from the annals of history unto our current day
Meditations for the Holy Season of Lent
by a Member of the Society of Jesus
Meditation IV - Saturday
On the Obligations We Are Under to Meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ
1st Point. 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 splendour 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 hither, and, at the foot of the cross, think of the love we owe him, and the excessive griefs he has suffered for our salvation. Is there anything more just? Notwithstanding which, we occupy ourselves but little with such reflections. When they are presented to our minds, do we not think of them with lightness and frivolity, and without interest, attention, or grief! The grandeurs, the vanities, and pleasures of the world, engross our thoughts, while the sorrows and pangs of Jesus are forgotten! Can anything be more unjust?
2nd Point. 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 Saviour, 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."
3rd Point. 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 Saviour of the world consumed by suffering? Who can fear grief and pain, when they reflect that Jesus preferred them to all the splendour 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 Saviour covered with wounds, I am constrained to cry out, with one of the saints, in accents of tender compunction, Behold mine, without wounds!
Oh, Saviour 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!
WORDS OF SCRIPTURE
"Think diligently upon him that endureth such opposition from sinners against himself, that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds." - Hebrews, xii.
"O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow." - Lamentations, i.
"For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ and him crucified." - 1 Corinthians, ii.
"Forget not the kindness of thy surety, for he hath given his life for thee." - Eccles. xxix.
"Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought." - 1 Peter, iv.
Return to the Third Meditation . . .
Proceed to the Fifth Meditation