Meditations on the Sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
Meditations on the Sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow.”—Lamentations i. 12.
THESE mournful accents placed by Jeremias in the mouth of the afflicted daughter of Sion may well be referred to Jesus Christ suspended between heaven and earth; and yet, oh senselessness! “the just perisheth,” says Isaias the prophet, “and no man layeth it to heart.” “Every creature,” says St. Jerome, “commiserates the death of Jesus Christ: the sun is obscured, the earth trembles, the rocks are split, the vale of the temple is rent, the sepulchres are opened, and man alone for whom Jesus died remains insensible; and man does not pity his Redeemer.” St. Augustine thus addresses man: “Jesus Christ came to suffer; He came to die, to be spat upon, and, finally, to be crucified on that infamous gibbet, the cross; He patiently endured all these pains, all these sufferings, for you, and will you not suffer something for Him?”
Cardinal Bellarmine seeks to know why we are scarcely willing to suffer for love of God even what is strictly necessary for our salvation, since the Eternal Son of God, who could have redeemed us by shedding a single drop of His precious blood, willingly endured unspeakable sufferings and poured out all His blood for love of us. The venerable author discovers that it is because we do not attentively meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ, and on the great love He showed for us by dying on the cross. The prophet Jeremias assigns the same reason when he says, “With desolation is all the land made desolate: because there is none that considereth in the heart” (Jerem. xii. 11). And indeed if all would reflect upon how much our beloved Redeemer suffered for us, certainly they would not offend Him by even a venial sin, and they would be as ardent with divine love as the seraphim in heaven. The Doctor of Grace recommends as most beneficial the daily meditation on the passion, asserting that a tear shed in memory of the sufferings of Christ is more meritorious before God than a life-long fast. “The wounds of Jesus,” says the same holy Father, “are full of mercy, full of sweetness and charity. As for me, in all my adversities I have not found a more powerful remedy than meditation on the sacred wounds of my holy Redeemer; in those wounds I repose calmly. “When some foul thought disturbs my mind, I have recourse to the wounds of my Jesus; when my flesh rebels against me, I remain victorious with the memory of the wounds of my Saviour; when the common enemy lays snares against me, I have recourse to the mercy of my Holy Redeemer, and the infernal enemy flies from me; when the ardor of concupiscence goads and excites my passions, I remember the passion of Jesus, and they return, at once to their former calm. In a word, there is nothing in the world, though bitter as death itself, which with the memory of the sufferings of Jesus will not become sweetened.” St. Gregory the Great says that “where the thought of the death of Jesus reigns, there concupiscence of the flesh cannot reign.” St. Isidore affirms that if we consider the passion of our Redeemer, there is no suffering which we may not only bear with patience and resignation, but also with exquisite pleasure and joy. “Truly,” asks St. Bernard, “who is there so irreligious as not to become contrite at the consideration of the excruciating sufferings of Jesus Christ? Who is there so proud as not to become humble? so irascible and vindictive as not to forgive? so attached to the honors and riches of the world as not to despise them? so malicious and sinful as not to repent? Ah! even this very moment the remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus moves the hardest hearts, as one day His painful death moved the earth and split the rocks.”
The same writer, addressing himself to our Lord, says: “Thy passion, O Lord, is the last refuge of a miserable sinner; it is a powerful remedy for all the infirmities of the soul; it supplies wisdom, justice, and sanctity. When virtue fails me, when my feeble strength abandons me, I am not disturbed; I do not distrust, but I have recourse to the wholesome chalice of Thy passion. I know that I have no merits before Thee, but I know that Thy merits are infinite, as is also the treasure of Thy mercy. I shelter myself meanwhile in the bowels of Thy mercy, and therein I taste how sweet is the Lord.”
“The passion of our Lord,” a devout author writes, “supports heaven and earth and vanquishes hell. By the passion the angels are confirmed, mankind is redeemed, the enemies are conquered.” Another pious author says that “the passion of Jesus Christ restored glory to God, repaired the ruin of the angels, crowded heaven with citizens, merited grace for man, acquired glory for the just, condemned sin and death, disarmed the devil of his power, and despoiled hell of its prisoners.” In a word, the passion of Jesus is so meritorious that God alone can explain its excellence; but we may experience the efficacy of its merits by a daily meditation upon it.“O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in Him” (Psalms xxxiii. 9).
Father Louis della Palma says that meditation on the passion of our Lord is suitable for all persons and all states of life. It will recall the sinner from his evil course, raise the falling from the pit of vice, strengthen the feeble in the path of virtue, quicken the persevering in the way to perfection, stimulate the love of the holy soul. All the glorious examples of virtue which Jesus gave us during His life shine out most resplendently in His passion.
St. Bonaventure, who wrote admirably on the passion and acquired his seraphic doctrine from the crucifix, says that if we wish to advance in perfection we should meditate every day on the sufferings of Jesus Christ, because such a practice is a powerful means of sanctifying our souls. It will free us from all evil, procure us every good, enrich us with the grace of God in this world, and merit for us eternal life in the next. “Yes,” says St. Leo the Great, “meditation on the sufferings of Jesus will merit for you life everlasting; because where the participation of the sufferings is, there is also a certain expectation of the promised beatitude.”
What devotion can there be more excellent, more efficacious, and more useful than this? “Who would refuse to spend half an hour a day in this pious exercise which has always been the delight of the saints? How many nights did not our seraphic Father St. Francis pass in contemplating the sufferings of his beloved Jesus, and with how many graces was he not favored in return? Let us, therefore, imitate this seraph of love, and like him we shall derive great joys and consolations in this life, and also in the next.
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.
He who bears God in his heart, carries his paradise with him everywhere. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, In Compend. Vitae.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.