March 28, 2015
We’d like to open this first blog entry for Our Catholic Prayers with a special Rosary meditation on Christ’s Passion, given by our Lord Himself!
For those of you unfamiliar with the Rosary, a wonderful, powerful prayer, we have some background information here and here (along with a meditation from scripture on the Sorrowful Mysteries here).
During Holy week, our Mass readings focus on the events leading up to our Lord’s sacrifice of His own life at Calvary for our salvation.
The shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matt 21:9) surrounding His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday are tragically transformed into shouts of “Crucify Him! Crucify Him” (Luke 23:21) on Good Friday. Thankfully the story doesn't end there!
Yet while we look forward to Easter, and the joy of Jesus' victory over sin death in His Resurrection, this seems an especially good time to reflect on just how much our Lord suffered for us and how much He loves each one of us. Truly, as Isaiah once wrote of the Suffering Servant prefiguring our Lord “by his bruises we are healed” (Is 53:5).
He willingly acceded to His Father’s wishes that we might be saved through a sacrifice for our sins that only He as God and man could make on our behalf! As we mentioned in our page on a Prayer Before A Crucifix, that’s how much God loves you! That’s also how much He hates sin and wishes to rescue us from what St. Paul once called our slavery to sin (Rom 6:18).
For this Blog Post, in keeping with this special time of year, I’d like to offer our readers these excerpts below from Christ’s Appeal for Love, a moving book by Sister Josefa Menendez (available at Tanbooks.com). It covers mystical revelations given to this Spanish nun in the early 1920's by our Lord, including many about His Passion that are useful for Rosary meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries.
This book, consisting of private revelations, has the Church’s Imprimatur (approval for publication). One may use private revelations as a useful aid for meditations and such if they have been properly vetted by the Church as not contradicting Her teachings on matters of faith and morals. (Public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, Saint John, around 100 AD.)
(Note that Catholics are not required to believe any private revelations, and should be discerning when doing so. Look for an Imprimatur or some other such Church seal of approval on such writings in any case!)
In these very trying times, I hope these passages may deepen your knowledge, love and faith in Our Lord. He Himself experienced extraordinary suffering at Calvary. Hopefully the loving sacrifice he made for all of us, for you, can inspire you to persevere in carrying your own crosses and helping others with theirs as well. St. Gregory once said “If we recall the Passion of Christ, nothing seems so hard that it cannot be borne with equanimity.”
It is important to remember just how much God loves each one of us and wishes to help us bear our own pains on the way to Eternal Life with Him in heaven, as discussed here. Offer up your own crosses to him as for your sins and those of others as best you can.
And remember St. Paul’s words in Romans “Scarcely in behalf of a just man does one die; yet perhaps one might bring himself to die for a good man. But God commends his charity towards us, because as yet when we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8).May all our Good Fridays lead to Easter Sundays!
THE FIRST SORROWFUL MYSTERY:
THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN
“I withdrew into the Garden of Gethsemane, that is to say, into solitude. God is to be sought within, away from distraction and noise…"
"It was thus I offered Myself to carry out the redemption of the world. At that moment I felt all the torments of My Passion burst overwhelmingly upon Me: the calumnies and the insults..the scourging and the Crown of Thorns, the thirst….The Cross…All these sufferings thronged before My eyes and pressed upon My Heart, while at one and the same time I saw all the offences, sins, and crimes that were to be committed throughout the ages…"
"I not only witnessed them, but was invested in them…so that under the burden of their ignominy I was constrained to present Myself before the face of My all holy-Father and implore Him to show mercy. And there burst upon Me the wrath of an angry and offended God, and in order to appease His Majesty I offered myself as security for sinful man, I His Son, to calm His anger and satisfy His justice. But so great was the anguish and so mortal the agony of My human nature under the strain and weight of so much guilt, that a bloody sweat poured from Me to the ground."
"O sinners who thus torture Me…will this Blood bring salvation and life, or will it be shed in vain for you? How can I express My sorrow at the thought of this sweat, this anguish, this agony, this Blood…useless for so many souls!"
"[Josefa], draw near Me, and when you see Me submerged in an ocean of grief, rise and go with Me to the three disciples [Peter, James, and John] whom I had left a stone’s throw away…What were my feelings to find them asleep? Oh, the pang of loneliness, and to have none to share My sorrow…”
“I went back to My prayer, and again falling on My face I worshipped My Father and implored His help…It is when harrowed with pain that you too must call God your Father. Beg for His help, expose your woes…your fears, your longing…and let your cry of anguish remind Him that you are His child…Pray with a child’s confidence and expect relief from your Father’s Heart. He Himself will comfort you and give you the strength necessary to endure the tribulation or suffering, whether it be you own or that of the souls confided to your care.”
“What should I do…turn back, ask My Father to free Me from this torment? Show Him the uselessness of My sacrifice for so many souls?..No again I surrendered Myself to His holy will and accepted this chalice, to drink it to the dregs. O souls that I love, I did it to teach you not to faint under your burdens. Never count them as useless, even if you are unable to reckon the result; submit your judgment and leave the divine will free to do with you whatsoever it wills.”
THE SECOND SORROWFUL MYSTERY:
THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR
“Look at [Pontius] Pilate! See how afraid and disturbed he is: he is at his wit’s end in order to calm the fury of the people who demand My death he orders Me to be scourged. Such is the soul that has not enough courage and generosity to break energetically with the world’s demands, her nature or her passions…Like Pilate, you give Me up to the scourges!"
"Contemplate Me, O My beloved, being led away as a meek lamb to the shameful and terrible punishment of the scourging. Blow after blow is discharged by the executioners on My body, already covered with bruises and broken with fatigue…With whips and knotted cords they strike Me with such violence that My very bones are shaken and I am torn with innumerable wounds…bits of My divine flesh are rent off by the scourges…blood flows from every limb and I am reduced to such a state of pitiable disfigurement as no longer to resemble a human being."
"Can you contemplate Me in this sea of sorrow and remain unmoved? Pity I did not expect from My executioners, but from you, O My chosen souls, I look for compassion! See My wounds! Who has suffered for love of you as I have?”
THE THIRD SORROWFUL MYSTERY:
THE CROWNING WITH THORNS
“When at last, exhausted by their exertions, these hard and cruel men desisted, they wove a crown a thorns and drove it deep into My head, and as they filed before Me, they mockingly cried out: ‘We salute Thee, O King!’ Some insulted Me, others savagely struck Me on the head and each and all added new agonies to those which already racked My body."
"O you whom I love, contemplate Me condemned to death, given over to the insults and profanations of the mob, scourged at the pillar, and as though all this were not sufficient to reduce Me to the most humiliating condition, now crowned with thorns, clothed in a purple rag, and derisively hailed as a mock king…and treated as a fool…I, the Son of God, who hold the universe in the palm of My hand, willed that in men’s eyes I should appear as the last and most contemptible of all."
"Far from flying from such humiliations, I willingly endured them to expiate man’s pride and draw souls to follow in My footsteps. I expiated by this painful crowning the pride of those who refuse to accept anything that lowers them in the eyes of the world."
"No path is contemptible or humbling when it is once marked out by the will of God. You who feel interiorly drawn to this way…do not resist, do not try by the arguments of pride to do God’s will while you follow your own. You will not find peace and joy in a position more or less brilliant in the eyes of men, but only in the accomplishment of God’s will and in entire submission to all He may require of you….Ah! Josefa, how many souls are blinded by pride!”
THE FOURTH SORROWFUL MYSTERY:
THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS
“The executioners, devoid of every feeling of humanity, now placed a hard and heavy Cross on My lacerated shoulders. I was to consummate on the Cross the mystery of man’s redemption. Angels of Heaven! Look on the God before whom you are ever prostrate in adoration…See the Creator of all the world’s wonders going to Calvary carrying that holy and blessed Cross on which He is to die."
"O souls who desire to imitate Me faithfully, gaze on Me likewise: wearily I dragged Myself forward, For My body was broken by many torments and bathed in sweat and blood I suffered, but there was none to compassionate Me. The crowd followed Me, the soldiers pitiless as ravening wolves surrounded Me, no one had pity on Me. So great was My exhaustion and so heavy the Cross that I fell on the way."
"By my first fall I obtained for sinners rooted in evil the grace of conversion...By my second fall, encouragement for those weak souls blinded by sadness and anxiety, so that rising up they might make a fresh start in the way of virtue. My third fall will help souls to repent in the supreme hour of death."
"[Josefa], come a little further with Me...There you will see my blessed Mother, whose heart is pierced with grief: that seeing Me, her God, she may have the fortitude to endure, and then to give Me, her Son, courage to carry on and complete the work of Redeption, helped by the sight of her heroism."
"Consider the martyrdom of these two hearts. What does this Mother love more than her Son?...And far from being able to help Him, she knows that the sight of her anguish increases His. And I, what do I love more than My Mother? Not only can I offer her no comfort, but I know that the terrible plight in which she sees Me pierces her heart with a sorrow like My own; for if I suffer death in the body, she suffers death in her heart."
"See those eyes fixed on Mine, as Mine dulled and blinded with blood are fixed on hers! No word is spoken, but what a world of intercourse our two hearts exchange in one heartrending glance."
THE FIFTH SORROWFUL MYSTERY:
"The hour has come! The executioners stretch Me upon the Cross. They violently seize and extend My arms that My hands may reach the holes they have prepared in the wood. Every shock causes My thorned-crowned head to come into violent contact with the Cross..."
"Having nailed My hands, they pull pitilessly at My feet; My wounds burst open afresh...the nerves are severed...the bones dislocated...the torture is unspeakable...They pierce My feet and My blood is poured upon the ground!..."
"Wonder and marvel at My silence, patience and resignation under such brutal treatment. Ask yourself who suffers? Who is the victim of such barbarity? It is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things...who causes the plants to grow and every living thing to prosper...Who created man and whose power sustains all things...Behold Him unable to move, an object of scorn, him, throwing away all fortune, comfort, family, despoiled of all..."
"Now is the hour for the world's Redemption! They are about to lift Me up as a spectacle of derision to the crowd...but also of admiration to souls...The Cross, hitherto an instrument of torture in which criminals were made to die, is changed into the light and peace of the world and the object of the most profound veneration."
"Sinners will draw pardon and life from My sacred wounds...My Blood will wash away and efface all their filth and foulness. Pure souls will come to My wounds, there to slake their thirst and kindle flames of love in their hearts...there they will find a refuge, and for ever make a home. The world has found a Redeemer..."
[The following are words from Jesus to His Heavenly Father concerning His Crucifixion as he revealed them to Sr. Josefa Menendez.]
"They have not known Him who is their life, on His shoulders they have heaped the fury of their iniquities. But I beseech Thee, Father, heap upon them the full measure of Thy mercy..."
"O My Father, I thirst indeed, I thirst indeed for Thy glory, and behold now is the hour at hand! Man shall henceforth know through the fulfillment of My words that Thou hast indeed sent Me, and Thou shalt be glorified. I thirst for souls, and to appease this thirst I have given the last drop of My Blood..."
"Now at length is accomplished that great mystery of love in which God delivers up His own son to death. I came into this world to do Thy will; O My Father, it is accomplished...My Lord and My God, receive My soul which I commit into Thy hands."