Holy Week, Passion Polyptych - by VIVARINI, Antonio - from Galleria Franchetti, Ca' d'Oro, Venice
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
???????? ─ Just prior to Holy Week, we find Jesus Speaking-about:
Nothing in Human History is so Totally Paradoxical, as the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. About to be Displayed in Degradation, during Holy Week, He speaks-of His Glory being 'Revealed'.
Paradox - ??????
Jesus, in His Agony upon the Cross, with every Part-of His Body, Full-of Torture, and Deluged-with Affliction in His Soul, Seeks-for someone to Console Him. He looks-towards Mary; but that Sorrowing Mother only adds-by her Grief, to His Affliction. He 'Casts' His Eyes around Him, and there is no one that gives Him Comfort. He asks His Father for Consolation; but the Father, 'Beholding' Him Covered-with all the Sins of Men, even He too Abandons Him; and then it was that Jesus Cried-out with a Loud Voice: Jesus cried out with a Loud Voice, saying, My God, My God, why hast Thou Forsaken Me? My God, My God, and why hast Thou also Abandoned Me? This Abandonment by the Eternal Father, 'Caused' the Death-of Jesus Christ to be more Bitter, than any that has ever Fallen-to the Lot-of either Penitent or Martyr; for it was a Death of Perfect Desolation, and Bereft-of every Kind-of Relief.
Jesus then, knowing that His Sacrifice was now 'Completed', said that He was Thirsty: He said, I Thirst. And the Executioners then reached-up-to His Mouth a Sponge, filled-with Vinegar and Gall.
It is Consummated, Father
The Disobedience-of the First Adam, has been Replaced-by the Obedience-of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ.
Behold how the Loving Savior, is now Drawing-nigh unto Death. Behold, O my Soul, those Beautiful Eyes 'Growing'-dim, that Face become all Pallid, that Heart all but Ceasing-to Beat, and that Sacred Body, now Disposing itself to the Final Surrender-of its Life. After Jesus had Received the Vinegar, He said, It is Consummated. He then Passed-over in-Review before His Eyes, all the Sufferings that He had Undergone during His Life, in the Shape-of Poverty, Contempt, and Pain; and then 'Offering' them all up-to the Eternal Father, He turned-to Him and said, It is Finished. My Father, Behold-by the Sacrifice-of My Death, the Work-of the World's Redemption, which Thou hast Laid-upon Me, is now 'Completed'. And it seems-as-though, 'Turning' Himself again to us, He 'Repeated', It is Finished; as if He would have said, O Men, O Men, Love Me, for I have done all; there is nothing more that I can do, in-order-to Gain your Love.
Behold now, Lastly, Jesus Dies. Come, ye Angels of Heaven, Come and Assist-at the Death-of your King. And thou, O Sorrowing Mother Mary, do thou Draw Nearer-to the Cross, and Fix thine Eyes, yet more Attentively-on thy Son, for He is now on the Point-of-Death. Behold Him, how, after having 'Commended' His Spirit to His Eternal Father, He Calls-upon Death, giving it Permission, to-come-to take-away His Life. Come, O Death, says He to it, be Quick and Perform thine Office; Slay Me, and Save My Flock. The Earth now Trembles, the Graves open, the Veil-of the Temple is Rent-in-Twain. The Strength of the Dying Savior is Failing, through the Violence-of the Sufferings; the Warmth of His Body is gradually Diminishing; He gives-up His Body, to Death; He Bows His Head down-upon His Breast, He opens His Mouth and Dies: And Bowing His Head, He gave-up the Ghost. The People, Behold Him 'Expire', and, Observing that He no-longer Moves, they say, He is Dead, He is Dead; and to them the Voice-of Mary makes Echo, while she too says, "Ah, my Son, Thou art, then, Dead".
He is Dead! O God! Who is it, that is Dead? The Author-of-Life, the only-Begotten Son-of-God, the Lord of the World, ─ He is Dead. O Death! Thou wert the Amazement-of Heaven, and of all Nature. O Infinite Love! A God, to Sacrifice His Blood, and His Life! And for whom? For His Ungrateful Creatures; Dying in an Ocean-of Sufferings and Shame, in-order-to Pay the Penalty, due-to their Sins. Ah, Infinite Goodness! O Infinite Love!
O my Jesus! Thou art, then, Dead, on-account-of the Love which Thou hast Borne me! Oh, let me never again Live, even for a Single Moment, without Loving Thee! I Love Thee, my Chief and Only Good, I Love Thee, my Jesus, ─ Dead-for me! O my Sorrowing Mother Mary! do thou Help a Servant-of thine, who Desires-to Love Jesus.
The Crucifixion - by GRÜNEWALD, Matthias - from Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar
Jesus hanging Dead, upon the Cross
Raise-up Thine Eyes, my Soul, and 'Behold' that Crucified Man. 'Behold' the Divine Lamb, now Sacrificed upon that Altar-of-Pain. Consider-that He is the Beloved Son of the Eternal Father; and consider-that He is Dead, for the Love that He has 'Borne' thee. See how He 'Holds' His Arms Stretched-out to 'Embrace' thee; His Head Bent-down to-give the Kiss-of-Peace; His Side Open, to 'Receive' thee into His Heart. What dost thou say? Does not a God so-Loving, 'Deserve' to be Loved? Listen-to the Words He Addresses-to thee from that Cross: "Look, My son, and see whether there be anyone in the World, who has Loved thee more, than I have".
No, my God, there is None that has Loved me more, than Thou. But what Return, shall I ever be-able-to Make-to a God Who has been Willing-to Die, for me? What Love from a Creature, will ever be-able-to Recompense the Love-of His Creator, Who Died to-Gain his Love?
O God! had the Vilest One-of Mankind, Suffered-for me, what Jesus Christ has Suffered, could I ever Refrain-from Loving him? Were I to see any Man, Torn-to-Pieces with Scourges, and Fastened-to a Cross, in-order-to Save my Life, could I ever Bear it in-Mind, without Feeling a Tender Emotion-of Love? And were there to be Brought-to me, the Portrait-of him, as he Lay Dead-upon the Cross, could I Behold it with an Eye-of Indifference, when I Considered: "This Man is Dead, Tortured thus, for Love-of me. Had he not Loved me, he would not so have Died".
Ah, my Redeemer, O Love of my Soul! How shall I ever again be-able-to Forget Thee? How shall I ever be-able-to Think that my Sins have Reduced Thee so-Low, and not always Bewail the Wrongs that I have done to Thy Goodness? How shall I ever be able to see Thee Dead-of Pain on this Cross, for Love-of me, and not Love Thee to the uttermost-of my Power?
O my Dear Redeemer! well do I Recognize-in these, Thy Wounds, and in Thy Lacerated Body, as it were through so many Lattices, the Tender Affection which Thou dost Retain-for me. Since, then, in-order-to 'Pardon' me, Thou hast not 'Pardoned' Thyself, Oh, look-upon me now with the same Love, wherewith Thou didst One Day Look-upon me from the Cross, whilst Thou wert Dying-for me. Look-upon me and 'Enlighten' me, and 'Draw' my Whole Heart to Thyself, that so, from this Day-forth, I may Love none else but Thee. Let me not ever be Unmindful-of Thy Death. Thou didst Promise that, when Raised-up upon the Cross, Thou wouldst 'Draw' all our Hearts, to Thee. Behold this Heart-of mine, which, made Tender-by Thy Death, and Enamored-of Thee, Desires-to 'Offer' no further Resistance, to Thy Calls, Oh, do Thou 'Draw' it to Thyself, and make it all Thine Own! Thou hast Died-for me, and I Desire-to Die-for Thee; and if I Continue-to Live, I will Live-for Thee alone. O Pains-of Jesus, O Ignominies-of Jesus, O Death-of Jesus, O Love-of Jesus! 'Fix' Yourselves within my Heart, and let the Remembrance-of You, Abide there always, to be Continually-smiting me, and Inflaming me with-Love. I Love Thee, O Infinite Goodness; I Love Thee, O Infinite Love. Thou art, and shalt ever be, my One and Only Love. O Mary, Mother-of-Love, do thou 'Obtain' me Love.
Mary Present-on Calvary, at the Death of Jesus
Jesus is Dead; Satan has been Forever Defeated; the Soul and Divinity of Jesus are Descending-to Vanquish the Powers-of-Hell; Jesus' Body and Divinity await the Tomb, and His subsequent Resurrection; Blood and Water flow-from the Right Side of Jesus, Symbolizing the Birth of His One, Holy Church. Water Symbolizes Baptism, and Blood Symbolizes Eucharist, the Two Major Sacraments. The Naked Brutality and Humiliation-of a Roman Crucifixion, is clearly depicted-by WEYDEN. Saint John turns-away from the Scene, in Tears. The Blessed Virgin, United-in-Will with God-the-Father, embraces the same Cross, as her Son Jesus embraced. This 'Embracing', Illustrates the important Theological Idea of Mary's own Compassionate Suffering, and her part in Christ's Act-of-Redemption. Saint Mary Magdalene helps support the Blessed Virgin in her Deadly Sorrow, while the other Two Mary's, look-on, in Humble Prayer.
There, Stood-by the Cross-of Jesus, His Mother. We Observe-in this, the Queen-of-Martyrs, a sort of Martyrdom, more Cruel than any-other Martyrdom, - that of a mother so-Placed as-to-Behold an Innocent Son, Executed-upon a Gibbet-of-Infamy: "She Stood". Ever since Jesus was Apprehended-in the Garden, He has been Abandoned-by His Disciples; but, Mary Abandons Him not. She Stays-with Him till she sees Him Expire, before her Eyes: "She Stood close-by". Mothers, in-general, Flee away-from the Presence-of their Sons, when they see them Suffer, and cannot Render them any Assistance: Content-enough would they be themselves, to-'Endure' their Sons’ Sufferings; and, therefore, when they see them Suffering, without the Power-of Succoring them, they have not the Strength-to Endure so-Great a Pain, and consequently Flee-away, and go-to a Distance. Not so, Mary. She sees her Son in-Torments; she sees that the Pains are taking His Life away; but she 'Flees' not, nor Moves-to a Distance. On the contrary, she Draws Near-to the Cross, whereon her Son is Dying.
O Sorrowing Mary! Disdain me not, for a Companion, to Assist-at the Death-of thy Jesus, and Mine.
She stood Near-to the Cross. The Cross, then, is the Bed, whereon Jesus 'Leaves' His Life; a Bed-of Suffering, where this Afflicted Mother is 'Watching' Jesus, all Wounded as He is, with-Scourges and with-Thorns. Mary 'Observes' how this, her Poor Son, Suspended-from those Three Iron Nails, finds neither a Position nor Repose. She would Wish-to Give Him some Relief; she would Wish, at least, since He has to Die, to have Him Die-in her Arms. But Nothing-of all this, is Allowed her. Ah, Cross! she says, Give me Back, my Son! Thou art a Malefactor’s Gibbet; whereas my Son is Innocent.
But Grieve not thyself, O Mother. It is the Will-of the Eternal Father that the Cross should not give Jesus back to thee, until after He has Died, and Breathed His Last. O Queen of Sorrows! Obtain for me, Sorrow-for my Sins.
There Stood-by the Cross His Mother! 'Meditate', my Soul, upon Mary, as she Stands-at the Foot-of the Cross, 'Watching' her Son. Her Son! but, O God, what a Son! a Son Who was, at One and the Same Time, her Son and her God! a Son Who had, from all Eternity (∞), 'Chosen' her to be His Mother, and had given her a Preference-in His Love, before all-Mankind, and all-the-Angels! A Son so-Beautiful, so-Holy, and so-Lovely; a Son Who had been ever-Obedient unto her; a Son Who was her One and Only Love, being as He was, both her Son and God. And this Mother had to see such a Son Die-of Pain, before her Very Eyes!
O Mary, O Mother, most Afflicted-of all mothers! I 'Compassionate' thy Heart more-especially, when thou didst Behold thy Jesus 'Surrender' Himself up upon the Cross, 'Open' His Mouth, and 'Expire'; and, for Love-of this thy Son, now Dead-for my Salvation, do thou 'Recommend' unto Him, my Soul.
And do Thou, my Jesus, for the Sake-of the Merits-of Mary’s Sorrows, have Mercy-upon me, and Grant me the Grace-of Dying-for Thee, as Thou hast Died-for me: "May I Die, O my Lord" (will I say unto Thee, with Saint Francis of Assisi), "for Love-of the Love-of Thee, Who hast Vouchsafed-to Die-for, Love-of the Love-of me".
Think-of how much Suffering there is in Hospitals, among the Poor, and the Bereaved.
Think also of how much of that Suffering Goes-to-Waste!
How many of those Lonesome, Suffering, Abandoned, Crucified Souls are saying-with Our Lord at the Moment of Consecration, "This is my Body. Take it"? And yet that is what we all should be saying at that Second:
I give myself to God.
Here is my body. Take it.
Here is my blood. Take it.
Here is my Soul, my Will, my Energy, my Strength,
My Property, my Wealth - all that I have. It is Yours.
Take it! Offer it! Offer it with Thyself to the Heavenly Father
In order that He, looking down on this Great Sacrifice,
May see only Thee, His Beloved Son, in Whom He is Well Pleased.
Transmute the Poor Bread of my Life into Thy Divine Life;
Thrill the Wine of my Wasted Life into Thy Divine Spirit;
Unite my Broken Heart with Thy Heart;
Change my Cross into a Crucifix.
Let not my Abandonment, and my Sorrow, and my Bereavement go to Waste.
Gather up the Fragments,
And as the Drop of Water is Absorbed by the Wine at the Offertory of the Mass,
Let my Life be Absorbed in Thee;
Let my little-Cross be Entwined with Thy Great Cross,
so that I may Purchase the Joys of Everlasting Happiness in Union with Thee.
Consecrate these Trials of my Life which would go Unrewarded, unless United with Thee;
Transubstantiate me so that like Bread which is now Thy Body,
And Wine which is now Thy Blood, I too may be Wholly Thee.
I care not if the Species Remain, or that, like the Bread and the Wine,
I Seem to all Earthly Eyes the Same as before.
My Station in Life, my Routine Duties, my Work, my Family -
All these are but the Species of my Life which may Remain Unchanged;
But the Substance of my Life, my Soul, my Mind, my Will, my Heart -
Transubstantiate them, Transform them Wholly into Thy Service,
So that through me, all may know how Sweet is the Love of Christ.
Every Theologian ought to be a Mystic;
Every D.D., or Doctor-of-Divinity, ought to be a Saint.
He knows enough to be one, but he does not Will it.
I am a D.D., but I am not a Saint.
May GOD have Mercy on my Soul.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen,
Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.
Our Greatest Fault is that we wish to Serve God in our Way, not in His Way -- according to
our Will, not according to His Will. When He wishes us to be Sick, we wish to be Well; when He desires us to Serve Him by
Sufferings, we desire to Serve Him by Works; when He wishes us to Exercise Charity, we wish to Exercise Humility; when He seeks
from us Resignation, we wish for Devotion, a Spirit of Prayer or some other Virtue. And this is not because the things we
Desire may be more Pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our Taste. This is certainly the Greatest Obstacle we can
Raise to our own Perfection, for it is beyond Doubt, that if we were to Wish-to be Saints according-to our own Will, we shall
never be so at all. To be Truly a Saint, it is necessary to be One, according-to the Will of God.
Saint Francis de Sales