SIXTH WEEK OF LENT: GOOD FRIDAY
Last Word on the Cross
1st Prelude. Imagine you behold Our Lord, and hear Him say: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”
2nd Prelude. Ask for a holy and happy death.
POINT I. “And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”
CONSIDERATION. Let us carefully meditate, one by one, on these last words of Our Lord, the same that the priest will use by our deathbed. “My Father”; what sweetness dwells in that word! How well fitted it is to soften the bitterness of death, and to give confidence in the last struggle! “Into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” (Commend signifies rather, according to the Greek text, deposit, or place.) I commend or place my spirit into Thy hands, into the hands which created it, which gave it to me, for a time united to a mortal body, to glorify Thee on Earth; now death separates it from its lifelong companion, till the moment of the resurrection, and till then I commend it into Thy fatherly hands.
APPLICATION. Try often to make use of this last word of Our Lord, particularly before sleep, the likeness of death; that at the hour of death it may be in your heart, and so spring naturally to your lips. As you utter it, unite your thoughts and affections to those of Jesus Christ, who in commending His soul to His Father, as St. Athanasius says, commended to God also the souls of all mankind.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “And saying this, He gave up the ghost.”
CONSIDERATION. Thus dies Jesus, our loving Saviour, at the precise moment He willed to die, without suffering the agony He had previously endured in the Garden of Gethsemani. He dies abandoned and calumniated, but His death is followed by an immediate testimony to both His innocence and His divinity by the centurion at the foot of the cross exclaiming at the sight “Indeed this was a just man; indeed this man was the Son of God!” Jesus is dead! But He has overcome death, and opened to us the gates of everlasting life. He is dead; but from His Heart, pierced by the lance, flows the life-giving Sacraments of His spouse the Church, which is to bring forth till the end of time an innumerable multitude of children throughout the world. He is dead, His body remains nailed to the cross; but His soul enjoys the Beatific vision, and has received the adoration of the inhabitants of limbo.
APPLICATION. O Body and Soul of Jesus, that have suffered so much for me, what can I do in return? I adore and bless you, and, recalling the words of the Apostle, that Christ dies for all, that they also who live may not live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them, I will endeavour, O my Jesus, to die more and more to myself, to the world, and to all that displeases Thee.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “And bowing His head, He gave up the ghost.”
CONSIDERATION. Contemplate the inanimate Body of our loving Redeemer. Those eyes, that have shed so many tears of tenderness and compassion over sinners; that mouth, which never opened but to glorify God or to comfort man; those pierced hands, ever ready to aid and bless; those wounded feet, moving only by obedience, never weary of seeking His lost sheep. Oh, what glory in Heaven will surround all those bodily powers used here below for the glory of God and the salvation of souls!
COLLOQUY with Jesus crucified.