Tag Archives: Lent

Last Word on the Cross – Lenten Meditation

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.

Sixth Word on the Cross – Lenten Meditation

SIXTH WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
Sixth Word on the Cross

1st Prelude. Imagine you behold your crucified Lord uttering the words “It is consummated.”

2nd Prelude. Ask that you may be able to say the same words at the hour of your own death.

POINT I. When Jesus therefore had taken the vinegar, He said “It is consummated”.

CONSIDERATION. Consider how truly Our Lord at the end of His earthly life could say “It is consummated; all that I owed to God My Father in reparation of His glory; all that I owed to man, whose salvation is accomplished; all My labours, sufferings, and humiliations”: to use His own words “I have glorified Thee on the Earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”

APPLICATION. How happy the religious who on his deathbed can say that he has faithfully accomplished all that God, his neighbour, and his holy vocation required of him; who since his entrance into religion has made God, the salvation of souls, and his own perfection his only aims; who has observed his rule, satisfied his superiors, and edified his community in spite of difficulties, sacrifices and humiliations! Truly can he also say “It is consummated; I am happy, I die content and full of hope.” Can you speak thus? Look back on the past; death is the echo of life.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “It is consummated.”

CONSIDERATION. The sense of these words is best completed by those which Jesus had uttered some hours before: “And now I am not in the world, and these [His disciples] are in the world, and I come to Thee.” As if He would say “All is consummated; nothing now keeps Me in the world; I leave it willingly”. Those who have no attachment to the world do not regret leaving it. The Heart of Jesus had no attachment except for men: He had come into the world to save them, He loved them ardently, and now death is about to separate Him from them! How, then, could He leave them without regret? By a prodigy of ineffable love He instituted at the Last Supper the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and after dying for us, deigns, by means of this same Sacrament, to remain perpetually with
us.

APPLICATION. It was on Holy Thursday that the institution of this wonderful Sacrament took place; the Church solemnly celebrates it not only in Her office, in the Gospel and prayers of the Mass, but in Her ceremonial, which is peculiar to this day. In cathedrals the bishop, in communities the abbot or superior, alone offers up the Holy Sacrifice; the other priests receiving communion from his hand, after the example of the Apostles communicated by Jesus Christ.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “It is consummated.”

CONSIDERATION. There is no doubt that Our Lord, in giving utterance to these words, had in His mind the great act of the night before, when He celebrated the Pasch with His Apostles. He had substituted, in place of the sacrifices of the old law and of the Paschal law, the sacrifice of Himself, which will last to the end of time. He had said “With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you”.

APPLICATION. This, then, is the festival of the Christian Pasch; let us rejoice at commemorating it at the same time as the Apostles, and prepare ourselves with suitable dispositions, renewing our acts of faith, hope, confidence, and desire.

COLLOQUY with our loving Saviour.

Third Word on the Cross: “Behold thy Mother!” – Lenten Meditation

SIXTH WEEK OF LENT: TUESDAY
Third Word on the Cross: “Behold thy Mother!”

1st Prelude. Look at Our Lady and St. John at the foot of the cross.

2nd Prelude. Ask for an increase of love for Jesus and Mary.

POINT I. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother.”

CONSIDERATION. His Mother stood by the cross. Here we must pause and consider two admirable and apparently incompatible things: Our Lady’s extraordinary grief, and her heroic courage. It is difficult to conceive how she, the most loving of mothers, could behold her Son nailed alive to the cross, and suffering a three hours’ agony, and remain standing beneath it. Many painters, it is true, have depicted her fainting and overwhelmed at its foot, but without any Scriptural warrant. St. John says explicitly she stood; and the Fathers agree that, standing thus, though, according to the prophecy of Simeon, her whole soul was pierced through as by a sword, she united herself to the sacrifice of her Divine Son.

APPLICATION. This supernatural strength was certainly the effect of a miracle of grace; but was no less also the fruit of her fidelity under all the trials which her faith and constancy had before suffered. God gives His graces in proportion to our correspondence with them. Let us also be generous and steadfast under our more ordinary trials, and we shall be strengthened under greater ones. Look back on your past life, and you will be convinced of this truth.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His Mother: Woman, behold thy son.”

CONSIDERATION. Admire the calmness of Jesus, who forgets Himself in the midst of His agony, to recommend her to the care of His virgin disciple, who was henceforth to sustain and console her to the end of her life. “Woman, behold thy son!” And at that moment He filled the heart of the beloved St. John full to overflowing with the tenderest and most generous love that ever son felt for this admirable Mother.

APPLICATION. Here our Lord teaches us to rise above our own sorrows, or rather to put them aside and forget ourselves for others. In giving His Mother merely the name of Woman, He would have us understand the less we act by the impulse of merely natural affection, the more we may rely upon His power to supply our needs and upon the protection of the Mother He has given us.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “After that, He saith to the disciple: Son, behold thy Mother.”

CONSIDERATION. Our Lord, having cared for His afflicted Mother, bethought Him of His beloved disciple, and wishing to give him a last mark of His love, places Our Lady from henceforth under his protection. “Behold thy Mother” are the words with which He turns His dying eyes on St. John; words full of consolation for us all, for the Fathers unanimously concur in believing that our Lord here used St. John as the representative of all the faithful, and that from this moment He filled the heart of Mary with an overflowing love for mankind, so that her Maternity became, in a certain degree, as unlimited as the Divine Paternity itself.

APPLICATION and COLLOQUY of love, devotion, and confidence in our Blessed Mother.

Motives for Penance drawn from the Thought of Hell – Lenten Meditation

SIXTH WEEK OF LENT: MONDAY
Motives for Penance drawn from the Thought of Hell

1st Prelude. Imagine a lost soul asking for an hour in which to do penance.

2nd Prelude. Ask for the grace to do penance, moved by the consideration of eternal reprobation.

POINT I. We have deserved Hell.

CONSIDERATION. I have merited Hell — first motive. Adam, by his disobedience, drew down upon himself the sentence of everlasting condemnation. God, it is true, gave him certain hope of escaping it when he foretold the advent of a Redeemer; but on the condition that he should do penance all the days of his life. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” was the command. With what gratitude did Adam receive this gracious commutation of his punishment, long and severe as it was! So in modern days, criminals condemned to death have sometimes their penalty altered to servitude for life.

APPLICATION. If you have committed one mortal sin, you ought to say to yourself “I have merited Hell, as did also our first father, Adam; and if I am to escape it is also on the condition of leading a life of penance.” Thus the Council of Trent, speaking in general terms, says: “All the life of a Christian should be a life of penance.” How much more true is this, if you have sinned yourself, even though it be but once! Besides, if you go down to hell in spirit, and behold the punishments which the lost endure, and which last to all eternity, suffering in this life will seem light, and you will say, with St. Augustine, “Here below, O Lord, burn, cut, and spare me not, so long as Thou sparest me in eternity!”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. The fear of Hell.

CONSIDERATION. Hell threatens me — second motive. The words of Our Lord are explicit: “Except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” How is this? Because pride and concupiscence, which since the Fall have infected our mind and heart, rule our actions, and will infallibly lead us into every species of sin and disorder, without the practice of constant penance and mortifications. The history of religious orders proves this. Humiliation is the penance of the intellect; and how many, in rejecting it, have become apostates before God, if not before man! Mortification is the penance of the heart; and how many, unwilling to endure it, who have begun in the spirit, afterwards indulge the desires of the flesh, as the Apostle St. Paul tells us! Think of those amongst them who you have known. Think of the dangers that you yourself have run.

APPLICATION. The Church does well to exhort us tenderly to penance from the first Sunday in Lent. Let us embrace it willingly. This is Holy Week. We should strive, therefore, to do more than we have yet done.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. Others are lost.

CONSIDERATION. Beings more perfect than myself are eternally lost — third motive. The angels have fallen in Heaven, and from Heaven they were cast into Hell. Faith assures us so. They had no time for penance; immediate punishment followed their offence — another and no less terrible truth. The renegade Judas had been called and formed by our Lord Himself to the practice of religious perfection and the apostolic functions. He spent three years with Jesus, and there secretly fostering an evil inclination, he at length became capable of conceiving and executing the most detestable of crimes, which led him to despair, suicide and Hell.

APPLICATION. “Wherefore, he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed, lest he fall”; repressing every evil inclination by continual mortification. Such is the practical conclusion of the Apostle St. Paul: “But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” Let us reason as did St. Paul; let us act as he did, and we shall be saved with him.

COLLOQUY with our merciful Lord.

Jesus on the Cross, abandoned, stripped and blasphemed – Lenten Meditation

SIXTH WEEK OF LENT: PALM SUNDAY
Jesus on the Cross, abandoned, stripped and blasphemed

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus, so short a time since triumphantly received, abandoned and blasphemed.

2nd Prelude. Ask for the grace to detach yourself from the world, that you may attach yourself to God alone.

POINT I. “And all His acquaintance … stood afar off, beholding these things.”

CONSIDERATION. All the ceremonies of Palm Sunday, the blessing of the palms, the procession, the chanted hosannas, are instituted by the Church to recall the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem on that day. What a contrast, at only six days’ interval, between the honours then rendered to Our Lord and the affronts and blasphemies that greet Him now! Then, a great multitude that was come to the festival, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm-trees and went forth to meet Him; and now He is condemned to death, He is left alone, abandoned by His friends, who stand afar off beholding Him!

APPLICATION. Let us learn from this not to count upon the help or consolation of our friends, particularly in times of misfortune or persecution; and to bear the want of sympathy even from our brethren and superiors, content to have God alone for the witness of our sorrows and sufferings. Happy is the religious who has early learnt this lesson; he is never heard to complain of neglect or want of consideration on the part of others. Jesus abandoned on the cross is sufficient for him.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTION.

POINT II. “The soldiers, therefore, when they had crucified Him, took His garments, and they made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat.”

CONSIDERATION. Six days before, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, not satisfied with welcoming Our Lord in triumphal procession, spread their garments in His way, and strewed them before Him. And how do they treat Him now? They strip Him of His garments and divide them before His eyes into four parts!

APPLICATION. Jesus, thus deprived of all things, even of those considered absolutely necessary to existence, teaches us the nothingness of those earthly possessions which worldly men seek so eagerly, often to their soul’s cost. Jesus suffers Himself to be thus despoiled with perfect calmness; for He is detached from everything below. Let us thank Him for having called us to the profession of holy poverty, the source of our peace, security and happiness.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And they that passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads, and saying: … If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and the ancients.”

CONSIDERATION. Another contrast, not less striking than the preceding ones. Six days ago the multitude that formed the procession from Bethphage to Jerusalem were crying with one voice “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest!” and now this same multitude, after having denied the Messiah they so lately had received in triumph, mock and blaspheme Him even in the very agonies of death!

APPLICATION. Today they cry “Hosanna”, they reverence and applaud Him; tomorrow it is “Crucify Him!” and He is forgotten, disdained and despised. Such is the history of earthly greatness; what folly, therefore, if in the exercise of your sacred ministry, or in any other work, you seek for notice, fame, or applause! In doing so, not only will you lose all merit in the sight of God, but you will lose likewise the esteem of men, who detest vanity, particularly in a religious.

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lord.

The Second Word on the Cross – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: SATURDAY
The penitent Thief — The second Word on the Cross

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus, crucified between two thieves.

2nd Prelude. Ask for great docility in following the inspirations of grace.

POINT I. “And one of those robbers who were hanged blasphemed Him saying: If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation.”

CONSIDERATION. The striking contrast between the two thieves offers at once a mystery and a lesson. The mystery is this, that both these thieves witness the superhuman charity and patience of our Lord, who hangs between them, praying and suffering for both of them alike; but, nevertheless, the one remains an impious blasphemer to the end, and dies impenitent; whilst the other, docile to the first movements of grace, opens his eyes and heart to the truth, and dies the death of the predestinate, baptized, as St. Cyrian says, in his own blood. The Church calls upon the faithful to venerate him, under the name of Dismas, on the 25th of March.

APPLICATION. The practical lesson to be derived from the above mystery is that God gives each man grace sufficient for his salvation, although He gives more largely to some than to others. But He also requires His creatures’ co-operation; thus, however great the graces bestowed on the good thief, he would not have been either converted or saved without his correspondence with these graces. And it follows that we religious, who have received extraordinary graces, must not look upon our salvation as therefore secured. What alone can give us a moral assurance of salvation is a faithful correspondence to each successively given grace.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And we indeed [suffer] justly, for we receive the due reward of our evil deeds; but this Man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom.”

CONSIDERATION. We go straight to God, and ensure not only His forgiveness, but draw down upon us still greater favours, when, like the penitent thief, we acknowledge our misdeeds and accept our punishment with contrition and resignation, joining humble and confident prayer to our submissive confession. The good confession of the divinity of Our Lord, which was then, as it were, annihilated, made by the penitent thief, shows us that, besides his justification, he received the gift of faith in an eminent degree.

APPLICATION. We are all weak; you have often considerable faults of which your conscience accuses you. Do you imitate the penitent thief? Do you not try to deceive yourself respecting them, or to hide or deny them before others? And with what sort of grace do you receive the correction they require?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And Jesus said to him: Amen, I say to thee, This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.”

CONSIDERATION. What consoling and encouraging words for the penitent thief in his last hour, surrounded by everything that renders death terrible and induces despair — agonizing pain, the remembrance of the past, the dread of the future! How great the power of one single fervent prayer! Here it changes a hardened sinner into a saint. He only asked Our Lord to remember him; and Our Lord gave him, with the remission of all his sins, the promise of a happy death, to be followed by bliss eternal.

APPLICATION. How wrong, therefore, to distrust the love of God, or the efficacy of prayer! However guilty or miserable we may be, or have been, prayer contains a virtue in itself, apart from the holiness of the man who offers it; and the more wretched our case, the more we should have confidence in its being answered. “That is very encouraging; but sometimes,” you say “I feel as if I could not pray in the least”; then make use only of the prayer of the penitent thief “Lord, remember me” so poor, so miserable; never shall we do
so in vain.

COLLOQUY with our merciful Lord.