On the Place Where Our Lord Offered the Sacrifice of the Cross.
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 Place Where Our Lord Offered the Sacrifice of the Cross.
Place before your eyes the momentous, the deeply affecting spectacle of the first celebration of the sacrifice of the cross, when Christ, at the same time Priest and Victim, immolated Himself upon the altar of the cross as an expiatory offering for the whole guilty world. The place where that sublime sacrifice was offered and whither millions of hearts turn this day, is Golgotha, Mount Calvary, an eminence situated without the walls of Jerusalem. Direct your thoughts and your gaze to that spot.
1st. The name Calvary means the place of a skull. This hill was so called because of the skulls and human bones, the remains of the bodies of criminals who were executed there. In this place, to the very name of which shame was attached, where no upright man would be willing to be laid when dead, much less show himself there during his lifetime, our Lord offered His great sacrifice of atonement, and chose it for the scene of His death. Here we shall find abundant matter for meditation. Jesus expires on the spot where evil-doers suffered the penalty of the law, in order to earn pardon for us, the real transgressors, sentenced to eternal death. Christ’s blood is shed upon the place of a skull, the place of death, in order that He may thereby conquer death and give new life to all men. Jesus closes His earthly career in that ignominious and shameful locality, in order that we, when our earthly existence is ended, may enter into the realms of eternal glory. O the goodness, the love of our God! My soul, whenever thoughts of pride, vain-glory, self-complacency awake within thee, hasten to Mount Calvary, behold your Lord in the place of shame; perhaps that sight will avail to banish all vain thoughts from your mind.
2d. Consider that Mount Calvary is also called Moria; a word which, being interpreted, signifies vision, or contemplation. Truly Calvary is a mount of vision, of contemplation. There the charity and justice of God were manifested in their fairest light, and there you can behold them and meditate upon them. From that mountain you can look into the depths of the divine plan of salvation, infinite and mysterious as it is, and you can also fathom the abyss of human misery, of the guilt of sin. From that mountain you can gaze upon the wondrous drama of our Lord’s Passion, the last tragic scene of which was enacted upon that height. From that mountain you can obtain a view of the immeasurable graces and blessings which from thence spread out over the whole world; you can trace the river of life flowing out of this second paradise in four branches, forth from the pierced hands and feet of the Saviour; finally you can contemplate all that is great, noble, admirable, which has been achieved on earth by virtue of the holocaust offered upon Mount Moria. True, in this second Isaac, sacrificed upon Mount Moria, all the nations of the earth are blessed. Would that this mountain might be for you also a Moria, a “land of vision,” whereon you might frequently sojourn in holy meditation. Is it so?
3d. Consider that Mount Calvary was situated outside the city of Jerusalem. Our Lord desired to suffer death without the city, because His great sacrifice of atonement, as St. Augustine asserts, was not for one city alone, but for the whole world. He wished to erect the cross upon a high mountain, standing in the open country, so that this tree of life might not overshadow Jerusalem only, but the whole earth. As of old Noe’s ark remaining stationary upon Mount Ararat was the first sign that the devastating deluge was at an end; so this new Ark, standing upon Mount Calvary, announced to the world, submerged beneath the waters of a mystic deluge, the abatement of that destructive flood. Reflect my soul, upon this and other points for meditation which strike you in regard to the situation of Mount Calvary; and in conclusion consider this one fact more. As soon as the sacrifice of the cross had been offered on the mountain without the walls of Jerusalem, the oblation on the mountain within the city, the mount whereon the temple stood, was abrogated; nay more, it became a cause of death and perdition, whereas the other was a source of life and salvation. Hasten then, my soul, hasten speedily out of Jerusalem, the sinful city doomed to destruction and ruin, quit the world, that brilliant and wealthy city where too long you have burnt incense to your passions; and betake yourself to Calvary, that lonely mountain, the life of Religion, which men despise; there offer your oblation of self-denial and mortification. By this means alone can you render your salvation sure, for then on the day of our Lord’s second advent when the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that is, the votaries of the world, are, together with the guilty city, swept to swift destruction, you, standing on Mount Calvary outside the city, the mount of your spiritual life, far from the world you despise, safe from the judgments of God, will be able, like Moses upon Nebo, to look into the land of promise, the land God will give to His faithful children.
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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