On Compassion with Our Lord’s Sufferings.
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 Compassion with Our Lord’s Sufferings.
Our Lord in His character of divine Teacher has of late been the subject of your meditations, and doubtless the doctrine of the divine Master has produced the same effect on you as it did upon the people who listened to Him on earth. His wondrous divine teaching has touched your heart and convinced you that it is not human science but divine Wisdom that speaks in every word His lips utter. Therefore if the multitude heard Him gladly, if they followed and remained with Him for days together, to what a height their love, their admiration for their heavenly Teacher would have risen, if they had known that He who had been nourishing them with the celestial bread of His doctrine would shortly suffer and die for their sakes! To-day, when we commemorate our Lord’s death, let your eyes be fixed in sorrowing compassion on the great Instructor, for whom a cross, a crown of thorns is in store; consider how great a claim your suffering Lord has upon your commiseration.
1st. Imagine yourself suddenly brought face to face upon the highroad with a man who had been attacked by robbers, stripped of his clothes, horribly maltreated and finally fastened to a tree with iron nails. Could you look upon the unfortunate individual without feeling the deepest compassion for his terrible sufferings? Your heart would bleed at the sight of his frightful wounds, the cries and lamentations wrung from him by the torture he endured would excite in you the profoundest pity. And even if he were a total stranger to you, one whom you had never seen before, not even a fellow countryman, nay more, even if he were your enemy, you could not help feeling compassion for him. Now consider that it is not a stranger, not an enemy, it is your God, your Saviour whom you see nailed to the tree of shame, hanging upon the cross. Behold your Lord as He hangs there, covered with wounds from the crown of His head to the soles of His feet, a crown of sharp thorns encircling His brow, His hands and feet pierced with nails; hear Him cry aloud to you, as He piteously turns on you His eyes, bedimmed with blood and tears: “all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow.” (Lam. i. 12.) Yet you pass by and pay no heed to Him. How often you look at the crucifix, how often you recall to mind the Passion of Christ, His death, of which you are reminded in an especial manner every Friday; how often you assist at holy Mass, the memorial of His Passion, or make the way of the cross, and all the while you remain cold, unmoved, indifferent, so that it might be imagined that you were incapable of sentiments of compassion. Why is this?
2d. If you would be touched with heartfelt pity if the individual whom you saw nailed to a tree were a stranger about whom you knew nothing, what words can describe the compassion, the distress, the horror you would feel if in the unhappy victim you recognized your best friend, your greatest benefactor, or even your own father? How bitterly you would grieve and lament! Now behold, it is in very truth your best Friend, your greatest Benefactor, your own Father who is hanging upon the cross for you! When King Saul was dead, David, mourning for him, called to the Jewish maidens: “Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with scarlet in delights, who gave ornaments of gold for your attire.” (II. Kings i. 24.) How much the more ought we to weep over the death of the King of Heaven, to mourn for Him who clothed our soul for eternal delights, with the scarlet robe of grace dyed in His own blood, and decked them with His image surpassing in value the finest gold. Alas! He died for us who adorned the earth with beauteous flowers and fragrant herbs, who filled the firmament with brilliant orbs, who clothed the birds with gay feathers, the fish with shining scales, the beasts with thick, warm fur. And yet we have not a tear to shed for Him! The daughters of Israel wept for Saul for Jesus His own children do not weep, do not mourn. Can this be possible?
3d. Consider what St. Bernard says: “The earth quaked, the rocks were rent, the graves were opened, the veil of the temple was torn in twain, the sun and moon were darkened, all nature in a word gave signs of sympathy and compassion; shall we alone evince no compassion for Him who suffered solely and wholly for our sake?” In the revelations of St. Bridget it is said that at the time of Christ’s Passion all men then living upon the earth felt an inward sorrow; a, mysterious dread came over them which they were at a loss to account for or explain. O my soul, are you harder than the rocks about Golgotha, are you no longer a child of God, since you are devoid of all compassion for His sufferings? Do not rise up from your meditation to-day until your heart overflows with sorrow and sympathy with your crucified Redeemer, and do not rest content with feelings alone; show your compassion in a practical manner; suffer with Christ, by patiently bearing the cross laid upon you, whether it be physical suffering or the obligations of your calling, the restraint of the Rule, the slights to which you are subjected, or any other trial.
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)
PRAYER WHICH ST. GERTRUDE RECITED DAILY.
I salute thee, O Heart of Jesus my Saviour, vivifying and immutable source of joy and eternal life, infinite treasure of divinity, furnace of pure love; thou art my refuge and shelter, Thou art all to me. O loving Heart, fill my heart with the same fervor which inflames Thine. Bestow on me those abundant graces of which Thou art the source. Let my soul be always united to Thine, and let my will be continually subject to Thee. I have but one desire, that is that the rule of my actions, the object of my thoughts and sentiments, be Thine holy and infallible will. Amen.
Jesus, who art meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thy heart. (300 days indulgence.)
Sweet Heart of Jesus, enkindle me with Thy love. (300 days indulgence.)
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us. (100 days indulgence.)
Be loved everywhere O Sacred Heart of Jesus!(100 days indulgence.)
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