Tag Archives: Easter

Jesus falls beneath the Cross – Lenten Meditation

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: SATURDAY
Jesus falls beneath the Cross; Simon carries the Cross after Him.

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus falling three times under the weight of His cross.

2nd Prelude. Ask for grace to follow Him in the way of suffering and humiliation.

POINT I. “And the soldiers led Him into the court of the palace; … and after they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put His own garments on Him; and they led Him out to crucify Him, … into the place called Golgotha, which, being interpreted, is the place of Calvary; and with Him they crucify two thieves.”

CONSIDERATION. Let us observe how our Lord, amidst every circumstance of His Passion, is insatiable not merely of sufferings, but of shame and humiliation. He submits to the ignominy of crucifixion in the place where the vilest criminals suffer, in company with two of them, not in borrowed garments, in which He might not have been recognised, but in those which He wore on the day of His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

APPLICATION. What does our Lord teach us here, we who call ourselves specially His disciples? Not to be ashamed of, but rather to glory in, His livery — that is to say, in contempt, raillery, rebuffs, injuries, and persecutions endured in His service; to rejoice in thus closely resembling our model and Master. How does this agree with your feelings, desires or fears?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And, as they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus.”

CONSIDERATION. Jesus fatigued and exhausted by fasting, by being hurried from place to place, and by the loss of blood, falls beneath the weight of the cross. Tradition tells us that He fell thrice; twice, gathering up His little remaining strength, He rose and continued His journey, but the third time, the Jews, fearing that He would die upon the way, and that they would thus be deprived of their expected pleasure, forced Simon to bear the cross to the summit of Calvary.

APPLICATION. Does it not seem astonishing that no one out of all that crowd, many of whom had been miraculously healed by Him, came forward to offer to carry our Lord’s cross? Must this not have wounded so tender a heart as that of Jesus; and do not we also wound Him when we refuse to follow Him in the path of suffering and humiliation, out of unfounded fear or human respect?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “They forced one Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up His cross.”

CONSIDERATION. It seems from these words that Simon at first showed great reluctance to carry our Lord’s cross; but from the fact of the evangelist’s making special mention of his name and that of his two sons, we may believe that, enlightened by divine grace, he bore it as became a true disciple, and was, as well as his children, richly rewarded; and, according to a generally admitted tradition, all three became celebrated in the Church as either bishops or martyrs.

APPLICATION. Let us renew our love and esteem for the cross, the source of our glory and happiness. In the cross is salvation; in the cross is life; in the cross is protection from enemies, says the Imitation. In the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the cross is strength of mind; in the cross is joy of spirit; in the cross is height of virtue; in the cross is perfection of sanctity. There is no health of soul, nor hope of eternal life, but in the cross. Take up, therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus, and thou shalt go into life everlasting.

COLLOQUY with Jesus suffering.

 

Jesus unjustly condemned – Lenten Meditation

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: FRIDAY
Jesus unjustly condemned — His Resignation

1st Prelude. Consider Jesus, who “delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly.”

2nd Prelude. Ask for victory over your passions.

POINT I. “And he [Pilate] saith to the Jews: Behold your King! … Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered: We have no king but Caesar. Then, therefore, he delivered Him to them to be crucified.”

CONSIDERATION. Never did a judge pronounce a more unjust sentence, for He that was condemned as the worst of malefactors had been four times publicly proclaimed innocent. How did it happen that Pilate, naturally right-minded and well-intentioned, descended to such cowardly wickedness? We know the reason; from the beginning he wanted energy and resolution to oppose the popular fury, for he was aware that “for envy they had delivered Him.”

APPLICATION. Nothing is more to be dreaded than the first giving way to passion; generally, the first false step paves the way for others, and brings us only too often to a point from which we should formerly have shrunk with horror. Thus we learn how men once distinguished for their qualities of heart and mind, even religious who were long the edification of their brethren, have fallen into heresy, apostasy, and even infidelity. They merely yielded in the beginning to some slight temptation of wounded self-love or sensuality, but in the end they were blinded by passion and became its victims.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And Pilate, taking water, washed his hands before the people, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just Man. Look you to it.”

CONSIDERATION. When those charged with the maintenance of law and order fail in their duty, the consequences are usually as fatal to their subordinates as to themselves. We have a proof of this here; if Pilate, when convinced of our Lord’s innocence, had censured His enemies as they deserved, and given Him back justified to the affection of the people, he would have had no part in the guilt of the chief priests, nor in that terrible imprecation which was unconsciously pronounced against himself, and which has hung over him these nineteen hundred years: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

APPLICATION. Far be from us any feeling of bitterness against our superiors when they wisely and firmly maintain religious discipline, reprove our failings and, when required, vigorously oppose the first symptoms of our disorderly inclinations. If we do otherwise, do we not follow the example of the Jews, or of the sick who are angry with the doctors who prescribe them bitter but necessary medicine?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And they took Jesus and led Him forth, and, bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary.”

CONSIDERATION. St. Peter speaks of the perfect submission with which Jesus accepted His unjust sentence: “He delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly”; that is, He looked on it as coming from God the Father, who makes use of the malice or the mistakes of men to accomplish His designs, and in expiation of the sins of the world. The design of God here was to make reparation to Him and to redeem mankind by the death of His divine Son. And it was this that our Lord had ardently desired from the first moment of His Incarnation; judge, therefore, of the joy and eagerness with which He laid the heavy cross upon His shoulders.

APPLICATION. Our Lord here teaches us how to meet the persecution and ill-treatment of wicked men, and how we should receive the humiliations, or even the punishments, that our superiors may inflict upon us by mistake. How has it been with you in such instances? If you have Jesus always before your eyes, nothing will seem difficult; all your glory and happiness will be in bearing the cross after Him.

COLLOQUY with Jesus, the model and King of martyrs.

The Last Interrogation of Jesus – Lenten Meditation

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
The Last Interrogation of Jesus, and the Weakness and Timidity of Pilate

1st Prelude. Look at the meek but resolute countenance of Jesus, as He stands before the faint-hearted and cowardly judge and the infuriated people.

2nd Prelude. Beg for grace never to give way to any fear but the fear of God.

POINT I. “He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore had heard this saying, he feared the more.”

CONSIDERATION. This last accusation of the Jews, “He made Himself the Son of God,” far from creating a belief in His guilt in the mind of the judge, only made him believe the mysterious truth, and filled him with fear. The words and demeanour of Our Lord had already made him suspect His divinity, not with that certainty which faith gives to us, but with such a conviction as a pagan could feel. But it was sufficient to have made him fear the vengeance of God.

APPLICATION. Pilate was astonished and terrified at the thought that he might perhaps be standing in the presence of God, and about to commit a grievous crime against Him. He dared not take a single step further in the matter without enquiring into the truth of the assertion. And what have we done, who know and firmly believe that we are always in the presence of God, Who searches the inmost recesses of our hearts? We have not been afraid to insult Him, to commit iniquity in His sight, to defy His terrors, even with the awful examples before us of His punishments.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And he entered into the hall again, and he said to Jesus: Whence art Thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore saith to Him: Speakest Thou not to me? Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and I have power to release Thee? Jesus answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above; therefore he that hath delivered Me to thee hath the greater sin.”

CONSIDERATION. Pilate’s question was not about the birthplace of our Lord, for that he already knew, but concerning His descent and genealogy. But he was not worthy to be taught the wonderful mystery of Our Lord’s eternal being and His Incarnation; such truths are revealed only to the pure and humble. Our Lord therefore only rebuked the arrogance of the infidel judge, by reminding him that he had no power save from God, and warned him with wonderful gentleness against the crime he was about to commit.

APPLICATION. Why does not God speak to you? Why does He give you so little of His divine light? Is it because you are not prepared to listen to Him — because, by constant infidelity to grace, you lose the power God has given you of discerning between good and evil.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And from henceforth Pilate sought to release Him. But the Jews cried out, saying: If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend; for whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”

CONSIDERATION. This last threat of the Jews put an end to the struggle that had been going on in the breast of the cowardly governor. The fear of offending a mortal prince prevailed over his reason, over justice, the warnings of conscience, and even the fear of drawing down divine vengeance. His head was confused, his heart fainted within him, and he hastened to deliver up Jesus to death.

APPLICATION. There is no one who does not detest the criminal cowardice of Pilate; and yet in these days there are a great many Christians who give up their sacred obligations from human respect. Let us give thanks to God for having drawn us out of the world, where human respect and self-interest reign supreme, and many fall victims before them.

COLLOQUY with the Mother of Jesus.

Behold the Man – Lenten Meditation

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: WEDNESDAY
Pilate shows Jesus to the People, saying “Behold the Man”.

1st Prelude. Behold our Lord Jesus covered with blood and wounds, crowned with thorns, wearing a purple mantle, and with a reed in His hand, exposed to the gaze of the multitude.

2nd Prelude. Ask for grace to give more love and glory to Jesus, because He was thus mocked and reviled.

POINT I. “Jesus, therefore, came forth bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment; and he said to them: Behold the Man.”

CONSIDERATION. Even the heart of the Roman governor was touched when he beheld our Lord covered with blood and wounds, and insulted as a mock king. He thought that the Jews would equally be moved at the sight, and would demand the liberation of Him whose death they had been clamouring for. With this intention he brought Him forth to the front of the judgement hall and, presenting Him to the people, said “Behold the Man.”

APPLICATION. Holy Church addresses these words to every faithful soul, that they may have a tender compassion for the sufferings and humiliations of our Divine Lord. And God the Father also addresses them to us, that our hearts may be inflamed by love for His Divine Son, so shamefully treated for love of us; and ought we not to be moved even to tears when we know it was our sins which brought all this upon Him?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “When the chief priests and the servants had seen Him, they cried out, saying: Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

CONSIDERATION. When Pilate exposed Jesus to the gaze of the multitude, he thought it would be unnecessary to plead for Him in many words. He only said “Behold the Man”; and he imagined there would be a universal cry for pardon and mercy. And doubtless this would have been the case, if he had not been dealing with a people excited by the implacable hatred of the priests and doctors. The pride and self-love of these men had been wounded, and they had sworn to have the life of Jesus, not afraid, by shedding innocent blood and the blood of God, to draw down on themselves and their people fearful punishment. Pilate, to his astonishment, had no other answer than an outcry of rage “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

APPLICATION. Here is an example to what lengths our passions, and especially wounded pride, will go. It blinded these clear-headed men to their own interests; it stifled all sense of justice and the fear of God in their breasts. And in the same way the religious who is determined not to submit to his superiors is indifferent to the loss of his vocation, the violation of his vows, and the detriment to his reputation. If he is told that those who have respected him as a religious will despise him when he is a worldling, he is unmoved. Remind him of the most touching or the most terrifying truths of religion, show him Jesus Christ humble and obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, it is all in vain. Passion never stops to reason; its victims are obstinately blind, and fall over the precipice. God grant that there may not be any examples in our own days to verify the truth of what we have been considering!

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “Pilate saith to them: Take Him you, and crucify Him. The Jews answered him: We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

CONSIDERATION. The real crime of Jesus in the eyes of the priests and doctors was that He had seen through their hypocrisy, and thrown them into the shade by the superiority of His teaching, the sanctity of His life, and the renown of His miracles. But they took good care not to bring this motive forward, for they were not willing to expose the base passion of envy which possessed them.

APPLICATION. Such are the workings of our passions. We do not see the true motives of our actions, and we fasten upon the imaginary faults of others. A religious or a priest rebelling against obedience will tell you that the fault is all on the side of his superiors — that they are prejudiced, ignorant and unjust, and that for his own honour’s sake, and even in his zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, he is obliged to act as he does. In reality, wounded self-love is the foundation of it all. May God preserve us from becoming the victims of this passion!

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lord.

Insults which preceded the Crowning with Thorns – Lenten Meditation

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: TUESDAY
The Insults which preceded the Crowning with Thorns

1st Prelude. Behold our Blessed Lord sitting on a block of wood, holding a reed in His hand, His head crowned with thorns and insulted by the guards of the Roman governor.

2nd Prelude. Beg for feelings of deep grief and compunction.

POINT I. The insults offered to Jesus.

CONSIDERATION. After the outrage of scourging, fearful insults were heaped upon our Divine Lord. Pilate’s soldiers, who had led Him to the court of Herod, were anxious that these insults should excel those offered to Him there. He had there been treated as a fool; they would now crown Him as a fool, as the king of fools; as says Holy Writ “taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band, and stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about Him, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: Hail King of the Jews! And spitting on Him, they took the reed and struck His head, and they gave Him blows.”

APPLICATION. If we carefully think over all the details, and even every word of this narrative, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we shall see how truly the prophet Jeremias had foretold of the Messiah “He shall be filled with reproaches.” If we then ask ourselves “Who is it that is thus treated? For what reason?”, our hearts will surely burn with love.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. The terrible pain of the crowning with thorns.

CONSIDERATION. “And platting a crown of thorns, they put it on His head.” They not only placed it on His head, but pressed it in, by striking it on the top with a reed, as the Evangelist tells us. Conceive, if possible, the sufferings our Lord then endured. Why did He not sink beneath this additional torment, following so rapidly upon His scourging? Did He work a miracle to blunt the edge of His sufferings? No; but He exerted His miraculous power that He might not sink under sufferings which would have caused His death; so that no one else might ever suffer as He had done. And all this was for love of me!

APPLICATION. It was the will of our Divine Lord that His head, which had escaped the scourging, should also bear its distinct punishment, that He might expiate our sins of thought — the many thoughts and desires of pride, ambition, rebellion, hatred, vengeance, impurity, and injustice with which the heads of men are filled, so that they lose all thought of the presence and justice of God.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. The wonderful patience of Jesus.

CONSIDERATION. With what wonderful patience did our Blessed Lord bear these extraordinary insults and sufferings! His eyes were not bandaged now, as they were when in Herod’s court. They mocked Him as a prophet. He looked upon the insulting homage which one soldier after another offered Him in ridicule. He saw the spittle which they dared to throw in His face. He saw the arms of the insolent soldiers raised to strike Him; and yet He never moved His head to escape their blows. When they snatched the reed from His hand, He let them have it; when they gave it Him back again, He took it, fulfilling to the very letter the prophecy of Isaias: “I have not turned away My face from them that spit upon Me.”

APPLICATION. While we gaze upon this wonderful patience, we should remember our own impatience at the least contradiction. What ought we to think of our secret but eager desires for the praise and adulation of the world; of the resentment which enters and dwells in our hearts against those who have offended or looked down upon us? “If”, says the author of the Imitation, “Jesus covered with ignominy, was always before your minds, you would desire rather to be beneath the feet of all men, than to exercise superiority over any one.” We should, then, ardently long to be despised and to suffer for the love of Jesus. How far have we advanced in thus following the true disciples of our Lord?

COLLOQUY with our patient Lord.

Pilate tries to save Jesus from the Fury of the Jews – Lenten Meditation

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: SATURDAY
Pilate tries to save Jesus from the Fury of the Jews

1st Prelude. Imagine you see Pilate pleading with the crowd on behalf of Jesus.

2nd Prelude. Beg the grace to persevere till the end in our holy vocation.

POINT I. “Pilate saith to them: What shall I do, then, with Jesus, that is called Christ? They say all: Let Him be crucified.”

CONSIDERATION. The efforts that Pilate made to rescue Jesus from His enemies only incensed them the more against Him, because they thought He would escape from them. Of the three classes who were concerned in bringing about His death, Pilate, the people, and the priests, the priests had the greater guilt. Yielding to a base jealousy, they invented and sustained the accusations, they excited and seduced the people, they overpowered the judge by the cries of rage and fury which they put into the mouth of the crowd: their sin was very terrible; for the sanctity of their office, and the greater light and grace they had received, ought to have made them models to their people instead of a scandal.

APPLICATION. Here is another melancholy proof of the truth of the old saying, Optimi pessima corruptio — The best when corrupted become the worst; and this we unhappily see too often in our own days, when priests or religious become infidels or apostates; they seem as if they wanted to deaden their own consciences, or entirely to efface the seal of their sacerdotal consecration or religious profession.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “The governor said to them: Why, what evil hath He done?”

CONSIDERATION. This question ought to have opened the eyes of the Jewish people. It reminded them of the public life of Jesus, every step of which had brought down blessings on them. Even among this very multitude there might have been found many whom He had miraculously cured — to whom He had given sight, hearing, or the use of their limbs — and a still greater number whom He had delivered from the possession or temptations of the devil.

APPLICATION. During the whole of our lives, and especially since we entered religion, we can remember nothing but wonderful graces and blessings; they constantly flash across our minds, and the memory of them ought to increase our love and devotion to Jesus, our Divine Lord. How is it, then, that we correspond so little with these graces, that we are so lukewarm in His service? Let us search into the causes of this, fight against it, and overcome it if possible.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And he said to them the third time: I find no cause of death in Him. I will chastise Him, therefore, and let Him go.”

CONSIDERATION. Pilate was guilty of the grossest injustice. Three times he had declared that the prisoner brought before him was innocent, and yet he condemned Him to a cruel and shameful punishment. His aim was to save Him at least from death, by exciting compassion for His sufferings, under the punishment to which He was sentenced. He did not see that he was actually clearing the way for the death by crucifixion, which the Jews were aiming at, for it was often the custom to precede crucifixion by scourging.

APPLICATION. How often have our passions made us act like fools! Have we not, from pride or sensuality, tried to escape the humiliations and mortifications which we ought to seek after, especially in religious life? Or have we not sought for pleasures and distinctions which we knew would do us harm? Are we, then, on our guard against our passions, and do we fight manfully against them?

COLLOQUY with our Divine Master.

Barabbas preferred to Jesus – Lenten Meditation

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: FRIDAY
Barabbas compared with and preferred to Jesus

1st Prelude. Behold our Divine Lord before all the people compared with an infamous robber.

2nd Prelude. Beg for grace never to hesitate between the Creator and the creature.

POINT I. “They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said: You have a custom that I should release one unto you at the Pasch. Whom will you that I release unto you: Barabbas, or Jesus, that is called Christ?”

CONSIDERATION. Pilate knew and had acknowledged the innocence of our Lord; it was against his conscience to condemn Him; but his self-interest bade him gratify the Jews, or he would lose favour in the eyes of Caesar. Conscience being on the one hand, and interest on the other, he tried to get out of the difficulty. He sent Him to Herod, not being able to find out what He was guilty of; then he offered the people their choice between an odious criminal and the Saviour, whom till lately they had reverenced so much. But his plans proved futile, and after some further attempts which were all useless, always shrinking back from doing his duty, he completed his evil work by condemning the innocent, and thus lost his own soul.

APPLICATION. How true are those words of our Lord’s “No man can serve two masters”! It is impossible to steer a middle course between God and the world; we cannot hover between virtue and vice, though the transgression may be a slight one. A friendship which is inordinate, though it may be based on motives of zeal, may cause us perplexity and trouble of conscience. Our own good sense and our confessor tell us to decide at once to give it entirely up. But we answer “No, you expect too much; but I will be more careful for the future. My case is an especial one.” This is a delusion of self-love which leads to nothing. What does our experience tell us on this head?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away. The whole multitude cried out together: Away with this Man! and release unto us Barabbas.”

CONSIDERATION. Let us try to understand as far as we can the extent to which the insults of Jesus were carried. He is placed on a level, or, as we say, weighed in the balance with Barabbas, the greatest criminal which the prisons then held, by the chief magistrate, before all the people; and to the astonishment even of Pilate, Barabbas was preferred to Jesus by unanimous consent. All, says Holy Writ, with one voice cried “Not this Man, but Barabbas.”

APPLICATION. Who among us, then, can dare to complain that he is not treated as he deserves; that others are preferred before him; that he is put last of all? If we remember how often in past life we have imitated the Jews by allowing sin to reign in our hearts, rather than God our Saviour, we shall count ourselves unworthy of a place in God’s house, and still more unworthy of the meanest office therein.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And as he was sitting in the place of judgement, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that Just Man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.”

CONSIDERATION. Most interpreters believe that the uneasiness of Pilate’s wife was caused by an inspiration of grace, and that it obtained her salvation. The Greeks even honour her as a saint, under the name of Claudia Procula. Be this as it may, the warning thus sent to Pilate was an extraordinary grace vouchsafed to him at the critical moment, when he was hesitating between doing a great act of justice, which would have won his salvation, and an atrocious crime, which brought fearful misery on him both in this world and the next; for we know that he fell into disgrace and was banished, and finally destroyed himself.

APPLICATION. How many times and in how many ways have our guardian angels and our directors warned us and tried to strengthen us, when our passions had obtained such a mastery over us that our judgement was darkened, and we were hesitating between good and evil! All these warnings were extraordinary graces. How have we corresponded with them? How have we profited by them?

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lord.

Jesus insulted at the Court of Herod – Lenten Meditation

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
Jesus insulted at the Court of Herod

1st Prelude. Let us picture to ourselves Jesus reviled and insulted, and treated as a fool at Herod’s court.

2nd Prelude. Beg for grace to understand the indignities which Jesus bore for love of us.

POINT I. “And when he understood that He was of Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him away to Herod, who was also himself at Jerusalem; and Herod, seeing Jesus, was very glad for he hoped to see some miracle wrought by Him.”

CONSIDERATION. Herod was a vain and degraded man; he had put St. John Baptist to death; and he wanted the Saviour of the world, of whom he had heard so much, to work a miracle before him, not that he might be touched and converted, but simply to gratify his vanity and curiosity. But God does not grant extraordinary graces to such men as these. He reserves them for the humble, who deem themselves unworthy of them. He delights to pour them on those who are emptied of self, dead to self-love, seeking only His greater glory. These souls ask for extraordinary graces or miracles only that they may serve Him better, or gain others to His service.

APPLICATION. The reason why we receive so few extraordinary graces is that we either lack these dispositions altogether, or have made little progress in them; and after having perhaps passed many years in our holy vocation, we are very unlike those who, powerful in word and work, had the same vocation, and of whom wonderful things are recorded.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And he questioned Him in many words; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood by, earnestly accusing Him.”

CONSIDERATION. Wonderful indeed was the silence and passiveness of our Divine Lord before the tribunal of Herod, to which His cause was referred. He was accused of greater crimes still, but His accusers so outwitted themselves, that He could in a few words have confounded them, and turned the tide in His favour. Yet He held His peace. He went there to receive a sentence for life or death, and if He had chosen to work a miracle at Herod’s desire, He would have found protection; but He would work none. It is in reality a greater miracle to triumph thus completely over every human feeling than to raise the dead; but the world cannot understand this. The calm silence of our Lord was looked upon by Herod and his court as helplessness and stupidity, and they treated it as such.

APPLICATION. Our Lord kept silence to punish Herod’s pride and to teach us to mortify ours. Our pride is our greatest trial; in spite of ourselves it makes us desire esteem, notice, praise, and applause from men, especially from the great ones of the Earth. Have we fought steadfastly and victoriously against this unruly passion of pride?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And Herod with his army set Him at naught, and mocked Him, putting on Him a white garment, and sent Him back to Pilate.”

CONSIDERATION. Let us contemplate Jesus, the King of glory, the eternal Wisdom, standing before Herod, insulted by the coarse and stupid mob; let us follow Him in spirit, wearing the fool’s robe, through the streets of Jerusalem, amidst the jeerings of the populace and the immense crowd of strangers which the Paschal feast had brought into the city, and we shall see that the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled to the very letter: “I am made a derision to all My people.”

APPLICATION. This meditation ought to produce great fruit in us. When we contemplate Jesus Christ as the true way, which leads us unto life, as the living model of perfection, it should kindle in our hearts an ardent desire to become like unto Him, to serve Him willingly, to be ready, in imitation of Him and for His love, to be despised, insulted, reviled, and even looked upon as a fool, although we have done nothing to deserve this treatment: this is the foolishness of the Cross. Many of God’s servants have travelled by this road; why should not we follow in their footsteps?

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lady.

Silence of Jesus before Pilate’s Judgement Seat – Lenten Meditation

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: WEDNESDAY
The wonderful Silence of Jesus before Pilate’s Judgement Seat

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus standing calm and silent in the midst of the clamour and accusations of the people who were stirred up against Him.

2nd Prelude. Beg for grace faithfully to imitate the great example our Lord then gave us.

POINT I. “And when He was accused by the chief priests and ancients, He answered nothing.”

CONSIDERATION. The first accusations which the Jews brought were so vague and untruthful that Pilate rejected them, and declared our Lord’s innocence. It was beneath our Lord’s dignity to reply to some of the points; and besides, the sanctity of His life answered for Him, confounding His calumniators, but proving His divinity. He did indeed try to hide it under His humanity, but it was revealed by His answers to the judge.

APPLICATION. Happy is the man whose conduct is an unanswerable defence against the false accusations of the wicked and envious! Happier still if his conscience bears witness to his constant endeavour to be spotless before God. Are we amongst this happy number?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And Pilate again asked Him, saying: Answerest Thou nothing? Behold in how many things they accuse Thee. But He answerest him never a word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly.”

CONSIDERATION. The astonishment of Pilate was not surprising. What would seem more natural for an accused man standing before a tribunal from which there was no appeal, and whose death was eagerly sought after, than to defend himself, and exert every effort to declare his innocence, especially when called upon to do so by a judge favourable to his cause? But Jesus was silent. He, who often by a single word had confounded His enemies and turned the anger of the people against them, now would not utter one. Pilate could not understand the calm dignity of our Lord’s silence, seeing clearly that it did not proceed from pride or resentment.

APPLICATION. We are better off than Pilate, for we know why our Blessed Lord kept that heroic silence. He was determined to die for us; and having manifested the truth, He would not say a single word to save His own life. And also, He chose by this painful silence to expiate our sins of the tongue, and to teach us to control our desire of answering our superiors haughtily when they reprove us, or our wish to give a sharp and angry retort to those who wound our feelings, or injure us in any ways.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “But they were the more earnest, saying: He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”

CONSIDERATION. When Pilate had seen and acknowledged that the accused was innocent, his duty was to silence the accusers, and dismiss them with the contempt they deserved. But this he dared not do. The Jews, perceiving his weakness, tried to take advantage of it. They began to clamour and importune him to grant the request which was against his conscience; and they succeeded only too well.

APPLICATION. Our great enemy the devil acts in the same way towards us; as soon as he sees us hesitating between God and creatures, or conscience and our passions, he takes advantage of our weakness, and grows bolder than ever. He pours his arguments into our ears, terrifies us with the slight of imaginary difficulties, and lets us have no peace until we consent to sin. Let us, then, taught by Pilate’s example, be on our guard against our own weakness, and without indulging any unreasonable fear of the tempter, never give in an inch to him; let us firmly resist his first suggestion, arming ourselves, as the Apostle says, with the shield of faith and prayer.

COLLOQUY with Jesus Christ.

Interrogation of Jesus – Lenten Meditation

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: TUESDAY
Interrogation of Jesus at Pilate’s Judgement Seat

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus Christ, firm yet submissive, before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.

2nd Prelude. Beg for grace to make this meditation well.

POINT I. “Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to Him: Art Thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered thus to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from hence.”

CONSIDERATION. Jesus Christ was not King of the Jews, nor of this world, in the ordinary sense of the word; this was not His will. His kingdom is the Church, the assembly of all those who willingly follow His teaching and observe His laws. The Church is in the world, but not of it. She came down from Heaven, and Earth is but the place of Her pilgrimage and of Her trials. She will return to Heaven, and there the glorious and everlasting kingdom of Jesus and His disciples shall last for ever. This was the kingdom He meant when He said to Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world”; and again, when He says to His disciples “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”

APPLICATION. How great is our happiness in being made, by holy Baptism, children of the Church and subjects of Jesus Christ, and, by professing the Christian Faith, to be among the number of the elect! If we choose, the kingdom of Heaven is ours. What assurance of this do we need? That we should be full of the spirit of our Holy Mother the Church; and though in the world, we be not of the world; that our life should be more celestial than terrestrial; that we should live in spirit in Heaven, as the Apostle says “Our conversation is in Heaven.”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “Pilate therefore said to Him: Art Thou a king, then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.”

CONSIDERATION. Pilate’s conduct gives us a striking example of human instability. He was really desirous to know the truth concerning the wonderful Being whom the world thought of in such different ways, and who was now before him; and this desire increased after he had heard Him say “For this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth.” Naturally he asked “What is truth?” and apparently he eagerly awaited the reply. Yet, when it was given, it had no effect on him; he took no further heed, and went out quickly from the judgement hall.

APPLICATION. We fully condemn the weakness and vacillation of Pilate; but let us examine if there be not some similarity with him in our conduct. Before beginning some of our actions, or deciding in difficult circumstances, we are accustomed to invoke the Holy Ghost: “Come, Holy Ghost,” thus entreating to know His will; but do we not often decide hastily without recollecting ourselves sufficiently to hear His reply? And do we not often hear the voice of God in our souls, and pay no attention to it? Do we not thus imitate the vacillation of the Roman judge?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “He went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in Him.”

CONSIDERATION. Pilate, a wise and experienced man, at the first sight of the case felt sure the crimes alleged could not be proved. However, in his position as judge, he questioned the accused upon the nature of the kingdom that He claimed. The answers of Jesus showed him clearly that His kingdom was not in opposition to the rulers of this world; and he therefore pronounced Him to be innocent, saying “I find no cause in Him.”

APPLICATION. Pilate, though vacillating, was just, and a lover of truth. If he had been as firm as he was just, he would never have condemned Jesus to death. But he feared to get into trouble, and he grew weak and timid. The Jews craftily worked upon his fears, and extorted the unjust sentence from him. This is the devil’s way with us: he studies our weak points, and takes advantage of them; and if we are off our guard, he entraps us with subtle snares.

COLLOQUY with Jesus our Master.

Jesus accused by His People before Pilate – Lenten Meditation

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: SUNDAY
Jesus accused by His People before Pilate

1st Prelude. Behold the crowd of people assembled before Pilate’s palace, vociferating against Jesus.

2nd Prelude. Ask for grace to enable you to support false imputations in a Christian spirit.

POINT I. “Pilate therefore went out to them, and said: What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said to him: If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”

CONSIDERATION. We cannot but feel great indignation when we see the rulers of the Jews instigating the crowd to accuse Jesus, their Messiah, of a crime, and to hate Him; He who had never harmed anyone, but who had shed blessings around Him at every step. They were indeed filling up the measure of their ingratitude and unbelief.

APPLICATION. This frightful picture is daily reproduced before our eyes. Our Lord and His holy Faith are still hated, still calumniated, and often by those upon whom His best gifts have been poured; those whose rank and talents have raised them above their fellow creatures, but who only use their superiority to mislead their inferiors, and stir them up against our Lord, and against His Church. We should not, however, have bitter feelings towards them, but rather pity them; for the longer their punishment is delayed, the greater it will be.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “Pilate therefore said to them: Take you Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”

CONSIDERATION. The Scribes and Pharisees were the accusers of our Lord, but they would not pass sentence on Him, even when Pilate authorized them. They wanted to make Him appear more guilty in the eyes of the people by receiving His condemnation from the chief magistrate; they wanted to avert the odium of His death from themselves, and they wanted Him to be crucified, the most shameful and most cruel mode of death, and commonly used by the Romans, but seldom by the Jews, not being decreed by any of their laws, and so, under a pretense of justice, they hypocritically hid their wickedness. Without knowing or intending it, they were fulfilling prophecy, and bringing the designs of our merciful Lord to pass. He had foretold the manner of His death, and for love of us was willing to drink the cup of suffering and humiliation to the very dregs. Thus by their crimes the intentions of God were carried out.

APPLICATION. Such are and always will be the dealings of Divine Providence. Let us never give way to distrust or waver in our faith when we see the wicked obtain a momentary triumph, and succeed in their evil designs. God, who in His infinite wisdom orders the whole course of circumstances, will turn all things to His own glory and the good of His Church.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And they began to accuse Him, saying: We have found this Man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He is Christ the King.”

CONSIDERATION. Three special accusations were brought against Jesus; they accused Him of perverting the people, of refusing to pay tribute, and of assuming the name of Christ the King. The first two were notoriously false, for He had preached and practiced the exact contrary; the third was false also in the sense in which they meant it — in the sense of an earthly kingdom, in opposition to that of Caesar. It was the height of shameless insolence to utter such calumnies against the innocent in the presence of the chief judge, and before the whole nation.

APPLICATION. If our Lord was willing to become the victim of wicked calumny without defending Himself, or even being disturbed by it, should we not make little account of men’s judgment, when our own conscience tells us we have acted rightly? Have we profited by the lessons of our Divine Master? In what particular should we correct ourselves?

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lady.

Repentance and Conversion of St. Peter – Lenten Meditation

SECOND WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
Repentance and Conversion of St. Peter

1st Prelude. Look at the Apostle St. Peter weeping over his sin.

2nd Prelude. Beg for the grace of true contrition.

POINT I. “And the Lord, turning, looked on Peter.”

CONSIDERATION. How inexpressibly great was the goodness of our Blessed Lord! He was in the midst of His sufferings; horrible insults and blasphemies were being poured upon Him; but He forgot Himself, and thought only of His faithless disciple. That grievous fall of St. Peter’s had wounded Him more than all His other injuries. “The Lord turned,” says the Gospel, “and looked upon Peter.” It was a glance of mingled reproach and mercy, which instantly wrought his conversion.

APPLICATION. And day by day this same goodness of our Lord is manifested towards numbers of poor sinners. He prevents them by His grace. He looks mercifully on them, dealing with them as He did with the penitent King David when he cried out “Look Thou upon me, and have mercy on me.” Terror had so completely taken possession of St. Peter in the hall of Caiphas that it had blinded him to the extent of his sin. Our Lord came to his assistance, and opened his eyes; and from that day forward his gratitude to his loving Saviour was fervent and continual. If we think over our past sins, we shall recollect how often grace has prevented us, and roused us from the sleep of death. Deep, then, ought to be our gratitude.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt thrice deny Me.”

CONSIDERATION. Sudden and wonderful was the change which one look from Jesus wrought in the heart of the faithless disciple. In an instant the darkness which encompassed his soul disappeared; he saw clearly the greatness of his sin; he remembered all his Master’s forewarnings at the Last Supper and in the Garden of Olives. And his heart was filled, not with despair, but with the deepest contrition. He was transformed into the model of a true penitent.

APPLICATION. Wonderful, indeed, is the work of grace! Silently it penetrates into the soul, enlightening and strengthening it, showing it the instability of creatures, the guilt and horror of sin, filling it with a deep and salutary contrition. It makes the sinner shed tears of mingled grief, love, and joy; it purifies the soul from all unruly affections; disengages it from the world, and draws it upwards to God.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And going forth, he wept bitterly.”

CONSIDERATION. The fall of St. Peter had been a grievous and a public one, and his repentance was generous and fervent. Without a moment’s delay, he fled from the place and the company which had occasioned his fall; and when alone he began to shed those bitter tears which may be said never to have ceased till his death. He mourned over the humiliation of his fall, the thought of his ingratitude, the grief and pain he had given to his Divine Master at the very moment when He was manifesting His love for him. Not only did our Blessed Lord pardon His penitent disciple, but He gave him back all the privileges which had been granted to him before his fall.

APPLICATION. If we, like the Apostle, have been unfaithful, let us also imitate him in his repentance. The remembrance of our past ingratitude, and of God’s goodness to us, should inspire us with deeper humility, more steadfast trust, and an unbounded generosity in works of charity; and thus, with the help of God’s grace, we shall be enabled to bring good out of evil.

COLLOQUY with our good Lord.

St. Peter’s threefold Denial – Lenten Meditation

SECOND WEEK OF LENT: WEDNESDAY
St. Peter’s threefold Denial

1st Prelude. Behold the Apostle in the hall of Caiphas, standing near the fire, in company with the soldiers and servants of the high priest.

2nd Prelude. Ask the grace of knowledge, and distrust of self.

POINT I. “Now when Peter was in the court below, there cometh one of the maid-servants of the high priest, and when she had seen Peter warming himself, looking on him she said: Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied before them all, saying: Woman, I know Him not.”

CONSIDERATION. Peter, having recovered from his terror in the garden, followed Jesus afar off to the hall of Caiphas, and there, in answer to a woman’s voice, the Prince of the Apostles denied his Lord. A short time before, he, more than all the other Apostles, had been boasting of his unchangeable fidelity. Great indeed was his weakness, grievous indeed was his fall.

APPLICATION. The fall of St. Peter shows us how weak is human nature, and makes us tremble for ourselves. But every effect has a cause, therefore let us look into what caused the Apostle’s fall. The Fathers give four reasons for it. He was presumptuous of his own strength, he had neglected prayer and vigil with his Master, he was rash in exposing himself to temptation, and he indulged tepidity and idle curiosity. “Peter followed Him afar off, and sat with the servants to see the end.” When we think over our falls, and the false steps we have taken in life, we may easily trace them to one or other of these causes.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And again he denied with an oath: I know not the man.”

CONSIDERATION. As the danger increased, St. Peter’s fear grew stronger, and he fell lower still. His first denial had been a cowardly falsehood; but his second was a perjury. His sins followed fast upon each other, and became more and more deadly.

APPLICATION. If once we give way to our passions, once yield to human respect, gluttony, curiosity, anger, sensuality, or any other sin, we shall soon be carried farther. Never let us venture to say, I will do what I wish for this once, and then I shall be at rest; or, I will go thus far in what is wrong, but no farther. This is a fatal delusion, and springs from a want of self-knowledge. The passions are like fire, which never says “It is enough.” So said St. Augustine, speaking from experience. And can we not confirm it?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And after the space as it were of one hour, one of the servants of the high priest saith to him: Did I not see thee in the garden with Him? Surely thou art one of them? But he began to curse and swear, saying: I know not this Man of whom you speak.”

CONSIDERATION. Rapid and fearful was the Apostle’s downward course. In less than two hours he thrice denied his Lord, twice he perjured himself; and finally confirmed his false-swearing by a fearful imprecation on himself. What shame and grief he then gave to the Heart of his Master, who at that very moment was standing only a little way off, enduring cruel insults for love of him!

APPLICATION. Why did our Lord permit him, who was to become the head of the Church, to fall so low? And why was it published to the whole world in the Gospel? The Fathers give the reasons for it. They say, in the first place, it was that St. Peter and his successors, the chief pastors of the Church, should excel in humility, and have a deep sympathy for the weakness of their people. Secondly, that the world, perceiving on what a weak foundation in itself the Catholic Church is built, should recognise that it is indeed the work of God, not of men, and that its existence is a wonder and a marvel. Thirdly, as a warning to men, that, no matter to what height of sanctity they have attained, they are still very weak, and stand in continual need of divine grace. We will therefore bless and exalt the wisdom of Divine Providence.

COLLOQUY with our Lord.

Jesus made Sport of – Lenten Meditation

SECOND WEEK OF LENT: TUESDAY
Jesus made the Sport of the Soldiers and the Servants of Caiphas

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus in the midst of vile soldiers and insolent servants, who pour on Him insults and outrages.

2nd Prelude. Beg the grace of knowing the value of humiliations, and of loving them, after the example of Jesus Christ, your king and your model.

POINT I. “And the men who held Him mocked Him.”

CONSIDERATION. When Caiphas, triumphant at having condemned Jesus, went to take his night’s rest, he left his captive in the hands of the guard, or, rather, gave Him up to the insolence of his servants and of the soldiery of the praetorium. They immediately dragged Him into a subterranean prison for criminals. What a humiliation for our Blessed Lord! There was no rest for Him there. The hatred that they knew their masters had for Jesus stirred them up, and, gathering around Him, they made brutal sport of Him, and tried which could excel the other in showing ridicule, scorn, blasphemy, and curses on Him; and this scene of horror lasted throughout the rest of the night. Try to form a vivid idea of the suffering and humiliation of our Lord, made the sport of vile and insolent men during the whole night, without a moment’s rest; and then nights of suffering will appear more endurable to you, and the days which perhaps you have to spend among children, or others who are vulgar, ungrateful, and petulant, will seem less wearisome, less unbearable.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “Then did they spit in His face.”

CONSIDERATION. They spat in His face! If this were not recorded in the Gospel, we could not have believed that the brutality and cruelty of men could go so far, or that God made man could have allowed and borne such an insult, the greatest and the most keenly felt which could be given to the lowest of men. But our Lord allowed it, and bore it again and again, without a movement, without a word, as it had been foretold by the Prophet Isaias. “I have not turned away My face from them that spat upon Me.”

APPLICATION. And yet men often complain, become indignant, and long to be revenged, if they are injured, or even if they are not sufficiently considered or treated as they think they deserve. Ought they not rather to fall at the feet of Jesus, and cry out with St. Bernard “What, shall my Master and my King be insulted and spat upon by His vilest subjects, and shall I be honoured, who have deserved for my sins to be cast with the refuse of the human race to the bottom of Hell? No, never! Let me rather be forgotten and despised by all men in this world, that I may obtain mercy in eternity.”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And they blindfolded Him, and smote His face. And they asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?”

CONSIDERATION. In grief and silence we will contemplate the King of Glory covered with reproach, and drinking to the very dregs that cup of humiliation which He accepted in the Garden of Olives. He is seated on a block of wood, His hands are bound, His eyes blindfolded, He is surrounded by coarse, half-intoxicated men, who, one after the other, strike Him on the face and buffet Him, and cry out “Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?” And then they pour a flood of insults and blasphemies on Him. Who is suffering these insults? Why does He thus humble Himself?

APPLICATION. When we meditate on the three degrees of humility, we often resolve that we will rather be despised and thought nothing of by the world, be condemned and looked down upon with our Master, than be esteemed and highly exalted before men. What progress have we made in the practice of these resolutions?

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lord.

Lenten Meditation – Monday: Second Week of Lent

SECOND WEEK OF LENT: MONDAY
Motives for penance derived from the Thought of the Evil which Sin has wrought

1st Prelude. Imagine you see St. Peter saying to the people of Jerusalem “Be penitent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”

2nd Prelude. Beg for a strong impulse of the will to comply with the Apostle’s precept.

POINT I. Multitude of our sins

CONSIDERATION. Go over the past years of your life in spirit — before and after your First Communion, before and after your entrance into religion, the places where you have lived, the sins you have committed; run rapidly over the Commandments of God and the Church, the obligations attached to your vows, the offices and employments that have been confided to you; and you will be surprised and terrified at the sight of your innumerable sins. What would it be if you saw them as God sees them!

APPLICATION. For a single mortal sin, Adam and his posterity were condemned to death and eternal torments; for a single venial sin, those great friends of God, Moses, David and Ezechias, were severely punished — a feeble shadow only, however, of the punishment in the next world for the smallest sin. What ought I, then, to expect, who have committed so many sins? I have nearly forgotten them, but God forgets nothing. He will leave nothing unpunished, not even the slight fault of an idle word. Our Lord, Himself, has told us so. We have many motives, then, to induce us to do real and continued penance; and in this holy time we shall receive special graces, which will make the practice of it easier. “Behold, now is the acceptable time.”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. The injury that sin is to God.

CONSIDERATION. Each mortal sin is a threefold injury to God, and its malice is infinite because His Majesty is infinite. We injure Him by insubordination and rebellion: God commands, and we do not obey. We injure Him by contempt: we prefer a transitory and vile enjoyment, sometimes a disgraceful one, to God and His laws. We injure Him by ingratitude: we make use of His very gifts to offend and insult Him. Each venial sin is also a threefold injury; it is certainly of a slighter kind, but still its malice is so great that if by a single venial sin we could change all the lost souls into saints who should praise God eternally in Heaven, we might not commit it, because the praises of all the human race could not compensate to God for the injury done to Him by one venial sin. And the sins which you have committed against the Lord your God have contained malice such as this, and both faith and reason teach us that this malice increases in proportion to the light and grace we have received. What ought we, then, to think about our venial sins? Who can count them? What an additional motive for penance during these chosen days, of which the Divine Office says “The days of penance are come, to reclaim us from our sins”!

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. The injury done to our Lord by sin.

CONSIDERATION. Our sins have been an injury to our Lord Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaias speaks of our Lord as the Man of Sorrows above all other men; and it was our sins that made Him so; the sins of the whole world were laid on Him; and God beheld Him as the guilty one, on whom the weight of Divine Justice was to fall. “He was bruised for our sins,” says the Holy Ghost. Attritus est propter scelera nostra. They were our sins which scourged Him, which crowned Him with thorns, which struck Him, spat upon Him, nailed Him to the cross, and made Him die upon it.

APPLICATION. This thought ought to overwhelm us with shame: there were times in my life when, in union with the cruel Jews, I cried out “Let Him be crucified,” and “Not this man, but Barabbas — not this man, but my passion.” There have been times when, in union with the murderers, I ran the nails into my Saviour’s hands and feet. I have done this, as far as I could, every time I committed a mortal sin. And every time I have committed a venial sin I have added fresh suffering to the open wounds of Jesus. Thoughts like these armed the holy penitents of the desert against themselves. Imitate them during these holy days of universal penance and expiation.

COLLOQUY with our Divine Saviour.

Jesus accused and examined at the Tribunal of Caiphas – Lenten Meditation

FIRST WEEK OF LENT: SATURDAY
Jesus accused and examined at the Tribunal of Caiphas

1st Prelude. Imagine that you see Jesus standing with His hands bound, before iniquitous judges.

2nd Prelude. Ask to obtain solid virtue, and especially the grace of knowing when to be silent and when to speak.

POINT I. “And the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put Him to death, and they found none.”

CONSIDERATION. So holy was Our Lord’s life that His sworn enemies, even though they brought a great many witnesses — and those false ones — against Him, could find nothing of which to accuse Him, nothing that was even the shadow of sin, or a single imperfection.

APPLICATION. The life of a religious ought to be so perfect that the wicked who watch him closely should not be able to find fault with him in word or deed, either in public or private life. Can this be truly said of you? What do others think and say of you, or are they too much afraid of wounding your pride and self-love to speak the truth? And, supposing that men have nothing with which to reproach you, are you innocent in the eyes of Him who sees our hearts, our motives, and intentions?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And the high priest, rising up, said to Him: answerest Thou nothing to the things which these witness against Thee? But Jesus held His peace.”

CONSIDERATION. Wonderful indeed was this silence of Our Lord. His honour, reputation, and life were in peril, and it seemed as if He could so easily justify and defend Himself, and obtain a triumph. But He left His defence in the hands of His Father, and was silent.

APPLICATION. What a contrast there is between us and our Master! He is silent under false accusation, and we, who glory in being His disciples, cannot hear a reproof that we know we deserve, or a kind observation, without beginning to defend and excuse ourselves; sometimes even at the expense of truth. Have I not often had self reproach on this head?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And the high priest said to Him: I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us if Thou be Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said to him: Thou hast said it.”

CONSIDERATION. We learn a valuable lesson from this: as long as our Lord’s own Person was concerned, He kept silence; but when it was a question of His Father’s glory, or the salvation of souls, or a point of faith, He spoke, and confessed the truth; and He confessed it freely and unreservedly, though He knew it would cost Him His life.

APPLICATION. It is a matter of great difficulty to know when to speak and when to be silent; it requires thought, calmness of mind, and great firmness of character. We shall find that our indiscreet words have arisen from our deficiency in one or other of these qualities. Have we not sometimes also sacrificed truth by keeping silence, or being guilty of dissimulation, or keeping back the truth without a rightful cause?

COLLOQUY with our loving Saviour.

Jesus led to the Tribunal of Caiphas – Lenten Meditation

FIRST WEEK OF LENT: FRIDAY

Jesus led from the House of Annas to the Tribunal of Caiphas

1st Prelude. To imagine I see Jesus in the midst of the soldiers, bound and led like a criminal, in the city of Jerusalem.

2nd Prelude. Beg for constancy and a continual increase of generosity in the service of God.

POINT I. “And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was father-in-law of Caiphas, who was high priest that year, and Annas sent Him bound to Caiphas, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled.”

CONSIDERATION. The series of humiliations for our loving Saviour has now commenced. All the streets, all the public places, all the tribunals of Jerusalem, have witnessed the helplessness to which His enemies gloried in having reduced Him. He was dragged in succession, in the midst of hooting, from Annas to Caiphas, from Caiphas to the Council, from the Council to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, from Herod back to Pilate, from thence to the praetorium to be scourged, then to the steps to be shown to the people; finally, He was led down into the public place, from whence He went forth, bearing His cross, to Calvary.

APPLICATION. Let us learn from the example of our Divine Master never to resist the orders of superiors, to pass from one house to the other, from one employment to another, as they judge proper. These changes will be sometimes frequent, and often painful to nature. They may cause temptations to impatience or weariness. Let us, then, cast our eyes on Jesus, and the difficulties will disappear.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “The high priest, therefore, asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine. Jesus answered him: I have spoken openly to the world; ask them who have heard what I have spoken to them.”

CONSIDERATION. The question of the high priest was twofold — on the disciples of Jesus and His doctrine. Our Divine Saviour passed over the first in silence. Alas, what good testimony could He bear of His disciples? At this very moment one was denying Him, and the others were hidden, for fear of sharing their Master’s fate. He loved them too much to blame them; He was silent. As to His doctrine, the questions put to Him were dictated by malice, by the secret desire of finding a pretext for blame and condemnation. Jesus contented Himself by appealing to public testimony, showing plainly that He knew their guilty intentions, and that He had nothing to fear from a severe but just examination of all that He had said and taught. Our Divine Master gives us an example of silence when we cannot speak well of our neighbour, unless our rule, or the law of charity, compels us to manifest some faults of our brethren. We may learn from Him, also, to be watchful over our words, to be reserved in conversation, and to make a careful preparation of what we have to say in public; so that if we are afterwards falsely accused, we may be able to appeal to the testimony of those who heard us.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And when He had said these things, one of the servants standing by gave Jesus a blow, saying: answerest Thou the high priest so? And Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikes thou Me?”

CONSIDERATION. It is almost impossible for us to understand the intensity of the outrage thus offered to our God and our loving Saviour. He received a blow, the greatest insult one man can give another, in the open court, from the hand of a servant; and it was given as a mark of correction from a brutal man, to Him who is Master of the creation and Infinite Wisdom. What revenge did He take for this cruel insolence? He returned a meek and prudent answer, and showed not the slightest resentment.

APPLICATION. Compare your conduct with that of your Lord. Are you gentle and patient under slight injuries, or even imaginary ones? And yet, who are you?

COLLOQUY with our Divine Lord.

Necessity and Manner of doing Penance – Lenten Meditation

lent

FIRST WEEK OF LENT: MONDAY
Necessity and Manner of doing Penance, especially during Lent

1st Prelude. Look at Jesus Christ saying these words: “Except you do penance, ye shall all perish.”

2nd Prelude. Beg the spirit of penance, united to deep feelings of humility and compunction.

POINT I. God imposes penance on us as a duty.

CONSIDERATION. The command that God gives us to do penance is formal and universal. He does not say “Except you do penance, you shall perish, perhaps or probably,” but simply “you shall all perish.” And why shall we perish? Because we are sinners, and after the loss of baptismal innocence there is no other road to heaven but that of penance. Again, why? Because the flesh rebels against the spirit, and continually inclines us towards sin; consequently, says St. Paul, “If by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live” — Si autem spiritu facta carnis mortificaveritis, vivetis.

APPLICATION. We are, then, obliged to do penance, and a penance proportioned, says the Council of Trent, to the number and gravity of our sins. We are obliged to do it at all times, but especially in the holy time of Lent; and all of us, whatever may be our age or our strength, we can all do penance in one way or another. The Fathers of the desert, men eminent for their penance, made it consist principally in fasting, vigils, and austerities. We shall see, in the three points of this meditation, how we can practice these three kinds of penance. And first as regards fasting. If we cannot observe it in all its rigour, we can observe it in part; we can retrench our ordinary food, and confine ourselves with due discretion to what is absolutely necessary; we can mortify our taste in eating and drinking by depriving ourselves habitually of dainties. Consider before God what you can and will do during these days of penance, and be faithful to what you resolve upon.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. Our vocation makes penance a duty.

CONSIDERATION. In virtue of our vows and of the double end of our vocation, we are obliged to tend to perfection by continually contradicting our natural inclinations, and obtaining the salvation of our neighbour at the expense of our comfort, often of our health; and all this evidently requires the spirit of sacrifice and mortification, or of a continual penance.

APPLICATION. The penitents of the desert united to their fasts, vigils and hard labour. If, like them, or like many religious at this day, we are not obliged to break our sleep at midnight to watch in the Sanctuary, let us at least rise quickly from sleep always at the first sound of the bell, whatever fatigue or difficulty we may experience; let us at least watch in our meditation, and in all our spiritual exercises, never giving way to sleep or spiritual torpor. This will be a very painful struggle.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTONS

POINT III. Our own interest makes penance a duty.

CONSIDERATION. It is an article of Faith that all that we have not expiated in this world by penance will be expiated rigorously by the fire of purgatory, therefore, said St. Augustine, do penance, or burn — Aut poenitendum, aut urendum. We must choose. Can we hesitate, if we value our dearest interests? If we do, we shall be very blind, and our own enemies; and the more so, because we have so many fruitful means of doing penance and of paying off our debts.

APPLICATION. Besides the means already pointed out, can we not, by the continual mortification of our senses and our bodies, imitate, at least at a distance, the corporal mortifications of the Fathers of the desert? To habituate ourselves to kneel or sit without a comfortable support; to pass through the streets or public places without ever satisfying our curiosity; to observe silence and other points of rule most exactly and constantly, is to do penance, and, if continuous, it becomes a severe one. This is to live in the practice of a continual abnegation of ourselves.

COLLOQUY with Jesus Christ.

Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives – Lenten Meditation

lent

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives

1st Prelude. Imagine you see Jesus in His agony bathed in blood.

2nd Prelude. Beg for courage and perseverance in the spiritual combat.

POINT I. “Being in an agony, His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground”.

CONSIDERATION. The Saviour’s death upon the heights of Calvary before the world became a striking proof of His divinity. The Roman centurion, says St. Mark, “seeing that, crying out in this manner, He had given up the ghost,” said “Indeed this man was the Son of God.” And the soldiers who were with him watching Jesus said the same thing. His death was not, then, preceded by that agony which is the strongest proof of man’s impotence — struggling in vain against his dissolution. But Jesus, choosing to submit to all our humiliations and sorrows, anticipated the time of His agony. He suffered it before His other torments. And it was the more terrible and cruel because it was not the effect of physical exhaustion, but of an interior struggle between feeling and the will.

APPLICATION. What a great proof of love, and what a profitable lesson, Jesus teaches us by this! To soften the agony of death for us, and to merit for us the grace of supporting it with patience and resignation, He voluntarily endured, and offered to His Father for us, the most painful of agonies. Have I really understood this love? And what effect has it produced in me?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “As drops of blood trickling down upon the ground.”

CONSIDERATION. This bloody sweat, of which there are few examples in history, makes us understand what was passing in the soul of Jesus during His agony of nearly two hours; it shows us how great was the terror and suffering He endured, and especially how violent was the battle going on in His soul between nature repulsing with terror the chalice of bitterness, and the will firmly resisting the repugnance of nature.

APPLICATION. Most certainly Our Lord could have avoided this terrible and humiliating agony, but He chose to submit to it for our instruction and encouragement. Let us learn from it never to fall back from the execution of any duty, however painful it may be; and if we cannot get through it without great repugnance, and in spite of ourselves, as it were, let us be consoled by the thought that this natural dislike does not destroy the merit of what we do or suffer for God. Jesus has assured us of this in His own Person, and how encouraging it is!

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him.”

CONSIDERATION. The humble supplications of Jesus in His agony were not in vain. An angel came to visit Him, who strengthened His body, restored the vigour He had lost in His agony, and also fortified His soul, praising His resignation, and showing Him all that His Passion should do for His Father’s glory, and for the happiness of men. What Jesus as man had conditionally asked for, was not in truth given to Him, but His prayer obtained a wonderful and consoling answer.

APPLICATION. Behold what will infallibly be the fruit of your recourse to God in your troubles and anguish. Never do we pray in vain. If you do not obtain release from a heavy cross which weighs on you, the angel of divine consolation will shed the unction of grace in your heart. You will feel within you fresh strength and vigour of soul. Your cross will appear light to you. You will bear it with sweet resignation, sometimes with sensible joy, always with a fresh increase of merit. You will have obtained what you asked for.

COLLOQUY with Jesus in agony.

Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives – Lenten Meditation

lent

SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives

1st Prelude. See Jesus prostrate with His face on the earth.

2nd Prelude. Beg constant fidelity to all the rules for praying well.

POINT I. “And going a little farther, kneeling down He prayed, and He fell upon His face.”

CONSIDERATION. Remark the extraordinary signs of respect and humility which Jesus Christ showed in His prayer to His Heavenly Father. He knelt down, He fell upon His face on the earth, and He remained thus prostrate as if He was unworthy to raise His eyes to Heaven. He was penetrated with the thought of the infinite majesty of Him to whom He spoke as man, and as a sinful man, bearing the weight of our iniquities. Remark also the deep feelings of filial piety expressed by the words “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”

APPLICATION. Why is our manner so often wanting in respect and propriety when we pray or meditate? Is it not because we think too little of the infinite majesty of God, and of our infinite unworthiness? Happy is the man who before he prays is accustomed to ask himself “Before whom am I going to appear, and wherefore?” His manner will be always respectful; and as the body has a powerful influence over the soul, so a humble and pious exterior will tend very much to produce respect in the mind, the imagination, and all the powers of the soul. Have we not all often had the experience of this?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

CONSIDERATION. Jesus gives us the example of a wonderful and heroic resignation. Like unto us in all things in His human nature, He experienced a vivid horror at the sight of death, and at the thought of the horrible sufferings and fearful humiliations which were to precede it. He supplicated and implored His Heavenly Father, with groaning and tears, to spare Him these agonizing sacrifices. And nevertheless He declared that He was ready to endure them if it were His will; and He did finally submit to them with the most entire and perfect resignation.

APPLICATION. Behold, how we ought to pray when we ask God to exempt us or deliver us from something which is repugnant to our taste or natural inclination. We are not forbidden to supplicate earnestly that the bitter cup, the sufferings, the contradictions, which are so distasteful to nature, may depart from us, but we should always declare that, after all, we desire that His holy will may be done in us in everything, and this we ask for every day when we say “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “He prayed the third time, saying the selfsame words.”

CONSIDERATION. Jesus interrupted His prayer three times to go to the assistance of His disciples, who were wrapped in a false security at the moment of the greatest danger; but immediately afterwards He went back to pray, and repeated with great earnestness the same petition: “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.”

APPLICATION. Two things are taught us by this. First, that we ought not to apply ourselves so long to prayer as to neglect works of charity or zeal; neither ought we to devote ourselves to these works to the neglect of prayer; but that we should sanctify zeal by prayer, and enrich prayer by zealous and charitable labours. Secondly, that we ought not to make prayer consist of a variety of forms and expressions, nor be weary of repeating the same petition.

COLLOQUY with God the Father.