On the Duty of Frequent Meditation upon Christ’s Passion.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Duty of Frequent Meditation upon Christ’s Passion.
You have now for some time past taken as the subject of your meditation the joyful, happy incidents connected with the mystery of our Lord’s resurrection; and in so doing you have done wisely, for the Apostle Paul declares that the resurrection of Christ is a fact of such infinite importance that without it our faith would be vain. But whilst contemplating this glad event, we must not lose sight of another, that of our Lord’s Passion, the principal source of strength, of consolation, of spiritual refreshment and support to the Christian, and pre-eminently to the Priest and Religious. Consider then to-day this duty, this sacred obligation which gratitude imposes on you, of frequently making our Lord’s sufferings the theme of your meditation, so that you may not omit from time to time, at least on the Friday of every week, to recall to mind Christ’s Passion and death.
1st. Consider how by His Passion our Lord redeemed you from the power of the devil and rescued you from the jaws of death. If you fly for refuge to the Crucified all the powers of hell cannot harm you, and if in your last hour you keep your eyes fixed upon the crucifix, you will not feel the sting of death. Now I ask you, my soul, supposing you were condemned to death, supposing you were already led out to the place of execution, and some one came forward and out of pure charity offered to undergo death in your stead, nay actually did give his life for yours, could you ever forget such charity, so immense a benefit? Would it be possible for you to let a single day pass by without a grateful remembrance of your benefactor, without a prayer for the repose of his soul? Assuredly not, you will reply; but do not speak too positively; for certainly though it ought not to happen, it is yet too true that you allow weeks to go by without seriously thinking of Him who actually did all that for you, Jesus in His Passion.
2d. Consider that by His Passion our Lord made you a child of God instead of, as you were, a child of the devil. In contemplation of this truth St. Bernard exclaims: “What does us greater honor than that the Son of God should value us so highly as to redeem us by His death and precious blood?” If a monarch were to pay a high price as the ransom of a prisoner, were to take him to his court and load him with honors, would not that be a benefit deserving of eternal gratitude, of eternal remembrance? Now compare, man, this favor with that bestowed on thee by thy Saviour, who ransomed thee, a wretched captive, with the most costly of all ransoms, His own most precious blood; who did not merely give thee a place at His court, but adopted thee as His child. Reflect on this and weep over thy own thanklessness in so seldom calling to mind the Passion of Christ, thy negligence in acting so little in accordance with the saying of St. Augustine: “There is nothing so salutary, so profitable for the soul, as daily to reflect upon the greatness of the sufferings the God-man endured for us.”
3d. Consider how vast an amount of pain, of labor, of toil our Lord bore for us in His Passion. If it was only meet and right that Tobias should exhort his son to honor his mother, to be mindful of how great perils she had suffered for him; if the poor galley-slave never forgot the benefit conferred on him by St. Vincent of Paul, when the latter took his place on the bench, to relieve him of his terrible labor and fatigue, how is it possible that you can ever forget what your suffering Lord did for you? He gave you new birth upon the cross amid pangs far sharper than those of any mother, and for your deliverance, for you who were condemned to hell, He imposed on Himself labor more arduous, toil incomparably greater than Vincent underwent for the sake of a convict. Listen, my soul. St. Francis was one day walking not far from the chapel of the Portiuncula, weeping and sighing bitterly. He was met by a servant of God who was acquainted with him, and who seeing him to be in such distress and affliction, imagined that some misfortune had befallen him. But when he asked him what was the matter, the saint replied: “The reason why I weep and sigh is this; because my Lord in His perfect innocence suffered so much, and men who are the cause of His sufferings think so little of the immense obligation they are under to Him and the great gratitude they owe Him.” If the saint were to behold you, what would he think of you who are his Son perhaps, or his Daughter? Would he cease weeping, or would his tears flow yet more freely?
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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