On the Crucifixion of Our Lord.
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 Crucifixion of Our Lord.
To-day again picture to yourself, my soul, the great, the all-important moment, the moment of most supreme importance that the world ever knew, when Jesus was about to lay Himself down upon the cross, to be immolated upon that altar as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. What a stupendous instant! There stands Jesus before the dreadful cross: Hell looks on in anxious fear, Heaven regards the solemn scene with grave expectancy; both await the action of Jesus, on which consequences of such infinite magnitude depend. Consider:
1st. What were the emotions that thrilled through the Saviour’s heart as He gazed upon the instrument of torture, His bed of death that was prepared for Him, the nails, those cruel nails that were to pierce His hands and feet, the hammer, the heavy hammer that was to fasten Him to the cross? Well indeed may His human nature have shrunk shudderingly from so terrible a death; well may burning anguish and pale terror have seized upon His soul at the prospect of such an end. But He knew it to be the will of His heavenly Father, and the Son is obedient, obedient even unto the death of the cross. In this spirit of obedience He lays Himself down upon the cross as a victim, a patient lamb upon the sacrificial altar. Do you remember how when you took your vows, or were consecrated to the Priesthood, prostrate upon the ground you made an oblation of your own will to be crucified, and promised obedience to your Superior? Have you never drawn back from the sacrifice you then made? Will you not be obedient even unto death, like Jesus your Lord?
2d. Consider the unspeakable destitution of the Lamb of God when extended upon the cross. Every one, even the poorest of mankind, can find some couch whereon to lay his head when the hour comes for his last long sleep; at any rate the merciful earth provides him with a pillow. Jesus had not even that. A beam of wood, a tree of shame is His dying bed, and not even upon that comfortless pillow can He rest His gentle head, without driving in more deeply the thorns that compose His crown. Every one, even the most poverty-stricken, is furnished with a shroud, a covering to be drawn over his limbs as they stiffen in death; judge then how complete is the poverty of Jesus, since He lies on His death-bed naked, stript of His garments; He cannot so much as wipe the death-dews from His brow, for His hands are held fast by nails. Do you ever recall to mind, my soul, how you too once, when you made the sacrifice of yourself to God, pledged yourself to lead a life of poverty, of holy poverty? Have you persevered in holding fast to the cross whereto you nailed the concupiscence of the eyes? have you been as faithful to your vow as was your destitute Lord?
3d. Consider finally, with what brutality the Redeemer is nailed to the sacred cross. Jesus, the very personification of misery, is stretched upon the cross by the executioners; they pull His right arm until His hand reaches the hole made for the nail; one of them holds open the ringers which the pain causes to close involuntarily, another fixes the long, thick nail in its place; the ponderous hammer descends, and a cry of suffering, low and distinct, escapes the lips of the Lord. The arms of the executioners are besprinkled with His blood, the muscles of the hand are horribly torn. And when this hand is nailed fast, and the veins and nerves contract, how mercilessly His tormentors drag the other arm, which will not reach as far as the other hole; how heartbreaking is the wailing sound Jesus utters when the second and the third nail is driven in, till the horrible torture is at length ended. Helpless, bleeding, consumed with pain, the spotless, sinless Victim lies outstretched upon the cross, to make atonement for our sins. O my soul, do you sometimes think how you once, when you received Holy Orders or made your Religious profession, also outstretched upon the ground, offered yourself to God as a pure, a holy victim; how you vowed to observe holy chastity, to live a pure, a mortified life, renouncing the carnal delights and pleasures of the sinful world, which Jesus, nailed to the cross, expiated with such grievous sufferings? God grant that the strokes of the hammer at the crucifixion of your Lord may not sound in your ear as reproaches, but as an incitement to keep this vow with all fidelity, and daily to crucify anew the concupiscences of the flesh.
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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