Tag Archives: Lenten Meditation

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.

The Dolors of our Blessed Lady – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: FRIDAY
Feast of the Dolors of our Blessed Lady

1st Prelude. Imagine you see Our Blessed Lady standing at the foot of the cross.

2nd Prelude. Ask the grace of tender compassion towards our dearest Mother in her bitter sorrow, and to understand how much, in what manner, and wherefore she suffered.

POINT I. How much she suffers.

CONSIDERATION. Let us enter into the spirit of the Church this day, and fix, as She does, our thoughts exclusively upon our Lady’s sufferings; she suffers on our account and for us. To understand in some measure how much she suffers, we must conceive the idea of a mother, the tenderest of mothers, who loves nothing so much as her son, her only son; this Son, the greatest of the children of men, she is forced to see die in the prime of His days, by no natural death, but by the hand of the executioner, surrounded by an angry mob, nailed living on a cross, after having been covered with wounds from head to foot, crowned with thorns; to behold Him struggling with death for three long hours, without being able in the least to assuage His agony! Did ever mother suffer such a martyrdom? But what passes our comprehension is that we may truly say that she endured this martyrdom for thirty-three years, knowing, to the smallest particular, all that awaited her from the hour of Simeon’s prophecy. Well does the Church style her Queen of Martyrs, and apply to her the words of the Psalmist “My life is wasted with grief, and my years in sighs.”

APPLICATION. Let us think of this when thus gazing on the picture of our Lady at the foot of the cross, and we shall find our hearts filled with love, compassion, and childlike devotion; we shall account our sufferings but trifles, and gain courage to bear or surmount them.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. In what manner she suffers.

CONSIDERATION. How did our Lady endure so many and so great sufferings? 1st, with perfect resignation and without a word of complaint; 2ndly, with admirable conformity to all the designs of Almighty God in the cruel and ignominious death of her Son; 3rdly, with generosity apparently impossible in a mother; 4thly, with constancy beyond heroism, standing beneath the cross till Jesus breathed His last sigh; lastly, with invincible sweetness and charity, joining her Divine Son in praying for His murderers.

APPLICATION. Mary is here the Queen and pattern of martyrs; see how far you are conformed to her example in the slight sufferings you endure.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. Wherefore she suffers.

CONSIDERATION. Wherefore did God will that Our Lady’s whole life should be passed in suffering, who had nothing to expiate like the rest of mankind? The Fathers of the Church reply that, to merit the title of Queen of Saints, she was obliged to surpass them all in her resemblance to her Son, so pre-eminently the Man of Sorrows; in love to God, which is proved by suffering for Him; in merit, which is gained also by suffering; and in sacrifice, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

APPLICATION. If God, wishing to bestow a mark of His peculiar love upon our Lady, could not find anything more precious than the cross, ought we to consider ourselves miserable when He gives us a share in it also, even should He decree that we carry it to the end? If so, He only treats us as He did her whom He loved best; let that thought console us, and let us carry our cross willingly after our dearest Mother.

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lady.

First Word of Jesus on the Cross – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
First Word of Jesus on the Cross

1st Prelude. Imagine you see Jesus raised on the cross, and hear Him say “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

2nd Prelude. Ask for a spirit of gentleness and charity.

POINT I. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

CONSIDERATION. The blood of Abel cried to Heaven for vengeance, and the vengeance of Heaven fell without delay upon Cain and his descendants. The crime of the Jews who nailed their Messiah, the Holy of holies, on the cross was infinitely greater. Yet at His last hour, instead of asking His Heavenly Father to manifest His justice by confounding His enemies and establishing His innocence, the first words of Jesus were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” What an example of gentleness and charity!

APPLICATION. Jesus is your model, whom you have promised so often to follow, especially in His gentleness and charity. But examine how you have done so. Jesus, innocence itself, so horribly treated, prays for His murderers, and even excuses their guilt, whilst you, perhaps, nourish feelings of bitterness and revenge against those who have wronged you but very slightly, over-estimating their offense, or attributing to them intentions which they may never have entertained.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross; and the writing was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, in letters in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.”

CONSIDERATION. Pilate’s motive in placing this apparently honourable inscription above the cross, in the three then best known languages, was to mortify the Jews, who had compelled him to condemn Our Lord unjustly; but at the same time he unconsciously fulfilled the words of Jesus “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” as well as the prophecy that the Gospel should be made known to Hebrews, Greeks and Romans, and from them should spread into every country, and be proclaimed in every tongue.

APPLICATION. Remark here the admirable providence of God, and how He obtains His ends in spite, and even by means, of the perversity of man; this we see every day, and therefore why shouldst thou, O devout soul, be so fearful and mistrustful in His service? Let us repose upon His providence, and no-one can harm us; in the words of the Apostle, we know that “to them that love God all things work together unto good.”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not: The King of the Jews; but that He said: I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written.”

CONSIDERATION. The inscription Pilate ordered to be placed above the cross wounded the pride of the chief priests, who came in a body to the governor requesting him to change it; but Pilate, so weak and timid before, was firm now, and only replied to their imperious demand “What I have written, I have written.”

APPLICATION. Here Pilate, although a heathen, gives us a lesson; he teaches us not to change our resolutions lightly, particularly those we have formed in retreats, but to adhere to them at whatever cost. So that under any pretext whatever — and pretexts are rarely ever wanting to those tempted to abandon their resolutions — let us stand firm and say “What I have written under the inspiration of grace, when God spoke to my heart, is to remain unaltered, and I will not depart from it.”

COLLOQUY with the Almighty Father beholding His crucified Son.

Jesus crucified between two Thieves – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: WEDNESDAY
Jesus crucified between two Thieves

1st Prelude. Behold Jesus lying on the cross, and the executioners who nail Him to it by the strokes of their hammers.

2nd Prelude. Ask for lively sentiments of compunction and compassion.

POINT I. “And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.”

CONSIDERATION. Jesus is come to Calvary, to the appointed place and at the hour appointed from all eternity for the consummation of His sacrifice. Let us go there in spirit: what do we see? — the Roman soldiers dispersing the crowd, Jesus standing by the huge wooden cross, the executioners each holding a nail and hammer. Our Lord is commanded to place Himself upon His cruel couch. He obeys without a reply; He lies down upon the cross; He stretches Himself upon it. An executioner asks for His right hand; He gives it; it is seized, and fastened to the cross by an enormous nail, with redoubled blows which re-echo around. But Jesus utters neither a cry of sorrow nor a murmur of complaint.

APPLICATION. He was crucified for us; for me, for my sins, and for the love of me, Jesus endured these fearful torments, the very thought of which makes nature shudder. The evangelist contents himself with the simple words “They crucified Him.” Can I contemplate Him nailed to this cross without emotion, without being touched to the heart, and affected to tears of love and compassion?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. Jesus is raised up on the cross.

CONSIDERATION. What a terrible punishment to be stretched upon the cross, with hands and feet nailed, and in this manner to wait for death! But this punishment did not suffice the love of Jesus; He suffered tenfold, a hundredfold more. The cross upon which He was nailed was raised, and firmly fixed in the rock. He remained hanging to it by the whole weight of His body, supported only by the nails, dying by inches. We can scarcely bear to think of such suffering, in which a minute must seem a day, but which Jesus bore for three mortal hours; and this for me and for love of me!

APPLICATION. O Christian, O religious, whoever you are, here pause and ask yourself — 1st, What are and what can my sufferings ever be, compared to the sufferings of my King and my Saviour? 2ndly, What have I done till now for this Saviour, who has loved me to such an excess, and what can I do now for the love of Him?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “And with Him they crucify two thieves, the one on His right hand, and the other on His left; and the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked He was reputed.”

CONSIDERATION. Jesus, as the King of Martyrs, not only willed His sufferings to be incomparably great, but also His humiliations; so it was that He to whom is due all glory in Heaven and Earth made Himself like the worst of criminals, and even by the good was accounted an impostor: thus was the height of infamy joined to the height of suffering.

APPLICATION. Let us kneel in spirit before Jesus suspended in ignominy on the cross, reconciling Heaven and Earth, between which He hangs; blotting out by His blood, as the Apostle expresses it, the handwriting of the decree that was against us. Let us repeat, in the words that the Church employs at each Station in the Way of the Cross “We adore Thee and we bless Thee, O Christ, because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

COLLOQUY with Jesus on the cross, or with His Mother standing beneath it.

The Soldiers give Jesus Gall to drink – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: TUESDAY
Jesus on Calvary — The Soldiers give Jesus Gall to drink, and strip Him of His garments.

1st Prelude. Imagine you see Jesus surrounded by His executioners, who strip Him of His garments.

2nd Prelude. Ask for grace to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus.

POINT I. “And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place of Calvary.”

CONSIDERATION. There are numerous mysteries connected with the place which our Lord chose for consummating His sacrifice: it was the spot where God commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac; where the Jews were accustomed to execute great criminals; and where, according to tradition, Noah buried Adam’s head, which he had taken in the Ark with him, the Hebrew word Golgotha signifying “chief” or “head.” The special mention of the place by the four Evangelists, of the Hebrew name Golgotha, instead of the Latinized Greek “cranium,” the place of Calvary, appears to give authority to the tradition always maintained by the Jews, according to the testimony of Tertullian, Origen, and St. Athanasius and the greater number of the Fathers.

APPLICATION. Let us meditate on these mysteries, for they are full of instruction. The sacrifice of Jesus, recalling to mind that of Abraham, should inspire us with love and gratitude to Him and His eternal Father, Who thus fulfilled the typical sacrifice of the great patriarch; next, Our Lord’s choice of the place used for the execution of criminals should remind us that He suffered for us criminals, for each one of us; and lastly, His dying on the spot where lie the ashes of our father Adam should show us how His death destroys the empire of death, and gives us a right to life eternal.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And they gave Him wine to drink, mingled with gall, and when He had tasted He would not drink.”

CONSIDERATION. It was the custom to give those condemned to death wine mixed with myrrh, either to strengthen them or to partly destroy their sense of feeling; but by a refinement of cruelty, gall was mixed with the wine given to our Lord. He took it; He tasted it; but, as the Gospel says, He would not drink.

APPLICATION. Why did Our Lord thus taste this bitter draught, and then refuse to drink it? He tasted it — 1st, to suffer in the sense of the taste, which His executioners had not been able to touch; 2ndly, to expiate our intemperance and sensuality in the use of food; 3rdly, to encourage us, after His example, to mortify our taste, or at least to resist our appetites, and never to exceed the bounds of religious temperance. On the other hand, He would not drink, because He would not in any degree assuage the sufferings which it was His will to endure to their utmost extent.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. Jesus stripped of His garments.

CONSIDERATION. The Roman law ordered that those condemned to be crucified should be stripped of their garments, thus adding shame to their other torments. Therefore Jesus, having tasted the bitter draught His executioners gave Him, was despoiled of His garments, which, by the weight of the cross, and His frequent falls, adhered so closely to His bleeding form that they could not be removed without opening His wounds, and causing Him fresh agony.

APPLICATION. Why did Our Lord will to suffer this fresh martyrdom of confusion and pain? To teach us, and to encourage us by His example, never to withdraw from any sort of shame, suffering, or privation, in His service should we even become a laughing-stock to the world, and be deprived of everything, like the dead man carried out to burial. This renunciation must be absolute in fact, or at least in affection. Jesus Christ requires it. He says “If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” What should we think of the religious who dreads the ridicule with which the world treats his habit or his poverty, or the religious who tries to please the world by studying his appearance, as far as the little he possesses allows him?

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lady.

The Thought of Judgement – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: MONDAY
Motives for Penance drawn from the Thought of Judgement

1st Prelude. I will imagine myself before the judgement-seat of Jesus Christ, with two unshaken witnesses beside me, my guardian angel and Satan.

2nd Prelude. I will ask for grace to know myself, that I may be able to judge myself here. Three things are to be feared in the particular judgement: 1. The judge; 2. The account to be rendered; 3. The sentence.

POINT I. The Judge.

CONSIDERATION. By penance we may make the judge favourable to us. The judge is Our Lord Himself, Whom we have neglected, offended and injured, with all the malice of sin, and so often, so deliberately, even when He loaded us with benefits. Now He is a God of mercy, ready to pardon at the first sign of repentance; but then He will be only a God of justice; as His mercy was infinite, so will be His justice; not the smallest fault, not an idle word, He has said, will pass unperceived, but will be severely punished in purgatory. These thoughts filled holy Job with fear. Who shall reprove His way to His face? And who shall repay Him what He hath done?

APPLICATION. What have you not to expect, or rather to fear, from your judge, you who have perhaps long lived in a state of tepidity, which blinds man as to the number and gravity of his faults, or maintains him in false security? What, then, should you do? Our Lord tells you: “Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him”; that is, according to St. Augustine, with God Who is your judge, and Whose enemy sin has made you; and you can do so, if “ye be humbled, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” to use St. Peter’s words, “and be penitent therefore, and be converted, that your sin may be blotted out.”

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. The account to be rendered.

CONSIDERATION. By penance we may lighten the account we shall have to give. What an account! All will be passed in review by One from Whom nothing can be hidden: the time lost in useless things; the good left undone; the good ill-done; all our thoughts, intentions, words, and actions; and, what is worse for the religious, all the means of salvation and sanctification lavishly bestowed upon him daily and hourly. The judgement will be severe in proportion to the grace received, says St. Cyprian, following the words of our Lord “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required.”

APPLICATION. These truths filled even the penitents of the desert with fear; they never thought they had sufficiently atoned for their past lives. The only means of consolation under this dread were tears and constant mortification, a life of continued penance until death. Imitate them; try to lighten by such a life of penance and mortification your heavy account of sin, imperfection, and negligence; and do it with special generosity during this holy season, two-thirds of which are already gone.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. The sentence.

CONSIDERATION. By penance we may insure a favourable sentence. The sentence of the judge will be irrevocable — life eternal or death eternal; the first securing the soul of the just endless glory and the delights of Heaven, although it may for a while be detained in a place of expiation; the second condemning the soul of the sinner to Satan and the eternal pains of Hell.

APPLICATION. You earnestly desire to be amongst the number of the elect, to enter into the immediate possession of Heaven. It is possible: with the grace of God, endeavour to live as a holy religious, expiating by constant penance and mortifications all that yet tarnishes the purity of your soul. This is the infallible but indispensable means of ensuring what you so much desire. Oh, how joyfully, after such a life, will you meet death! And why should you not do so?

COLLOQUY with Jesus doing penance for us.

Holy Women weep over Jesus – Lenten Meditation

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: SUNDAY
Holy Women weep over Jesus — Jesus meets His Mother on His sorrowful Journey.

1st Prelude. Behold those women amongst the multitude who bewailed and lamented Jesus, and specially His Holy Mother.

2nd Prelude. Ask for the grace of tender compassion.

POINT I. “And there followed Him a great multitude of people, and of women who bewailed and lamented Him.”

CONSIDERATION. We do not learn that all the multitude were filled with the same compassionate tenderness as these holy women; many, perhaps the greatest number, apart from the enemies of Jesus, were attracted by mere curiosity, and were quite indifferent to the fate of their Lord about to die for them.

APPLICATION. Thus in our own times a great multitude follow in spirit the various phases of our Lord’s Passion during this holy season of Lent, and you amongst the number can do so with more leisure than ordinary Christians, and at least give an hour a day to this exercise. But what are your impressions during this hour? Are you, like the holy women, touched with love, compassion, and contrition at the thought that it is for your sins, and for your sake, that Jesus suffers and is about to die?

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT II. “And there followed Him … women who bewailed and lamented Him.”

CONSIDERATION. Although St. Luke, speaking of these holy women, makes no special mention of Our Blessed Lady, we may piously believe, in accordance with universal tradition, that the Son and the Mother met upon the road, particularly as St. John says explicitly that Mary stood by the cross when Jesus reached the end of His journey. Who can express the feelings of the heart of this the most loving of mothers, when, making her way through the crowd, she stood face to face with her Divine Son, disfigured, bruised, crowned with thorns, covered with wounds and blood, surrounded by soldiers and executioners, who loaded Him with imprecations, and dragged Him to death?

APPLICATION. God willed that Our Blessed Lady should be thus afflicted; that she above all the saints might have the largest share in the Passion of her Son and in the work of our redemption, and thus accumulate more merit and richer treasures of sanctity than all who have yet lived or shall live. Do not be astonished, therefore, do not murmur, above all, do not be discouraged, if God sends you much suffering and tribulation, but believe that He does so to increase your love and your merit.

AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.

POINT III. “But Jesus, turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and your children.”

CONSIDERATION. Here let us admire the greatness of Our Lord’s tenderness to others. He forgets His own sufferings in His care for them. He warns them of evil days to come, and warns them to prepare for them by tears and penance.

APPLICATION. How different is Our Lord’s conduct from ours! When we are suffering in body or mind, do we not often forget what we owe to others, fancying that every one ought to be interested in us and pity our condition; and if they do not do so, do we not indulge in ill-humour and discontent? If we look at Our Lord we shall be more generous, less occupied with ourselves, more attentive to the wants of those around us, making it a rule never to let others suffer through us.

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lady meeting her Divine Son.

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.