Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

On the Obligations We Are under to Meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ.

I.

The Son of God is well pleased when we reflect on the sorrows of his bitter passion, and we owe him this consolation, since it was for us that he suffered and yielded himself a willing victim to the justice of God, bearing in himself the punishment due for our sins. It was for this that he descended from the throne of his splendor at the right hand of the Father, and passed his life on earth in poverty, humiliation, and misery, "Blotting out" says St. Paul, "the handwriting of the decree that was against us, fastening it to his cross." We should, then, suffer with patience and joy, for the love of him, all pain, all distress, all injuries, which may overtake us. But he only asks us to come to the foot of the cross and there think of the love we owe him, and the excessive griefs he has suffered for our salvation. It is only just that we should do so, for had he not suffered and died so cruelly, we should not be saved.

II.

There is nothing sweeter or more consoling, than to meditate on the passion of Jesus, because it reveals to us the excess of his tender and compassionate love, and inspires us with a lively and strong hope, that God will pardon our sins, and be merciful to our infirmities. For the Son of God has satisfied the justice of God the Father; he has transferred to us the treasures of his merits; and we should glory more in the price he has given for us, than in all the blessings, graces, and joys, which we hope to obtain from his infinite goodness.

These are sweet reflections, and ought to fill our souls with consolation. What joy and pleasure ought we not to derive from the fountain of all grace, which is ever open and free for the refreshment of souls!

I have committed many and grievous sins; my conscience is terrified. But why should I be cast down or troubled, when I remember the wounds of my Savior, and that it was for my sins that he received them? "There are no wounds, however mortal," says St. Bernard, "which may not be healed by the death of Jesus."

III.

The remembrance of the passion of our Lord, is very useful to us in our spiritual warfare; for it renders us victorious over our enemies, who are the world, the flesh, and the devil. The devil tempts us by despair or presumption. Despair arises from ignorance of the mercy of God, who delivered his only Son to death for the salvation of sinners, and accepted his sufferings in payment of their debt. He revealed his justice in the rigorous treatment which he inflicted on his only, his most holy and innocent Son, who, wearing only the likeness of a sinner, and being clothed in the shadow of our transgressions, was obliged to submit to the weight of his anger, and suffer the penalty of our guilt.

The passion of Jesus enables us to obtain the victory over the world, which tempts us only by love and pleasure, fear and grief; for who is there that can love pleasure, when they behold the Savior of the world consumed by suffering? Who can fear grief and pain, when they reflect that Jesus preferred them to all the splendor and felicity of paradise?

The flesh is our most dangerous enemy; it is that which tempts us both by love and fear; but the passion of Jesus inspires us with horror for all that it loves, and with love for all that it hates and fears. When I see the body of my Savior covered with wounds, I am constrained to cry out, with one of the saints, in accents of tender compunction, Behold mine, without wounds!

Resolution: To keep a crucifix or image of Jesus suffering in a prominent place as a constant reminder of what he has suffered for me. (Additionally a holy card kept in a wallet or on one’s desk is another helpful way to keep the Sacred Passion ever in mind.)

Prayer: Oh, Savior of my soul, is it surprising that I, who meditate so seldom on thy sacred passion, who shrink with horror from the contemplation of thy wondrous sufferings, who turn my eyes away from thy wounds, should yield to temptations when they assail me? But, from henceforth, I will establish my habitation on Calvary. There do I wish to live—there do I wish to die. Not on Thabor will I begin my Lent, but on this hill of grief. Here I will say, "It is good, O Lord, for me to be in this place." Oh, spectacle full of profit and consolation, to behold a God expiring on a cross for the love of sinners!

By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

1 comment:

michele said...

Beautiful meditation Father Bailey. Thank you for leading us closer to Jesus in this holy season of Lent.
God bless you.