Twelfth Station.—Jesus dies on 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.
Twelfth Station.—Jesus dies on the Cross.
“And bowing His head He gave up the ghost”—John 19: 30.
Let us place ourselves again in spirit on Mount Calvary and contemplate Jesus on His bed of pain. His hands and feet are nailed to the cross. No words can even faintly give an idea of that pain, but the ingenuity of malice has devised still greater sufferings, and a new torture is prepared for our Lord. When those wretched creatures had completed his crucifixion, they tied ropes to the trunk of the cross, and fastening their ends to a long beam which was fixed firmly in the ground at a little distance, they raised up the cross. Some of their number supported it, while others pushed its foot towards the hole prepared for it—the heavy cross fell into this opening with a frightful shock—Jesus uttered a faint cry—His wounds were torn open in the most fearful manner, and the precious blood gushed forth, then, as now, trampled upon by the unthinking crowd. They pushed the cross to get it thoroughly into the hole, and caused it to vibrate still more by planting five stakes around it to support it. Christ is thus exalted, and, as a malefactor, hangs on a gibbet between heaven and earth. Let us place ourselves at the Twelfth Station, which bears the inscription: Jesus dies on the cross, and consider,
I. The victory which Jesus won on the cross.
II. The victory which we, too, must win.
From the severe struggle which Christ had to endure on the cross He came forth as conqueror,
I. In the struggle against His unutterable bodily pains.
(a) How intense are the pains which Jesus suffers on the cross! There is not a spot of His Sacred Head that is free from pain. Alas! the thorns have made it one quivering wound, His face is swollen and disfigured by blows, His chest is distended and raised in such a manner that it were easy to number His bones, His back is lacerated, His hands and His feet pierced through with nails and fastened to the cross—in a word, His whole aspect is such as makes Him appear to us as a man of sorrows. And in these nameless sufferings He cannot procure for Himself the least mitigation. His head pains Him, but if He wished to remove the thorns, the nails hold His hands fast to the cross; His hands and feet ache and smart, but if He should try to find relief, alas! He is bound fast by the nails; His back and chest cause Him absolute torture, but He cannot move—our sins keep Him nailed to the cross. Imagine how our Lord must have suffered, to remain so long unable to lie or sit, to walk or stand, and with the whole weight of His body perforce suspended by these three nails. His members are growing weaker by the long hanging, and, the wounds made by the nails having become larger, with every moment the pain grows more excessive, but, alas! He must drain the bitter cup to the dregs. As St. Alphonsus remarks, Jesus endures the pangs of death every moment, and we may say that He suffers death as often as there are moments in the three hours during which He hung upon the cross. The terrible thorns in His diadem of pain pressed into His head and prevented His raising it even for a moment without the most intense suffering; His mouth was parched and half open from exhaustion, and His waving locks and beard clotted with blood. His chest was torn with stripes and wounds, and His elbows, wrists and shoulders so violently distended as to be almost dislocated. The precious blood never ceased flowing from the gaping wounds in His hands, and His flesh was so torn from His ribs that you might almost number them. His legs, thighs, and arms were stretched almost to dislocation, while the flesh and muscles were completely laid bare that every bone was visible, and His whole body covered with black, livid and gaping wounds. The blood which issued from His wounds was at first red, but by degrees it became rather like water, and the whole appearance of the body was that of a corpse ready to be placed in the grave. Thus Jesus on the cross could truly exclaim in the words of the prophet: “O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow.”—Lament. 1:12.
(b) Yet, notwithstanding the horrible wounds, the like of which no man ever endured, notwithstanding the ignominy to which He was reduced, there still remained that inexpressible look of dignity and goodness which had ever filled all beholders with awe. Indescribable as are His pains—no complaint, no murmur, no despondent word comes from His lips; He does not make the least exertion to be freed from His torture; He remains on the cross, and with constancy perseveres to the last moment. Though His hands and feet and every member of His body suffer unspeakable pains, He does not complain; as in the Garden of Olives, so now on the cross, He suffers with resignation and bows to the will of His heavenly Father.
2. In the struggle against the wickedness of His enemies.
(a) You who have walked step by step with our beloved Saviour along the dolorous way of the cross, whose hearts have gone forth in sympathy with His bitter sorrows, may think that at the sight of His countless pains the fury of His enemies would have subsided and given place to feelings of compassion and mercy; for it is peculiar to the human heart to be satisfied when it sees the object of its hatred destroyed. But no, the leaders of the Jews far from feeling the least commiseration for the crucified Saviour, on the contrary emulate one another in blaspheming and mocking Him in His misery and abandonment. “Vah,” some of them said, “Thou who destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again, save Thy own self; if Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Others sneeringly exclaimed: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the king of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God.”—Matt. 27; 40-43. How painful such blasphemies must have been to our crucified Saviour! What pain His Sacred Heart must have suffered when in this last supreme hour He was mocked by His own creatures and not even granted the privilege of dying in peace!
(b) What is Christ’s conduct towards His enemies? Does He burn with holy indignation at their wicked behavior? Does He from the cross hurl curses upon His heartless scoffers or destroy them with the breath of His mouth? Ah! no; Jesus, the Eternal Love, does not do this. He does not regard the injury inflicted upon Him, but their immortal souls and the judgment awaiting them, and, full of compassion and commiseration, He lovingly pleads for His murderers, saying: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”—Luke 23 : 34. O love of my Jesus, what a good fight Thou hast fought, what a glorious victory Thou hast won O, millions of Thy servants, who are despised and persecuted in the world, look upon Thy struggle, and, in Thy victory, conquer.
3. In the struggle against the dejection of His heart.
(a) The Apostles and martyrs, it is true, had to endure a hard struggle in the hour of their death, for they were most cruelly tortured. When we read of the sufferings which many of them had to undergo for the sake of their faith, we shudder and can scarcely believe it possible that they could suffer such torments. But then, in all their struggles and sufferings these Saints enjoyed divine consolation, and it was this that raised their drooping spirits, strengthened them and sweetened the most bitter pains. But how different is the manner in which our crucified Saviour suffers! He is destitute of all heavenly consolation, for He voluntarily parted with it that He might, to its fullest extent, suffer the bitterness of death. His heavenly Father withdraws Himself from Him, as it were, and no longer allows Him to enjoy the sweetness of His presence. His soul, like His body, is over-shadowed by the densest darkness, and not a ray of heavenly light penetrates into His agonizing heart. His humanity shudders at this and breaks forth into the plaintiff cry: “My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me”—Matt. 27 : 46.
(b) Let us not believe, however, that this plaintive cry showed that the deep interior anguish of our Redeemer had conquered. Let us not think that He had at last faltered, and would, with despondent heart, meet His death. No, He only complains, and that in a loud voice, that we may fully understand what an inexpressible pain for Him is this deprivation of all divine consolation, and realize the depth of a love, which impelled Him voluntarily to undergo this pain in order to render our death less painful. He does not waver a moment in His confidence in God, even in the hour of His greatest abandonment He is perfectly resigned to the will of His heavenly Father, therefore, after a short pause He exclaims: “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”—Luke 25: 45.
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.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and, imploring the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou was united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength. Most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us most lovely father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.
An indulgence of 3 years.
An indulgence of 7 years during the month of October, when said after the recitation of the Rosary and on any Wednesday throughout the year. A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions, If this prayer is devoutly said daily (Leo Xiii, Encyclical Aug. 15, 1889; S.C. Ind., Sept. 21, 1889; S.P.Ap., May 17, 1927; Dec. 13, 1935; and March 10, 1941). (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957) .
Litany of St. Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious son of David, pray for us.
Light of the patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most valiant, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of workmen, pray for us.
Glory of domestic life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
He hath made him master of His house,
And ruler of all His possessions.
Let us Pray.
O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother, grant that as we venerate him as our protector on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in Heaven, Thou Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph
(This prayer was said to be founded in the 50 A.D. In the 1500’s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. According to oral tradition, whoever reads this prayer, hears it, or carries it, will not fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.)
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph for a Happy Death
O Glorious St. Joseph, behold I choose thee today for my special patron in life and at the hour of my death. Preserve and increase in me the spirit of prayer and fervor in the service of God. Remove far from me every kind of sin; obtain for me that my death may not come upon me unawares, but that I may have time to confess my sins sacramentally and to bewail them with a most perfect understanding and a most sincere and perfect contrition, in order that I may breathe forth my soul in the hands of Jesus and Mary. Amen.
Help us, St. Joseph, in our earthly strife, ever to lead a pure and holy life.
300 days indulgence.
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