A Lenten Reflection for Holy Saturday 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 Blessed Virgin at our Lord’s Sepulchre.
Imagine, my soul, that you are contemplating the holy Mother of our Lord standing beside the sepulchre of her divine Son. See how, before the massive block of stone closes the entrance for ever, she casts one more fond, lingering look on His beloved remains, a look in which grief and love are mingled; once more she bedews His countenance with her tears and takes a final, sad farewell of the Son of her love. Impress the image of the mourning Mother of God upon your mind and keep it before your eyes during your meditation.
1st. Consider with what feelings Mary gazed upon the dead body of Jesus. She saw before her the body of her Son, supernaturally conceived without stain by the operation of the Holy Ghost, flesh of her flesh, the life of her life, the sacred vessel fashioned in her pure womb by the overshadowing from on high, now bereft of all beauty, of all form, bereft of the soul that animated it, subjected to the laws of nature which He Himself established, maltreated, defaced by the men for whose redemption He took this form upon Him, by them mangled and slain. Alas! how pallid are His cheeks, how sunken His eyes; there is no beauty left in that fair virginal body! O sorrowing Mother! words fail to describe the grief of this last look at the lifeless form of thy Son. Yet, my soul, are you aware that there is a sight still more grievous in Mary’s eyes than this? It is when she is compelled to see the sacred body of our Lord laid in the grave of a heart unprepared to receive Him worthily, as perhaps she will have to do on the Easter festival to-morrow.
2d. Consider how lonely and forsaken Mary feels as she stands beside the sepulchre of Jesus. He who was dearest to her upon earth is dead. She has nothing left to her here below that can in any degree compensate her for His loss. Great as was the sympathy shown her by Joseph of Arimathea and the devout women, fondly as her adopted son, John the apostle, loved her, no one could be to her what Jesus was, no one could replace Him. The tomb by which she stood took from her her best, her all. Compassionate the sorrowing Mother of our Lord, and from her heartbroken grief learn a salutary lesson, that it is a good sign when nothing upon earth, nothing that we can possess, none of our fellow creatures, not even our nearest and dearest, who are united to us by the bond of blood, nay, not even one of the saints can compensate to us for the loss of Jesus. Let us therefore rejoice if we cannot be happy here below without Him, if, like Mary standing at His sepulchre, our most fervent aspiration and desire is “to be dissolved and to be with Christ.” (Phil, i. 23.)
3d. Consider that Mary’s only consolation after the burial of her Son was to visit the places hallowed by His sufferings and His death. Imagine the devotion where with the lonely, forsaken Mother, left behind in her solitude, followed on the way of her Son’s Passion, the way of the cross. Imagine the ardent affection that glowed within her heart as she climbed the steep of Calvary, the loving, pious tears that fell from her eyes on to the ground which her divine Son had moistened with His sweat of blood in the hour of His agony. Already, my soul, the alleluias of Easter sound in your ears; the feast is quickly approaching, the season of joy, and other subjects of a less sorrowful nature will be the theme of your meditations. Yet learn of Mary from henceforth to visit from time to time the scene of our Lord’s Passion; reflect at what moment and in what manner you will in future recall to mind His sacred Passion, and make a special resolution at least once in every week to follow with Mary 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.