Jesus on the Cross.
The inhuman persecutors of Jesus renewed his sufferings by stripping him roughly of his garments which adhered to his sacred wounds, after which they laid him on the cross. They handled him with taunts and jeers, extended his limbs with cruel violence, and nailed his hands and feet to the wood. Then, raising him on high, he was exposed to view, a spectacle for angels and men. He rested only on his wounds from which issued forth those precious streams which enrich the Church that he came to establish and efface the sins of mankind.
He desired the cruel and ignominious death of the cross to encourage you, by his example, to die for him; to repair the sin of the first man, who ate the fruit of the forbidden tree; to raise our hearts to heaven according to his word that he would draw all hearts to himself when he should be lifted up from the earth; to signify by the four extremities of the cross the four quarters of the world whose inhabitants he came to save; to show his goodness and mercy by extending his arms to receive all sinners; and make known to us the height and depth, the length and breadth, of divine charity. Finally, he died on it to accomplish the design which he had prefigured when he said that the world should be saved by the wood of the cross as it had been before saved by the ark of Noah and the rod of Moses. How shall those who have a horror of the cross and evade it whenever they can be saved?
They gave him vinegar mixed with gall to drink, and he accepted the bitter drought that nothing might be wanting that could augment his grief or lend weight to his sufferings. His enemies insulted his miseries, railed at him, assailed him with curses and blasphemies, and in derision invited him to come down from the cross. It is a difficult and painful thing for one who is innocent to remain silent and patient tinder injury when it is in his power to be revenged on the enemies who triumph over his misfortune and take advantage of his weakness. But we must imitate Jesus in the ignominies he suffered, if we desire to be partakers of his glory in the world to come. Alas, how is it that we can seek only sweetness and consolation when Jesus has drained the chalice of bitterness and grief?
Resolution: I will diligently examine my conscience each night to root out all mortal sin, and indeed all sin, that I may never again crucify my loving Jesus.
Prayer: Oh, Savior of the world, I adore thee on this thy throne of sorrow and ignominy. I cast myself into thine arms which thou hast opened to receive me. I throw myself at thy feet that I may be washed in the saving fountain that flows from them! Oh sacred Victim, consumed by suffering! Oh High Priest of the New Law! Why dost thou remain on this altar? Why dost thou not descend from the cross? If thou wouldst descend, all men, seeing thy power, would believe in thee.
Do not descend from the cross, O divine Wisdom. If thou art the Son of God, thou wilt die thereon! If thou shouldst come down and save thyself they will not follow thee. They will also fly the cross. They will refuse to carry it or die on it.
My Jesus, I see thee hanging on the cross. My sins have nailed thee there! Thou wast crucified once on Calvary, but how often I have crucified thee in my heart! With every mortal sin I have crucified thee. But no longer will I crucify thee, my Jesus, but my passions.
Oh, sweet Jesus, destroy my life for fear I may be so miserable as to destroy thine in my soul by mortal sin. Crucify my body for fear I may crucify thy spirit. Fasten me to thy cross with the nails of fear, hope, and love that I may never again be separated from thee.
O Queen of Martyrs, who stood by the cross and was given by thy Son to be my Mother, never let me crucify thy Son again, but let me crucify my passions that I may live with him and thee in paradise.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.