly to her own, is now falling upon her drop by drop; she beholds, hanging between two thieves, Him Whom she has so often seen working mighty wonders in the midst of the people. She sees, made like to a leper by the loathsomeness of His Wounds, Him by the touch of Whose Hand she has seen full many a leper cleansed. She has before her eyes, racked with pain of every kind, Him, Who used to heal of every disease those who were sick. She beholds, given over to death, that Son at Whose word dead Lazarus came back to life. All that was pleasant in Him is now turned to sadness, all that was sweet in Him is now turned to bitterness. With such a tempest of evils is the bright-shining Star of the Sea surrounded; but a mind fixed steadfastly upon God is not to be overcome by the wickedness of men. She stands therefore at the Cross's foot, constant, and faithful, patient, and loving; not heeding those who threaten her with death; not shrinking from the insults of those who heap curses upon her. She bears it all calmly, and strives to follow the example of her Son's humility in making no answer to her cruel enemies. Not a harsh word does she speak, not an indignant gesture does she use; but she heaves many a sigh, she weeps bitterly, she is bowed down with sorrow, she suffers with each pang of her dying Son, her affliction is more than she can bear. And yet she is not angry with those who are crucifying her Son, she prays for those who are using Him so despitefully, she is sorry for those who are mocking Him, she pities the blasphemers of Christ. It was thus that the Mother of Jesus, bathed in tears, stood at the foot of the Cross, bringing comfort to all who are in trouble or distress by the example of her meekness and her patience.
O all ye who pass along the Way of Calvary, turn your eyes upon Holy Mary as she stands there in her grief. Look to the right of the Cross, and mark there Mary the Mother of Christ, and say was ever sorrow like her sorrow, was ever in the world a mother who suffered with her son in loving anguish such as hers; for in all the tortured limbs of Jesus she was herself tortured in soul, and she became a martyr every time she looked upon the bleeding wounds of her Son.
See to it then, O faithful soul, that thou lay up in the recesses of thy heart all these things. Be brave and meek when tribulation comes upon thee. Be not disquieted, nor fall into despair, if that which thou dost value most is taken from thee; or if that which thou thinkest to be needful for thee is refused thee; for it is those friends of Jesus, who are most dear to Him, who are wont to be tried the most. If God spared not His Own Son; but delivered Him up for us all to sufferings so grievous, how canst thou in this life seek for happiness? If Christ sought not Himself, but became obedient, and ready to undergo all that was most vile and painful, why dost thou shrink, as thou dost, from toil and distress, and dost not rather, for the love of the Crucified, cling to things that are hard and displeasing? If He allowed His Own most Holy Mother to be grievously afflicted in this world; if He allowed her to be often in tribulation, to endure great anguish of soul, and to shed many tears, how canst thou expect to live in this world free of worries? And if thou callest to mind all the men who were the friends of God, thou wilt not find one who passed through the waves of this troublesome world without being severely tried. Take then to thyself from Him Who was Crucified for thee, and from His Blessed Mother, an example of unwearied patience; and in return for the infinite yearning of Jesus for thy Salvation, shrink not from enduring some small affliction; that so, when His Glory shall be revealed, thou mayest have the perpetual joy of His Countenance. The most gracious Mother of Jesus knows how to suffer lovingly with those that suffer. From what she herself suffered, she has learnt to be kind and pitiful to those in distress, and she will not forget her poor ones; she will listen to their prayers; she will in due time help those who call upon her; she will show favour to all those who are devoted to her.
O most merciful Lord Jesus, sweet Son of Mary, shed down upon me, I beseech Thee, the grace of holy tears, and pierce my heart with a wound of very deep compassion, such as I know that to have been with which Thy loving Mother's heart was pierced. Look upon me with those Eyes full of pity, with which Thou didst behold Thy Mother and Thy disciple standing in tears at the foot of the Cross, what time Thou didst commend the one to the other, and didst bid them farewell in those touching words: "Behold thy son: behold thy Mother." Visit me, I beseech Thee, with Thy salvation before my death, and make me to hear those words which blessed John heard Thee speak to him from the Cross: "Behold thy mother"; that so, by hearing those words, my soul may be kept safe from fear of the enemy, who goes about like a roaring lion seeking to devour it
Holy Mary, my most gentle Mistress, most faithful Advocate of all Christians, by all those excellent merits, which made thee so well-pleasing to God; by each of all those motherly services which thou didst so willingly render to thy Son according to the flesh; and by all those bitter tears, which thou didst shed when witnessing His Passion, I beseech thee, to vouchsafe to have pity upon me, thy poor suppliant; to take me, with thy wonted tenderness, into thy motherly care; and to number me among those of thy servants who are the objects of thy special love.
O glorious Virgin Mary, my only hope, come to me, I pray thee; show me thy face when the hour of my departure is at hand; and gently and sweetly turn upon me those pitying eyes of thine, with which thou didst so often look joyously upon the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, and which at His Passion were wet with so many tears. Stand then by my side, O most holy Mother of Jesus, with thy sweet virgin train, and the blessed company of all the saints, even as thou didst faithfully persevere to the end in standing by the Cross of thy dearly-loved Son, when He was about to die; for after thy only Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, I know no other who is so powerful, or so ready to help, as thou, most gracious mother of all who are in need of comfort.
*S Of the lonely dereliction of the Lord Jesus on the Cross
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, most loving Son of the Father's Love, for Thy awful and lonely dereliction on the Cross, when, at the moment of Thy direst need, as if Thou hadst been an alien and of no account; as if Thou hadst not been the very Son of God; as if Thou hadst no power or merit of any kind soever, Thou wast forsaken of God the Father, by the host of Heaven, and by every creature upon earth—at which time Thy most sorrowful Mother, attended only by a few poor women and by the disciple to whose care Thou hadst committed her, alone stood by Thee; and she, by reason of the grief and anguish of her soul, could scarce speak to Thee one word.
I praise and glorify Thee for that strong cry which burst from Thy lips, when, in the hearing of all those that stood by, Thou didst utter those woeful words: "Eli, Eli, lamma sabachthani." By those words, O my Lord, Thou didst make abundantly plain the intensity of Thy anguish, and the withdrawal from Thee of consolation of every kind. Thou didst declare by them the measure of what Thou wast enduring for the salvation of us men, by whom Thou wast in return being set at nought, nay, rather wast being treated as the vilest of malefactors, and as one quite unworthy to live.
Mark well, O my soul, this Word of Jesus; for it was spoken specially for thy learning. Consider—Oh the wonder of it!—how the Lord of all things, Who has need of nothing, is reduced to such a depth of misery that He tells forth His need into His Father's ears; that He Who orders all things as co-worker with His Father, complains that His Father has forsaken Him; that He Who upholds all things by the word of His Power proclaims the burden laid upon Him to be too heavy for Him to bear; that He, Who is ever ready to comfort the mourner and the oppressed, confesses Himself to be an outcast and forlorn; that He Who is the Hearer of prayer, Whose Ears are ever open to the cry of the poor, humbly asks the question: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Mel" Of a truth, from the beginning of His Passion until now, no words so woeful had yet been spoken.
It was for me, O Christ—I know it well—it was for me that in Thy passible human nature Thou didst utter this cry upon the Cross; for Thy dereliction is my comfort, Thy bitter cry is my support, Thy weakness is my strength; Thy sufferings have paid the penalty for all my sins and shortcomings. Thou art the heavenly Physician; moved by Thy infinite love and compassion, Thou didst submit to be overwhelmed by unfathomable sorrow and anguish: and thus it is that with the weak Thou canst be weak, with the mourner Thou canst mourn, with the sinner Thou canst be sad, with the oppressed Thou canst grieve, and for all Thy weak members Thou canst offer up prayer with strong crying and with tears. Those words which Thou didst utter were not spoken by way of rebellion or of despair: they were the cry of Thy human nature and sensibility. Thy Flesh was suffering the penalty of guilt, of which it had never known the taint. Thy Soul was enjoying the highest bliss; but Thy Body, all innocent as It was, was enduring punishment than which none could be more severe. Thy Divinity brought no relief to Thy anguish; but It worked a miracle in Thy power of endurance, that so for the Redemption of our race nothing might be wanting.
What faithful soul is there, which, after meditating on these things, can help sharing Thy anguish? What heart is there so hard as not to be pierced by that exceeding bitter cry? Even the elements, devoid of feeling as they are, stood unmistakably aghast in sympathy with Thy sufferings; for from the sixth until the ninth hour the sun withdrew his light from the world, refusing to shine upon men who were so unworthy of it; and the earth quaked, shuddering at the insults heaped upon its Creator, grieving over the sufferings which the Author of life had to endure, and exclaiming that it could not bear to see Him die. When therefore the sun mourns, and the earth trembles and quakes, see thou to it, O man endowed with reason, that thou too takest part in their grief; that thou dost fully mark the cry of Jesus, why the cry was uttered, and what it meant. Note how, in all His tribulation and anguish, the Lord Jesus remained meek and patient, and how all the words which fell from His Lips were words of sweetness and of love. His prayer is addressed to His Father in Heaven; He calls upon God alone; Him alone does He tell of His desolation. He seeks no comfort from His Mother; He asks no help from His friends.
Here, then, is instruction for thee, from the Mouth of Jesus; He shows thee what thou shouldst do when thou art in distress. Art thou suffering from some bodily infirmity; hast thou some mental trouble or unhappiness to bear; art thou looked down upon by others; hast thou lost the favour of men by reason of thy poverty or other defect; be not cast down, be not impatient; but use thy trouble as a stepping-stone in thy spiritual progress, use it as an opportunity for sweet converse with Jesus as He hangs upon the Cross, despised and rejected of men, and with the Father's Face hidden from Him for a season; and meditate upon those words which He spake: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
When thou art feeling weak and ill, try to be patient and gentle; do not grumble if every now and then thy attendants neglect thee, or thy brethren fail to visit thee. Think of Jesus in His desolation upon the Cross, and shrink from complaining of thy petty discomfort; pray Him to visit thee, seek thy consolation from Him, Who is able to comfort thee, even when thou art forsaken and alone. Set no store by the fleeting solace which is all that this world can give; make not too much of the attachment of thy friends; desire rather to have God's angels watching over thee, and call upon the Saints to pray for thee. Lift up thine eyes to Him Who hangs above thee on the Cross; meditate on His Sacred Wounds; pray to the glorious Virgin; keep Mary ever in mind; pray earnestly to her; for she never left the Cross's foot, and she heard Jesus crying with a loud voice to the Father. Close thine eyes to all things earthly, lift up thy soul to thy home which is above. Cling to God as thy Father, to Jesus as thy Brother, to Mary as thy Mother, to the Angels as thy friends, to the Saints as thy kinsfolk. Of that noble and exalted stock thou comest too, not by natural birth, but by the spiritual freedom wherewith Christ has made us free. Surrounded by protectors such as these; with loving patrons such as these ready at thy call, thou mayest in confidence await the coming of the day of doom, and hope for mercy at the hands of thy most loving Saviour.
O supreme and adorable Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, have respect, I entreat Thee, to the prayer which Thy servant now offers to Thee by the hands of Thy Beloved Son, as He hangs upon the Cross; forgive me all the sins which I have at any time committed; withhold not from me the gift of Thy heavenly grace; suffer me not to be tempted above that which I am able to bear, nor to be unduly distressed by the fiery darts of the wicked one. Prove me, 0 Lord, and try me, as Thou knowest it to be good for me; but keep my soul in Thy Hands, and with every temptation make for me such a way of escape that I may be able to bear it. That which the cunning enemy of my soul has contrived for my hurt, turn Thou, I beseech Thee, into a means of salvation, and of the shedding forth upon me of yet more grace. The more I feel the weight of the trouble which is laid upon me, and the less I am able to put my trust in what man can do for me, the more powerfully and the more closely be Thou at hand to help me; for in the hour of a man's greatest need Thou art of all friends the most true. And if, when trouble is laid upon me, Thou shouldst see fit to leave me for a while without consolation, give me then, I pray Thee, grace to bear even this patiently, and in trusting faith to commit all my burden into Thy Hands; to store up in the deepest recesses of my heart the thought of that time of desolation through which Thy Beloved Son, in Whom Thou art well pleased, had to pass; and to remember that in His extremity, when bereft of the help of all his friends, He was mindful of Thee, and of Thee alone.
me Of the thirst of the Lord Jesus as He hung upon the Cross
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Fountain of living water, and Source of that wisdom that maketh wise unto salvation, for the exceeding great thirst which Thou didst suffer upon the Cross, when, by reason of Thy sacred and precious Blood having been poured forth, and all the natural fluids of Thy Body having been exhausted by Thy grievous tortures, Thou didst—besides Thy burning thirst for our salvation—endure an agony of bodily thirst; and as one utterly poor and needy, didst ask for drink, saying, "/ thirst." But even this small request there was none who would heed; none was there who would even offer a cup of cold water to Him Who made all water to flow. Nay more, some of the bystanders, on hearing what Thou hadst said, were not only not moved to pity, but became yet more unmerciful; and that they might gratify the venomous hatred of their wicked hearts, filled a sponge with vinegar mingled with gall, and put to Thy sweet Mouth that most bitter draught, which was not fit to be given as drink to a dog.
I laud and honour Thee for Thy most gracious self-restraint in accepting and tasting that most nauseous draught, which by way of expiatory penance for the sin of our first parents, Thou didst taste, in order that as the tasting of the forbidden fruit brought death into the world, so Thy tasting of this bitter draught might be to us a healing remedy.
But woe be to thee, thou impious people of the Jews, of all races of men the most stiffnecked and full of wickedness! How couldst thou sink to such a depth of depravity as to release Barabbas and crucify Christ? How couldst thou be brought to such a pitch of madness as to offer vinegar to One Who asked for a drink to stay His thirst? Put it before the High Priest or the Ruler of thy people, and see if he would drink it. What has Christ done to thee, or wherein has Jesus of Nazareth wronged thee? Answer me, I pray thee. Did not God cause manna to fall from heaven for thee; did not God draw for thee water from the stony rock, that thou mightest eat and drink to the full? And now, in return for the sweet manna that He gave thee, thou offerest Him wine mingled with myrrh; and in return for the abundant water which He gave thee, thou offerest not a drop to Christ, when He is athirst. Even now, did He will it, Christ could make all thy water brackish; and deprived of bread and water thou wouldst soon perish for lack of that, which, asked for pity's sake, thou now refusest to give. If Christ had willed to have not a nauseous but a refreshing draught, how willingly and how swiftly would the angels, who, when His threefold temptation by the evil one was ended, ministered food to Him, have ministered to Him the life-giving dew of Heaven, more refreshing far than all the water upon earth. But He would not assert Himself, or show His power: He willed rather to work a wonder of patience and endurance, that so He might set an example to those who are professed to poverty.
Do thou, then, O disciple of Jesus, drink deeply from this bitter cup as a cure for the indulgence of thy appetites; for if thou wouldst sup with Christ in the Kingdom of His Father, thy heart must not be set upon dainty food, or draughts of costly wine; thou must not long for soft beds or fine clothes. Such things are out of keeping with the spotless life of Jesus, and with His most bitter Passion. Be on thy guard against yielding to the lusts of the flesh; keep thy sensual impulses in check by being moderate in thy food; and if thou shouldst have exceeded by taking too much or too dainty food, then by daily toil and nightly vigil chasten thyself for thy fault, keeping ever sorrowfully in mind the bitter cup of Christ.
O Jesus, Heavenly Manna, and most sweet Nectar, Thou to Whom, when Thou wast grievously athirst in Thy agony on the Cross, vinegar and gall were given to drink, nor would anyone give Thee even a drop of water, by which Thou mightest have been refreshed; grant that at my meals I may be careful to remember this bitter cup of Thine, that so I may not be too anxious about bodily nourishment, but may earnestly apply my mind to the holy words which are being read. May I learn to take only so much food as is needful for me; may I take it in Thy fear, and may I devoutly thank Thee for all Thy benefits bestowed upon me. May I be content, and that not grudgingly, with the food set before me, no matter how scanty or uninviting it may be: nay more, may I feel myself unworthy of even the poorest scraps, and shrink from living in idleness at the cost of other men's labours. Grant that Imay hunger after the meat that perisheth not, but endureth unto everlasting life. Grant that I may thirst after the fountain of life eternal, and that I may from time to time be fed with a crumb of that living bread which is set before those who eat at Thy Table in Heaven, and may be allowed to taste, be it ever so little, of its inward savour; that so I may be able experimentally to understand how refreshing is that Spirit, O Lord, which Thou as a free gift dost shed forth upon the children of grace.
0€ Of the fulfilment of the Scriptures in the death of Christ; and of the Word " It is finished"
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Revealer of hidden mysteries, and Fulfiller of the Law and the Prophets, for Thy most perfect accomplishment of the Father's Will in that short and welcome word with which, as soon as Thou hadst received the vinegar, Thou didst close, as it were, the story of Thy Life by saying: "It is finished." This was as if Thou hadst openly said: "Now is fulfilled all that the old Law foretold concerning me, all that was prefigured by the sacrificial rites and by the ceremonies of the former dispensation. Now are actually brought to pass the inspired words of the holy prophets, and the long-cherished desires of the Patriarchs. Now is all that is needed for the Redemption of the human race fully worked out; now has been accomplished in a perfect way, both as to place and time, all that Holy Scripture has recorded of the promises of God. The few things that remain will of a surety in due time be made good. I have fulfilled My Father's command: He sent me into the world; and I have finished the work which He gave me to do.
"Many a time and oft have I healed the sick; I have given abundant proofs of My Divine Power; as the Father has taught Me have I spoken in the world, and no part of saving doctrine have I kept back from the ears of the faithful. For three and thirty years have I been a pilgrim upon earth, and have dwelt as a friend among men; many a time and oft have I been wearied by journeyings: cruelly have I been slandered by My enemies; I have been betrayed by one of My disciples; I have been deserted by My friends; I have been held captive by My enemies, and have been scourged by their underlings; I have been condemned by judges, and mocked by Chief Priests; and now, guiltless as I am, I am hanging here upon the Cross. What is there that I ought to have done more than I have done? What ought I to have suffered that I have not suffered? If I have failed in doing or in suffering aught, I am ready before My departure to make it good: but no, by My death, I shall satisfy to the last farthing every debt. To-day therefore do I pronounce all to be accomplished. Nor do I allow the term of My life to be further prolonged; but I lay down My life for My sheep, out of pure love for them; and at this hour, which I know to be the same as
that in which the first Adam, by taking of the forbidden tree, incurred the penalty of eternal death, I take upon myself, of my own free choice, in satisfaction of the debt due by sinners for their sins, the penalty of the death of My Body, a penalty to which I am not liable for any sin of My own. The things concerning Me shall shortly have an end. Henceforth I shall not speak much in this world: I shall not long be in it, because I haste to the Father. Toil shall now cease, sorrow and mourning shall flee away, fighting shall have an end, trouble shall be no more, and at My death Death itself shall be destroyed: nothing more remains to be done, except that I should commend My Spirit to My Father, and should quit My Body until the third day. I know well that kindlyhearted men will not forget the ties of friendship, but will take It away and bury It in a new tomb. To show therefore that the demands of justice under the old Law are fully satisfied, and to establish the new law, I speak My last short Word to all who may hear it, and say: 'It is finished.'"
O Lord Jesus Christ, most illustrious and most wise Master, as Thou sayest, and as Thou bearest witness, so it is in truth: Thy word who can question? All that Thou sayest Thou dost attest by Divine Acts, and dost show to be supported by the utterances of the Prophets. The time has now come when Thou shouldst rest from all the work which Thou hast done upon earth. Thou, O Lord, in the beginning didst jointly with the Father create all things; and now, with the co-operation of the Father, Thou hast made all things new. In six days Thou didst accomplish the work of the making of the world, and now in the sixth age of the world Thou hast finished the work of man's Redemption. On the sixth day Thou didst form man from the slime of the earth, and on the sixth day Thou didst redeem him with Thy Blood. On the sixth day Adam was tempted and deceived by Eve; on the sixth day Thou wast announced by an Angel, and conceived in the Virgin's womb. On the sixth day man sinned, and forfeited Paradise; on the sixth day Thou didst suffer for our sins, and by Thy mercy the thief was received into Paradise. In order, then, that the things which are new should correspond with the things which are old, the things of these last days with the things of the days which are gone before, it was well that the sixth word from the Cross should be: "It is finished."
Onward then, Lord Jesus, whithersoever Thou wiliest; go back to Thy Father in Heaven, for Thou hast finished Thy great work of love upon earth. Go before Thy unworthy servants; make ready the way for them, that they may follow Thee with all speed. Set open that gate of the Heavenly Kingdom, which Adam's transgression had so long kept shut. Go, visit the Holy Fathers resting in Abraham's Bosom; give light to those who are sitting in darkness; break in pieces the power of the devil; loose the prisoners' chains; give rest to the weary; comfort those who mourn; deliver those who are looking for Thy coming; bring forth Thy captives from the dungeons of Hades; and when Thou shalt have led them forth and made them to dwell with the angels in the mansions of Heaven above, then, 0 Lord, in Thy Kingdom, remember me, I pray Thee, and lead me forth from my prison-house, from this my fleshly tabernacle of slime; from my present state which is so full of peril; from this unstable and troublesome world.
But see to it, O follower of Christ, that thou imitate Thy Master in that of which this Word speaks to thee: work on while time and strength for work are given thee: carry through what thou hast begun; that so, when the evening of life's day closes in on thee, thou too, with Jesus, Who has befriended Thee as it ran its course, mayest be able to say: "It is finished." Walk therefore in the way of true virtue; follow after righteousness; make up thy mind to fight even unto death against thy besetting sins; that so thou mayest lay hold on eternal life, and mayest be able to say with St. Paul: "/ have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Thou hast yet somewhat left to do, thou hast yet to bear thy burden for a while: but soon the hour will come, when, being made perfect in a short space, thou mayest fulfil a long time.
O Jesus Christ, Who orderest all things in Heaven and in earth, Who art the brightest and most perfect Model of every virtue, and the endless Reward of every good work, direct, I pray Thee, all my actions in the way of Thy commandments, and purify and enlighten every thought of my mind. Teach me to begin, humbly and with an eye to the praise and glory of Thy Blessed Name, every work which I undertake; to be diligent in performing it, and to bring it to a happy end. Grant that I may not grow slack before the time appointed of the Father; but that until I breathe my last breath, I may labour night and day in the vineyard of holy Religion for the penny of eternal life, and may work my very hardest in the workshop of our Heavenly Father's business; that so, after many a struggle and much hard toil, I may at length, when my last hour shall come, be able by Thy mercy joyfully to say with Thee: "It is finished." And do Thou, O good Jesus, mindful of what in this world I have had to endure, give me for my labour its hire, for my weariness repose, for my sorrow joy, for my struggle a crown, for my dishonour glory, for my misery happiness; for Thou wert and art the last end of all that I have done during my sojourn here on earth. Be Thou my Recompense in the Kingdom of Heaven; for Thee, and Thee only, Who art the joy and the glory of all Thy Saints, do I desire to possess as the Reward of my labours.
•<? Of the woeful departure from this world of the Lord Jesus
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Life of the living, Hope of the dying, Saviour of all who trust in Thee, for Thy departure for a season out of this world; and for Thy happy return, through the agony of a cruel death, and the splendid martyrdom of the Cross, to the Bosom of the Father.
I praise and glorify Thee for Thy ashy paleness at the moment of death, for Thy sacred last agony, for the gradual failure of Thy bodily powers, and for the breaking of Thy Heart so full of love—all which was the penalty which Thou, the Giver of Life to all things that have breath, didst not shrink from paying, when Thou submittedst Thyself to the sentence of death, in order that thereby Thou mightest open to us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.
I praise and glorify Thee for the loud cry which Thou didst utter from Thy Cross with superhuman strength; for the sad divorce and bitter parting of Thy all-glorious Soul from Thy Body so full of love; for Thy most devout commendation of Thy Soul into the Father's hands; for the meek bowing of Thy sacred and thorn-crowned Head upon Thy Breast, in token of filial obedience persisted in to the last; for Thy loving yieldingup of Thy all-holy Soul for the Salvation of the world; and for that most sacred Word in which Thou didst pour forth Thy cry of loving prayer, saying: "Father, into Thy Hands I commend my Spirit"—which done, Thou didst straightway draw Thy last breath, and falling into a calm sleep, didst bring Thy earthly sojourn to an end.
How precious and victorious a death was that which slew our death, and purchased for us everlasting life. May then, O Christ, Thy death always remain fixed in my remembrance; and when thinking of Thy Blessed Death may I ever be mindful of my own; that so, when the end, all so uncertain, of my life shall come, I may not give way to panic or despair. This is the hour which, from the moment of Thy conception, Thou didst ever keep in mind; and to this hour didst Thou go forward as a traveller hasting to regain his fatherland, or a keen workman longing to attain the object of his toil. From the highest Heaven Thou didst come forth into the world; from the world Thou didst descend even into Hell; and from Hell Thou hast retraced Thy steps to Thy Throne in the highest Heaven.
And now, O my soul, bewail as best thou mayest the most cruel death of the Lord thy God, Who loved thee with so vast a love; think how Jesus died, and of the signs which marked His departure from the world. See how the Holy One and the Just dies, and no man lays it to heart: no one, save His poor sorrowful Mother (who, with a scanty following of her friends, stands weeping at the Cross's foot) realizes Who, and how mighty He was. She indeed has seen her most dearly-loved Son hang there above her, with His Body naked and covered with blood; she has seen Him growing paler and paler; she has seen Him in His agony; she has heard Him crying with a loud voice, as He yielded up the Ghost. What wonder, then, that she was overwhelmed with grief, that the blood left her cheeks, and that her soul fainted within her when her Saviour hung before her lifeless on His Cross. Stand thou, then, by Mary's side, and meditate with a sad heart upon the death of Jesus. Jesus, Who had done no wrong to any man, dies naked and as a slave; nowhere could anyone be found in worse case than His. No one was ever so dear to God, no one was ever more despised of men, than was Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified by Jews. See how the world repaid Him for all the mighty works and wonders He had wrought in it. He is put to death as if He were the vilest of robbers; He dies as if He were the poorest of men. The deathbed of Jesus is not of down, but is the hard wood of the Cross: He dies with no house or even roof to cover Him, but in the open air, on a spot loathsome and disgusting; not in a private chamber, but at the place of public execution; not surrounded by His disciples, but
between two thieves; not in His Mother's embrace, but nailed to the arms of a lofty Cross. Beneath Him He had not even a bundle of straw; to cover Him He had not even a piece of the cheapest sackcloth. No pillow had He for His Head; but there was given Him instead a wreath of sharp thorns. No shoes had He for His feet, or gloves for His hands; but instead of these, iron nails driven through both hands and feet, piercing both flesh and bones. In His supreme need He had not even one attendant; but He had to tolerate instead a loathsome companion, to wit, an impenitent thief, who all the while was blaspheming Him. Comforter not only had He none; but He was forsaken by almost all those who had once been His followers and familiar friends. He could move neither hand nor foot, nor was He able to relieve His pain by turning from side to side. There He hangs nailed fast to His Cross, stretched out till He can be stretched no further, tortured to the limit of endurance, racked in every limb, with no one to care for Him, no one to help Him, no one to comfort Him, heartbroken. His tongue was all that was left Him free to use; and He used it in praying for His enemies, and in preaching to us from the pulpit of the Cross His seven most wholesome Words against the seven deadly sins. But even His Tongue was not left without its torments; for when He was athirst it was steeped in gall and vinegar. From the soles of His Feet therefore to the top of His Head, Jesus is overwhelmed in the sea of His Passion; and about the ninth hour He cries out with a loud voice, and dies.
What and how great must He have been Who with this cry draws His last breath; at Whose passing away both Heaven and Earth mourn; at the sight of Whom death takes to flight; at Whose call the dead return to life; at seeing Whom the gates of death are broken down; Whose presence the devil cannot endure; Whose power none can resist; before Whom Hell trembles; Whom Heaven adores; Whom Angels serve, and Archangels obey; at the brightness of Whose shining Limbo becomes radiant with light, the Saints rejoice, chains fall of, and hosts of captive souls are set free. "Indeed," says the Centurion, "this was the Son of God"; for that blessed man, seeing that Jesus, after so crying out, had breathed His last, understands that the Human Body was indwelt by the invisible God, and straightway confesses that He, Whom the Jews had mocked and crucified, was the Son of God. O stonyhearted Jews, whom neither the Sufferer's anguish touches, nor the wonders which follow His death impress! Hear now, at length, ye whose ears are stopped; see now, at length, ye whose eyes are blinded, ye who ask for a sign from Heaven to be shown you! Signs are wrought in Heaven above, and on the earth beneath; the elements wait upon Christ; and in the hour of His death, while ye, unhappy ones, laugh, they are overcome with grief. The sun is darkened at high noon, because it shrinks from seeing Him die; the earth quakes with fear, because it cannot quietly endure the insult offered to God; rocks are rent asunder, and with loud noises compassionate their Creator. The veil of the temple is rent, in order that the sacred Mysteries of Christ may be made plain, when the veil of the Old Dispensation which had hidden them is done away. Christ Himself is the true Victim That taketh away all the sins of the
world. He is the spotless Lamb of God, slain at Paschal-tide upon the Cross. He is the true Priest, consecrated by God, Who offered Himself as a Sacrifice to the Father for an odour of sweetness. He is the High Priest, Who once in every year enters alone into the Holy of Holies, to pray, not for the people of the Jews only, but for the Salvation of all those who believe in Him; for this He truly did by dying, once for all, for the human race, when the fullness of time was come. The graves also are opened in order that the Resurrection of Christ with many Saints might be shown to be close at hand.
Many there were, who had come together to that sight, and saw the wonderful things that were done, who were pricked in their hearts, and returned smiting their breasts. Retire thou too, O my soul, into thy inner self; mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep for Christ; lest thou be found harder than the rocks, and more faithless than the Jews. Blessed are those tears which are shed for love of the Crucified. It is a dutiful and a very pleasant thing to weep for so sweet a Lord. It is a great solace to a lover's soul to weep freely in compassionating the loved one. Jesus Himself wept often for the woes of men; and moved by His boundless pity, when tears failed, He shed for us His Blood. Thy Lord Jesus Christ died for thee upon the Cross: henceforth therefore let this world be dead to thee. Learn from the death of Jesus to keep ever in mind thy own death; and strive also to prepare thyself to die; for thou knowest not when thy Lord will come; thou knowest not when thy Maker will call thee hence. Watch and pray always, that so thou mayest be found ready. So act, and so speak, as if this day were to be thy last. Learn to die before death comes, that so when it does come, it may not seem to thee a prison-house, but rather the gate of life. Christ is dead and the prophets are dead; and soon thou too must go the way in which thy fathers have gone before thee. But great is the hope, very great the comfort, of those words of Jesus: "He that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live"; and again: "He who heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life everlasting." In this life, then, make Jesus thy Friend, that in the life which is to come thou mayest find mercy at His hands. Cast from thee whatever comes between thee and the love of Jesus, whatever keeps thee back from seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. Be on thy guard against everything which can stain the purity of thy conscience: give up everything which tends to destroy thy peace of mind. Keep thyself detached from the world, united to God, friendly with Christ. Walk with Jesus in the liberty of the Spirit; take no thought for the things of the world. Make ready for Jesus the chamber of thy heart, offer to Him a large upper room furnished; that so before thou goest hence, Jesus and His disciples may keep with thee a mystic Passover.
When thy health begins to fail, and thou hast cause to think that thy summons to depart hence is at hand, humbly lift up thy heart to Jesus, and say to Him in the words of Mary and of Martha: "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick ": for the loving and merciful Jesus, Who wept over Lazarus, and brought him back to life, is able to assuage thy pains, and after thy death to raise thee up again at the last day. At that time especially call to mind the Lord's Supper, and remember how the meek and lowly Jesus washed His disciples' feet, and before His departure instituted for their comfort the Sacrament of His Holy Body. Pray humbly, then, to the Lord Jesus that thou mayest be cleansed from the stains of thy sins, and that before thy departure thou mayest be duly strengthened for thy journey by receiving His most Precious Body. When thou hast received It, make thy thanksgiving, meditate devoutly on the sweet words of His new commandment, and then, with eyes raised heavenwards, long with all the powers of thy soul to be united with Christ. After this, turn thy thoughts to the Passion of Christ, and draw from it the comfort with which it is so full. Go also with Jesus and His disciples into the garden near the Mount of Olives; that is to say, regardless of thy friends around thee, retire within thyself, so as to be quite alone with God; and pray to our Heavenly Father for a good end of thy earthly pilgrimage. Go down upon thy knees with Jesus, fall upon thy face, put thyself into God's hands, and use those most perfect words of Christ: "Father, not My Will, but Thine be done"; for He knows well, whether to live or to die is best for thy soul's health. Ask also thy brethren and all good people who come to visit thee to watch with thee in prayer that thou mayest escape the snares of the enemy. In every trial that besets thee go to Jesus, and follow Him as He bears His Cross to the Hill of Calvary. There take thy stand, choose there to end thy life, and there commend thy spirit too. Put the Passion and the Death of Jesus between thee and the judgement to come, and keep thy eyes ever fixed upon the Crucified. When the Devil seeks to terrify thee, invoke the Name of Jesus and raise the standard of the Holy Cross. If he casts in thy teeth thy past misdeeds and thy many sins, answer him by pleading the infinite merits of Christ.
Call to mind also the seven Words of Jesus, which He spoke from the Cross for thy instruction.
As soon as He had been raised upon His Cross, He prayed for His enemies, and forgave those who were ill-treating Him; and this He did in order that thou mightest learn to forgive from the heart those who have wronged thee, before thou pleadest for thy own forgiveness.
Next, He promised to the penitent thief the joys of Paradise; and this He did in order that thou shouldst not despair by reason of the grievous burden of thy sins; but shouldst, with full trust in His mercy, ask Him to remember thee in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thirdly, He committed His most blessed Virgin Mother to the chaste John; and this He did in order that thou, in thy agony, shouldst confidently have recourse to Mary, His most gentle Mother, who is the helper of those who are in need, and shouldst earnestly commend thyself to her, and 'to the blessed apostle John, and to all the saints. Commend thyself also to the prayers of thy brethren, and to those of all the faithful, asking them to remember thee after thy departure in their dirges and in Masses.'
Fourthly, Jesus made it plain that He was left alone in His anguish; and this He did in order that thou, when thou hast a heavy burden of pain to bear, shouldst not be impatient at not at once finding relief from it, but shouldst submit thyself in all things to God's Holy Will and pleasure.
Fifthly, He said "I thirst," in order that thou shouldst have a burning thirst after God, Who is the Fountain of living water, and shouldst long to depart, and to be with Christ; for this is far better than to prolong thy sojourn upon earth, and to be further exposed to dangers of every kind.
Sixthly, He spoke the Word " It is finished," in order that thou, when thou perceivest thy last hour to be at hand, shouldst render thanks to God for every good action of thy life, and shouldst pray that thy shortcomings may be supplied by the merits of Christ
Lastly, with a loud voice He commended His soul into the Father's Hands, in order that at the hour of thy departure from the world thou too shouldst not fail to have upon thy tongue, and often to repeat, the words of that blessed commendation, than which thou canst not find anything more sweet to be remembered at the last.
O most loving Jesus, Brightness of the Father's glory, and Sun of righteousness, Who for me, Thy poor unworthy servant, didst vouchsafe to suffer this most shameful form of agony; and when delivering up Thy Soul upon the Hill of Calvary, for the redemption of the world, didst commend It in prayer to the Father, grant that I may ever feel within me both sorrow and love for Thy most cruel Death; grant that, by mortifying all my corrupt affections, I may daily exercise myself in dying with Thee; that so, when the hour of my departure shall be at hand, I may be found meet to live again in the light of Thy mercies, and joyfully to enter with Thee into the bliss of Paradise. Stand by my deathbed, help me in my agony, come to me when I need Thee most, defend me from my enemies, deliver me from my distress; comfort me in my sorrow, strengthen me when I am dismayed, refresh me when I faint, take me to Thyself when my last sigh is. breathed. May Thy last Word upon the Cross be my last word on earth; and when speech fails me, give heed to this last wish of my soul: "Father, into Thy Hands I commend my spirit: Thou bast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of Truth."
(tt Of the wan and piteous appearance of Jesus, when on His Soul leaving His Body, evident signs of death showed themselves in Him
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, spotless Mirror of the Majesty of God, for the wan and _ piteous appearance, due to death's onset, which Thou didst present, when after Thy Soul had left Thy Body, evident signs of mortality showed themselves in Thee.
Alas, alas, my Jesus, fairest of men, the comeliness of Thy pleasant countenance has been marred by the filthy spitting upon Thee of men of unclean lips, and in Thy contest with death Thou hast lost the bloom of Thy beauteous manhood! Alas, my most loving God, all these things have befallen Thee because my sins had to be washed away: it was in order that my soul might be made white, that Thou didst submit Thy Body to be made unsightly; it was to save me from death eternal, that Thou didst taste for a while the most cruel of deaths. O Death, what hast thou done? How is it that thou wast not afraid to lay thy hand upon the Lord's Anointed? What power hadst thou over Him; what crime couldst thou lay to the charge of the Son of God? Thou hast fallen upon Him, and slain Him; but thy victory has cost thee dear: for in slaying Him thou hast slain thyself; impaled upon the stake of Christ's Divinity, thou hast brought to an end thy cruel reign; and on the descent into Hell of the Soul of Christ thou hast been compelled to set free all the Saints, dead because of Adam's sin, who had so long been held captive by the prince of Darkness. As indeed the Prophet had long since foretold: "0 death, I will be thy death; O hell, I will be thy sting." And so in Church is raised the triumphant song: "Life dies upon the Tree: the grave has lost its sting."l
By Thy death, therefore, O Christ, the hope of life is mine once more, and by Thy victory over the prince of death a crown of joy is given me.
1 [The Responsory from which these words are taken is not to be found in Office-books of the present day; but during the Middle Ages it was customary in some churches to introduce, at the end of Tenebrae, certain tropes; and it is one of such which is quoted in the text. This trope (Kyrie eleison: qui possums, etc.) is known to have been in use in the Diocese of St. Gall (Switzerland) in the tenth century; and from its being found quoted here it would seem to have been in use in the Diocese of Utrecht in the fifteenth.
For the material of this note and of those at pages 204 and 259 infra, I am indebted to the kindness of the Right Rev. Dom Femand Cabrol, Abbot of Farnborough, who, as the authority for this note, cites " Paleograpnie Musicale, Partie Monumentale," i. 225, and Pothier.]
Abundant indeed, and manifold, was the grace which flowed forth from Thee, when Thou didst die upon the Cross in order that we might live; for original sin is done away, actual sin is forgiven, pardon is extended to all, the sentence is modified, vengeance is stayed, every debt is wiped out; to no contrite soul is mercy denied; for of Thy Passion the merit is inexhaustible.
It was not for nothing that Thou didst submit to die. For what then didst Thou die? It was not an angel that needed Thy death; for the angels have never lost their first estate. The devil can never be reinstated, for his fall only hardened him. It was for man, then, that Thou didst die; and it was because death came upon him by reason of his being caught in the snares of the devil. Fitting indeed it was that Thy Charity should raise up him whom another's malice had caused to fall: but how great is the love, how immeasurable is the depth, of the counsels of God! Oh the wonder of the never-to-be-forgotten mystery—man earning salvation through the merits of the Cross, winning a kingdom through its offence; entering into glory through an exacted penalty; brought through death into life everlasting! Thy Passion, therefore, O Lord, is of all things the most sacred; it is for all wounds a sovereign remedy; Thy Cross is the downfall of all who are against us; it is the safeguard of all who trust in Thee; Thy death is the penalty by which all our faults are expiated, it is the foundation of all our virtues. I will rejoice, then, in Thy merits and in the fruits of Thy Passion, and I will ever take comfort from the thought that Thou hast redeemed me; but my love for Thee must ever make me grieve over Thy cruel death. It is love that makes me rejoice with Thee in Thy victory over death; and it is love that makes me bewail Thy having had to bear such a heavy load of anguish for my sake.
Come then, O faithful soul, and look upon the pale and careworn features of thy crucified Saviour; mark each several limb of Jesus Who is dead, and let the greatness of thy compassion make thine eyes run down with tears. Thy time is well spent, very sacred are thy thoughts, when thou art occupied in contemplating Jesus hanging on the Cross. As a cluster of cypress in the vineyards of Engaddi, so is the thought of the Crucified in the heart of a good man. If, then, thine eye is pitiful, if thou hast in thee aught of the milk of human kindness, lift up the eyes of thy mind to meditate upon God, crucified for thee, hanging dead upon the Cross. There before thee is the Tree of the Cross, upon which hangs thy Salvation; of the devout the Redemption, of unbelievers the laughing-stock. His lifeless, thorncrowned Head is bowed low upon His sacred Breast. The Eyes of Him from Whose all-seeing Eye no secret can be hid, are sightless now. The Ears of Him Who foreknows all things, hear nothing now. He Who gives to flowers the sweetness of their scent, smells nothing now. The sense of taste has gone from Him Who gives to all things that have life their life and food. He Who makes the dumb to speak opens His Lips no more. He Who teaches men knowledge is silent now. That Tongue which preached the truth lies useless in His Throat. That Face, which once was brighter than the Sun, is now deadly pale. Those Cheeks, which once were fair as a turtle-dove's, are fair no longer. Those Hands, by which the heavens were spread out, are pierced now with cruel nails. The Knees, so often bent in prayer, hang now limp and powerless. The Legs, which like marble pillars used to support the Body's weight, have now lost all their strength. The Feet, which were so often weary when the gospel was being preached, are now as tightly fastened to the wood of the Cross as if they were fixed in the stocks. It can be seen that every Limb has been in agony; they are each one covered with wounds and blood. But His bones are not broken, as are the bones of the thieves: and this is in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled; for He is the true Lamb, prefigured in the Book of the Law, the bones of which were ordered to be kept unbroken. This is my Beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem; This is my Friend; and it is to this pass that death has brought Him, in exchange for Whose Death—so precious was He—if I could submit to a thousand deaths, I could make no due return for His love. living, and was formed from her husband Adam's rib, so is the Holy Church Militant named the Mother of all the faithful, and She is the new creation from the Side of Christ, Her Spouse. O mighty and precious Wound of my Lord, worthy of love art Thou above all wounds; so deep and so wide art Thou that all the faithful may enter by Thee into the Side of Christ; miraculous art Thou in what flows from Thee; most copious in blessings; in time last formed, in glory preeminent. Of the Divine and holy fountain of this Wound whosoever shall drink, or of its love taste but one drop, he shall forget all his evil deeds, shall be cured of the fever of carnal and worldly desires, shall burn with love for the things which are eternal, shall be filled with the joy unspeakable of the Holy Spirit; and this Holy Fountain shall become in him a fountain of living water springing up unto everlasting life.
O most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of my soul, how can I win to die with Thee upon the Cross; how, at my departure from the body, can I obtain such happiness? Grant, I earnestly beseech Thee, that in this frail body I may so live, so order all my doings and all my affections in accordance with Thy Will, that I may be able to finish my course in a state of grace; and in spite of all the temptations which beset me, may receive at last the crown of joy eternal.
m€ Of the cruel piercing of the most sacred Side of the Lord Jesus after His death
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, exhaustless Fount of Love and Grace, for the cruel piercing after death of Thy most holy Side. So fiercely, O Thou of holy ones most Holy, was Thy right Side then struck and pierced by the lance of one of the soldiers, that the weapon, passing through Thy inward parts, entered Thy tender Heart, and from the gaping wound thus made there came forth a fountain of Blood and water, so wholesome for us, that, sprinkled therewith, all mankind may be healed.
O wondrous fountain of the Holy Blood welling from out the right Side of Christ as He hung in death upon the Cross, flowing ever onward for the Redemption of the human race! O bright and most refreshing stream of blessed water gushing forth from the Saviour's Heart for the washing away of all our sins! Under the Old Dispensation. Moses, the Servant of the Lord, smote the rock in the wilderness, and thereout came there forth so plenteous a supply of water that the people and their cattle drank thereof with joy, and no longer murmured. But the brawny soldier Longinus, when he opened Christ's right Side, struck the Rock with his lance so fierce a blow, that thereout Blood and water have never ceased to pour; and our holy Mother the Church has drawn therefrom the Sacraments, by means of which her life is preserved: for as Eve is called the mother of all
Go in, go in, my soul, into the right Side of thy crucified Lord! Enter through that glorious Wound into the most loving Heart of Jesus, pierced with the lance for love of thee, that so in the cleft of that Rock thou mayest take refuge from the tempest of the world! Draw near, O man, to that Heart so exalted, but made so low for thee; to the Heart of God, Who is so far above thee, but Who opens to thee His door! Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; why dost thou stand without? The river of life, the way of salvation, the heavenly storehouse, shedding perfumes all around; all these lie open to thee. Here is a place of refuge from the face of the enemy who would tempt thee, here is a place in which thou mayest find mercy against the wrath of the judgement to come. Here is a fountain, whence the oil of gladness and of grace shall never cease to flow, wherein sinners may ever find mercy, if only they will come to it with hearts truly penitent and contrite. Here is the well-spring of the river of God, going forth from the midst of Paradise to water the face of the earth, to give the thirsty soul to drink, to wash away sins, to quench the flames of lust, to still the strivings of anger. Do thou too, then, take from this Fountain of the Saviour a cup of love. Take from the Side of Jesus sweet helps for thy life, that henceforth thou mayest live not in thyself, but in Him Who was wounded for thee. Give thy heart to Him, Who has opened His to thee. Enter through the hallowed Wound into the inmost Heart of thy Redeemer. He bids thee enter; He asks thee to dwell with Him; His wish is that thou shouldst have but one heart with Him. "My son," He says to thee, "give Me thy heart." This is all that God asks of thee: give but this, and thou hast offered the gift than which nothing can be more acceptable to Him. Give it, then, to Jesus, and to none else besides: give it to Christ, and not to the world: give thy heart to that Wisdom which will never fail thee, not to that philosophy which is so but in name. He caused His Side to be thrown so widely open, and to be so deeply pierced, in order that the way by which thou mightest draw near to the Heart of thy Beloved should be made plain to thee; in order that thou mightest penetrate into the very Soul of the Son of God, and be made one with Him in true union of heart; that thou mightest centre all thy affections upon Him, and mightest, in singleness of heart, do all thy works to His honour and glory; that thou mightest study to please Him alone, and mightest strive with all thy mind and with all thy strength to serve Him, and Him only. Where canst thou rest more securely, where dwell more safely, where sleep thy last sleep more sweetly, than in the Wounds of Jesus Christ, Who was crucified for thee? Where canst thou find wisdom more abundant, knowledge more profitable, than in the Heart of Christ, Who suffered for thee, from out of Whose Breast there is ever flowing for thy use a stream of living water? Where, when thy love is beginning to wax cold, can it be more powerfully rekindled? Where canst thou so readily avoid distraction? Where canst thou be kept so fully recollected, as in the Heart of Jesus, Which for love of thee was pierced with the lance? Nothing inflames, nothing draws, nothing gets to the bottom of, the heart of man so thoroughly as love for the crucified Redeemer. This thought it was which led one of the Saints1 to exclaim: "My love was crucified." To which with all my heart I echo: "My love was wounded and pierced, that so I might find a ready entrance into His loving Heart."
Thither then make all the eager loving haste which thou canst make bold to show; kiss the holy Side of Jesus, that so Therefrom thou mayest be sprinkled with water and with Blood. Pull out thy own heart, if thou canst, and place it close to the Heart of Jesus, in order that He may keep it, and rule it, and possess it, so that other things may not get hold of it, and defile it. Open thy heart to Him; commit thyself in full trust to Him; leave to Him thy"I will" and "I won't"; let there be one heart and one mind between thee and God: that so thou mayest think and feel with Him in all things, and mayest know His 1 [St. Ignatius, M.]
Holy Will both now and evermore. When without reserve thou shalt have made over thy heart to Jesus, for Him to keep and to dwell therein for ever, then shall great peace be thine, nor shalt thou be easily put out, or distressed by the troubles of thy daily life.
O most pure Jesus, Who dwellest in the hearts of those who love Thee, and from Whom all good desires do come; O Thou Who hangest upon the Cross before the eyes of all who meditate upon Thy Passion; O Divine treasure-house of all gifts and graces; O Christ my King, Redeemer of the faithful, Who causedst Thy most holy Side to be pierced by the point of a cruel lance; set open for me, I beseech Thee, the door of Thy mercy; suffer me to enter through the gaping Wound of Thy Side into the very recesses of Thy most loving Heart; that so my heart may be set on fire by the touch of Thine, and may be united to Thee by a bond of love so indissoluble, that Thou mayest dwell in me, and I in Thee, and that nothing may ever separate me from Thee. Pierce my heart with the arrow of Thy love, may the soldier's spear pass through my vitals, and penetrate the inmost recesses of my heart, that so, by means of this wholesome wound, my soul may attain perfect health, I may refuse all love but Thine, and out of Thee may nowhere seek for comfort. May my heart be free of access and lie open to Thee alone; may it be estranged from the world, shut to the devil, and fenced on all sides by the sign of the Cross to resist temptation of every kind.
•« The taking down of the Lord Jesus from the Cross
BLESS Thee, and give thanks to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Power of God, for Thy lowly descent, at the hour of Vespers, from the lofty Cross, upon which, tor our Salvation, Thou didst hang till sunset; and whence Thou wast then ordered to be taken down, in accordance with the Jewish law, and because the Paschal Feast was about to be kept on Holy Saturday.
I praise and glorify Thee for the faithful service so lovingly rendered Thee by Thy familiar friends, what time those most just men, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, a Doctor of the Law, came with their servants to the Cross, and having set up ladders against it, mounted one on the right and another on the left, while a third was engaged in loosing Thy Feet. With due reverence and love, they drew from Thy sacred Hands and Feet three precious nails, more precious than burnished gold; and then with the help of their companions, they reverently took hold of Thy most illustrious Body, and modestly and carefully lowered It to the ground.
Blessed and full of pity were ye, who did this act of mercy to the Lord your God, in order to prepare His Body for the grave; ye were careful to show even more faithful devotion to your Friend when He was dead than ye had shown to Him when He was alive. Therefore in Heaven shall ye receive a special reward from God, to Whom ye showed yourselves so faithful upon earth: and without doubt He for Whom ye prepared a burial place upon earth will reward your loving care by preparing for you a happy mansion in Heaven, as on the night before His Death He promised His disciples. Fruit of her womb, that Fruit Which she had seen sacrificed upon the Altar of the Cross for the Redemption of mankind! Who is there among the Saints who could tell forth the copiousness of those tears which the tender Mother of Jesus at that time shed, or could understand the full agony of her grief?
Oh that tome too, the least of all God's servants, might have been granted some share in the Burial of my Lord; that in the offices connected with it, some service, however small, might have been assigned to me! How willingly would I have held the ladder at the Cross's foot; or, as I stood below, have handed up the pincers for the drawing of the nails; or even lent a helping hand to those who were lowering the Sacred Corpse. What happiness would it have been if I could have stood beneath the Cross, so close to it as to have caught in my bosom one of the falling nails, which I might have kept as a Memorial of my Lord's Passion, that so, whenever I should look upon it, I might be moved to tears.
I praise and glorify Thee for that longing embrace with which Thy most sorrowful Mother received Thee into her arms, and folded Thee therein, when with compassionate devotion Thy faithful ones delivered Thee to her, and laid Thee in her Virgin lap. How copious were the tears that then streamed from those eyes, of all eyes the purest; how burning was the flood that then bedewed that face, of all faces the most modest, and fell from Thy Mother's cheeks upon Thy Corpse! How pure were the kisses with which Thy chaste Mother then covered Thy lifeless limbs; how often, and with what anguish, did she examine the prints of Thy Sacred Wounds! How loving were the arms with which she encircled and held the Blessed
Draw near, then, now my soul, and devoutly kiss the blood-red Wounds of Jesus. As He hung nailed to the Cross thou couldst not come near to Him for the pressure of the crowd and the height of the Cross; but now He lies before Thee in His weeping Mother's arms, dead and covered with Wounds. Draw near, O sinner, however great thy sinfulness, however much the fear of Hell oppresses thee; for it was for thee that the Lamb was slain; it was for thee that the Victim was offered, Which has taken away the sin of all the world. So loving and merciful is the Lord Jesus, so tender and so sweet is Mary His Mother, that none can depart uncomforted, none go away empty, who with his whole heart shall have asked to be forgiven.
O how sweet are these sayings to me a sinner, sweeter are they than honey and the honeycomb to my heart; for I know that all that Jesus suffered in the flesh was suffered for me; and that from all the good which the Blessed Virgin did in her life, from all the holy service which she rendered to Christ, and from all the affliction which in this world she endured with Jesus—to me from all this come forth merit and comfort.
Keep, then, upon thy lap, O blessed Mother, thy only, thy dearly-loved Son, Who for my sake was put to death; keep Jesus from the tomb, while I, on bended knees, humbly adore Him upon earth, pour out my prayers before Him, and kiss His Wounds, and His mangled and tortured Limbs. Hear me, O blessed Lady, be merciful to me, grant what I ask; and put before me for my kisses, Him Whom my soul loveth.
mt Prayers to the several parts of Christ's Body: and first to His Feet
BEAUTEOUS Feet of my Lord Jesus Christ, Which were transfixed by one most cruel nail being driven through You both, and thereupon did shed forth much precious Blood, I reverently adore You; and I kiss You, earnestly praying that the sins which I have committed in standing or walking may be forgiven me.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Legs
0 beauteous Legs, and humble Knees of my Lord Jesus Christ, Which were in prayer so often bent and prostrate upon the naked earth, Which were racked with burning fever in His Passion, I humbly adore You; and I kiss You, meekly entreating that the sins which I have so often committed by my want of fervour and devotion in the service of God may mercifully be forgiven me.
Hail Mary, etc. ***** *l
1 [The original adds: "Adventrem. O sacer et incontaminatus venter Domini mei Jesu Christi, quern portavit e t aluit virginalis aula sanctae Mariae, qui multis verberibus fuisti acerrime percussus, adoro te dignanter et osculor compatienter, supplicans mihi relaxari, quotiens corpore meo ampliorem, quam necessitas exigebat, curam impendi. Ave Maria."]
To the Side O most adorable Side of my Lord Jesus Christ, in which the Wound of Divine Love is to be seen pierced through and through, I specially adore Thee; and I cover Thee with kisses, earnestly imploring that the sins which I have so often committed against brotherly charity, and by waxing cold in my love for God, may be forgiven me.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Back O most patient Back of my Lord Jesus Christ, Which wast ready without a murmur to bear the Tree of Life, and the burden of the sins of all sinners, Which also submittedst to be most cruelly scourged, I devoutly adore Thee; and I reverently kiss Thee, praying that the sins which I have committed by being impatient under the burdens laid upon me may be forgiven me.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Hands O adorable Hands of my Lord Jesus Christ, Which were stretched out to Their widest upon the Cross, and were pierced by great iron nails, I devoutly adore You; and with tears in my eyes I kiss You, and pray that all the sins which I have committed by act, or by touch, may be done away.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Breast O most pure Breast of my Lord Jesus Christ, on Which was never spot of sin, nor could any enter Therein, upon Which blessed John the Apostle leant at Supper, I adore Thee in all sincerity; and I lovingly kiss Thee, praying that whatever guilt I have contracted by foul thoughts may be thoroughly washed away.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Neck O white and slender Neck of my Lord Jesus Christ, Which wast so often mere skin and bone from hunger and from thirst, Which wast never painstakingly adorned, nor ever proudly stretched out, or lifted up, but wast humbly bowed in filial respect; Which in the Passion wast so cruelly buffeted, I humbly adore Thee; and I lovingly kiss Thee, praying that whatever I have done from motives of vanity may be forgiven me.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Mouth O most sweet Mouth of my Lord Jesus Christ, out of Which the word of Salvation went forth into the world, Which wast defiled by the spittle of the Jews, Which wast embittered with the draught of vinegar, I adore Thee; and I gently kiss Thee, entreating that the sins which I have so often committed in eating, drinking, and speaking may be forgiven me.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Face O illustrious Face of my Lord Jesus Christ, full of kindliness and awe, Which wast so foully spat upon by the Jews, Which wast so shamefully buffeted, and mockingly veiled, I adore Thee with the reverence which is Thy due; and I lovingly kiss Thee, praying Thee to pardon me all the disrespect by which I have so many times given offence to Thy Majesty.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Ears O blessed Ears of my Lord Jesus Christ, Which no breath of flattery ever entered, Which no sneering or offensive word ever made to swerve from the path of uprightness, I honour and adore You; and I reverently kiss You, and pray that I may speedily forget every idle word which I have drunk in by listening to that which I ought not.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Eyes O Eyes of my Lord Jesus Christ, brightly shining, never soiled by any evil desire, now dimmed by death; Eyes Whence many a time came forth a shower of tears, with all my heart I adore You; and I gently kiss You, praying the while for pardon for all the stains upon my soul caused by sight used unlawfully.
Hail Mary, etc.
To the Head O sublime and adorable Head of my Lord Jesus Christ, having now a sharp crown of thorns pressed down upon the top of Thee, and Thy hair stained and hallowed by the Blood Which has run down upon Thee, I join the angels and all the heavenly host in adoring Thee; upon each of Thy sacred Wounds I print loving kisses; and I earnestly entreat Thee to rid me from all the thorn-pricks which my sins have left in me, and to vouchsafe to number me among Thy elect, even though my place must needs be found among the least of all the members of Thy Body.
Hail Mary, etc.
mi Of the adorable Burial of the Lord Jesus
LORD JESUS CHRIST, sweet Savour of life, and Brightness of the everlasting day, I bless Thee, and give thanks to Thee, for the careful preparing with precious spices of Thy sacred Body for Its burial. This was not indeed needful for warding off corruption; but Thou didst accept it as showing the devotion of Thy friends, and as being in accordance with Jewish custom—witness the instances of like burial recorded of certain of the Patriarchs and Kings.
I praise and glorify Thee, for the loving enwrapment of Thy sacred Body in a clean linen cloth, and for the respectful binding round of Thy everblessed Head with a pure white napkin, which was afterwards found in the Holy Sepulchre.
I praise and glorify Thee for the removal, amid many tears, of Thy Body to the place of Its burial; for the reverence with which It was placed there; for Thy condescension in lying in the new tomb hewn out of a rock, which was provided for Thee by Joseph, a noble counsellor; where, because the hour was late, Thou wast, by Thy weeping friends, honourably buried, and wast tightly closed up therein with a heavy stone.
Rejoice and be glad, O venerable Joseph, that so pious an office was thine, and that thou wast able to do this charitable work for Christ. I thank thee much, and heartily commend as worthy of all honour thy noble conduct throughout this matter; for not only didst thou ask of Pilate leave to bury the sacred Body, but for It thou didst open that very tomb, which thou hadst made ready for thine own future resting-place. How highly must God have thought of thee, when He, Whose dominion extends to the ends of the earth and over everything within the circuit of the Heavens, chose thy tomb above all other places in the world as the place of His Burial. Be sure, O most illustrious of men, that henceforth, so long as this world shall last, and one faithful soul shall be left in it, thou shalt ever be had in honour, both by God and by men.
For this most Holy Sepulchre shall be more noble and more glorious than all the sepulchres of Saints and Kings, and shall be celebrated throughout the world. From the uttermost parts of the earth shall pilgrims flock to visit this holy place, and to worship at the spot where the Body of their Lord was laid to rest. Here was Jesus buried, here the Crucified was laid; here did the holy women lament over Him, here were the guards set; here did Christ rise on the third day; here was Jesus seen of Mary Magdalene; here appeared from Heaven the Angel of the Lord; here were the guards struck with terror, and became as dead men.
Here then, by the Tomb, do thou, O my soul, for a while abide, so as to join the holy women in mourning over the Lord Jesus, Who for thy sake was laid in the grave. Fitting indeed is it that thou shouldst pay thy tribute of grief to Him, at Whose hands thou dost hope one day to receive the reward of joy eternal. Think how intense was the grief of all Christ's faithful ones, and specially of the holy women, at seeing Jesus taken from them, and laid in a tomb—Christ for love of Whom they had given up all that they had, Whom they had followed hither and thither for so long, to Whom they had so often ministered of their substance, Whom they had loved so tenderly that they could scarce bring themselves to lose His sweet presence for even a short moment; with Whom they longed ever to live and to hold sweet converse, and through Whom they believed that joy everlasting would be theirs. The more intense their love, the more bitter surely will have been their grief.
But what above all rent the hearts of these sorrowing ones was the thought that the hope of their Lord's rising again seemed to be at an end; and that their faith was, so to speak, buried with Jesus in the tomb. It seemed therefore to these poor women that the only comfort left them was to weep over Him Who had been taken from them, or to make ready sweet spices; that so if they could not bring Him back to life, they might at least, by their faithful service in embalming It, preserve His Body from decay. But, O holy and devoted women, ye who love Christ with an unquenchable love, do not, I pray you, lament over much; do not give way to despair; call to mind the words which Jesus Himself spoke to you when He was in Galilee, and wait yet a while for their fulfilment; for after three days He will without doubt rise again. Then quite plainly and with great joy, shall ye again see Him, over Whose burial, with spirits utterly broken and with such sad hearts, ye are now lamenting. Then shall the hearts of all His friends, who now so deeply mourn His death and burial, be filled with renewed joy; nor will He need this embalmment of yours, for when He rises from the dead He will appear in great glory. He will have put on immortality, and death shall no more have dominion over Him.
Learn thou too, O my soul, from the Burial of Jesus to meditate with profit upon the dissolution of thy own body. Needs must that what from the earth thou didst receive, that to the earth thou must restore: dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return. Upon what then dost thou pride thyself, thou who must soon be mere rottenness, and a thing hidden out of sight in the ground? What seest thou to yearn after in a world, out of which thou must so soon be cast, trodden under foot of men? Whenever then thou lookest upon the graves of the dead, remember that thou too wilt soon be with them. There—and thou knowest it well—there is the home appointed for every one that liveth. There, laid low together, content with a mere corner of earth, shall the rich man and the poor man share one bed. There gentleman and commoner cannot be known the one from the other, and the strong and the weak are upon the same footing. There the miser's wealth will not profit him; nor will the crafty man be helped by all his cunning. There the epicure will be food for worms, and the fop will stink in the nostrils of the passer-by. There the loftiness of men will be bowed down, and the counsel of the haughty ones will be brought to nought. Remember that nothing mortal can endure for ever, and that man, having corrupted his nature by sin, must needs go back to the slime from which he was taken.
Strive so to live in this present world, and so to mortify by the spirit the deeds of the flesh, that when thy body is mouldering in the dust thy soul may be found meet to rest in a home of blessed peace. Spend the Good Friday of this life in painfullness and toil, and thou shalt have a Holy Saturday of rest, and an Easter of joy unspeakable at the resurrection of the just. The stricter therefore thy life in this world, the calmer shall be thy sleep in the tomb; the stronger now thy hold upon the Cross, the greater shall be thy confidence when thou comest into the presence of Christ. The more bitter now thy sorrow for thy sins, the fewer of them will there be to be purged away by the avenging fire.
Bewail then, bewail now thy sins, while the day of grace is thine, while the door of mercy stands open, while God, with Whom is plenteous Redemption, is ready to accept thy penitence. Bewail also the unhappy condition of the world, and that grievous softness of men, whence it comes that so few true followers of the Crucified are to be found, and that the spiritual fervour of so many soon grows cold.
Henceforth, then, be it thy daily practice to meditate upon Christ Jesus. Him Crucified keep ever before thy eyes; stand ever beneath thy Saviour's Cross; in life and in death be with Jesus in the Tomb ; that so when Christ, thy Life, shall appear, thou too mayest rise with Him in glory. Amen.