On Our Lord’s Passion As a Mirror of Patience.
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 Our Lord’s Passion As a Mirror of Patience.
It is said that a vain person was once cured of her vanity in a singular manner. On taking up a hand-mirror to contemplate her charms, instead of her own fair features the agonized countenance of the thorn-crowned Saviour, disfigured, distorted by suffering, met her astonished gaze. An unknown hand had painted this affecting image on the surface of the glass. This lesson taught her how transient is human beauty, and how little cause man has to be vain. To-day, my soul, look into the mirror of our Lord’s sufferings, that you may behold in it the virtue of patience. Place Him before your mind in one of the scenes of His Passion while you meditate upon Him as your example.
1st. The patience displayed by holy Job is highly praised. God sent upon him one calamity after another. He caused his flocks and herds to be carried off, his lands laid waste, his children suddenly killed, and himself to be struck with a very loathsome leprosy. In this grievous affliction Job, sitting on a dung-hill, does not murmur or rail against Almighty God; on the contrary he extols His holy name amid his sufferings in the ever memorable words: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job i. 21.) What great, what wonderfully great patience! Could it possibly be surpassed? Yes, it is surpassed by Jesus in His Passion. See how heavily, how unutterably heavily the chastising hand of the Lord weighs on Him. Job only lost temporal goods, whereas Jesus left the joys of Heaven for our sakes. Job was only afflicted in his property and his body; his honor, his life were not taken from him, whereas Jesus from the beginning to the end of His life dwelt in the uttermost poverty, and when covered with painful wounds from the sole of His foot to the crown of His head, He was in addition to this satiated with reproaches, despised and treated as the outcast of the people, and condemned to end His days by the most agonizing and ignominious death. Finally Job in his tribulation enjoyed the divine consolations, whereas from Jesus the bitter cry was wrung: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!” And yet never a single word of impatience passes His lips. If Job is a model of patience, the suffering Saviour is patience itself. But this is not all.
2d. Consider that immense patience is required to bear trials and cruel sufferings willingly, as Job bore them. It requires yet greater patience to bear the insults and cruel speeches which are sometimes our portion in our afflictions, and which greatly aggravate them, as Job bore them, without cherishing in his heart any ill-will or rancor against the inhuman foes who thus tormented him. But his patience is undeniably the greatest of all who not merely refrains from taking revenge on his enemies, though he could easily do so, but even renders them good for evil. Such was the patience of our suffering Lord. Oh do but raise your eyes to the cross, look into this mirror of incomparable patience. Crushed and tortured as He is with racking pain, the scorn and derision of the Pharisees which He continually hears expressed around Him are a terrible addition to the agony He Endures, and serve to embitter His last hours, when even the greatest criminals are left in peace. And the Lord, who with a nod could annihilate those blasphemers, not only tolerates their hideous cruelty in silence, but – listen and marvel, O my soul! – the last prayer that escapes the pallid lips of their Victim ere He expires is a prayer for His tormentors. O patience of my Jesus, how thou dost put me to shame!
3d. Consider that you, who are a disciple of the crucified Redeemer, you who are a Religious, pledged to follow Christ with the utmost fidelity, you who are a Priest, daily uniting yourself in Holy Communion with Jesus, the model of patience, do not yet even equal Job, much less Jesus, in regard to patience. If you are put out of temper by the annoyances and minor trials of daily life, how would it be if the Lord were to lay His hand so heavily upon you as it was laid upon Jesus, your great example? Keep in mind this truth, that the perfection of the Christian and above all of the Religious consists pre-eminently in bearing patiently the afflictions and contrarieties of daily life. Our Seraphic Father St. Francis says that among all the gifts of the Holy Ghost which Jesus Christ conferred on His servants, the principal is this, the power to conquer oneself, and for the love of God to endure sufferings and injuries willingly. We have nothing, the saint adds, whereof we can boast, but yet we participate in the tribulations which we bear for the love of God, and in these we may glory – as the Apostle says: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal. vi. 14.)
And now, my soul, to show that you have not in vain looked to-day in this wondrous mirror of exalted patience, begin from this very hour to bear with equanimity all the annoyances you may meet with in the course of the day.
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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