On the Fourth Station 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 Fourth Station of the Cross.
To-day, my soul, contemplate the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of Dolors, on the day on which her Son is to be put to death. Think what is the anguish she suffers when the concourse of the populace, the blast of the trumpet, the cavalcade of soldiers announce to her that He has entered upon the blood-stained way of the cross. Imagine as far as you can the painful perplexity of her soul, as she debates within herself whether she shall retire to a solitary spot to indulge her grief and weep unrestrainedly, or whether she shall nerve herself to follow her Son on the way of the cross. Love urges her to take the latter course, and love triumphs over grief.
1st. Consider that Mary, accompanied by John, follows Jesus on the way to Calvary. Oh behold that tender Mother, behold her traversing with trembling, tottering steps the streets that lead to the via dolorosa, the sorrowful way of the cross! How great the anguish, the horror that she felt! She already hears the uproar, the clamorous cries of the approaching multitude, already the notes of the trumpet fall on her ear and pierce her heart. Ought she really to go onward? Will she be able to bear it? Will she not be overcome with grief at the sight of her Son, bruised and bleeding? Will it not be too much for her to endure the contempt and mockery, the insolent stare of the executioners, of the jealous Pharisees, who consider themselves at liberty to be as rude as they please to the mother of a condemned criminal? Such are the painful thoughts that crowd into Mary’s mind; but love, the affection that stimulates her, proves more powerful than these sad anticipations, and she follows her divine Son on the way of the cross. If, my soul, you have hitherto followed your Lord on His sorrowful way rarely, reluctantly, the reason of this is to be found in your want of love; you have loved yourself too much and Him too little, therefore you could not bring yourself to encounter the shame, the scorn, the bitterness which await all who walk with Mary in the dolorous way of the cross.
2d. Consider how Mary met Jesus on the way to Calvary. Look attentively at the affecting picture this meeting presents: Mary, broken down with grief, leans against one of the posts of the gate through which the oncoming crowd will pass. Pale as a corpse, her hands tightly clasped together, she looks anxiously in the direction in which our Lord is coming, eager to catch sight of Him. He is approaching now, her divine Son, staggering under the weight of the cross, wearing the terrible crown of thorns, His countenance covered with sweat and blood, bearing evident traces of deadly exhaustion. His blessed Mother no longer sees the soldiers, she no longer sees the executioners; in her all-absorbing sorrow, her intense affection, she is blind to all except one form only that of her afflicted, tortured Son. Wringing her hands in anguish, she presses through the guard who surround the divine Victim, she sinks down before Him, dissolved in sorrow, love and adoration. Their eyes meet, they exchange a look of mutual love and compassion. Some of the soldiers are touched by this sight; but the others, abusing both the Mother and the Son, drive our Lord forwards, roughly thrusting His Mother aside. You act thus cruelly towards our blessed Lady when you are wilfully indifferent to the Saviour’s Passion, when you add to His sufferings by your sins. Oh do not be one of His brutal tormentors, but rather cast yourself down before Him as Mary did when you behold Him carrying the cross; bewail your misdeeds with heartfelt contrition, and make a firm resolution of amendment.
3d. Consider that the anguish Mary experienced at this meeting was unexampled in its intensity. When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his dearly loved son Isaac, he took care to prevent Sara, the boy’s mother, from knowing anything about it; he said not a word and thus spared his wife the terrible affliction, the heartrending grief that would have overwhelmed her. When Jacob in profound sorrow rent his garments and cried aloud in his woe, so as to melt a very heart of stone, because Joseph, his son, had, as he imagined, been torn in pieces by a beast of prey, Rachel, the doting mother, had already been taken out of this world, God having thus spared her that terrible trial. Mary, however, the Mother of the Son of God, was not destined to be exempted from the greatest, the most poignant anguish which a mother’s heart is capable of feeling; she had to behold her divine Son dragged to execution before her eyes, condemned to death, to the death of a malefactor, to the death of the cross. Who can help pitying this unhappy Mother? What a severe trial is laid on her, and alas! she has to bear this cruel martyrdom alone, quite alone! At the sight of the fortitude displayed by this weak woman, blush with shame, my soul, at your want of courage, your complaints and lamentations, when you encounter something in the duties of your calling which is painful and distressing.
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.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood.
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of humankind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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