Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Twentieth Day of June

Souls Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Love to Meditate on His Passion.

Those burning flames which consumed the Heart of Jesus, those unspeakable sorrows which plunged Him into a sea of bitterness, that immense thirst for our salvation, are prodigies of the love of a God which would surpass all belief and defy all conception, had not our divine Lord given us some striking and palpable proof of them.

To suffer and to die for our friends is the greatest proof of love. Majorem hac dilectionem nemo habet quam ut animam suam ponat quis pro amicis suis (St. John xv. 13). This proof the Heart of Jesus has given us, or no, it is not for His friends but for His enemies—for those who put Him to death that He dies. And who of us is there, whom He could have loved, says St. Augustine, if He had not loved His enemies? He loved us while we were His enemies in order to make us worthy of being called His friends. Our Blessed Savior desires that we should never lose sight of this inconceivable proof of love: the sufferings and death which He endured for us. It is for this that He would renew the remembrance of it every day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is impossible to be devoted to His Heart without taking pleasure in meditating on the means, so inconceivable and so worthy of our gratitude, invented by that divine Heart in the excess of its love, in order to give a proof of this love to the insensible hearts of men.

It is not only, then, in the garden of Olives, but in the hands of the soldiers, in the streets of Jerusalem, before Annas, Caiphas, and Herod, at the pillar, in the Praetorium, upon Calvary, that hearts devoted to the Heart of Jesus should follow their divine Savior and unite themselves to His sorrows which finished only with His life.

As regards the fruit and merits of such meditation, all the saints agree in extolling them with one voice. St. Austin tells us that a single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ, is of more value than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and fasting for a year upon bread and water. Why is the number of those who love Jesus Christ so small asks St. Alphonsus Liguori. Because there are so few who meditate on the pains which He endured for us. Whoever meditates on them frequently cannot live without loving Jesus Christ. He will feel himself so constrained by His love that it will not be possible for him to refuse to love a God who has shown such love and suffered so much, only that He might be loved. Our Lord Himself said to Blessed Veronica of the order of St. Augustine, "I would have all men honor my Passion by a sincere sorrow and lively compassion for my sufferings. Should they but shed a single tear, they may be sure that they have done a great deal, for the tongue of man cannot express the joy which is given me by this single tear." The angels revealed to Blessed Jane of the Cross that the divine Majesty took such pleasure in the tears shed over the Passion of Jesus Christ, that they have a value in His sight equal to that of shedding our blood or of suffering the greatest pains.

Our Lord said one day to St. Angela of Foligno: "Whoever wishes to find grace should never turn away his eyes from the Cross, in whatever state he is, whether of sorrow or joy. Those who employ themselves in meditating on my Passion and death, the source of life and salvation, are my true children. Others are my children only in name."

The same saint, having been favored with an apparition of Jesus Christ crucified, heard Him pronounce upon those who compassionate His sufferings and love to take part in them these consoling benedictions: "Blessed of my Father are you, who by compassionating my pains, sharing in my tribulations, and walking in my footsteps, have merited to wash your robes in my precious blood. Blessed are you, who compassionating my immense sufferings and the death which I endured to rescue you from eternal torments, to make satisfaction for you and to work your redemption, have been found worthy to share my poverty, humiliation and sufferings. Blessed are you who faithfully cherish the remembrance of my Passion, the greatest miracle of all ages, the salvation and life of those who were lost, the only refuge of sinners; for you shall share in my resurrection and in the kingdom and glory which are the reward of my sufferings, and shall be my heirs through all eternity. Blessed are you of my Father and the Holy Spirit. Blessed are you with that blessing which I shall myself give on the day of my justice, for instead of rejecting me like my persecutors when I came into my own kingdom, by your lively sense of my abandonment, you gave me an asylum in your hearts. Seeing me tormented with hunger and thirst, pierced with nails, agonizing and dying upon the cross, you would be my comforters and associates, fulfilling thus the works of true mercy. Therefore you shall hear on the terrible day, those words so full of joy for you: ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom predated for you from the foundation of the world.’ Your title is incontestable, for I was hungry, and you gave me the bread of compassion to eat."

Practice: The Blessed Virgin, according to a pious tradition, never passed a day without visiting the spots sprinkled by the blood of her divine Son. The Apostles, following her example, and after them the Faithful of every age, hastened to traverse this way of sorrows.

The Way of the Cross was established in order to supply, in some manner, the place of this pious pilgrimage. The Sovereign Pontiff enriched it with the most abundant indulgences. Benedict XIV assures us that it is the most powerful means of converting sinners, reviving the tepid, and sanctifying the just. Contrive, then, to practice this holy exercise from time to time, especially at the season at which the Church invites us to meditate on the sufferings of our Lord. Or, if it is not possible to do this where the stations are erected, then meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ in the depths of your heart.

Ejaculatory Prayer: Never will I forget the sufferings of my God. My heart shall preserve a continual remembrance of them, and my soul shall languish with amazement and gratitude. Memoria memor ero, et tabescet in me anima mea (Lament, iii. 20).

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

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