A Lenten Reflection for Saturday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent from Holy Cross Publications
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Way of the Cross.
Accompany in spirit your persecuted Lord as He toils along the hard and difficult way of the cross. The mournful procession is preceded by a trumpeter, who at the corner of every street sounds his trumpet and gives notice of the execution which is to take place. A few paces behind him come a crowd of servants, soldiers, and vagabonds, carrying ropes, nails and tools of different kinds in baskets. Then follow the haughty Pharisees, exultant, intoxicated with the victory they have gained, and lastly our Lord comes with His heavy cross.
1st. Consider what a painful journey this is for our Lord. Bent and tottering, lacerated by the scourging, bruised and beaten and wearied out He staggers along; since the Last Supper He has not had a morsel of food, not a drop of water has moistened His parched lips since He drank of the brook in the way. Deprived of sleep, subjected to continual maltreatment, exhausted with loss of blood, with the pain of His wounds, with fever and thirst, with grief and woe unutterable He walks barefoot along the stony road, the sun beating hotly upon His thorn-crowned head, so that drops of perspiration mingle with the blood that trickles from His brow. Can you, my soul, with such a spectacle before you as this most painful way of the cross affords, murmur and complain of the hardships, incomparably less as they indeed are, of your life’s journey? Is it possible that you go so far as to show annoyance if your calling, if obedience requires you to go out on a dark night, in cold inclement weather, to a rough and lonely part of the country? Learn of Jesus to be more patient, and with this aim look upon Him as your model.
2d. Consider the patience our Lord exhibited on the way of the cross. We have read the touching story of the youthful Isaac, how the patriarch Abraham with a heavy heart laid on the shoulders of his only, his dearly loved child the wood on which he was to be sacrificed, and how the boy, patient, uncomplaining as an innocent lamb, ascended Mount Moria with his burden. To-day we contemplate another, a second Isaac climbing that same mountain. No affectionate father walks beside Him; fierce wolves, hungry dogs encompass the immaculate Lamb of God. Nor is this a mere trial of faith, as it was in Isaac’s case; it is real, terrible earnest. But the Son of God carries the wood for His own oblation as patiently as the child of Abraham did. The hands that grasp the cross are, it is true, sore and swollen; the countenance of Him who bears it is wet, not with sweat alone, but with streams of blood; the weight of the ponderous beams composing the instrument of torture press heavily upon His aching, smarting shoulder; over and above all this, contempt and malice meet Him on every side. Although thus tortured, in such misery, yet of His great love His lips move in prayer; He prays for His enemies; He is willing to forgive and to suffer yet more. Blush to think of your impatience, your spitefulness, your desire for revenge. See how your sins form a part of the burden of guilt beneath which the afflicted Saviour groans, and which causes Him to stumble on the way.
3d. Consider our Lord’s painful fall. The way He is traversing is not smooth; great stones lie on the road. Our Lord, overcome by weakness, is unable to go any further. The executioners drag Him onward, and pull ruthlessly at the ropes which bind their exhausted Victim, sinking beneath the burden of the cross. From beneath that terrible, roughly-plaited crown of thorns He turns on them His sunken eyes, suffused with blood, with a look of entreaty, imploring compassion, but in vain. The harried, goaded Lamb must press onward; now His foot strikes against a stone, His knees give way, He totters and falls, and the heavy cross falls on Him. Behold our Lord grovelling on the ground like a worm, overwhelmed with pain and woe and bitter grief!
Weep, my soul, over your falls into sin, which prepare this painful fall for Jesus; weep especially on account of your first fall, and resolve to-day and on the Friday of every week, in honor of our Lord’s first fall, to pray for all who are in danger of falling for the first time into mortal sin, for if we fall into mortal sin we cause our Lord to experience far greater pain than that which was inflicted by His own fall on the way of the cross.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
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