Dilexit nos, et tradidit semctipsum pro nobis.
“He hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us.”—–Ephes. v. 2
God had conferred so many blessings on men, thereby to draw them to love Him; but these ungrateful men not only did not love Him, but they would not even acknowledge Him as their Lord. Scarcely in one corner of the earth, in Judea, was He recognized as God by His chosen people; and by them He was more feared than loved. He, however, Who wished to be more loved than feared by us, became man like us, chose a poor, suffering, and obscure life, and a painful and ignominious death; and why? To draw our hearts to Himself. If Jesus Christ had not redeemed us, He would not have been less great or less happy than He has always been; but He determined to procure our salvation at the cost of many labors and sufferings, as if His happiness depended on ours. He might have redeemed us without suffering; but no,—–He willed to free us from eternal death by His Own death; and though He was able to save us in a thousand ways, He chose the most humiliating and painful way of dying on the Cross of pure suffering, to purchase the love of us, ungrateful worms of the earth. And what indeed was the cause of His miserable birth and His most sorrowful death, if not the love He had for us?
Ah, my Jesus, may that love which made Thee die for me on Calvary destroy in me all earthly affections, and consume me in the fire which Thou art come to kindle on the earth. I curse a thousand times those shameful passions which cost Thee so much pain. I repent, my dear Redeemer, with all my heart for all the offences I have committed against Thee. For the future I will rather die than offend Thee; and I wish to do all that I can to please Thee. Thou hast spared nothing for my love; neither will I spare anything for Thy love. Thou hast loved me without reserve; I also without reserve will love Thee. I love Thee, my only good, my love, my all.
Sic Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret.
“God so loved the world, as to give His Only-begotten Son.”—–John, iii. 16
Oh, how much does that little word so mean! It means that we shall never be able to comprehend the extent of such a love as this Which made a God send His Son to die, that lost man might be saved. And who would ever have been able to bestow on us this gift of infinite value but a God of infinite love?
I thank Thee, O Eternal Father! for having given me Thy Son to be my Redeemer; and I thank Thee, O great Son of God, for having redeemed me with so much suffering and love. What would have become of me, after the many sins that I have committed against Thee, if Thou hadst not died for me? Ah, that I had died before I had offended Thee, my Saviour! Make me feel some of that detestation for my sins which Thou hadst while on earth and pardon me. But pardon is not sufficient for me, Thou dost merit my love; Thou hast loved me even to death, unto death will I also love Thee. I love Thee, O infinite goodness, with all my soul; I love Thee more than myself; in Thee alone will I place all my affections. Do thou help me; let me no longer live ungrateful to Thee, as I have done hitherto. Tell me what Thou wouldst have of me, for, by Thy grace, all, all will I do. Yes, my Jesus, I love Thee, my treasure, my life, my love, my all.
Neque per sanguinem hircorum aut vitulorum, sed per proprium sanguinem introivit semel in sancita, aeterna redemptione inventa.
“Neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by His Own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption.”—–Heb. ix. 12
And of what worth would the blood of all goats or even of all men be, if they were sacrificed to obtain Divine grace for us? It is only the blood of this Man-God which would merit for us pardon and eternal salvation. But if God Himself had not devised this way to redeem us, as He did by dying to save us, who ever would have been able to think of it? His love alone designed it and executed it. Therefore holy Job did well to cry out to this God Who loves man so much: What is man, O Lord, that Thou dost so exalt him? Why is Thy heart so intent upon loving him? What is man that Thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost Thou set Thy heart upon him? [Job, vii. 17] Ah, my Jesus, one heart is but little with which to love Thee; if I loved Thee even with the hearts of all men, it would be too little. What ingratitude, then, would it be if I were to divide my heart between Thee and creatures! No, my love, Thou wouldst have it all, and well dost Thou deserve it; I will give it all to Thee. If I do not know how to give it Thee as I ought, take it Thyself, and grant that I may be able to say to Thee with truth, God of my heart. [Ps. lxxii. 26] Ah, my Redeemer, by the merits of the abject and afflicted life that Thou hast willed to live for me, give me true humility, which will make me love contempt and an obscure life. May I lovingly embrace all infirmities, affronts, persecutions and interior sufferings, and all the crosses which may come to me from Thy hands. Let me love Thee, and then dispose of me as Thou wilt. O loving heart of my Jesus! make me love Thee by discovering to me the immense good that Thou art. Make me all Thine before I die. I love Thee, my Jesus, Who art worthy to be loved. I love Thee with all my heart, I love Thee with all my soul.
Benignitas et humanitas apparuit Salvatoris nostri Dei.
“The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared.”—–Tit. iii. 4
God has loved man from all eternity. I have loved thee with an everlasting love. [Jer. xxxi. 3] “But,” says St. Bernard, “before the Incarnation of the Word the Divine Power appeared in creating the world, and the Divine Wisdom in governing it; but when the Son of God became Man, then was made manifest the love which God had for men.” [In Nat. Domini, s. 1] And, in fact, after seeing Jesus Christ go through so afflicted a life and so painful a death, we should be offering Him an insult if we doubted the great love which He bears us. Yes, He does surely love us; and because He loves us, He wishes to be loved by us. And Christ died for all, that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but for Him Who died for them and rose again. [2 Cor. v. 15]
Ah, my Saviour, when shall I begin to understand the love which Thou hast had for me? Hitherto, instead of loving Thee, I have repaid Thee with offences and contempt of Thy graces, but since Thou art infinite in goodness I will not lose confidence. Thou hast promised to pardon him who repents; for Thy mercy’s sake fulfill Thy promise to me. I have dishonored Thee by putting Thee aside to follow my own pleasures; but now I grieve for it from the bottom of my soul, and there is no sorrow that afflicts me more than the remembrance of having offended Thee, my Sovereign Good; pardon me and unite me entirely to Thee by an eternal bond of love, that I may not leave Thee any more, and that I may only live to love Thee and to obey Thee. Yes, my Jesus, for Thee alone will I live, Thee only will I love. Once I left Thee for creatures, now I leave all to give myself wholly to Thee. I love Thee, O God of my soul, I love Thee more than myself. O Mary, Mother of God, obtain for me the grace to be faithful to God till death.
In hoc apparuit charitas Dei in nobis, quoniam Filium suum unigenitum misit Deus in mundum, ut vivamus per eum.
“By this hath the charity of God appeared toward us, because God hath sent His Only-begotten Son into the world that we might live by Him.”—–1 John, iv. 9
All men were dead by sin, and they would have remained dead if the eternal Father had not sent His Son to restore them to life by His death. But how? what is this? A God to die for man! A God! And who is this man? “Who am I?” says St. Bonaventure. ” O Lord, why hast Thou loved me so much?” [Stim. div. am. p. 1, c. 13] But it is in this that the infinite love of God shines forth. By this hath the charity of God appeared. [1 John, iv. 9] The Holy Church exclaims on Holy Saturday, “O wonderful condescension of Thy mercy toward us! O inestimable affection of charity! that Thou mightest redeem a slave, Thou didst deliver up Thy Son.” O immense compassion! O prodigy! O excess of the love of God? To deliver a servant and a sinner from the death that he deserves, His innocent Son is condemned to die.
Thou, then, O my God, hast done this that we might live by Jesus Christ: that we might live by Him. [1 John, iv. 9] Yes, indeed, it is but meet that we should live for Him, Who has given all His Blood and His life for us. My dear Redeemer, in the presence of Thy wounds and of the Cross on which I see Thee dead for me, I consecrate to Thee my life and my whole will, Ah, make me all Thine, for from this day forward I seek and desire none but Thee. I love Thee, infinite Goodness; I love Thee, infinite Love; while I live may I always repeat, My God, I love Thee, I love Thee; let my last words in death be, My God, I love Thee, I love Thee.
Per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri, in quibus visitavit nos Oriens ex alte.
“Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us.”—–Luke, i. 78
Behold, the Son of God comes on earth to redeem us, and He comes stimulated alone by the bowels of His mercy. But, O God! if Thou hast compassion on lost man, is it not enough that Thou shouldst send an Angel to redeem him? No, says the Eternal Word, I will come Myself, that man may know how much I love him. St. Augustine writes: ” For this reason chiefly did Jesus Christ come, that man should know how much God loves him.” [De catech. rud. c. 4] But, my Jesus, even now that Thou hast come, how many men are there who truly love Thee? Wretch that I am, Thou knowest how I have hitherto loved Thee; Thou knowest what contempt I have had for Thy love. Oh that I might die of grief for it! I repent, my dear Redeemer, of having so despised Thee. Ah, pardon me, and at the same time give me grace to love Thee. Let me no longer remain unmindful of that great affection which Thou hast borne me. I love Thee now, but I love Thee but little. Thou dost merit an infinite love. Grant me at least that I may love Thee with all my strength. Ah, my Saviour, my joy, my life, my all, whom should I love if I love not Thee, the infinite Good? I consecrate all my wishes to Thy will; at the sight of the sufferings Thou hast undergone for me, I offer myself to suffer as much as it shall please Thee. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Deliver me from sin, and then dispose of me as Thou wilt. I love Thee, infinite Good, and I am content to receive any punishment, even to be annihilated, rather than to live without loving Thee.
Et Verbum caro factum est.
“And the Word was made flesh.”—–John, i. 4
God sent the Archangel Gabriel to ask Mary’s consent that He should become her Son; Mary gives her consent, and behold the Word is made man. O wonderful prodigy! at which the heavens and all nature stand in astonishment! The Word made flesh! A God made man! What if we were to see a king become a worm, to save the life of a little worm of earth by his death?
So, then, my Jesus, Thou art my God, and not being able to die as God, Thou hast been pleased to become Man capable of dying in order to give Thy life for me. My sweet Redeemer, how is it that, at the sight of such mercy and love Thou hast shown towards me, I do not die of grief? Thou didst come down from Heaven to seek me, a lost sheep; and how many times have I not driven Thee away, preferring my miserable pleasures before Thee! But since Thou dost wish to have me, I leave all; I wish to be ‘Thine, and I will have none other but Thee. Thee do I choose for the only object of my affections. My Beloved to me, and I to Him. [Cant. ii. 16] Thou dost think of me, and I will think of none but Thee. Let me always love Thee, and may I never leave off loving Thee. Provided I can love Thee, I am content to be deprived of all sensible consolation, and even to suffer all torments. I see that Thou dost indeed wish me to be all Thine, and I wish to belong entirely to Thee. I know that everything in the world is a falsehood, a deceit, nothing but smoke, filth, and vanity. Thou alone art the true and only good; therefore Thou alone art sufficient for me. My God, I wish for Thee alone, and nothing else; God hear me, for Thee alone do I wish, and nothing else.
“He emptied Himself.”—–Phil. ii. 7
Behold the Only-begotton Son of God, omnipotent and true God, equal to the Father, born a little Infant in a stable. He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made to the likeness of men. [Phil. ii. 7] If anyone would see a God annihilated, let him enter into the cave of Bethlehem, and he will find Him as a little Infant, bound in swaddling-clothes, so that He cannot move, weeping and trembling with cold. Ah, holy faith, tell me Whose Son is this poor Child? Faith answers, He is the Son of God, and He is true God. And who has brought Him to so miserable a condition? It was the love He had for men. And yet there are men to be found who do not love this God!
Thou, then, my Jesus, hast spent all Thy life amidst sorrows to make me understand the love Thou dost bear me, and I have spent, my life in despising and displeasing Thee by my sins! Ah, make me know the evil I have committed, and the love which Thou desirest to have. But since Thou hast borne with me till now, permit me not to give Thee any more cause for sorrow. Inflame me altogether with Thy love, and remind me always of all Thou hast suffered for me, that from this day forth I may forget everything, and think of nothing but loving and pleasing Thee. Thou didst come on earth to reign in our hearts; take, then, from my heart all that could prevent Thee from possessing it entirely! Make my will to be wholly conformed to Thy will; may Thine be mine, and may it be the rule of all my actions and desires.
Parvulus natus est nobis, et Filius datus est nobis.
“For a Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us.”—–Isa. ix. 6
Behold the end for which the Son of God will be born an Infant, to give Himself to us from His childhood, and thus to draw to Himself our love. Why (writes St. Francis de Sales) does Jesus take the sweet and tender form of an Infant, if it be not to stimulate us to love Him and to confide in Him? St. Peter Chrysologus had said before, “Thus He willed to be born, because He wished to be loved.” [Serm. 158]
Oh, dear Child Jesus, my Saviour! I love Thee, in Thee do I trust. Thou art all my hope and all my love. What would have become of me if Thou hadst not come down, from Heaven to save me? I know the Hell which would have I awaited me for the offences I have offered Thee. Blessed be Thy mercy, because Thou art ever ready to pardon me if I repent of my sins. Yes, I repent with all my heart, my Jesus, of having despised Thee. Receive me into Thy favor, and make me die to myself to live only to Thee, my only good. Destroy in me, O Thou consuming fire, everything that is displeasing in Thine eyes, and draw all my affections to Thee. I love Thee, O God of my soul, I love Thee, my treasure, my life, my all. I love Thee, and I wish to die saying, my God, I love Thee; and begin then to love Thee with a perfect love which shall have no end.
Rorate, coeli, desuper, et nubes pluant Justum.—–Emitte Agnum, Domine, dominatorem terrae.—–Salute tuum da nobis.
“Drop down dew, O ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just.”—–” Send forth the Lamb, the Ruler of the earth.”—–Isa. xlv. 8; xvi. 1—–“Grant us Thy salvation.”—–Ps. lxxxiv. 8
Thus did the holy Prophets desire for so many years the coming of the Saviour. The same prophet Isaias said: Oh, that Thou wouldst send the heavens, and wouldst come down: the mountains would melt away at Thy presence, . . . the waters would burn with fire. [Isa. lxiv. 1, 2] Lord, he said, when men shall see that Thou hast come on earth out of love for them, the mountains shall be made smooth, that is, men in serving Thee will conquer all the difficulties that at first appeared to them insuperable obstacles. The waters would burn with fire, and the coldest hearts will feel themselves burning with Thy love, at the sight of Thee made Man, and how well has this been verified in many happy souls!—–in St. Teresa, in St. Philip Neri, St. Francis Xavier, who even in this life were consumed by this holy fire. But how many such are there? Alas! but too few.
Ah, my Jesus, amongst these few I wish also to be. How many years ought I not already be burning in Hell, separated from Thee, hating and cursing Thee forever. But no, Thou hast borne with me with so much patience, that Thou mightest see me burn, not with that unhappy flame, but with the blessed fire of Thy love; for this end Thou hast given me so many illuminations, and hast so often wounded my heart while I was far from Thee; finally, Thou hast done so much that Thou hast forced me to love Thee by Thy sweet attractions. Behold, I am now Thine. I will be Thine always and altogether. It remains for Thee to make me faithful, and this I confidently hope from Thy goodness. O my God! who could ever have the heart to leave Thee again and to live even a moment without Thy love? I love Thee, my Jesus, above all things; but this is little. I love Thee more than myself, but this is little also; I love Thee with all my heart, and this also is little. My Jesus, hear me, give me more love, more love, more love. O Mary, pray to God for me.
Despectum, et novissimum vivorum.
“Despised, and the most abject of men.”—–Isa. liii. 3
Behold what was the life of the Son of God made Man, the most abject of men. He was treated as the vilest, the least of men. To what extreme of meanness could the life of Christ be reduced greater than that of being born in a stable? Of living as a servant in an unknown and despised shop? Struck, treated as a mock king, having His face spit upon? And, finally, of dying condemned as a malefactor on an infamous gibbet?
St. Bernard exclaims, “Oh, lowest and highest!” [S. de Passione] O God, Thou art the Lord of all, and how art Thou contented to be the most despised of all? And I, my Jesus, when I see Thee so humiliated for me, how can I wish to be esteemed and honored by all? A sinner to be proud! Ah, my despised Redeemer, may Thy example inspire me with love of contempt and of an obscure life; from this time forward I hope, with Thy help, to accept from my heart all opprobrium that I may have to suffer for the love of Thee, Who hast endured so much for the love of me. Pardon me the pride of my past life, and give me love in its place. I love Thee, my despised Jesus. Go before me with Thy Cross. I will follow Thee with mine, and I will not leave Thee till I die crucified for Thee, as Thou didst die crucified for me. My Jesus, my despised Jesus, I embrace Thee; in Thy embrace will I live and die.
“A man of sorrows.”—–Isa. liii. 3
What was the life of Jesus Christ? A life of sorrows; a life of internal and external sorrows from the beginning to the end. But what most afflicted Jesus Christ during the course of His life was the sight of the sins and the ingratitude with which men repaid the pains He had suffered with so much love for us. This thought had made Him the most afflicted amongst all men that had ever lived on the earth.
So, then, my Jesus, I also added to the affliction Thou didst suffer during the whole of Thy life by my sins. And why do I not also say, as did St. Margaret of Cortona, who, when exhorted by her confessor to calm her grief and not to weep any more because God had pardoned her, redoubled her tears and answered, “Ah, my Father, how can I leave off weeping when I know that my sins afflicted my Jesus through the whole of His life?” Oh that I could die of grief, my Jesus, whenever I think of all the bitter anguish I have caused Thee every day of my life! Alas, how many nights have I slept deprived of Thy grace! How many times hast Thou pardoned me, and I have again turned my back upon Thee! My dear Lord, I repent above all things for having offended Thee. I love Thee with all my heart; I love Thee with all my soul. “Ah, my sweet Jesus, permit me not to be separated any more from Thee.” Let me die rather than betray Thee afresh. O Mary, Mother of perseverance, obtain for me the gift of holy perseverance.
Cum dilexisset suos, qui erant in mundo, in finem dilexit eos.
“Having loved His Own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.”—–John, xiii. 1
The love of friends increases at the time of death, when they are on the point of being separated from those they love; and it is then, therefore, that they try more than ever, by some pledge of affection, to show the love they bear to them: Jesus during the whole of His life gave us marks of His affection, but when He came near the hour of His death He wished to give us a special proof of His love. For what greater proof could this loving Lord show us than by giving His Blood and His life for each of us? And not content with this, He left this very same Body, sacrificed for us upon the Cross, to be our food, so that each one who should receive it should be wholly united to Him, and thus love should mutually increase.
O infinite goodness! O infinite love! Ah, my enamoured Jesus, fill my heart with Thy love, so that I may forget the world and myself, to think of nothing but loving and pleasing Thee. I consecrate to Thee my body, my soul, my will, my liberty. Up to this time I have sought to gratify myself to Thy great dIspleasure; I am exceedingly sorry for it, my crucified love; henceforth I will seek nothing but Thee, my God and my all.” My God, Thou art my all, I wish for Thee alone and nothing more. Oh that I could spend myself all for Thee, Who hast spent Thyself all for me! I love Thee, my only good, my only love. I love Thee, and abandon myself entirely to Thy holy will. Make me love Thee, and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem.
“My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”—–Matt. xxvi. 38
These were the words that proceeded from the sorrowful Heart of Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemani, before He went to die. Alas, whence came this extreme grief of His, which was so great that it was enough to kill Him? Perhaps it was on account of the torments that He saw He should have to suffer? No; for He had foreseen these torments from the time of His incarnation. He had foreseen them, and had accepted them of His Own free will: He was offered because it was His Own free will. [Isa. liii. 7] His grief came from seeing the sins men would commit after His death. It was then, according to St. Bernardine of Sienna, that He saw clearly each particular sin of each one of us. He had regard to every individual sin. [T. ii. s. 56, a. 1]
It was not, then, my Jesus, the sight of the scourges, of the thorns, and of the Cross which so afflicted Thee in the garden of Gethsemani; it was the sight of my sins, each one of which so oppressed Thy heart with grief and sadness that it made Thee agonize and sweat Blood. This is the recompense I have made Thee for the love Thou hast shown me by dying for me. Ah, let me share the grief Thou didst feel in the garden for my sins, so that the remembrance of it may make me sad for all my life. Ah, my sweet Redeemer, if I could but console Thee as much now by my grief and love as I then afflicted Thee! I repent, my Love, with all my heart for having preferred my own miserable satisfaction to Thee. I am sorry, and I love The above all things. Although I have despised Thee, yet I hear Thee ask for my love. Thou wouldst have me love Thee with all my heart: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. [Matt. xxii. 37] Yes, my God, I love Thee with all my heart, I love Thee with all my soul. Do Thou give me the love Thou requirest of me. If I have hitherto sought myself, I will now seek none but Thee. And seeing that Thou hast loved me more than others, more than others will I love Thee. Draw me always more, my Jesus, to Thy love by the odor of Thy ointments, which are the loving attractions of Thy grace. Finally, give me strength to correspond to so much love which God has borne to an ungrateful worm and traitor. Mary, Mother of mercy, help me by thy prayers.
Comprehenderunt Jesum, et ligaverunt eum.
“They took Jesus and bound Him.”——John, xviii. 10
A God taken and bound! What could the Angels have said at seeing their King with His hands bound, led between soldiers through the streets of Jerusalem! And what ought we to say at the sight of our God, Who is content for our sake to be bound as a thief, to be presented to the judge who is to condemn Him to death? St. Bernard laments, saying, “What hast Thou to do with chains?” [Lib. de Pass. c. 4] What have malefactors and chains to do with
Thee, O my Jesus, Thou Who art infinite goodness and majesty? They should belong to us sinners, guilty of Hell, and not to Thee Who art innocent and the Holy of holies. St. Bernard goes on to say, on seeing Jesus guilty of death, “What hast Thou done, my innocent Saviour, that Thou shouldst be thus condemned?” [Ibid.] O my dear Saviour, Thou art innocence itself; for what crime hast Thou been thus condemned? Ah, I will tell Thee, he replies: the crime Thou hast committed is the too great love Thou hast borne to men, Thy sin is love.
My beloved Jesus, I kiss the cords that bind Thee, for they have freed me from those eternal chains which I have deserved. Alas! how many times have I renounced Thy friendship and made myself a slave of Satan, dishonoring Thine infinite majesty! I grieve above all things for having so grievously insulted Thee. Ah, my God, bind my will to Thy feet with the sweet cords of Thy holy love, that it may wish for nothing but what is pleasing to Thee. May I take Thy will for the one guide of my life. As Thou hast had so great care or my good, may I not care for anything but to love Thee. I love Thee, my sovereign Good; I love Thee, the only object of my affections. I know that Thou alone last loved me truly, and Thee alone will I love. I renounce everything. Thou alone art sufficient for me.
Ipse autem vulneratus est propter iniquitates nostras, attritus est propter scelera nostra.
“But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for sins.”—–Isa. liii. 5
One single blow suffered by this Man-God was sufficient for the sins of the whole world; but Jesus Christ was not satisfied with that; He wished to be wounded and bruised for our iniquities, which means to say, wounded and torn from head to foot, so that there should be no whole part remaining in His sacred Body. Hence the same prophet beheld Him full of sores like a leper. And we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. [Isa. liii. 4]
O wounds of my sorrowful Jesus, thou are all living evidences of the love which my Redeemer preserves for me; with tender words do thou forceth me to love Him for the many sufferings that He has undergone for the love of me. Ah, my sweet Jesus, when shall I give myself all to Thee, as Thou hast given Thyself all to me? I love Thee, my sovereign good. I love Thee, my God, lover of my soul. O God of love, give me love. By my love let me atone to Thee for the bitterness I have given Thee in times past. Help me to drive from my heart everything that does not tend to Thy love. Eternal Father, look at the face of Thy Christ, [Ps. lxxxiii. 10] look at the wounds of Thy Son, which seek pity for me, and for their sake pardon me the outrages that I have committed against Thee; take my heart entirely to Thyself, that it may not love, seek, nor sigh after any other but Thee. I say to Thee, with St. Ignatius, “Give me only love of Thee and Thy grace and I am rich enough.” Behold this is all I ask of Thee, O God of my soul; give me Thy love, together with Thy grace, and I desire nothing else. O Mary, Mother of God, intercede for me.
Ave, Rex Judaeorum.
“Hail, King of the ]ews.”—–Matt. xxvii. 29
Thus was our Redeemer scornfully saluted by the Roman soldiers. After having treated Him as a false king, and having crowned Him with thorns, they knelt before Him and called Him king of the Jews, and then, rising up with loud cries and laughter, they struck Him and spit in His face. St. Matthew writes: And platting a crown of thorns, they put it on His head. . . . And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews; and spitting upon Him they took the reed and struck His head. And St. John adds, And they gave Him blows. [Matt. xxvii. 29; John, xix. 3]
O my Jesus! this barbarous crown that encircles Thy head, this vile reed that Thou dost hold in Thy hand, this torn purple garment that covers Thee with ridicule, make Thee known indeed as a king, but a king of love. The Jews will not acknowledge Thee for their king, and they say to Pilate, We have no King but Caesar. [John, xix. 15] My beloved Redeemer, if others will not have Thee for their king, I accept Thee, and desire that Thou shouldst be the only King of my soul. To Thee do I consecrate my whole self; dispose of me as Thou pleasest. For this end hast Thou endured contempt, so many sorrows, and death itself, to gain our hearts and to reign therein by Thy love. For this end Christ died, . . . that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. [Rom. xiv. 9] Make Thyself, therefore, master of my heart, O my be!oved King, and reign and exercise Thy sway there forever. Formerly I refused Thee for my Lord, that I might serve my passions; now I will be all Thine and Thee alone will I serve. Ah, bind me to Thee by Thy love, and make me always remember the bitter death that Thou hast willed to suffer for me. Ah, my King, my God, my love, my all, what do I wish for if not for Thee alone!—–Thee, God of my heart, and my portion forever. [Ps. lxxii. 26] O God of my heart! I love Thee; Thou art my portion, Thou art my only good.
Et bajulans sibi crucem, exivit in eum, qui dicitur Calvariæ, locum.
“And bearing His Own Cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary.”—–John, xix. 17
Behold the Saviour of the world has now set out on His journey with His Cross on His shoulders, going forth to die in torments for the love of men. The Divine Lamb allows Himself to be led without complaining, to be sacrificed upon the Cross for our salvation. Go thou, also, my soul, accompany and follow thy Jesus, Who goes to suffer death for thy love, to satisfy for thy sins. Tell me, my Jesus and my God, what dost Thou expect from men by giving Thy life for their sake? St. Bernard answers, Thou dost expect nothing but to be loved by them: “When God loves, He wishes for nothing but to be loved in return.” [In Cant. s. 83]
Is it, then, my Redeemer, at so great a cost that Thou hast desired to gain our love? And shall there be any among men who believe in Thee, and not love Thee? I comfort myself with the thought that Thou art the love of all the souls of the Saints, the love of Mary, the love of Thy Father; but, O my God, how many are there who will not know Thee, and how many that know Thee and yet will not love Thee! Infinite Love, make Thyself known, make Thyself loved. Ah, that I could by my blood and my death make Thee loved by all! But alas that I have lived so many years in the world while I knew Thee, but did not love Thee! But now at last Thou hast drawn me to love Thee by Thy so great goodness. At one time I was so unhappy as to lose Thy grace; but the grief I now feel for it, the desire of being all Thine, and still more the death Thou hast suffered for me, give me a firm confidence, O my Love, that Thou hast already pardoned me, and that now Thou lost love me. Oh that I could die for Thee, my Jesus, as Thou hast died for me! Although no punishment awaited those who love Thee not, I would never leave off loving Thee, and I would do all I could to please Thee, Thou Who givest me this good desire, give me strength to follow it out. My love, my hope, do not abandon me; make me correspond, during the remainder of my life to the especial love that Thou has borne me. Thou desirest to have me for Thine Own, and I wish to be all for Thee. I love Thee, my God, my treasure, my all. I will live and die always repeating, I love Thee, I love Thee, l love Thee.
Quasi agnus coram tondente se, obmutescet, et non aperiet os suum.
“And shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and He shall not open His mouth.”—–Isa. liii. 7
This was precisely the passage which the eunuch of Queen Candace was reading; but not understanding of Whom it was written, St. Philip, inspired by God, entered the carriage in which the eunuch was, and explained to him that these words referred to our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Jesus was called a Lamb because He was dragged into the prætorium of Pilate, and then led to death just like an innocent lamb. Therefore the Baptist calls Him a Lamb. Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sins of the world. [John, i. 29] A Lamb Who suffers and dies a victim on the Cross for our sins. Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows. [Isa. liii. 4] Miserable are those who do not love Jesus Christ during their life. In the last day the sight of this Lamb in His wrath will make them say to the mountains, Fall upon us and hide us from the fate of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. [Apoc. vi. 16]
No, my Divine Lamb, if in times past I have not loved Thee, now I will love Thee forever. Before, I was blind, but now that thou hast enlightened me, and hast made me know the great evil I have done in turning my back upon Thee, and the infinite love which is due to Thee for Thy goodness and for the love Thou hast borne me, I repent with all my heart for having offended Thee, and I love Thee above all things. O wounds, O Blood of my Redeemer, how many souls hast Thou not inflamed with love! Inflame my soul also. Ah, my Jesus, continually call to my remembrance Thy Passion and the pains and ignominies that Thou hast suffered for me, that I may detach my affections from earthly goods and place them all on Thee, my only and infinite good. I love Thee, Lamb of God, sacrificed and annihilated on the Cross for my sake. Thou hast not refused to suffer for me; I will not refuse to suffer for Thee whatever Thou requirest. I will no longer complain of the crosses that Thou dost send me. I ought to have been in Hell these many years; how, then, can I complain? Give me grace to love Thee, and then do with me what Thou wilt. Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? [Rom. viii. 35] Ah, my Jesus, sin alone can separate me from Thy love. Ah, let it not be; rather let me die a thousand times; this I beg of Thee by Thy sacred Passion. I beseech thee, O Mary, by thy sorrows deliver me from the death of sin.
Deus meus! Deus meus! ut quid dereliquisti me?
“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”—–Matt. xxvii. 46
O God! who shall not compassionate the Son of God, Who for love of men is dying of grief on a Cross? He is tormented externally in His Body by the innumerable wounds, and internally He is so afflicted and sad that He seeks solace for His great sorrow from the Eternal Father; but His Father, in order to satisfy His Divine justice, abandons Him, and leaves Him to die desolate and deprived of every consolation.
O desolate death of my dear Redeemer, Thou art my hope. O my abandoned Jesus, Thy merits make me hope that I shall not remain abandoned and separated from Thee forever in Hell. I do not care to live in consolation on this earth; I embrace all the pains and desolations that Thou mayest send me. He is not worthy of consolation who by offending Thee has merited for himself eternal torments. It is enough for me to love Thee and to live in Thy grace. This alone do I beg of Thee, let me nevermore see myself deprived of Thy love. Let me be abandoned by all; do not Thou abandon me in this extremity. I love Thee, my Jesus, Who didst die abandoned for me. I love Thee, my only good, my only hope. my only love.
Crucifixerunt, et cum eo alios duos hinc et hinc, medium autem Jesum.
“They crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst.”—–John, xix. 18
The incarnate Word was called by the sacred spouse, All lovely; such is my beloved. [Cant. v. 16] At whatever period of His life Jesus Christ presents Himself to us, He appears altogether desirable and most worthy of love, whether we see Him as an infant in the stable, as a boy in the shop of St. Joseph, as a solitary meditating in the desert, or bathed in sweat as He walked about preaching throughout Judea. But in no other form does He appear more loving than when He is nailed to the Cross on which the immense love He bears us forced Him to die. St. Francis de Sales has said, the Mount of Calvary is the hill of lovers. All love which does not take its rise from the Passion of the Saviour is weak. How miserable is the death where there is no love of the Redeemer! Let us stop, then, and consider that this Man, nailed to the tree of shame, is our true God, and that He is here suffering and dying for nothing but for the love of us.
Ah, my Jesus, if all men would stand still and contemplate Thee on the Cross, believing with a lively faith, that Thou art their God, and that Thou hast died for their salvation, how could they live far from Thee and without Thy love? And how could I, knowing all this, have displeased Thee so often? If others have offended Thee, they have at least sinned in darkness; but I have sinned in the light. But these pierced hands, this wounded side, this Blood, these wounds which I see in Thee, make me hope for pardon and Thy grace. I am grieved, my Love, for having ever so despised Thee. But now now I love Thee with all my heart; and my greatest grief is the remembrance of my having despised Thee. This grief, however, which I feel, is a sign that Thou hast pardoned me. O burning heart of my Jesus, inflame my poor heart with Thy love. O my Jesus, dead, consumed with sorrow for me, make me die consumed with sorrow for having offended Thee, and with the love Thou dost merit, I sacrifice myself entirely to Thee, Who hast sacrificed Thyself entirely for me. O sorrowful Mother Mary, make me faithful in loving Jesus!
Et inclinato capite, tradidit spiritum.
“And bowing His head, He gave up the ghost.”—–John, xix. 30
Behold, my Redeemer, to what Thy love for men has brought Thee—–even to die of sorrow on a Cross, drowned in a sea of grief and ignominy; as David had predicted of Thee. I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed Me. [Ps. lxviii. 3] St. Francis de Sales writes thus: “Let us contemplate this Divine Saviour stretched on the Cross, as upon the altar of His glory, on which He is dying of love for us. Ah, why, then, do we not in spirit throw ourselves upon Him to die upon the Cross with Him Who has chosen to die there for the love of us? I will hold Him, we ought to say; I will never let Him go. I will die with Him, and will burn in the flames of His love; one and the same fire shall devour this Divine Creator and His miserable creature. My Jesus is all mine, and I am all His. I will live and die on His bosom. Neither life nor death shall ever separate me from my Jesus.” [Love of God, book vii., ch. 8]
Yes, my dear Redeemer, I hold fast to Thy Cross; I kiss Thy pierced feet, touched with compassion and confounded at seeing the affection with which Thou hast died for me. Ah, accept me, and bind me to Thy feet, that I may no more depart from Thee, and may from this day forward converse with Thee alone, consult with Thee on all my thoughts; in a word, may I henceforth direct all my affections so as to seek nothing but to love Thee and please Thee, always longing to leave this valley of dangers to come and love Thee face to face with all my strength in Thy kingdom, which is a kingdom of eternal love. In the meantime let me always live, grieving for the offences I have committed against Thee, and always burning with love for Thee, Who for love of me hast given Thy life. I love Thee, my Jesus, Who hast died for me; I love Thee, O infinite lover; I love Thee, O infinite love; I love Thee, infinite goodness. O Mary, Mother of beautiful love, pray to my Jesus for me.
Oblatus est, quia ipse voluit.
“He was offered because it was His Own will.”—–Isa. liii. 7
The incarnate Word, at the moment of His conception, saw before Him all the souls that He was to redeem. Then thou also, my soul, wast presented with the guilt of all thy sins upon thee, and for thee did Jesus Christ accept all the pains that He suffered in life and death; and in doing so He obtained for thee thy pardon, and all the graces that thou hast received from God—–the lights, the calls of His love, the helps to overcome temptations, the spiritual consolations, the tears, the compassionate feelings thou hast experienced when thinking of the love He had for thee, and the sentiments of sorrow in remembering how thou hast offended Him.
Thou didst, then, my Jesus, from the very beginning of Thy life, take upon Thee all my sins, and didst offer Thyself to satisfy for them by Thy sufferings. By Thy death Thou hast delivered me from eternal death: But Thou hast delivered my soul, that it should not perish; Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back. [Isa. xxxviii. 17] Thou, my love, instead of punishing me for the insults which I have added to those that Thou hadst already received, hast gone on adding to Thy favors and mercies towards me, in order to win my heart one day to Thyself. My Jesus, this day is come; I love Thee with all my soul. Who should love Thee if I do not? This is the first sin, my Jesus, that Thou hast to forgive me, that I have been so many years in the world without loving Thee. But for the future I will do all I can to please Thee. I feel by Thy grace a great desire to live to Thee alone, and to detach myself from all created things, I have also a great compunction for the displeasure that I have caused Thee. This desire and this sorrow, I see, my Jesus, are all Thy gift. Continue, then, my love, to keep me faithful in Thy love; for Thou knowest my weakness. Make me all Thine, as Thou hast made Thyself all mine. I love Thee, my only good; I love Thee, my only love; I love Thee, my treasure, my all; My Jesus, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee. Help me, O Mother of God.
Deus Filium suum mittens in similitudinem carnis peccati, et de peccato damnavit peccatum in carne. Christus nos redemit de maledicto legis factus pro nobis maledictum, quia scriptum est: Maledictus omnis qui pendet in ligno.
“God sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, even of sin, hath condemned sin in the flesh.”—–Rom. viii 3 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”—–Gal. iii. 13
Hence we see that Jesus Christ willed to appear in the world as a guilty and an accused Man, hanging on the Cross to deliver us from eternal malediction.
O eternal Father, for the love of this Son so dear to Thee, have pity on me! And Thou, Jesus, my Redeemer, Who by Thy death hast liberated me from the slavery of sin in which I was born, and of the sins that I have committed since my Baptism, ah, change the miserable chains which once bound me a slave to Satan into chains of gold, which may bind me to Thee with a holy love. Arise and show forth in me the efficacy of Thy merits, by changing me, a sinner, into a Saint. I have deserved to be burning in Hell for many years past: but I hope by Thine infinite mercy, for the glory of Thy death, to burn with Thy love, and to be all Thine. I wish that my heart should love none but Thee. Thy kingdom come. Reign, my Jesus, reign over my whole soul. May it obey Thee alone, seek Thee alone, desire Thee alone. Away from my heart, ye earthly affections! and come, O ye flames of Divine love; come and remain alone to possess and consume me for that God of love Who didst die consumed for me. I love Thee, my Jesus; I love Thee, O infinite Sweetness and my true lover, I have no one who has loved me more than Thou; and therefore I give and consecrate myself to Thee, my treasure and my all.
Dilexit nos, et lavit nos a peccatis nostris in sanguine suo.
HHe hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His Own Blood.”
—-Apoc. i. 5
So, then, my Jesus, in order to save my soul, Thou hast prepared a bath of Thine Own Blood wherein to cleanse it from the filth of its sins. If, then, our souls have been bought by Thy Blood, For you are bought with a great price, [1 Cor. vi. 20] it is a sign that Thou lovest them much; and as Thou dost love them, let us pray thus to Thee: We therefore pray Thee to help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood. It is true that by my sins I have separated myself from Thee, and have knowingly lost Thee. But remember, my Jesus, that Thou hast bought me with Thy Blood. Ah, may this Blood not have been given in vain for me, which was shed with so much grief and so much love.
By my sins I have driven Thee, my God, from my soul, and have merited Thy hatred; but Thou hast said that Thou wouldst forget the crimes of a repentant sinner. But if he do penance . . . I will not remember all his iniquities. [Ezk. xviii. 21] Thou hast further said, I love them that love Me, [Prov. viii. 17] I pray Thee, therefore, my Jesus, to forget all the injuries that I have offered Thee, and love me; whilst I also will now love Thee more than myself, and repent above all things for having offended Thee. Ah, my beloved Lord, for the sake of that Blood which Thou hast shed for the love of me, hate me no longer, but love me. It is not enough for me that Thou shouldst only forgive me the chastisement I deserve. I desire to love Thee and to be loved by Thee. O God, Who art all love, all goodness, unite me and bind me to Thyself, and permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee anymore, and that thus I should deserve Thy hatred. No, my Jesus, my love, let it not be, I will be all Thine, and I desire that Thou shouldst be all mine.
Humiliavit semetipsum,factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.
“He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death; even the death of the Cross.”—–Phil, ii. 8
What great thing is that the Martyrs have done in giving their lives for God, while this God has humbled Himself to the death of the Cross for their love? To render a just return for the death of a God, it would not be sufficient to sacrifice the lives of all men; the death of another God for His love would alone compensate for it. O my Jesus! allow me, a poor sinner, to say to Thee, with Thy true lover St. Francis of Assissi, “May I die, O Lord, for the love of Thy love, as Thou didst deign to die for the love of my love.”
Is it true, my Redeemer, that hitherto, for the love of my own pleasures, unhappy that I am! I have renounced Thy love? Would that I had died before, and had never offended Thee! I thank Thee that Thou givest me time to love Thee in this life, that I may afterwards love Thee throughout all eternity. Ah, remind me continually, my Jesus, of the ignominious death that Thou hast suffered for me, that I may never forget to love Thee in consideration of the love that Thou hast borne me. I love Thee, infinite goodness; I love Thee, my supreme good; to Thee I give myself entirely, and by that love which I caused Thee to die for me, do Thou accept my love, and let me die, destroy me, rather than ever permit me to leave off loving Thee. I will say to Thee, with St. Francis de Sales, “O eternal Love, my soul seeks Thee, and chooses Thee for all eternity. Come, O Holy Spirit, inflame our hearts with Thy love. Either to love or to die. To die to all other affections, to live only to the love of Jesus.” [Love of God, book xii, ch. 13]
Charitas enim Christi urget nos.
“The Charity of Christ presseth us.”—–2 Cor. v. 14
How tender and full of unction are the words with which St, Francis de Sales comments on this passage in his book of the Divine love! “Hear Theotimus,” he says; “nothing forces and presses the soul of man so much as love. If a man knows that he is loved by any one, he feels himself forced to love him; but if a peasant is loved by a lord, he is still more strongly forced; and if by a monarch, how much more so! Know, then, that Jesus, the true God, has loved us so far as to suffer death, even the death of the Cross for us. Is not this to have our hearts put under a press, and to feel them squeezed and crushed so as to force out our love with a violence which is all the stronger for being so loving.”
Ah, my Jesus, since Thou dost desire to be loved by me, remind me always of the love that Thou hast borne me, and of the pains Thou hast suffered to show me this love. May the remembrance of them be ever present in my mind and in the minds of all men, for it is impossible to believe what Thou hast suffered to oblige us to love, and yet not love Thee. Till now the cause of my negligent and wicked life has been, that I have not thought of the affection which Thou, my Jesus, hast had for me. All this time, however, I knew the great displeasure my sins gave Thee, and nevertheless I went on multiplying them. Every time I remember this I should wish to die of grief for it, and I should not now have courage to ask Thy pardon, if I did not know that Thou didst die to obtain forgiveness for me. Thou hast borne with me in order that at the sight of the wrong I have done Thee and of the death that Thou hast suffered for me, my sorrow and love towards Thee should be increased. I repent, my dear Redeemer, with all my heart, for having offended Thee, and I love Thee with all my soul. After so many signs of Thy affection, and after the many mercies that Thou hast shown me. I promise Thee that I will love none but Thee. Thee will I love with all my strength; Thou art my Jesus, my love, my all. Thou art my love, because in Thee I have placed all my affections.
Thou art my all, because I will have none other but Thee. Grant, then, that always, both in life and death and through all eternity, I may ever call Thee my God, my love, and my all.
Charitas enim Christi urget nos.
“The Charity of Christ presseth us.”—–2 Cor. v. 14
Let us consider anew the force of these words. The Apostle means to say that it is not so much the thought of all that Christ has suffered for us that should constrain us to love Him, as the thought of the love that He has shown us in wishing to suffer so much for us. This love made our Saviour say, while He was yet alive, that He was dying with the desire that the day of His death should draw near to make us know the boundless love that He had for us. I have a Baptism wherewith I am to be Baptized, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! [Luke, xii. 50] And the same love made Him say the last night of His life, With desire, I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer. [Luke, xxii. 15]
So great, then, my Jesus, was the desire that Thou hadst to be loved by us, that all through Thy life Thou didst desire nothing but to suffer and to die for us, and so to put us under the necessity of loving Thee at least out of gratitude for so much love. Dost Thou so thirst for our love? How is it, then, that we so little desire Thine. Alas, that I should have been up to this time so foolish! Not only have I not desired Thy love, but I have brought down upon myself Thy hatred by losing my respect for Thee. My dear Redeemer, I know the evil I have done, I detest it above all my other sins, and am sorry from the bottom of my heart. Now I desire Thy love more than all the goods of the world. My best and only treasure, I love Thee above all things, I love Thee more than myself, I love Thee with all my soul, and I desire nothing but to love Thee and to be loved by Thee. Forget, my Jesus, the offences that I have committed against Thee; do Thou also love me, and love me exceedingly, that I may exceedingly love Thee. Thou art my love, Thou art my hope. Thou knowest how weak I am; help me, Jesus, my love; help me, Jesus, my hope. Succor me also with thy prayers, O Mary, great Mother of God.
Majorem hac dilectionem memo habet, ut animam suam ponat quis pro amicis suis.
“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”—–John, xv. 13
What more, O my soul! could thy God do than to give His life in order to make thee love Him? To give his life is the greatest mark of affection that a man can give to another man who is his friend. But what love must that have been which our Creator has shown to us in choosing to die for us His creatures! This is what St. John was considering when he wrote: In this we have known the charity of God, because He hath laid down His life for us. [1 John, iii. 16] Indeed, if faith did not teach us that a God has willed to die to show us His love, who would ever have been able to believe it?
Ah, my Jesus, I believe that Thou hast died for me, and therefore I confess that I deserve a thousand Hells for having repaid with insults and ingratitude the love that Thou hast borne me in giving Thy life for me. I thank Thy mercy, which has promised to forgive those that repent. Trusting, then, in this sweet promise, I hope for pardon from Thee, repenting, as I do, with all my heart for having so often despised Thy love. But since Thy love has not abandoned me, overcome by Thy love I consecrate myself all to Thee. Thou, my Jesus, hast finished Thy life by dying in agony on a Cross; and, what recompense can I, a miserable creature, make Thee? I consecrate to Thee my life, accepting with love all the sufferings that will come to me from Thy hand, both in life and in death. Softened and confounded at the great mercy that Thou hast used towards me, I hold fast Thy Cross; at Thy feet will I thus live and die. Ah, my Redeemer, by the love that Thou hast borne me in dying for me, do not permit me ever to separate myself from Thee again. Make me always live and die in Thy embrace. My Jesus, my Jesus, I repeat, make me always live and die united with Thee.
Et ego, si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad me ipsum.
“I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things unto Myself.”—–John, xii. 32
Thou hast said, then, my Saviour, that when hanging on the Cross Thou wouldst draw all our hearts unto Thyself; why is it that for so many years my heart has gone far away from Thee? Ah, it is not Thy fault. How many times hast Thou called me to Thy love and I have turned a deaf ear? How many times too hast Thou pardoned me, and affectionately warned me by remorse of conscience not to offend Thee again, and I have repeated my offence? Ah, my Jesus, send me not to Hell, because there I shall be cursing forever these graces which Thou hast given me; so that these graces, the illuminations Thou hast given me, Thy calls, Thy patience in bearing with me, the Blood that Thou didst shed to save me, would be the most cruel of all the torments of Hell. But now I hear Thee call me again, and Thou dost say to me, with the greatest love, as if I had never offended Thee: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. [Matt. xxii. 37] Thou dost command me to love Thee, and to love Thee with all my heart. But if Thou didst not command me, O Jesus! how could I live without loving Thee, after so many proofs of Thy love? Yes, I love Thee, my supreme good; I love Thee with all my heart. I love Thee because Thou dost command me to love Thee. I love Thee because Thou art worthy of infinite love. I love Thee, and desire nothing else but to love Thee, and nothing else do I fear except being separated from Thee, and living without Thy love. Ah, my crucified love, permit not that I ever leave off loving Thee. Ever call to my remembrance the death that Thou hast undergone for me. Remind me of the endearments that Thou hast used towards me, and may the remembrance of them incite me more and more to love Thee, and to spend myself for Thee, Who hast spent Thyself as a victim of love on the Cross for me.
Qui etiam propio Filio suo non pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit ilium quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?
“He that spared not His only Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also . . . given us all things?—–Rom. viii. 32
What flames of love ought not these words enkindle in our hearts: Delivered Him up for us all! [Rom. viii. 32] Divine Justice, offended by our sins, must be satisfied; what, therefore, does God do? To pardon us, He wills that His Son should be condemned to death, and should Himself pay the penalty due from us: He spared not His Only Son. [Ibid.]
O God! If the eternal Father were capable of suffering, what grief would He not have experienced in condemning to death, for the sins of His servants, His well-beloved and innocent Son! Let us imagine that we see the eternal Father, with Jesus dead in His arms, and saying, For the wickedness of My people have I struck Him. [Isa. liii. 8] Rightly did St. Francis of Paola exclaim, in ecstasy of love, when meditating on the death of Jesus Christ, “O love! O love! O love!” On the other hand, with what confidence should not the following words inspire us: How hath He not also—–with Him, given us all things? [Rom. viii. 32] And how, my God, should I fear that Thou shouldst not give me pardon, perseverance, Thy love, Thy Paradise, and all the graces that I can hope for, now that Thou hast given me that which is most dear to Thee, even Thine Own Son? I know what I must do to obtain every good from Thee,—–I must ask for it for the love of Jesus Christ; of this Jesus Christ Himself assures me: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you. [John, xvi. 23]
My supreme and eternal God, I have hitherto despised Thy majesty and goodness; now I love Thee above all things; and because I love Thee, I repent with all my heart of having offended Thee, and would rather accept any chastisement than ever more offend Thee. Pardon me, and grant me those graces which I now ask of Thee, confiding in the promise of Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ I beseech Thee to give me holy perseverance to death, give me a pure and perfect love towards Thee, give me an entire conformity to Thy holy will, give, me finally Paradise. I ask for all, and hope for all, from Thee through the merits of Jesus Christ. I deserve nothing; I am worthy of punishment, not of graces, but Thou dost deny nothing to those who pray to Thee for the love of Jesus Christ. Ah, my good God, I see that Thou dost wish me to be all Thine; I also wish to be Thine, and will not fear that my sins should prevent me from being all Thine,—–Jesus Christ has already satisfied for them,—–and Thou, besides, art ready, for the love of Jesus Christ, to give me all that I desire. This is my desire and my request; my God, hear me! I wish to love Thee, to love Thee exceedingly; and to be altogether Thine. Most holy Mary, help me.
Nos autem praedicamus, Christum crucifixum, Judaeis quidem scandalum, Gentibus autem stultitiam.
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.”—–1 Cor. i. 23
St. Paul assures us that the Gentiles, hearing it preached that the Son of God had been crucified for the salvation of mankind, reckoned it folly: But unto the Gentiles foolishness; [1 Cor. i. 23] as if they said, Who can believe such folly, that a God should have willed to die for the love of His creatures! “It seems a foolish thing,” says St. Gregory, “that a God should wish to die for the salvation of man.” [In Evang. hom. 6] St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, also rapt in love, exclaims in an ecstasy, Do you not know, my sisters, that my Jesus is nothing but love? rather He is mad with love. I say that Thou art mad with love, my Jesus, and I will always say so.
My beloved Redeemer, oh that I could possess the hearts of all men, and with them love Thee as Thou deservest to be loved! O God. of love, why, after Thou hast shed all Thy Blood in this world and given Thy life for the love of mankind,—–why, I say, are there so few men who burn with Thy love? For this end didst Thou come, namely, to kindle in our hearts the fire of Thy love, and Thou desirest nothing but to see it enkindled. I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled? [Luke, xii. 49] I pray, then, with the Holy Church, in my name and in the name of everyone living, kindle in them the fire of Thy love; enkindle them, enkindle them, enkindle them! My God, Thou art all goodness, all love, all infinite sweetness, boundless in love; make Thyself known to all, make Thyself loved. I am not ashamed of praying thus to Thee, although up to this time I have been more guilty than others in despising Thy love,—–because now, enlightened by Thy grace, and wounded by the many arrows of love Thou hast shot forth from Thy burning and loving heart into my soul, I am determined no longer to be ungrateful to Thee as I have hitherto been; but I will love Thee with all my strength, I desire to burn with Thy love, and this Thou hast to grant me. I look not for sensible consolations in loving Thee; I do not deserve them, neither do I ask for them; it is enough for me to love Thee. I love Thee, my sovereign good; I love Thee, my God and my all.
Posuit Dominus in eo iniquitatem omnium nostrum. . . . et voluit conterere eum.
“The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. . . . And the Lord hath pleased to bruise Him.”—–Isa. liii. 6, 10
Behold the extent of Divine love towards man! The eternal Father loads the shoulders of His Son with our sins; And He was pleased to bruise Him. He willed that His Own Son should suffer with the utmost rigor all the punishment due to us, making Him die on an ignominious Cross overwhelmed with torments. The Apostle is just, then, when speaking of this love, to call it too much love to ordain that we should receive life through the death of His beloved Son. For His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ. [Eph. ii. 5]
Thou hast, then, my God, loved me too much, and I have been too ungrateful in offending Thee and turning
my back upon Thee. Ah, eternal Father, look upon Thine Only-begotten, mangled and dead upon that Cross for me, and for the love of Him pardon me and draw my heart wholly to Thyself to love Thee. A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. [Ps. l. 19] For the love of Jesus Christ Who died for our sins, Thou canst not despise a soul that humbles itself and repents. I know myself to be deserving of a thousand Hells, but I repent with my whole heart for having offended Thee, the supreme Good. Reject me not, but have pity on me. But I am not content with a simple pardon; I desire that Thou shouldst give me a great love towards Thee, that I may compensate for all the offences that I have committed against Thee. I love Thee, infinite Goodness, I love Thee, O God of love. It is but little if I should die and annihilate myself for Thy sake. I desire to know how to love Thee as Thou deservest. But Thou knowest I can do nothing; do Thou make me grateful for the immense love that Thou hast had for me. I beg this of Thee for the love of Jesus, Thy Son. Grant that I may overcome everything in this life to please Thee, and that in death I may expire entirely united to Thy will, and so come to love Thee face to face with a perfect and eternal love in Paradise.
Ego sum Pastor bonus. Bonus Pastor animam sam dat pro ovibus suis.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep.”—–John, x. 11
My Jesus, what dost Thou say? What shepherd would ever give his life for his sheep? Thou alone, because Thou art a God of infinite love, canst say, And I lay down My life for My sheep. [John, x. 15] Thou alone hast been able to show to the world this excess of love, that being our God and our supreme Lord, Thou hast yet willed to die for us. It was of this excess of love that Moses and Elias spoke on Mount Tabor: They spoke of His decease that He should accomplish in Jerusalem. [Luke, ix. 31] Hence St. John exhorts us to love a God Who was the first to love us: Let us therefore love God because God first hath loved us. [1 John, iv. 19] As if he said, If we will not love this God for His infinite goodness, let us love Him at least for the love that He has borne us in suffering willingly the pains that were due to us.
Remember, then, my Jesus, that I am one of those sheep for whom Thou hast given Thy life. Ah, cast on me one of those looks of pity with which Thou didst regard me once when Thou wast dying on the Cross for me; look on me, change me, and save me. Thou hast called Thyself the loving Shepherd Who, finding the lost sheep, takes it with joy and carries it on His shoulders, and then calls His friends to rejoice with Him: Rejoice with Me, for I have found the sheep that was lost. [Luke, xv. 6] Behold, I am the lost sheep; seek me and find me: I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; seek Thy servant. [Ps. cxviii. 176] If through my fault Thou hast not yet found me, take me now and unite me and bind me to Thee, that Thou mayest not lose me again. The bond must be that of Thy love; if Thou dost not bind me with this sweet chain Thou wilt again lose me. Ah, it is not Thou Who hast been wanting in binding me by holy love; but I, an ungrateful wretch, who have continually fled from Thee. But now I pray Thee, by that infinite mercy which caused Thee to come down to the earth to find me. Ah, bind me; but bind me with a double chain of love, that Thou mayest not lose me again, and that I may no more lose Thee. I renounce all the goods and pleasures of the world, and offer myself to suffer every pain, every death, provided that I live and die always united to Thee. I love Thee, my sweet Jesus; I love Thee, my good Shepherd, Who hast died for Thy lost sheep; but know that this sheep now loves Thee more than himself, and desires nothing but to love Thee and to be consumed by Thy love. Have pity on him, then, and permit him never again to be separated from Thee.
Ego pono animam meam. . . . Nemo tollit eam a me, sed ego pono eam a meipso.
“I lay down My life. . . . No one taketh it away from Me; but I lay it down of Myself.”—–John, x. 17, 18
Behold, then, the Word Incarnate, urged alone by the love that He preserves towards us, accepts the death of the Cross to give to man the life that he had lost. Behold, says St. Thomas, a God does for man more than He could have done if man had been (so to speak) His God, and as if God could never have been happy without man. “As if,” these are the words of the Saint, “man had been God’s god, as if God could not be happy without him. [Opusc. 63, c. 7] We sinned, and by sinning merited eternal punishment; and what does Jesus do? He takes upon Himself the obligation of satisfaction, and He pays for us by His sufferings and His death: Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows. [Isa. liii. 4]
Ah, my Jesus, since I have been the cause of all the bitterness and anguish that Thou didst suffer while living on this earth, I pray Thee make me share the grief that Thou didst feel for my sins, and give me confidence in Thy Passion. What would have become of me, my Lord, if Thou hadst not deigned to satisfy for me? O infinite Majesty, I repent with my whole heart for having outraged Thee; but I hope for pity from Thee, Who art infinite Goodness. Arise, O Saviour of the world, and apply to my soul the fruit of Thy death, and from an ungrateful rebel make me become such a true son as to love Thee alone, and to fear nothing but to displease Thee. May that same love which made Thee die on the Cross for me destroy in me all earthly affections. My Jesus, take my whole body to Thyself in such a way that it may only serve to obey Thee; take my heart, that it may desire nothing but Thy pleasure; take my whole will, that it may wish for nothing but what is according to Thy will. I embrace Thee and press Thee to my heart, my Redeemer. Ah, do not disdain to unite Thyself to me. I love Thee, O God of love. I love Thee, my only good. How could I have the heart to leave Thee again, now that Thou hast taught me how much Thou hast loved me, and how many mercies Thou hast shown me, changing the punishments that were due to me into graces and caresses? O holy Virgin, obtain for me the grace of being grateful to thy Son.
Delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decreti, quod erat contrarium nobis, et ipsum tulit do medio, agffigens illud cruci.
“Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the Cross.”—-Coloss. ii. 14
The sentence was already recorded against us that was to condemn us to, eternal death, as rebels of the offended Majesty of God. And what has Jesus Christ done? With His Blood He has cancelled the writing of the condemnation, and, to deliver us from all fear, He has fastened it to His Own Cross, on which He died to satisfy for us to the Divine justice. My soul, behold the obligation that thou art under to thy Redeemer; and hear how the Holy Spirit now reminds thee: Forget not the kindness of thy surety. [Ecclus. xxix. 20] Forget not the kindness of thy surety, Who, taking upon Himself thy debts, has paid them for thee; and behold, the pledge of the payment has been already fixed to the Cross. When, therefore thou dost remember thy sins, look upon the Cross, and have confidence; look on that sacred wood stained with the Blood of the Lamb of God sacrificed for thy love, and hope in and love a God Who has loved thee so much.
Yes, my Jesus, I hope everything from Thine infinite goodness. It is property of Thy Divine nature to render good for evil to those who repent of their sins, are sorry for having committed them, and who love Thee. Yes, I am sorry above all things, my beloved Redeemer, for having so much despised Thy goodness, and, wounded by Thy love, I love Thee, and I ardently desire to please Thee in everything that is Thy will. Alas! when I was in sin, I was the servant of the devil, and he was my master. Now that I hope to remain in Thy grace, Thou alone, my Jesus, art the only Lord of my heart, and my only Love. Take possession of me, then; keep me always, possess me entirely; for Thine only do I desire to be. No, nevermore will I forget the pains that Thou hast suffered for me; so shall I be more and more inflamed, and increase in Thy love. I love Thee, my most dear Redeemer; I love Thee, O Word Incarnate; my treasure, my all, I love Thee, I love Thee.
Si quis peccaverit, advocatum habemus apud Patrem Jesus Christum justum, et ipse est propitiato pro peccatis nostris.
“But if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Just, and He is the propitiation for our sins.”—–John ii. 1
Oh, what great confidence do these words give to penitent sinners! Jesus Christ is in Heaven, advocating their cause, and He is certain to obtain pardon for them. The devil, when a sinner has escaped from his chains, tempts him to be diffident of obtaining pardon. But St. Paul encourages him, saying, Who is He that shall condemn? Jesus Christ that died, . . . Who also maketh intercession for us. [Rom. viii. 34] The Apostle means to say, If we detest the sins that we have committed, why do we fear? Who is he who will condemn us? It is Jesus Christ, the same Who died, that we might not be condemned, and Who is now in Heaven, where He is advocating our cause. He goes on to say, Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Rom. viii. 35] As if he would say, But after we have been pardoned with so much love by Jesus Christ, and have been received into His grace, who could have the heart to turn his back upon Him, and separate himself from His love?
No, my Jesus, I no longer rely upon myself so as to live separated from Thee and deprived of Thy love. I weep over the unhappy days when I lived without Thy grace. Now I hope that Thou hast pardoned me. I love Thee, and Thou lovest me. But Thou dost love with a boundless love, and I love Thee so little; give me more love. Infinite Goodness, I repent above all things for having hitherto so ill-treated Thee; now I love Thee above all things, I love Thee more than myself; and I take more delight, my God, in knowing that Thou art infinitely blessed than in my own happiness, because I love Thee better—–being, as Thou art, worthy of infinite love—–than myself, who deserves nothing but Hell. My Jesus, I wish for nothing from Thee, but Thyself.
Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos.
“Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” —–Matt. xi. 28
Let us listen to Jesus Christ, Who from the Cross to which He is nailed, and from the altar where He dwells under the sacramental species, calls us poor afflicted sinners to console us and enrich us with His graces. Oh, what two great mysteries of hope and love to us are the Passion of Jesus Christ and the Sacrament of the Eucharist!—–mysteries which, if faith did not make us certain of them, would be incredible. That God should deign to shed even the very last drop of His Blood! (for this is the signification of effundetur). This is My Blood . . . which shalt be shed for many. [Matt. xxvi. 28] And why? To atone for our sins. But then to will to give His Own Body as food for our souls,—–that Body which had already been sacrificed on the Cross for our salvation! These sublime mysteries must surely soften the hardest hearts, and raise up the most desperate sinners. Finally, the Apostle says that in Jesus Christ we are enriched with every good, so that no grace is wanting to us: In all things you are made rich, in Him . . . So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace. [1 Cor. i. 5] It is enough that we invoke this God for Him to have mercy on us; and He will abound in grace to all who pray to Him, as the same Apostle assures us: Rich unto all who call upon Him. [Rom. x. 12]
If, then, my Saviour, I have reason to despair of pardon for the offences and treacheries that I have been guilty of towards Thee, I have still greater reason to trust in Thy goodness. My Father, I have forsaken Thee, like an ungrateful son; but I now return to Thy feet, full of sorrow and covered with confusion for the many mercies that Thou hast shown me; and I say with shame, Father, I am not worthy to be called Thy son. [Luke, xv. 21] Thou hast said that there is rejoicing in Heaven when a sinner is converted: There shall be joy in Heaven upon one sinner that doth penance. [Luke, xv. 7] Behold, I leave all and turn to Thee, my crucified Father; I repent with my whole heart for having treated Thee with such contempt as to turn my back upon Thee. Receive me again to Thy grace, and inflame with Thy holy love, so that I may never leave Thee again. Thou hast said, I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly. [John, x. 10] Wherefore I hope to receive from Thee, not only Thy grace as I enjoyed it before I offended Thee, but a grace more abundant, which shall make me become all on fire with Thy love. Oh that I could love Thee, my God, as Thou dost deserve to be loved! I love Thee above all things. I love Thee more than myself. I love Thee with all my heart; and aspire after Heaven, where I shall love Thee for all eternity. What is there to me in Heaven, and besides Thee that have I desired on earth? O God, God of my heart and my portion forever. [Ps. lxxii. 25] Ah, God of my heart, take and keep possession of all my heart, and drive from it every affection that does not belong to Thee. Thou art my only treasure, my only love. I wish for Thee alone, and nothing more. O Mary, my hope, by thy prayers draw me all to God.