The Passion of Christ
(See what it is to-Love)

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Christ Carrying the Cross - by TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista - from Sant'Alvise, Venice
(Click image to view in more detail)

 

It is Helpful to Recall that when Alphonsus wrote these Reflections on the Passion-of-Christ, he himself was Climbing the Hill of his own Agony and Crucifixion - almost Bent-in-Two by his Physical Ailment-of the Spine, and already practically Blind and Deaf, and in addition, Suffering a Personal Heartbreak at the Threatened Dissolution of his Redemptorist Congregation. images.jpe (3237 bytes) At the Age-of Seventy-seven, he was already on Calvary, where he remained for another Fourteen Years, until his Death at Age Ninety-One. It was surely not a Frothy Sentimentalism which gave him the Courage to Write these Words, as he Reflected-on the Passion of Christ:

"Lord, I do not Merit Consolations; but by Your Grace, just let me keep Loving You, and I shall be Content to Live in this Desolation for as-long-as You Wish".

 

The Passion of Christ

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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Descent from the Cross -
by REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn -
from the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

(He has Loved us even unto Death, and Came not down-from the Cross, till after having-left His Life, thereon.)
 

"See what it is to-Love". It seems as though our Redeemer, from the Cross said-to us all, "See what it is to-Love". Whenever, in-order-to 'Avoid' something that is Troublesome, we Abandon Works that are Pleasing-in His Sight, or at-Times, even go so-far-as to Renounce His Grace and His Love. He has Loved us, even-unto Death, and Came not Down-from the Cross, till after having-left His Life, thereon.

Saint Laurence Justinian says that the Death-of Jesus, was the most-Bitter and Painful of all the Deaths that Human Beings ever Died; since the Redeemer Died-upon the Cross without Any, even the Slightest, Alleviation: "He was Crucified Wholly, without any Alleviation-of Suffering". In the Case-of other Sufferers, the Pain is always Mitigated, at all Events, by some Consoling Thought; but the Pain and Sorrow of Jesus, in His Sufferings, were Pure-Pain, Pure-Sorrow, without Mitigation: "The Extent of the Suffering-of Christ appears-to us from the Purity-of its Pain and Sorrow", says the Angelic Doctor. And hence Saint Bernard, when 'Contemplating' Jesus, Dying-upon the Cross, 'Utters' this Lamentation: O my Jesus, when I Behold You upon this Tree, I find nothing in You from Head-to-Foot, but Pain and Sorrow.

God has 'Given' us His Son; and Why? For Love alone. Pilate, for Fear-of the People, 'Gave' Jesus up-to the Jews: "[He] Delivered Jesus up to their Wishes" (Luke 23:25). But the Eternal Father gave His Son to us, for the Love which He Bore us: "[He] Handed Him over for the Sake-of us all" (Romans 8:32). Saint Thomas says that: "Love has the Nature of a First Gift". When a Present is 'Made' us, the First (1st) Gift that we Receive, is that-of the Love which the Donor 'Offers' us, in the Thing that he or she Gives; because, observes the Angelic Doctor, the One-and-Only Reason-of every Voluntary Gift is Love; otherwise, when a Gift is made for some other End, than that-of simple Affection, the Gift can no-longer Rightly be-called a True Gift. The Gift which the Eternal Father 'Made' us of His Son, was a True Gift, Perfectly Voluntary, and without any Merit-of ours; and therefore it is said that the Incarnation-of-the-Word was 'Affected'-through the Operation-of the Holy Spirit: that is, through Love alone; as the same Holy Doctor says: "Through God's Supreme Love, it was Brought to-Pass, that the Son-of-God Assumed-to Himself, Flesh".

But not only was it out-of Pure Love that God 'Gave' unto us His Son, He also 'Gave' Him to us with an Immensity-of-Love. This is precisely what Jesus Wished-to Signify, when He said: "God so-Loved the World" (John 3:16). The word "so" (says Saint John Chrysostom) Signifies the Magnitude-of the Love, wherewith God made us this Great Gift: "The Word 'so', Signifies the Vehemence-of the Love". And what Greater Love could One Who was God, have been able-to 'Give' us, than was shown-by His Condemning-to Death His Innocent Son, in-order-to Save us Miserable Sinners? "[He] did not-Spare His own Son, but handed Him over for the Sake-of us all" (Romans 8:32).

"Oh, if you would know the Mystery-of the Cross", said Saint Andrew to the Tyrant. O Tyrant (it was his wish to-say), were you to-Understand the Love which Jesus Christ has Borne you, in Willing-to Die-upon a Cross, to Save you, you would 'Abandon' all your Possessions and Earthly Hopes, in-order-to Give yourself Wholly-to the Love-of this, your Savior.

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Christ before Pilate -
by MAES, Nicolaes -
from Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

(Pilate says on-Earth, Let Jesus Die. And the Eternal Father from-Heaven, Confirms the Sentence, saying, Let My Son Die.)
 

The same ought to be Said-to those Catholics, who, 'Believing' as they do, the Passion-of Jesus, yet do not Think-of it. Ah, were all People to-think-upon the Love which Jesus Christ has Shown-forth for us in His Death, who would ever be-able not-to Love Him? It was for this End, says the Apostle, that He, Our Beloved Redeemer, Died-for us; that, by the Love He Displayed-toward us in His Death, He might become the Possessor-of our Hearts: "That is why Christ Died, and came to-Life again, that He might be Lord-of both the Dead and the Living" (Romans 14:9).

Whether, then, we Die or Live, it is but Just, that we 'Belong' Wholly-to Jesus, Who has Saved us, at so-Great a Cost. Oh, who is there that could say, as did the Loving Martyr, Saint Ignatius, whose Lot it was, to-Give his Life for-Jesus Christ, "Let Fire, Cross, Beasts, and Torments-of every-Kind, come upon me; let me only have Fruition-of You, O Christ". Let Flames, Crosses, Wild Beasts, and every Kind-of Torture come-upon me; Provided only that I Obtain and Enjoy my Jesus Christ.

As Jesus and Barabbas were 'Proposed'-to the People, so it was 'Proposed'-to the Eternal Father to-Save His Son, or Sinful People. The Eternal Father 'Answered', 'Let' My Son Die, and 'Let' Sinful People be Saved. This the Apostle has-'Declared': "[He] did not Spare His own Son, but Handed Him over for the Sake-of us all" (Romans 8:32). The Father would not 'Spare' His own Son, but 'Consigned' Him to-Death, for us all. Yes, said Our Savior, God has so-Loved the World, that for its Salvation, He 'Delivered'-up His-only-Begotten Son, to Torments and Death.

Behold, the Unjust Sentence-of Death, is Read-in the Presence-of our Condemned Lord. He Listens-to it, and, with Entire Resignation-to the Just Decree of His Eternal Father, Who Condemns Him to the Cross, He Humbly 'Accepts' it, not for the Crimes Falsely Imputed-to Him by the Jews, but in Atonement-for our Real Sins, for which He Offered-to make-Satisfaction, by His Death. Pilate says-on Earth, Let Jesus Die. And the Eternal Father from-Heaven, 'Confirms' the Sentence, saying, Let My Son Die. The Son Himself 'Answers', Here I am; I Obey; I Accept Death, and the Death-of the Cross. "He Humbled Himself, Obediently Accepting even Death, Death-on a Cross" (Philippians 2:8).

 

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The Crucifixion - by GRÜNEWALD, Matthias - from Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar

 

My Soul, 'Raise' your Eyes, and 'Behold' that Crucified Man-God. 'Behold' that Divine Lamb, Sacrificed-on that Altar-of-Pain; 'Consider'-that He is the Beloved Son of the Eternal Father, and 'Consider' He has Died-through the Love He has 'Borne' you. See how His Arms are 'Stretched'-out to 'Embrace' you; His Head Bowed-down to-Give you the Kiss-of-Peace; His Side 'Opened', to-Receive you. What do you say? Does a God so-Good and so-Loving, Deserve-to be Loved? Listen-to what the Lord says-to you, from the Cross: My son, see if there is anyone in this World, who has Loved you more-than I, your God, have Loved you.

Ah, my God and my Redeemer, You, then, have Died; and Died the most Infamous and Painful Death. And why? To-Gain my Love.

When the Divine Word 'Offered' Himself to Redeem Humankind, there were before Him, Two (2) Ways of Redemption:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the One (1)-of Joy and Glory,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Other-of Pains and Insults.

At the same-Time, it was His Will, not only by His Coming-to 'Deliver' Humanity from Eternal (∞) Death, but also to Call-forth the Love-of all the Hearts of People, and therefore He 'Rejected' the Way-of Joy and Glory, and 'Chose' that of Pains and Insults: "For the Sake-of the Joy which Lay-before Him, He Endured the Cross" (Hebrews 12:2). In-order-that He might Satisfy the Divine Justice for us, and, at the same-time, 'Inflame' us with His Holy Love, He was Willing to-'Endure' this Burden-of all our Sins; that, Dying-upon a Cross, He might Obtain-for us, Grace and the Life-of the Blessed. This is what Isaiah Intended to-Express, when he said: "Yet it was our Infirmities that He Bore, our Sufferings that He Endured" (Isaiah 53:4).

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The Scapegoat - by William Holman Hunt -
from National Gallery, London
(A pre-figurement of Christ)
 

Of this, there were Two (2) Express Figures, in the Old Testament; the First (1st) was the Annual Ceremony-of the Scapegoat, which the High-Priest represented-as Bearing all the Sins-of the People, and therefore all, 'Loading' it with Curses, 'Drove' it into the Desert, to be the Object-of the Wrath-of God. This Goat was a Figure-of Our Redeemer, Who was Willing-to Load Himself with all the Curses Deserved-by us, for our Sins; being made a Curse for us, in-order-that He might Obtain-for us, the Divine Blessing. Therefore the Apostle wrote-in another place, "For our Sakes, God made Him Who did not Know Sin, to be Sin, so that in Him we might become the very Holiness-of God" (2Corinthians 5:21). That is, as Saint Ambrose and Saint Anselm explain it, He made Him to-be Sin, Who was Innocence itself; that is, He 'Presented' Himself to God, as-if He had been Sin itself. In a Word, He Took-upon Himself the Character-of a Sinner, and Endured the Pains due-to us Sinners, in-order-to 'Render' us Just, before God.

And Jesus Accepted such a Death. He Died to Pay the Price of our Sins; and therefore, as a Sinner He Desired:

to be 'Circumcised' (a pre-Figurement of Baptism);
to be Redeemed-with a Price, when He was Presented in the Temple;
to Receive the Baptism-of-Repentance from the Baptist;
and Lastly in His Passion, to be Nailed-upon the Cross, to Atone-for our Guilty Wanderings;
to Atone-for our Avarice, by being Stripped-of His Garments;
for our Pride, by the Insults He 'Endured';
for our Desires-of-Power, by 'Submitting' Himself to the Executioner;
for our Evil Thoughts, by His Crown-of-Thorns;
for our Intemperance, by the Gall He Tasted;
and by the Pangs-of His Body, for our Sensual Delights.

Hence Saint Paul says, "No, I determined that while I was with you, I would Speak-of nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified" (1Corinthians 2:2). The Apostle well-knew that Jesus Christ was Born-in a Cave; that, for Thirty (30) Years, He Inhabited a Carpenter's Shop; that He had Risen-from the Dead; and had Ascended-into Heaven. Why, then, did he say that he would Speak-of-nothing, but Jesus Crucified? Because the Death Suffered-by Jesus Christ on the Cross, was that which most-Moved him to Love Him, and 'Induced' him to-Exercise Obedience toward God, and Love toward his Neighbor, which were the Virtues most-specially Inculcated-by Jesus Christ, from the Chair-of His Cross. Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, writes: "in whatever Temptation we Fall, in the Cross is our Protection; there is Obedience to God, Love to our Neighbor, Patience in Adversity; when Saint Augustine says, 'The Cross was not only the Instrument-of-Death to the Sufferer, but His Chair-of-Teaching'".

 

 
Teachings from the Council-of-Trent
A particular Counsel-of-God, Decreed-that Life should Return-by the Way-whence Death had-Arisen.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Therefore, the Serpent who had Triumphed over our First Parents by the Wood (of a Tree) was Vanquished-by Christ, on the Wood-of the Cross. (Catechism-of-Trent)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Similarly, the 'Knot' of Eve's Disobedience, was Loosed-by the Obedience-of Mary. For what the Virgin Eve had Bound-fast through Unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary, Set-free through Faith.

 

To Form a Conception-of what Jesus Christ Suffered in His Life, and still more in His Death, we must consider what the same Apostle says-in his Letter-to-the-Romans: "God sent His Son in the Likeness-of Sinful Flesh, as a Sin Offering, thereby Condemning Sin-in the Flesh" (Romans 8:3). Jesus Christ, being Sent-by the Father to Redeem Humanity, 'Clothed' Himself with that Flesh, which was Infected-with Sin; and though He had not 'Contracted' the Pollution-of-Sin, nevertheless He took-upon Him the Miseries Contracted-by Human Nature, as the Punishment-of Sin; and He 'Offered' Himself to the Eternal Father, to-Satisfy the Divine Justice, for all the Sins-of Humanity, by His Sufferings; He was Offered, because He Himself Willed it; and the Eternal Father, as Isaiah writes, "laid upon Him the Guilt of us all" (Isaiah 53:5). Behold Jesus, therefore, Laden-with all the Blasphemies, all the Sacrileges, Trespasses, Thefts, Cruelties, and Abominable Deeds which People have Committed, and will Commit. Behold Him, in a Word, the Object-of all the Divine Curses, which People have Deserved-through their Sins: "Christ has Delivered us from the Power of the Law's Curse, by Himself becoming a Curse-for us" (Galatians 3:13).

Therefore, Saint Thomas writes, that both the 'Internal' and 'Outward' Pains-of Jesus Christ, Exceeded all the Pains which can be Endured-in this Life.

And thus Jesus, Voluntarily-through His Own Goodness, making Himself the 'Debtor' for our 'Debts', 'Chose' to- Sacrifice Himself altogether, even-to Death, in the Pains-of the Cross, as He Himself says in the Gospel-of-Saint-John: "That I Lay-down My Life, to Take it up again. No one Takes it from Me; I Lay it down Freely" (John 10:17-18).

Finally, to Speak-of all Alike, both the Just and Sinners, everyone has his own Cross

The Just, though they Enjoy Peace-of-Conscience, yet all have their Vicissitudes; at One (1) Time, they are Comforted-by Visits-of Divine Mercy, at Another, they are Afflicted-by Bodily Vexations and Infirmities, and Especially-by Desolation-of-Spirit, by Darkness and Weariness, by Scruples and Temptations, and by Fears-for their own Salvation.

Much Heavier, are the Crosses-of Sinners, through Remorse-of Conscience, through the Terrors-of Eternal (∞) Punishment, which from Time-to-Time, Affright them; and through the Pains they Suffer, when things go- Wrong with them. The Saints, when Adversities 'Befall' them, 'Unite' themselves with the Divine Will, and Suffer them with-Patience; but how can Sinners 'Calm' themselves by Recollecting the Divine Will, when they are Living-at Enmity-with God? The Pains-of the Enemies-of God are Unmixed Pains, Pains without Relief. Wherefore Saint Teresa was wont to say "who Loves God, Embraces the Cross, and thus does-not Feel it; while who does not Love Him, Drags the Cross along-by Force, and thus cannot-but Feel it".

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Spectacle-of the Crucifixion - by FERRARI, Gaudenzio -
from Saint Maria delle Grazie, Varallo Sesia

Jesus upon the Cross, was a SPECTACLE, which filled Heaven and Earth with-Amazement, at the Sight-of an Almighty God, the Lord-of All, Dying-upon an Infamous Gibbet, Condemned-as a Malefactor, between Two (2) other Malefactors.
 

Jesus upon the Cross, was a Spectacle (Sight), which 'Filled' Heaven and Earth with-Amazement, at the Sight-of an Almighty God, the Lord of all, Dying-upon an Infamous Gibbet, Condemned-as a Malefactor between Two (2) other Malefactors.

It was a Spectacle-of Justice, in-Displaying the Eternal Father, in-order-that His Justice might be Satisfied; Punishing the Sins-of Humanity, in the Person-of His only-Begotten Son, Loved-by Him, as Himself.

It was a Spectacle-of Mercy, 'Displaying' His Innocent Son Dying a Death, so-Shameful and so-Bitter, in-order-to Save His Creatures, from this Punishment, that was Due-to them.

Especially was it a Sight-of Love, in-Displaying a God Who 'Offered' and 'Gave' His Life, to Redeem-from Death, His Slaves and Enemies.

It is this Spectacle, which ever-was and ever-will be, the Dearest Object-of the Contemplation-of the Saints, through which they have 'Counted' it Little, to 'Strip' themselves of all Earthly Pleasures and Good, and to-Embrace with Desire and Joy, both Pain and Death, in-order-to 'Make' some Return-of Gratitude to a God, Who Died-for Love-of them.

They said, "Save Yourself". O Ungrateful People! If this Great Son-of-God, when He was Made Man, had 'Chosen'-to Save Himself, He would not Voluntarily-have 'Chosen' Death.

"If You are the Son-of-God, Come-down from the Cross" (Matthew 27:40); yet, if Jesus had Come-down, He would not have 'Accomplished' our Redemption by His Death; we could not have been 'Delivered'-from Eternal (∞) Death. "He would not Come-down" says Saint Ambrose, "lest, when He Came-down, I should Die".

 


Mary shares Fully-in, the Passion and Death of her Son

 

The Afflicted Mother thus was Standing Close-to the Cross; and as the Son Sacrificed His Life, so she 'Offered' her Pangs, for the Salvation-of Humanity, Sharing-with Perfect Resignation, all the Pains and Insults which her Son Suffered-in His Death. A Writer says that they who would 'Describe' her Fainting at the Foot-of the Cross, Dishonor the Constancy-of Mary. She was the Strong Woman, who neither Fainted nor Wept, as Saint Ambrose writes: "I Read-of her Standing, but not of her Weeping".

The Pain which the Holy Virgin Endured-in the Passion-of her Son, Exceeded all the Pains which a Human Heart can Endure; but the Grief-of Mary was not a Barren Grief, like that of other-Mothers who 'Behold' the Sufferings-of their children; it was a Fruitful Grief, since through the Merits-of her so-Great Grief, and through her Love (according to the Opinion-of Saint Augustine), as she was the 'Natural' mother of our Head, Jesus Christ, so she then 'Became' the Spiritual mother of Us, who are His Faithful Members, in Cooperating-with Him by her Love, in Causing us to be Born, and to be the Children-of the Church.

Mary, Our Mother, the Woman of Genesis 3:15;
The Woman Clothed in the Sun,
and the Queen of Heaven

 

God said to the Serpent, "I will put Enmities between you and the Woman" (Genesis 3:15). This shows that after the Fall-of Humanity, through Sin, notwithstanding all that would be done by the Redemption-of Jesus Christ, there would be Two (2) Families, and Two (2) Posterities, in the World:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Seed-of-Satan, Signifying the Family-of-Sinners, his children, Corrupted-by him,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) and the Seed-of-Mary, Signifying the Holy Family, which includes all the Just, with their Head, Jesus Christ.

Hence Mary was Destined to be the mother, both-of the Head and of the Members, namely the Faithful. The Apostle writes: "All are One in Christ Jesus. Furthermore, if you Belong-to Christ, you are the Descendants-of Abraham" (Galatians 3:28-29). Thus Jesus Christ and the Faithful are One (1) Single Body, because the Head cannot be Divided-from the Members, and these Members, are all Spiritual Children-of Mary, as they have the same Spirit of her Son, according-to Nature, Who was Jesus Christ. Therefore, Saint John was not called John, but The Disciple Beloved-by the Lord, that we might Understand-that Mary is the mother of every Good Christian, who is Beloved-by Jesus Christ, and in-whom Jesus Christ, Lives-by His Spirit. This was Expressed-by Origen, when he said, "Jesus said to Mary, 'Behold your Son', as if He had said, 'This is Jesus, Whom you have Borne, for he who is Perfected, Lives no-more himself, but Christ Lives-in him' ".

Saint Leo writes-that this Cry-of the Lord was not a Lamentation, but a Doctrine, because He thus Desired-to Teach us how Great is the Wickedness-of Sin, which, as-it-were, Compelled God to Abandon His Beloved Son without a Comfort, because He had Taken-upon Him, to make Satisfaction-for our Sins. At the same time, Jesus was not Abandoned by the Divinity, nor Deprived-of the Glory which had been Communicated-to His Blessed Soul, from the First (1st) Moment-of His Creation; but He was Deprived-of all that Sensible Relief, by which God is wont to-Comfort His Faithful Servants in their Sufferings; and He was Left-in Darkness, Fear, and Bitterness, Pangs which were Deserved-by us. This Deprivation of the Sensible Consciousness-of the Divine Presence, was also Endured-by Jesus in the Garden-of-Gethsemane; but that which He Suffered on the Cross, was Greater and more-Bitter.

O Eternal Father, what Offence had this, Your Innocent and Obedient Son, ever given You, that You should Punish Him with a Death so-Bitter? Look at Him as He Hangs-upon this Cross, with His Head Tortured-with Thorns, as He Hangs-upon the Three Iron Nails, and is supported-by His own Wounds! All have Abandoned Him, even His own Disciples, all Deride Him upon the Cross, and Blaspheme Him; and why have You Abandoned Him, Who have so-Greatly Loved Him?

We must Understand-that Jesus had Taken-upon Himself the Sins-of the World, although He was Himself, the most Holy-of all Beings, and even Sanctity itself; since He had Taken-upon Himself, to Satisfy-for all our Sins, He seemed the Greatest-of all Sinners; and having thus made Himself Guilty for all, He Offered Himself, to Pay the Price for all. Because we had 'Deserved' to-be Abandoned Forever (∞) in Hell, to Eternal (∞) Despair, therefore He 'Chose' to be Given-up to Death, Deprived-of every Relief, that thus He might 'Deliver' Us, from Eternal (∞) Death.

Therefore, let us give Thanks-to the Goodness-of our Savior, for having been Willing-to 'Take'-upon Himself the Pains which were Due-to us, and thus to-Deliver us from Eternal (∞) Death; and let us Labor henceforth, to be Grateful-to this our Deliverer, 'Banishing'-from our Hearts, every Affection which is not for Him. And when we Find ourselves Desolate-in Spirit, and Deprived-of the Sense-of the Divine Presence, let us 'Unite' our Desolation, to-that which Jesus Christ Suffered-in His Death. Sometimes He 'Hides' Himself from the Souls that He most-Loves, but He does not really Leave their Hearts; He Aids Them with His Inward Grace. He is not Offended, if in such an Abandonment we say, as He Himself said in the Garden, to His Divine Father, "My Father, if it is possible, let this Cup pass Me by" (Matthew 26:39). But at the same Time, we must add, "Still, let it be as You would have it, not as I" (Matthew 26:39). And if the Desolation continues, we must-Continue the same Acts-of Conformity-to the Divine Will, as He Himself 'Repeated' them, for the Three (3) Hours, during which He Prayed-in the Garden. Saint-Francis-de-Sales, says that Jesus is as Worthy-of Love, when He 'Hides' Himself, as when He makes Himself Seen. Further, who has Deserved Hell, and finds himself out of it, should say only, "I will Bless the Lord, at all Times" (Psalm 34:2).

O Lord, I do not deserve Consolations; Grant that through Your Grace I may Love You, and I am Content-to Live-in Desolation, as-long-as it pleases You.

To obtain Perseverance in Good, we must not Trust-in our Resolutions and in the Promises we have Made-to God; if we Trust-in our own Strength, we are Lost. All our Hope of Preserving the Grace-of-God must be Placed-in the Merits-of Jesus Christ, and thus, Trusting-in His Help, we shall Persevere till Death, though we were Attacked-by all our Enemies in-Earth, and Hell. Sometimes we find ourselves so Cast-down in Mind, and so Assaulted-by Temptations, that we seem almost Lost; let us not then Lose Courage, nor Abandon ourselves to-Despair, let us Go-to the Crucified, and He will Hold-us-up.

The Lord 'Permits' His Saints, sometimes to-find themselves in Tempests and Fears. Saint Paul says that the Afflictions and Terrors, which he Suffered in Asia, were so-Overpowering, that he became Weary-of Life; Meaning-that he was so, so-far-as he Depended-on his Own Strength, in-order-to Teach us that God, from Time-to-Time, leaves us in Desolations, in-order-that we may Know our Misery, and, Distrusting ourselves, may Humbly have Recourse-to His Goodness, and Gain-from Him, Strength not to Fall. More clearly, he expresses the same in another place, "We are Afflicted in every way possible, but we are not Crushed" (2Corinthians 4:8). We find ourselves Oppressed with Sadness and Passions, but do not Abandon ourselves to Despair, we are Tossed-about on the Water, but do not Sink, because the Lord, by His Grace, gives us Strength against our Enemies. But the Apostle, 'Exhorts' us ever-to Bear-before our Eyes, that we are Weak, and Prone-to Lose the Treasure-of Divine Grace, and that all our Strength for Preserving it, comes not from-Ourselves, but from-God: "This Treasure, we Possess-in Earthen Vessels, to make it clear, that its Surpassing Power comes-from God, and not from-Us" (2Corinthians 4:7).

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Armor of God
 

Let us, then, be Firmly Persuaded, that in this Life, we must ever Beware-of placing any Confidence in our own Works. Our Strongest-Armor, with-which we shall ever Win the Victory over the Assaults-of-Hell, is Prayer. This is the Armor-of-God, of which Saint Paul speaks: "Put on the Armor-of-God, so that you may be able to-Stand Firm-against the Tactics-of the Devil. Our Battle is not-against Human Forces, but against the Principalities and Powers, the Rulers-of this World-of Darkness, the Evil Spirits, in Regions-above. You must put-on the Armor-of-God, if you are to Rest-on the Evil Day; do all that your Duty requires, and Hold-your-Ground. Stand-Fast, with the Truth as the Belt around your Waist, Justice as your Breastplate, and Zeal to-Propagate the Gospel-of-Peace as your Footgear. In all Circumstances, hold Faith-up before you, as your Shield; it will Help you Extinguish the Fiery Darts-of the Evil One. Take the Helmet-of-Salvation and the Sword-of the Spirit, the Word-of God" (Ephesians 6:11-17).

Let us Pause and Weigh-well, these various Expressions:

"Stand-Fast with the Truth, as the Belt around your Waist". There, the Apostle alludes-to the Military Girdle with which Soldiers 'Gird' themselves, as a Token-of the Fidelity which they have Sworn-to their Sovereign. The Girdle which the Christian must put-on, is the Possession-of the Truth-of the Doctrine-of Jesus Christ, in-accordance-with which, we must Repress all Inordinate Passions, especially those of Impurity, which are the Most Dangerous of all.

"Justice as your Breastplate". The Christian's Breastplate, is a Good Life, without which he will have little-Strength to-Resist the Assaults-of his Foes.

 

"And Zeal to Propagate the Gospel-of-Peace, as your Footgear". The Military Shoes which the Christian ought to-Wear, in-order-that he or she may go-Speedily where it is Necessary, unlike thosewhose Feet are Bare and who walk-Slowly, is the Possession-of a Mind, prepared-to Embrace in Practice, and to-Teach by example, the Holy Maxims of the Gospel.

"In all Circumstances, hold Faith up-before you, as your Shield". The Shield, with which the Soldier-of Christ must Defend himself against the Fiery Darts (that is, Darts which Pierce-like Fire) of the Enemy, is a Steady Faith, Strengthened-with Holy Hope, and especially-with Divine Charity. "Take the Helmet-of-Salvation, and the Sword-of the Spirit". The Helmet, as Saint Anselm teaches us, is the Hope-of Eternal Salvation; and, Lastly, the Sword-of the Spirit, our Spiritual Sword, is the Divine Word, by which God repeatedly Promises to-Hear those who Pray-to Him. "Seek, and you will Find" (Matthew 7:7). "Whoever Seeks, Finds" (Luke 11:10). "Call to Me and I will Answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3). "Then Call-upon Me in Time-of Distress; I will Rescue you" (Psalm 49:15). "At every opportunity, Pray-in the Spirit, using Prayers and Petitions-of every sort. Pray Constantly and Attentively, for all in the Holy Company" (Ephesians 6:18). Thus, Prayer is the most Powerful-of the Arms, with-which the Lord gives us Victory over our Evil Passions and the Temptations-of-Hell; but this Prayer must be made-in the Spirit, that is, not with the Mouth only, but with the Heart. Moreover, it must Last-through our Life - "at all Times"; for as the Struggle 'Endures', so must our Prayers. It must be Urgent and Repeated; if the Temptation does not-Yield at the First (1st) Prayer, we must Repeat it a Second (2nd), Third (3rd), or Fourth (4th) Time; and if it still-Continues, we must 'Add' Sighs, Tears, Importunity, Vehemence, as if we would do Violence-to God, that He may Give us the Grace-of-Victory. This is what the Apostle's Words, "with all Instance and Supplication", mean. The Apostle adds, "for all Saints", which means that we are not to Pray-for ourselves alone; but for the Perseverance-of all the Faithful who are in the Grace-of-God, and especially of Priests, that they may Labor-for the Conversion-of Unbelievers, and all Sinners, Repeating-in our Prayers, the Words-of Zechariah, "To Shine-on those, who Sit-in Darkness, and in the Shadow-of-Death" (Luke 1:79).

It (Prayer), is of great-Use, for-Resisting our Enemies, in Spiritual Combats, and to-Anticipate them in our Meditations, by-Preparing ourselves to do Violence-to them to our Utmost Power, on all-Occasions when they may Suddenly, come-upon us. Thus the Saints have been able to-Preserve the Greatest Mildness, or at least, not to Reply-by a Single Word; and not to be Disturbed, when they have Received a Great Injury, a Violent Persecution, a Severe Pang in Body or in Mind, the Loss-of Property of-Great Value, the Death of a much-Loved Relative. Such Victories are ordinarily not-Acquired without the Aid-of a Life-of Long Discipline, without Frequenting Sacraments, and a continual Exercise-of Meditation, Spiritual Reading, and Prayer. Therefore, these Victories are with-Difficulty, Obtained-by those who have not taken great-Heed to-avoid Dangerous Occasions, or who are Attached-to the Vanities or Pleasures-of the World, and Practice very-Little the Mortification-of the Senses; by those, in a Word, who Live a Soft and Easy Life. Saint Augustine says that in the Spiritual Life, "First, Pleasures are to be Conquered, then Pains"; meaning that a Person who is given-to Seek the Pleasures-of the Senses, will scarcely-Resist a Great Passion or Temptation, which Assails him or her; a Person who Loves too-much the Esteem-of-the-World, will scarcely-Endure a Grave Affront, without Losing the Grace-of-God.

It is True that we must Look-for all our Strength, to-Live without Sin, and to do Good Works, not from Ourselves, but from the Grace-of Jesus Christ; but we must take great-Care, not to-Make Ourselves Weaker than we are by-Nature, through our own Fault. The Defects of-which we Take no-Account, will 'Cause' the Divine Light to-Fail, and the Devil will become Stronger-against us. For example:

a Desire to Display-to the World, our Learning, Rank, or Vanity in-Dress;
or the Seeking-of any Superfluous Pleasure;
or Resentment-at every Inattentive Word or Action;
or a Wish-to Please everyone, though at the Loss-of our Spiritual Profit;
or Neglect-of Works-of Piety, through the Fear-of People;
or little Acts-of Disobedience toward our Superiors;
little Murmurings;
Trifling, but Cherished Aversions;
Trivial Falsehoods;
Slight Attacks-upon our Neighbor;
Loss-of Time in Gossip;
or the Indulgence-of Curiosity

in a Word, every Attachment-to Earthy Things, and every Act-of Inordinate Self-Love, can Serve-as a Help-to our Enemy, to Drag us over some Precipice; or, at least, this Defect deliberately Consented-to, will Deprive us of that Abundance-of Divine Help, without which we may Find ourselves, Fallen-into-Ruin.

To Speak-of Patience and Suffering, is a thing neither Practiced nor Understood-by those who Love the World. It is Understood and Practiced only by Souls who Love God. "O Lord", said Saint-John-of-the-Cross to Jesus Christ, "I ask nothing of You, but to Suffer and to be Despised-for Your Sake". Saint Teresa frequently 'Exclaimed', "O my Jesus, I would either Suffer or Die". Saint-Mary-Magdalene-of-Pazzi was wont to say, "I would Suffer, and not Die". Thus 'Speak' the Saints who Love God, because a Soul can give no-Surer Mark-to God, of Love-for Him, than Voluntarily to-Suffer, to-Please Him.

Jesus Christ, Willingly Embraces His Cross

If you Willingly Bear the Cross, it will Bear you to your Desired End. ─ Thomas-à-Kempis

He who Drags the Cross along with Ill-Will, Feels its Weight, however Small it is; but who Willingly Embraces it, however Great it is, does not Feel it. Saint Teresa, Doctor of the Church
 

Thomas-à-Kempis writes, "The Cross, Everywhere-awaits you; it is Needful for you, Everywhere-to Preserve Patience, if you want to have Peace. If you Willingly Bear the Cross, it will Bear you to your Desired End". In this World, we all go about 'Seeking' Peace; and would want to-Find it without Suffering; but this is not Possible, in our Present State; we must Suffer; the Cross 'Awaits' us, wherever we Turn. How, then, can we 'Find' Peace in the Midst-of these Crosses? By Patience, by ' Embracing' the Cross, which 'Presents' itself to us. Saint Teresa says that "who Drags the Cross along, with Ill-Will, Feels its Weight, however Small it is; but who Willingly Embraces it, however Great it is, does not Feel it".

The same Thomas-à-Kempis says, "Which of the Saints is without a Cross? The Whole Life-of Christ, was a Cross and a Martyrdom, and do you Seek for Pleasure?" Jesus, Innocent, Holy, and the Son-of-God, was Willing to Suffer through His Whole Life, and shall we go about 'Seeking' Pleasures and Comforts? To Give us an Example-of Patience, He 'Chose' a Life, Full-of Ignominies and Pains, Within and Without; and shall we Wish to be Saved without Suffering, or to Suffer without Fruit, and with Increase-of Pain? How can we Think to be Lovers-of Jesus Christ, if we will not Suffer-for Love-of Him, Who has so-much Suffered-for Love of us? How can those Glory, in being Followers-of the Crucified, who Refuse, or Receive-with Ill-Will, the Fruits-of the Cross, which are Sufferings, Contempt, Poverty, Pains, Infirmities, and all-things that are Contrary-to our Self-love?

Thus the Apostle goes-on to-Encourage us, Saying, "In your Fight against Sin, you have not yet Resisted to the Point-of Shedding Blood" (Hebrews 12:4). Think, he says, that Christ Poured-forth for you, All His Blood in His Passion, through Torments; and that the Holy Martyrs, after the Example-of Him, their King, have Courageously-endured Hot Plates, and Iron Nails, which have Torn-open their very Bowels; but 'You' have not Shed a Single (1) Drop-of-Blood for Jesus Christ, while we ought to be Ready-to Give our Life, rather-than Offend God, as Saint Oddment said, "I would rather Leap into a Burning Pile, than Commit a Sin against my God". And thus Saint Anselm, Archbishop-of-Canterbury, said, "If I must either Endure all the Bodily Pains-of-Hell, or else Commit a Sin, rather than Commit it, I would Choose Hell".

lucifer2.gif (31255 bytes) The Infernal Lion Ceases-not, through all our Life, to go-about Seeking-to Devour us; therefore, Saint Peter tells us that, by Thinking-of the Passion-of Christ, we ought to-Arm ourselves against his Attacks. Saint Thomas says that the mere Recollection-of the Passion, is a Great Defense-against all the Temptations-of-Hell. And Saint Ambrose, or some other Saint, says, "If there had been any Better Way-of Salvation for People than the Way-of Suffering, Christ would have Shown it to us, both by Word and Example".

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Crucifixion - by LIEFERINXE, Josse -
from Musée du Louvre, Paris

(There stood, it is True, below the Cross, Mary, assisting-with Love, her Dying Son.
 

Let us, then, 'Give' ourselves, O Souls, that Love the Crucified, for the Life that Remains-to us, to Love this Loving Redeemer, so Worthy-of Love, to our Utmost Power; and also to Suffer-for Him, because He has been Willing-to Suffer-for Love-of us; and let us not Cease-to 'Ask' Him continually, to-Grant us the Gift-of His Holy Love.

Whilst Hanging-on the Cross, Jesus has no one who can Console Him. Among those who Stand-around Him, some are Blaspheming, some are Deriding Him; some say, "Come down-off the Cross, if You are God's Son" (Matthew 27:42).

And He Receives no Compassion, even from those who are His very Companions-in Punishment; nay, rather, One of them joins those others in Blaspheming Him: "One of the Criminals, Hanging-in Crucifixion, Blasphemed Him" (Luke 23:39).

There Stood, it is True, below the Cross, Mary, Assisting-with Love, her Dying Son. But the Sight-of this mother in her Sorrows, so-far-from Consoling Jesus, Afflicted Him so-much the-more, at Seeing the Pain which she Endured-for Love-of Him. So, then, our Redeemer, Finding no Comfort here on-Earth, turned Himself to the Eternal Father in Heaven above. But the Father, seeing Him Covered-with All the Sins-of Humankind, for-which He was 'Making' Satisfaction, said: "No, My Son, I cannot Console You. It is Meet, that even I too, should Abandon You to Your Pains, and leave You to Die without Comfort". And then it was that Jesus 'Cried'-out, "My God, My God, why have You Forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).

The Redeemer, now Nigh-to Expiring, with Dying Breath said, "Now it is Finished" (John 19:30). As if He had said, O Humans, all has been Completed and Done for your Redemption. Love Me, then, since I have nothing-more that I can do, to 'Make' you Love Me.

 

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Prayer

O Savior-of the World, O Lover-of Souls, O Lord, most Lovely-of all Beings! You, by the Passion, came to Win our Hearts to Yourself, by Showing us the Immense Love You Bore us in Redemption, which has brought us a Sea-of Blessings, but which cost You a Sea-of Pains and Ignominies. It was Principally-for this purpose, that You Instituted the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, in order that we might have a Perpetual Memorial of Your Passion. Saint Paul said it well: "Every time, then, you Eat this Bread and Drink this Cup, you Proclaim the Death-of the Lord" (1Corinthians 11:26).

O my Jesus, I Pray You make me always Remember Your Passion, and Grant that I, overcome at-last, by so many Devices-of Your Love, may return Love for You and, by my Poor Love, show You some Sign-of Gratitude for Your Excessive Love for me.

And you, O Mary, who had so-Great a Part in the Passion-of your Son, obtain for me I Beg you, the Grace to Experience a Taste-of that Compassion which you Felt, at the Death-of Jesus, and Obtain-for me, a Spark-of that Love, which Wrought all the Martyrdom-of your Afflicted Heart.

Amen.