A Lenten Reflection for Good Friday 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 Burial of Our Lord.
Picture to yourself the mournful procession which today wends its way from the summit of Calvary down to the garden belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus and Joseph, assisted by the disciple whom Jesus loved, are carrying our Lord’s sacred and precious body to the tomb; they are followed by His heartbroken Mother, Mary, the most bereaved, the most to be pitied of all the mothers in Israel; they are followed by Magdalen, dissolved in tears of bitter grief, and the devout women sorrowing sore, close the melancholy funeral procession! But that is not all; the angels of God, unseen by human eye, are present; they witness the burial of their Creator. In spirit join the company of mourners, accompany them to the sepulchre wherein your Lord was laid, and meditate upon this solemn scene.
1st. His sepulchre is in a garden. It was in a garden that the sentence of death was passed upon the human race, hence He who took the condemnation upon Himself was buried in a garden. The fall of man took place, his destitution commenced in a garden, and to-day his restitution is accomplished in a garden. It was in a garden that the first Adam, by his prevarication, closed the portals of heaven against his posterity; and it was whilst His body rested in a garden that the second Adam, descending to Limbo, opened the gates of heaven to all believers.
Betake yourself therefore with feelings of profound gratitude to the sepulchre of our Lord to-day; and if your heart is to be a spiritual tomb wherein our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament will rest, O spare no pains that this grave may be in a garden, a garden filled with fair flowers and the choice fruits of good works, fragrant with the perfume of your virtues. Is this so with you, or is our Lord’s spiritual grave in a desert instead of in a garden?
2d. It is a new grave in which Jesus is laid. It was meet and right that it should be so, for He was a new man, one such as the world had never seen before, for He was both God and man; His Mother was a woman such as the world had never seen, for she was a mother and at the same time a virgin; His doctrine was new, His manner of life was new, His miracles were new, and finally through Him the whole world was made new. Betake yourself therefore to-day, my soul, with a thankful heart to the sepulchre of our Lord; and if your breast is to be a spiritual grave wherein He is to be laid, O spare no pains that it may be a new grave which you offer Him as His resting-place. Cast out the old leaven of sin, strip yourself of the old Adam, put on the new man and pray in the words of the Psalmist: “Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within my bowels.” (Ps. 1. 12.)
3d. Finally it is a stranger’s grave in which Jesus is laid. Behold He to whom the Heavens and the earth belong, He who created all things, who upholds all things, who governs all things, has nothing that He can call His own at His death any more than He had during His life. He lived as a stranger upon earth and as a stranger He died. So true and faithful was Jesus in His love of poverty. He was born in a stable, He sojourned in a dwelling that was not His own, He died upon the cross, and now He is interred in the monument of another. Betake yourself to-day, my soul, with a thankful heart to our Lord’s sepulchre; there renew your vow of voluntary poverty, the poverty which He observed so perfectly unto His life’s end; and if your heart is to be a spiritual grave wherein He is to be laid, let it be the grave of a stranger; see that you always feel yourself a stranger, an alien here below;. do not ever make earth your home; let not your heart cling to earthly things, but ever look and long for heavenly things; know that as soon as the Christian—still more the Religious—begins to feel really comfortable and at ease upon earth, then he may be sure that he has not the right spirit, he is not in the right dispositions. Bestir yourself then, my soul; see that you prepare a spiritual tomb for our Lord within your breast; a grave that is like a garden, that is new, that is the grave of a stranger upon earth; then you will have every reason to hope that the grave of your mortal body shall, like that of our Lord, be glorious.
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.