On Our Lord’s Throne in Heaven and on Mount Calvary.
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 Throne in Heaven and on Mount Calvary.
On this day, the day whereon we recall to mind our Lord’s death, in spirit ascend the Mount of Calvary, and there behold your Redeemer, hanging on the cross, lacerated with wounds, covered with blood, tortured by excruciating pain and anguish, forsaken by God and man. What has brought Him to the cross, that terrible instrument of torture? What crime does His earthly Judge ascribe to Him? Read the superscription and you will know: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” is inscribed upon it. Yes, indeed, it is as a king that He hangs upon the cross. He is still a king, though certainly a very different king now upon Mount Calvary to the king He formerly was in Heaven. There majesty is His throne, and here ignominy.
1st. Consider our Lord’s throne in Heaven. The prophet Isaias was privileged to behold Him there; he thus describes what he saw: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated; and His train filled the temple. Upon it stood the seraphims: the one had six wings and another had six wings; with two they covered His face, and with two they covered His feet, and with two they flew. And they cried one to the other, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of His glory. And the lintels of the house were moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” (Is. vi. 1-4.) The Lord Jesus upon His throne was also seen by another, St. John, the prophet of the New Covenant, who thus speaks of what he saw: “There was a throne set in heaven and upon the throne One sitting. And He that sat was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine-stone; and there was a rainbow round about the throne in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats four and twenty ancients sitting clothed in white garments and on their heads were crowns of gold. And from the throne proceeded lightnings and voices and thunders, and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. . . . The four and twenty ancients fell down before Him that sitteth upon the throne, and adored Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: Thou art worthy, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power; because Thou hast created all things, and for Thy will they were, and have been created.” (Ap. iv. 2-5, 10, 11.) Contemplate awhile this splendor and majesty, this aureola of glory and light that surrounds our Lord upon His throne in Heaven, listen to the shouts of hosanna, behold this infinitude of bliss and of grandeur; then turn your eyes again to earth.
2d. Contemplate our Lord enthroned on Calvary. Oh what a sad contrast meets us here! All is indeed different; the bright light of Heaven is changed into the gloomy blackness of night, and the blissful, blessed life into cruel death. Now the throne of our King is the cruel, the disgraceful wood of the cross. And this cross is erected in the worst, the lowest spot in Jerusalem, the place where criminals are executed. Instead of being surrounded by the ancients with their golden crowns, and the seraphim clad in garments of light, He is placed between two thieves; instead of the glory of celestial brightness about Him He is shrouded in weird, gloomy darkness; instead of the sound of a thousand voices crying: Holy, holy, holy, mockery and contempt, the blasphemies of the executioners and Pharisees meet His ear; and instead of shining like an emerald in the white robes of ineffable brightness, He hangs naked, blood-stained, crowned with thorns upon a cross. O throne of torture and of shame! And if you would know, my soul, what is the appearance of the King now upon the cross, the same regal personage whom the prophet beheld upon His celestial throne, environed with indescribable beauty and magnificence, listen to the lamentations that prophet utters: “There is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness, and we have seen Him and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him; despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity, His look was as it were hidden and despised.” (Isaias liii. 2, 3.) Vast and incomprehensible is indeed the difference between these two thrones! What induced the merciful King to leave His glorious throne in Heaven, come down to earth and ascend the ignominious throne of the cross? It was the love He bore to you to you, a miserable sinner.
3d. Consider further the cause and the object for the sake of which our Lord exchanged His throne in Heaven for the throne of the cross. To be “ruler of the earth,” lord of creation, supreme among God’s creatures, such is man’s grand destiny. But through sin he lost that regal dignity and sank to the level of an abject slave, and became a servant of sin. For that reason the Son of God left the golden throne in Heaven and ascended that of the cross, in order to reinstate man in the regal dignity he had lost, to deliver him from the slavery of sin and the tyranny of the devil and raise him to the throne in Heaven where the redeemed of mankind are destined to fill the places left vacant by the angels who fell. This is why St. Peter says of the redeemed: “You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation” (I. St. Peter ii. 9), and in reference to them St. John writes: “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead and the Prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us a kingdom and priests to God and His Father.” (Apoc. i. 5, 6.) Consider this, my soul. The throne of our Lord in Heaven is undoubtedly infinitely glorious and beautiful, but His throne on Calvary abounds in blessings and possesses infinite graces for us; and if it ever be granted us to reign with Christ in Heaven, it is to the throne of the cross that we shall owe it. Wherefore prostrate yourself to-day in the spirit of contrition, love and gratitude before that throne, and ever bear in mind this one truth: If you desire to sit with Christ on the glorious throne of eternal joy in Heaven, you must now ascend with Him the throne of shame and suffering, the cross, remembering the apostle’s exhortation: “If you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, that when His glory shall be revealed you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (I. St. Peter iv. 13.)
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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