The Most Solemn Day of the Year in 2022: Good Friday

The most powerful sermon ever preached was given by Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as He hung on the gibbet of the Holy Cross for three hours, nailed there by our sins having transcended time. Our Lord spoke very few words as He died a painful death. The power in His preaching was the suffering He endured to pay back in His Sacred Humanity the debt of our own sins to Himself in His Infinity as God. His death on this very day destroyed the power of sin and eternal death forever, making it possible for each of us to join the Good Thief in Heaven if only we persevere to the point of our dying breaths in states of Sanctifying Grace. The Paschal Lamb, Who had instituted the New and Eternal Covenant at the Last Supper, now ratifies the New Covenant in His Most Precious Blood as He, the new Moses, effects the New and Eternal Passover from sin and death to eternal life with Him for all eternity in Heaven.

Our Lord had been betrayed by one of His chosen Apostles, Judas Iscariot, and denied by His Vicar three times. He was tried before the Sanhedrin as lying witnesses testified against Him. He spent the night in jail prior to being taken before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who desperately wanted to find a way to release Him while at the same time appeasing his Jewish collaborators in the Roman occupation of the Holy Land, the Pharisees, a point that was made by Saint Augustine in a reading during for Matins during the Office of Tenebrae last evening:

We know what secret counsel was that of the wicked Jews, and what insurrection was that of the workers of iniquity. Of what iniquity were they the workers? The murder of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many good works, saith He, have I showed you for which of those works go ye about to kill Me? He had borne with all their weaknesses: He had healed all their diseases: He had preached unto them the kingdom of heaven: He had discovered to them their iniquities, that they might rather hate them, than the Physician That came to cure them. And now at last, without gratitude for all the tenderness of His healing love, like men raging in an high delirium, throwing themselves madly on the Physician, Who had come to cure them, they took counsel together how they might kill Him, as if to see if He were a Man and could die, or Something more than a man, and That would not let Himself die. In the Wisdom of Solomon we recognize their words, ii. 18, 19, 20, Let us condemn Him with a shameful death Let us examine Him; for, by His own saying, He shall be respected. If He be the Son of God, let Him help Him. (From Saint Augustine‘s Treatise on the Psalms, as found in the Matins, Office of Tenebrae, Good Friday.)

Archbishop Alban Goodier described the fury of the Jewish mob, incited with hatred in large measures as a result of the effect of our sins having transcended time, that amazed even the cowardly Roman apparatchik, Pontius Pilate:

He [Pontius Pilate] must yet make another attempt. He would appeal to those deeper things which had made so great an impression on himself, and which, he knew, meant so much more to the Jewish people. He could affect contempt in what he said; he could pretend it was not his concern; yet in his heart he knew it was not all contempt. Jesus ‘the Christ’, ‘the Anointed’—the word clearly had a meaning to the Jew, for the chief priests and elders had flung it at Jesus with exceeding bitterness. Jesus ‘the King of the Jews’—whatever it might signify, he was sure by now that the title was no empty name. The accusers had been enraged because their Victim had claimed these titles for Himself; if they meant nothing, neither could the charge they contained have any meaning. No man could be put to death for claiming a title that meant nothing; no man could rouse against himself such bitter hatred by the mere adoption of a foolish, empty name. He would press these titles home; if the elders and the priests rejected them, nevertheless the people might yet be moved, He would imply that, as judge, not only did he declare Jesus innocent of any crime, but also he believed Him to be what He claimed to be. If still they would have His life, then, in the final judgment of the independent Roman court, it would not only be because Jesus claimed to be ‘Christ the King’, but because He was ‘Christ the King’ in very truth: ‘And Pilate spoke to them again desiring to release Jesus. What will you then that I do with Jesus Who is called Christ the King of the Jews?’

And again he failed. Once more the reminder of the truth did but aggravate them; the will not to believe is hard to convince, the determination not to accept what is known to be true is invincible. Indeed to attempt to convince is to rouse the most violent kind of enmity. Hitherto the accusers had only clamoured for the condemnation of Jesus. They had asked that somehow He should be put to death, apparently it mattered not how; how, since they had been taught with His being their Christ, their anointed King, they went to a further extreme. He must not only die; he must die the most shameful death that even the Roman world knew. He must die the death of a guilty slave, of a convicted criminal; though to be a Roman citizen would save even a criminal from such a fate. Their Anointed? Let Him be crucified. Then it would be known what they thought of Him, then even such men as Pilate would check their sarcastic tongues: ‘But they all cried out, Crucify him, crucify him, let him be crucified.’

This was indeed a climax of hatred, so that more than ever Pilate was amazed. He had seen passion roused to blind fury before; in his own city it was cultivated as an amusement. He had seen, in Rome, eyes glittering and faces taut, as women round the arena turned down their thumbs demanding a gladiator’s death. He had seen his own soldiers, brutalized and hardened till they were scarcely human any longer, laughing and turning to sport the slaughter of the helpless. He had watched an Asiatic mob, more deliberate and merciless than any European, show its white teeth and express dread purpose in its eyes as it pursued some deed of callous cruelty. He had himself a heart hardened enough to pass suffering by, to inflict it if need be, and to be moved no more than if he plucked a lily. But this sight before him was different from all these. It was not fury, it was not blind; it was cold, deliberate, determined. There was too much hatred now even for mockery or laughter. Never before had a Jew, or a Jewish mob, demanded that a Jew should be crucified, no matter what might have been his crime. (Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Authorized American Edition published by the Daughters of Saint Paul, pp. 267-269.)

Incredible assaults against Truth Himself—Truth Incarnate, Truth Crucified and Resurrected, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ are taking place in the world at this time. Most Catholics are utterly silent, if not oblivious, to these attacks, diverted as they are by the bread and circuses of our times. Some Catholics who see the evils of the times refrain from opposing them vocally for fear of being rejected by friends and relatives and/or suffering some kind of injury to their financial well-being and career success. It is the same now as it was below Pontius Pilate’s portico on Good Friday. Exactly the same.

As Archbishop Goodier noted, truth aggravates those who are opposed have set their minds upon rejecting it. Those who remind others of truths that they do not want to accept must be dealt with summarily. This is what the civil authorities are not doing at this time. This is what many journalists, especially some of the younger ones, have been doing all of their careers. This is what is being done in public and conciliar schools, in colleges, universities and professional schools. This is what is being done by the medical industry as most of its practitioners suborn the chemical and surgical execution of innocent preborn children and the use of “palliatives” to expedite the deaths of terminally or chronically ill patients while also supporting the vivisection of living human beings in the name of “giving the gift of life” after they have been declared as “brain dead.” And, of course, this is what has been done by the authorities of the counterfeit church of conciliarism for sixty-one and one-half years now. Truth Incarate was rejected on Good Friday. Truth Incarate is rejected today, most especially by those in the conciliar church who claim to represent Him while they pervert, distort, corrupt and mispresent His immutable teaching.

Our Divine Redeemer was scourged and crowned with thorns, suffering the loss of massive quantities of His Most Precious Blood. He was tormented by the crowd, which was motivated by our own sins, and condemned to death as an insurrectionist, Barabbas, promising political salvation was released in His place. He picked up His heavy Cross to carry it on the Via Dolorosa en route to Calvary, where He encountered His Most Blessed Mother, whose suffering in Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart was a perfect participation in His own work of Redemption.

The following account from The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God provides us with Our Lady's account of her Divine Son's scouring and being crowned with thorns, the latter, of course, served as a mockery of His Sacred Kingship over us mortal creatures and our nations:

628. Thus the Lord stood uncovered in the presence of a great multitude, and the six torturers bound Him brutally to one of the columns in order to chastise Him so much the more at their ease. Then two and two at a time in their order they scourged Him with such unheard-of cruelty as was not possible in the human condition if Lucifer himself had not possessed the impious hearts of those merciless executioners, his ministers. The first two scourged the most innocent Lord with some branching and knotted cords, hard and thick, and in their sacrilegious fury they strained all the powers of their body to inflict the blows. This first scourging raised in the deified body of our Savior great bruises and welts which joined together, causing his whole body to swell and become disfigured, and the most precious blood to burst through the wounds throughout his entire body. When these executioners became tired, two new executioners entered in competition with the first two; with branching straps like the hardest reins they leveled their strokes upon the places already wounded, breaking open all the welts and bruises the first scourging had caused and shedding the sacred blood, which not only entirely bathed the sacred body of Jesus our Savior, but also spattered onto and covered the garments of the sacrilegious executioners who tormented Him, running down even to the ground. With that the second pair of executioners withdrew and the third pair began, using as new instruments of torture branching rawhides, nearly as hard as dried wicker. They scourged Him still more cruelly because they were wounding not so much his virginal body as cutting into the wounds already produced by the previous scourging; moreover, they had been secretly incited to greater fury by the demons, who were filled with new rage at the patience of Christ.

629. Since the veins of the sacred body had now been opened and his whole Person seemed but one continuous wound, the third pair found no more room for new wounds; so repeating the inhuman blows they tore the immaculate and virginal flesh of Christ our Redeemer, tearing many pieces of it off which scattered to the ground, clearly exposing the bones of many parts of his back, which then showed red through the flowing blood; and in other places the bones were laid bare larger than the palm of the hand. In order to wipe out entirely that beauty which exceeded that of all other men (Ps. 44:3), they scourged Him in his divine face and in the feet and hands, thus leaving unwounded not a single spot upon which they could exert their fury and wrath against the most innocent Lamb. The divine blood flowed to the ground, gathering here and there in great abundance. The scourging in the face and in the hands and feet was unspeakably painful because these parts are so full of sensitive and delicate nerves. His venerable countenance became so swollen and wounded that the blood and the swellings blinded Him. And above all this the executioners covered Him with the most filthy spittle and loaded Him with insulting epithets (Lam. 3:30). The exact number of lashes dealt out to the Savior from the soles of the feet to the top of the head was 5,115. The great Lord and Author of all creation, who by his divine nature was incapable of suffering, was in his human flesh and for our sake reduced to a man of sorrows (as Isaias had prophesied in chapter LIII [v. 3]), well acquainted with the experience of our infirmities, the last of men and reputed as the outcast of all.

 630. The multitudes who had followed the Lord filled the courtyard of the house of Pilate and the surrounding streets, for all of them waited for the issue of this event, discussing and arguing about it according to each one’s views. Amid all this confusion the Virgin Mother endured unheard-of insults, and She was deeply afflicted by the injuries and blasphemies heaped upon her divine Son by the Jews and gentiles. When they brought Him to the place of the scourging She retired to a corner of the courtyard in the company of the Marys and St. John, who attended upon Her and accompanied Her in her affliction. Assisted by her divine visions She there witnessed the entire scourging and all the torments of our Savior. Although She did not see it with the eyes of her body nothing was hidden to Her, no more than if She had been standing quite near. Human thoughts cannot comprehend how great and how diverse were the afflictions and sorrows of the great Queen and Lady of the Angels; together with many other mysteries of the Divinity they shall become manifest in the next life for the glory of the Son and the Mother. I have already mentioned in other places of this History, and especially during the Passion (508, 553), that the Blessed Mother felt in her own body all the torments of her Son. This was true also of the scourging, which She felt in all the parts of her virginal body in the same intensity as they were felt by Christ in his body. Although She shed no blood except what flowed from her eyes with her tears, nor was lacerated in her flesh, yet the bodily pains so changed and disfigured Her that St. John and the holy women failed to find in Her any resemblance of Herself. Besides the tortures of the body She suffered ineffable sorrows of her most pure soul, for there any addition to her knowledge only added to her sorrow (Eccles. 1:18). And beyond the natural love of a mother, and her supreme love of Christ, She alone knew and could ponder more accurately than all creatures the innocence of Christ, the dignity of his divine Person, and the atrocity of the injuries He was receiving from the perfidious Jews and the very children of Adam whom He was redeeming from eternal death.

631. Having at length executed the sentence of scourging, the executioners unbound the Lord from the column, and with imperious and blasphemous presumption commanded Him immediately to put on his garment. But one of those executioners, instigated by the demon, had hidden his clothes out of sight while they scourged the most meek Master in order to prolong his nakedness for the greater derision and affront of his divine Person. This evil intention of the demon was well known to the Mother of the Lord; therefore, making use of her power as Queen, She commanded Lucifer and all his demons to leave the neighborhood, and they immediately fled, compelled by her sovereign power and virtue. She gave orders for the tunic to be brought by the holy Angels within reach of her most holy Son so He could again cover his sacred and lacerated body. All this was executed immediately, though the sacrilegious executioners understood not the miracle, nor how it had been wrought; they attributed it all to the sorcery and cunning of the demon. During this protracted exposure our Savior had in addition to his wounds suffered greatly from the cold of that morning, as mentioned by the Evangelists (Mk. 14:54; Lk. 22:55; Jn. 18:18). His sacred blood had frozen and compressed the wounds, which had become inflamed and extremely painful, and the cold had diminished his powers of resistance, though the fire of his infinite charity strained them to the utmost in order to suffer more and more. Though compassion is so natural in rational creatures, there was none for Him* in his affliction and necessity, except that of his Sorrowful Mother, who tearfully bewailed and pitied Him in the name of the whole human race.

632. Among other sacraments of the Lord, hidden to human wisdom, this also causes great astonishment, that the wrath of the Jews, who were men of flesh and blood like ourselves, was not appeased at seeing Christ our Good so torn and wounded by the scourging, and that the sight of a person so lacerated failed to move their natural compassion, but rather aroused their envy to invent new types of injuries and torments against one already so torn; for so implacable was their fury they at once planned another new and unheard-of species of torment. They went to Pilate and in the presence of his counselors said: “This seducer and deceiver of the people, Jesus of Nazareth, in his boasting and vanity, has sought to be recognized by all as the king of the Jews. So his pride might be humbled and his presumption be confounded, we desire your permission to place upon Him the royal insignia merited by his fantastic pretensions.” Pilate yielded to the unjust demand of the Jews, permitting them to proceed according to their intentions.

633. Thereupon they took Jesus our Savior to the praetorium, where with the same cruelty and contempt they again despoiled him of his garments, and in order to deride Him before all the people as a counterfeit king clothed Him in a much torn and soiled mantle of purple color. They placed also upon his sacred head a cap made of woven thorns to serve Him as a crown (Jn. 19:2). This cap was woven of thorn branches, and in such a manner that many of the hard and sharp thorns would penetrate into the skull, some of them into the ears, and others into the eyes. Hence one of the greatest tortures suffered by the Lord was that of the crown of thorns. Instead of a sceptre they placed into his hands a contemptible reed. They also threw over His shoulders a violet colored mantle, something of the style of capes worn in churches, for such a garment belonged to the vestiture of a king. With all this ignominy of a mock king the perfidious Jews loaded Christ the King, who by nature and all titles was the true King of kings and Lord of lords (Apoc. 19:16). Then all the soldiers, in the presence of the priests and Pharisees, gathered around Him and heaped upon Him their blasphemous mockery and derision. Some of them bent their knees and mocked Him, saying: God save Thee, King of the Jews; others struck Him; others snatched the cane from his hands and struck Him on his crowned head; others ejected their disgusting spittle upon Him (Mt. 27:29-30); and all of them, instigated by furious demons, insulted and affronted Him in different manners.

634. O charity incomprehensible and exceeding all measure! O patience never seen or imagined among mortals! Who, my good Lord, since Thou art the true and mighty God both in essence and in thy works, who could oblige Thee to suffer the humiliation of such unheard-of torments, insults and blasphemies? Rather who, O infinite Good, among all men has not disobliged Thee, causing Thee to refuse to suffer for them? Who could ever believe all this if we did not know of thy infinite goodness? But now, since we see it and in firm faith look upon such admirable blessings and miracles of love, where is our judgment? What effect upon us does the light of truth have? What enchantment is this that we suffer, since at the very sight of thy sorrows, scourges, thorns, insults and affronts we seek for ourselves without the least shame or fear the delights, riches, ease, preferments and vanities of this world? Truly great is the number of fools (Eccles. 1:15), since the greatest foolishness and dishonesty is to recognize a debt and be unwilling to pay it; to receive blessings and never give thanks for them; to have before one’s eyes the greater good and despise it; to claim it for ourselves and make no use of it; to turn away and flee from life and seek eternal death. The most innocent lamb Jesus opened not his mouth in such and so many ignominies, yet neither was the furious wrath of the Jews appeased, neither by the derision and scorn heaped upon the divine Master nor by the torments which added to the contempt of his most exalted Person.  (New English Edition of The Mystical City of God, Chapter XX.)

Yes, the Scriptures that had been abandoned, at least for the most part, by many of the Jews at the the time of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Passion and Death prophesied the very events described by Our Lady herself to the Venerable Mary of Agreda:

[1] Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? [2] And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: [3] Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. [4] Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. [5] But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.

[6] All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. [7] He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. [8] He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him. [9] And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death: because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth. [10] And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity: if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand. (Isaias 51: 1-10.)

As I have noted in my Holy Week reflections on this site, Good Friday belongs in a special way to Our Lady. She was present at the foot of the Cross as she gave birth us as the adopted sons and daughters of the living God. She is present–along with all of the angels and saints–at every offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the unbloody re-presentation of her Divine Son’s one Sacrifice to the Father in Spirit and in Truth. We must keep close to her, Our Mediatix, Co-Redemptix and Advocate, this day, calling to mind that the perfection of the communion between her own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son caused her to suffer as no purely human being could ever suffer. She kept a silent vigil by the foot of the Cross. We must mirror her silence this day, placing ourselves totally in her maternal care so that we will grieve–truly grieve–for each of our sins and that we will resolve to have such a perfect love for God that even the thought of sin may become as repulsive to us as it was for saints such as the Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux.

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori described Our Lady’s sorrows on Good Friday in his Victories of the Martyrs:

We have now to witness a new kind of martyrdom–a Mother condemned to see an innocent Son, and one whom she loves with the whole affection of her soul, cruelly tormented and put to death before her own eyes.

There stood by the cross of Jesus his Mother. St. John believed that in these words he had said enough of Mary’s martyrdom. Consider her at the foot of the cross in the presence of her dying Son, and then see if there be a sorrow like unto her sorrow. Let us remain for awhile this day on Calvary, and consider the fifth sword which, in the death of Jesus, transfixed the heart of Mary.

As soon as our agonized Redeemer had reached the Mount of Calvary, the executioners stripped him of his clothes, and piercing his hands and feet “not with sharp but with blunt nails,” as St. Bernard says, to torment him more, they fastened him on the cross. Having crucified him, they planted the cross, and thus left him to die. The executioners left him; but not so Mary. She then drew nearer to the cross, to be present at his death; “I did not leave him (thus the Blessed Virgin revealed to St. Bridget), “but stood nearer to the cross.”

“But what it avail thee, O Lady.” says St. Bonaventure, “to go to Calvary, and see this Son expire? Shame should have prevented thee; for his disgrace was thine, since thou were his Mother. At least, horror of witnessing such a crime as the crucifixion of a God by his own creatures should have prevented thee from going there.” But the same saint answers, “Ah, they heart did not then think of its own sorrows, but of the sufferings and death of thy dear Son,: and therefore thou wouldst thyself be present, at least to compassionate Him. “Ah, true Mother,” says Abbot William, “most loving Mother, whom not even the fear of death could separate from thy beloved Son!”

But, O God, what a cruel sight was it there to behold this Son in agony on the cross, and at its foot this Mother in agony, suffering all the torments endured by her Son! Listen to the words in which Mary revealed to St. Bridget the sorrowful state in which she saw her dying Son on the Cross: “My dear Jesus was breathless, exhausted, and in his last agony on the cross; his eyes were sunk, half-closed, and lifeless; his lips hanging, and his mouth open; his cheeks hollow and drawn in; his face elongated, his nose sharp, his countenance sad; his head had fallen on his breast, his hair was black with blood, his stomach collapsed, his arms and legs stiff, and his whole body covered with wounds and blood.”

All these sufferings of Jesus were also those of Mary; “Every torture inflicted on the body of Jesus,” says St. Jerome, “was a wound in the heart of the Mother.” “Whoever then was present on the Mount of Calvary,” says St. John Chrysostom, “might see two altars, on which two great sacrifices were consummated; the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary.” Nay, better still may we say with St. Bonaventure, “there was but one altar–that of the cross of the Son, on which, together with his divine Lamb, the victim, this Mother was also sacrificed;” therefore the saint asks this Mother, “O Lady, where art thou? near the cross? thyself with thy Son.” St. Augustine assures us of the same thing: “The Cross and nails of the Son were also those of his Mother; with Christ crucified the Mother was also crucified.” Yes; for, as St. Bernard says, “Love inflicted on the heart of Mary the tortures caused by nails in the body of Jesus.” So much so, that, as St. Bernardine writes, “At the same time that the Son sacrificed his body, the Mother sacrificed her soul.”

Mothers ordinarily fly from the presence of their dying children; but when a mother is obliged to witness such a scene, she procures all possible relief for her child; she arranges his bed, that he may be more at ease; she administers refreshments to him; and thus the poor mother soothes her own grief. Ah, most afflicted of all Mothers! O Mary, thou hast to witness the agony of thy dying Jesus; but thou canst administer him no relief. Mary heard her Son exclaim, I thirst, but she could not even give him a drop of water to refresh him in that great thirst. She could only say, as St. Vincent Ferrer remarks, “My Son, I have only the water of tears.” She saw that on that bed of torture her Son, suspended by three nails, could find no repose; she would have clasped him in her arms to give him relief, or that at least he might there have expired; but she could not. “In vain,” says St. Bernard, “did she extend her arms; they sank back empty on her breast.” She beheld that poor Son, who in his sea of grief sought consolation, as it was foretold by the prophet, but in vain: I have trodden the winepress alone; I looked about and there was none to help; I sought, and there was none to give aid. But who amongst men would console him, since all were enemies? Even on the cross he was taunted and blasphemed on all sides: And they that passed by, blasphemed Him, wagging their heads. Some said to his face, If thou be the Son God, come down from the cross. Others, He saved others, Himself He cannot save. Again, If He be the King of Israel, let Him come down from the cross. Our Blessed Lady herself said to St. Bridget, “I heard some say that my Son was a thief; others that he was an impostor; others, that no one deserved death more than he did; and every word was a new sword of grief to my heart.”

But that which the most increased the sorrows which Mary endured through compassion for her Son, was hearing him complain on the cross that even his Eternal Father had abandoned him: My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Words which the divine Mother told the same St. Bridget could never, during her whole life, depart from her mind. So that the afflicted Mother saw her Jesus suffering on every side; she desired to comfort him, but could not.

That which grieved her the most was to see that she herself, by her presence and sorrow, increased the sufferings of her Son. “The grief,” says St. Bernard, “which filled Mary’s heart, as a torrent flowed into and embittered the heart of Jesus.” “So much so,” says the same saint, “that Jesus on the cross suffered more from compassion for his Mother than from his own torments.” He thus speaks in the name of our Blessed Lady: “I stood with my eyes fixed on him, and his on me, and he grieved more for me than for himself.” And then, speaking of Mary beside her dying Son, he says, “that she lived dying without being able to die.” “Near the cross of Christ his Mother stood half-dead; she spoke not; dying she lived, and living she died; nor could she die, for death was her very life.”

Passino writes that Jesus Christ himself one day, speaking to blessed Baptista Varani of Camerino, assured her that when on the cross, so great was his affliction at seeing his Mother at his feet in so bitter an anguish, that compassion for her caused him to die without consolation; so much so, that the Blessed Baptista, being supernaturally enlightened as to the greatness of this suffering of Jesus, exclaimed, “O Lord, tell me no more of this Thy sorrow, for I can no longer bear it.”

“All,” says Simon of Cassia, “who then saw this Mother silent, and not uttering a complaint in the midst of so great suffering, were filled with astonishment.” But if Mary’s lips were silent, her heart was not so, for she necessarily offered the life of her Son to the divine justice for our salvation. Therefore, we know that by the merits of her dolors she cooperated in our birth to the life of grace; and hence we are the children of her sorrows. “Christ,” says Lanspergius, “was pleased that she, the cooperatress in our redemption, and whom he had determined to give us for our Mother, should be there present; for it was at the foot of the cross that she was to bring us, her children forth.” If any consolation entered that sea of bitterness in the heart of Mary, the only one was this, that she knew that by her sorrows she was leading us to eternal salvation, as Jesus himself revealed to St. Bridget: “My Mother Mary, on account of her compassion and love, was made the Mother of all in heaven and on earth.” And indeed these were the lat words with which Jesus bid her farewell before his death: this was his last recommendation, leaving us to her for her children in the person of St. John: Woman, behold thy son. From that time Mary began to perform this good office of a mother for us; for St. Peter Damian attests, “that by the prayers of Mary, who stood between the cross of the good thief and that of her Son, the thief was converted and saved, and thereby she repaid a former service.” For, as other authors also relate, this thief had been kind to Jesus and Mary on their journey into Egypt; and this same office the Blessed Virgin has ever continued, and still continues, to perform." (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, Victories of the Martyrs.)

Whenever anyone of us believes that we have received a cross that is “too heavy” for us we should review these words from Saint Alphonsus Liguori. All we need to do is to look at the Cross, which is the true book of learning, and to recognize the simple fact that there is nothing–and I mean absolutely nothing–that we can suffer in this mortal life that is the equal of what one of our least Venial ns caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Cross. There is nothing that we can suffer that is the equal of what the suffering we imposed upon the God-Man caused His Most Blessed Mother to suffer in her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

Now, the Paschal Triduum, Good Friday, is the time to learn this lesson once and for all and to accept each and every cross that comes our way as having been perfectly tailored for us for all eternity to be given back to the Most Blessed Trinity through the Immaculate Heart of Mary with complete resignation and abandonment to the will of God. Yes, crosses hurt. They are meant to hurt. Alas, nothing we endure compares to what our sins imposed upon the Divine Redeemer’s Most Sacred Heart and His Most Holy Mother’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We must console them on this day of days, the day on which our salvation was wrought for us on the wood of the Holy Cross. True liberation from self-concern comes only when we surrender ourselves as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, which was pierced with a Fifth Sword of Sorrow at the moment of her Divine Son’s death on the Cross, a death that made it possible for us to live forever in the glory of the Beatific Vision.

This, the most solemn day of the year, is a day to withdraw from all of the activities of the world. This is not a day for conversation or socializing of any type whatsoever. This is a day of mourning. We assist at the Solemn Good Friday liturgy, the Mass of the Presanctified, in a spirit of solemnity and sobriety, leaving it after its conclusion in utter silence, mournful of what our sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross and what they caused our Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate to suffer in her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

Yes, we know that we will be celebrating Our Lord’s Easter victory over sin and death with the Mass on Holy Saturday morning or evening and during the Easter Sunday Mass–and thence in the glory of the fifty days of Easter. However, this day, the only day in the liturgical year on which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not offered and Our Lord’s Real Presence is hidden from the faithful for public adoration after the Mass of the Presanctified, must be reserved for calling to mind the horror of sin and the love and mercy Our Lord extended to us, His executioners, through His Most Sacred Heart, which we must seek to console as best as we can as the consecrated slaves of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Every Mass gives us an opportunity to transcend time and to be present on the “right” side of the Cross to make up for the fact that our sins had placed us on the wrong side of the Cross nearly two millennia ago. And the Immemorial Mass of Tradition communicates the solemnity of Calvary in countless ways throughout the liturgical year, preparing us to enter more deeply into the mysteries of redemptive love shown us by God in the flesh as He was nailed to the Holy Cross.

The Immemorial Mass of Tradition in all of its essential elements was taught to the Apostles by Our Lord Himself between the time of His Resurrection on Easter Sunday and His Ascension to the Father’s right hand in glory on Ascension Thursday. It is the Immemorial Mass of Tradition that communicates fully and completely the simple fact that every offering of Holy Mass is the extension of Calvary in time, which is why it can never become a carnival or an expression of community self-congratulations replete with jokes and back-slapping.

The Mass must reflect the reverence and solemnity of what happened once in time on Good Friday and is re-presented in an unbloody manner at the hands of analter Christus acting in persona Christi. The perfection of the  Immemorial Mass of Tradition in communicating this reverence and solemnity has been such over the centuries that it succeeded in producing scores upon scores of saints during epochs when few people could read. These saints learned from the eloquent lessons preached by the very solemnity and reverence communicated in all of the component parts of the Mass of the ages of the Roman Rite, just as Our Lord preached so eloquently as He suffered and died once in time on this very day.

Our Lord forgave His executioners, namely, each one of us as He died on the wood of the Holy Cross. He promised Heaven to the Good Thief. He gave Our Lady to be our Mother through Saint John the Beloved. He thirsted for our souls. We must simply surrender to Him, recognizing that we have the duty to carry the cross with love every day of our lives and to lift it high in the midst of a hostile and unbelieving world. Every moment of our lives has been redeemed by the shedding of Our Lord’s Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. The graces He won for us on this very day are sufficient to endure whatever sufferings we are asked to bear, each of which is perfectly suited to be offered to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart to be used precisely as she sees fit for the honor and glory of the Blessed Trinity and for the sanctification and salvation of human souls.

Consider this description of Our Lord's Crucifixion as given to Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich:

Jesus was now stretched on the cross by the execu­tioners, He had lain Himself upon it; but they pushed Him lower down into the hollow places, rudely drew His right hand to the hole for the nail in the right arm of the cross, and tied His wrist fast. One knelt on His sacred breast and held the closing hand flat; another placed the long, thick nail, which had been filed to a sharp point, upon the palm of His sacred hand, and struck furious blows with the iron ham­mer. A sweet, clear, spasmodic cry of anguish broke from the Lord's lips, and His blood spurted out upon the arms of the executioners. The muscles and liga­ments of the hand had been torn and, by the three edged nail, driven into the narrow hole. I counted the strokes of the hammer, but my anguish made me forget their number. The Blessed Virgin sobbed in a low voice, but Magdalen was perfectly crazed.
 
The bore was a large piece of iron like a Latin T, and there was no wood at all about it. The large hammer also was, handle and all, of one piece of iron, and almost of the same shape as the wooden mallet we see used by a joiner when striking on a chisel.
 
The nails, at the sight of which Jesus shuddered, were so long that when the executioners grasped them in their fists, they projected about an inch at either end. The head consisted of a little plate with a knob, and it covered as much of the palm of the hand as a crown-piece would do. They were three edged, thick near the head as a moderate sized thumb, then tapered to the thickness of a little finger, and lastly were filed to a point. When hammered in, the point could be seen projecting a little on the oppo­site side of the cross.
 
After nailing Our Lord's right hand, the crucifiers found that His left, which also was fastened to the crosspiece, did not reach to the hole made for the nail, for they had bored a good two inches from the fingertips. They consequently unbound Jesus' arm from the cross, wound cords around it and, with their feet supported firmly against the cross, pulled it forward until the hand reached the hole. Now, kneeling on the arm and breast of the Lord, they fastened the arm again on the beam, and hammered the second nail through the left hand. The blood spurted up and Jesus' sweet, clear cry of agony sounded above the strokes of the heavy hammer. Both arms had been torn from their sockets, the shoulders were distended and hollow, and at the elbows one could see the disjointed bones. Jesus' breast heaved, and His legs were drawn up doubled to His body. His arms were stretched out in so straight a line that they no longer covered the obliquely rising crosspieces. One could see through the space thus made between them and His armpits.
 
The Blessed Virgin endured all this torture with Jesus. She was pale as a corpse, and low moans of agony sounded from her lips. The Pharisees were mocking and jesting at the side of the low wall by which she was standing, therefore John led her to the other holy women at a still greater distance from the circle. Magdalen was like one out of her mind. She tore her face with her fingernails, till her eyes and cheeks were covered with blood.  
 
About a third of its height from below, there was fixed to the cross by an immense spike a projecting block to which Jesus' feet were to be nailed, so that He should be rather standing than hanging; other­wise His hands would have been torn, and His feet could not have been nailed without breaking the bones. A hole for the nail had been bored in the block, and a little hollow place was made for His heels. Similar cavities had been made all down the trunk of the cross, in order to prolong His sufferings, for without them the hands would have been torn open and the body would have fallen violently by its own weight.
 
The whole body of our Blessed Redeemer had been contracted by the violent stretching of the arms to the holes for the nails, and His knees were forcibly drawn up. The executioners now fell furiously upon them and, winding ropes around them, fastened them down to the cross; but on account of the mistake made in the holes in the crosspiece, the sacred feet of Jesus did not reach even to the block. When the executioners saw this, they gave vent to curses and insults. Some thought they would have to bore new holes in the transverse arm, for that would be far less difficult than moving the foot block. Others with horrible scoffing cried out: "He will not stretch Him­self out, but we will help Him!" Then they tied ropes around the right leg and, with horrible violence and terrible torture to Jesus, pulled the foot down to the block, and tied the leg fast with cords. Jesus' body was thus most horribly distended. His chest gave way with a cracking sound, and He moaned aloud: "O God! O God!" They had tied down His arms and His breast also that His hands might not be torn away from the nails. The abdomen was entirely dis­placed, and it seemed as if the ribs broke away from the breastbone. The suffering was horrible.  
 
With similar violence the left foot was drawn and fastened tightly with cords over the right; and because it did not rest firmly enough over the right one for nailing, the instep was bored with a fine, flathead piercer, much finer than the one used for the hands. It was like an auger with a puncher attached. Then seizing the most frightful-looking nail of all, which was much longer than the others, they drove it with great effort through the wounded instep of the left foot and that of the right foot resting below. With a cracking sound, it passed through Jesus' feet into the hole prepared for it in the foot block, and through that again back into the trunk of the cross. I have seen, when standing at the side of the cross, one nail passing through both feet. The nailing of the feet was the most horrible of all, on account of the distension of the whole body. I counted thirty-six strokes of the hammer amid the poor Redeemer's moans, which sounded to me so sweet, so pure, so clear.   
 
The Blessed Virgin had returned to the place of execution. At the sound of the tearing and cracking and moaning that accompanied the nailing of the feet, in her most holy compassion she became like one dying, and the holy women, supporting her in their arms, led her again from the circle just as the jeering Pharisees were drawing nearer. During the nailing and the raising of the cross which followed, there arose here and there, especially among the women, such cries of compassion as: "Oh, that the earth would swallow those wretches! Oh, that fire from Heaven would consume them!" But these ex­pressions of love were answered with scorn and insult by Jesus' enemies.  
 
Jesus' moans were purely cries of pain. Mingled with them were uninterrupted prayers, passages from the Psalms and Prophecies, whose predictions He was now fulfilling. During the whole time of His bitter Passion and until the moment of death, He was engaged in this kind of prayer, and in the unin­terrupted fulfillment of the Prophecies. I heard all the passages He made use of and repeated them with Him, and when I say the Psalms, I always remem­ber the verses that Jesus used. But now I am so crushed by the tortures of my Heavenly Bridegroom that I cannot recall them, I saw weeping angels hov­ering over Jesus during this terrible torture.  (The above is taken from: The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations, From the Visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, Volume 4, Chapter 46. The complete text of all four volumes is online Here.   Available in print from TAN Books Here.)
 

Consider the words of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, found in his Friends of the Cross that should make us become true friends of the Cross of Our Crucified Saviour, resolving never more to murmur under any cross, no matter how small or large, that He asks us to bear for His greater and honor of God and the sanctification of salvation of our own immortal souls as His consecrated slaves through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Mother Blessed Mother, she who stood so valiantly at the foot of the Cross this very day, Good Friday:

Let him take up his cross, the one that is his. Let this man or this woman, rarely found and worth more than the entire world, take up with joy, fervently clasp in his arms and bravely set upon his shoulders this cross that is his own and not that of another; his own cross, the one that My wisdom designed for him in every detail of number, weight and measurement; his own cross whose four dimensions, its length, breadth, thickness and height, I very accurately gauged with My own hands; his own cross which all out of love for him I carved from a section of the very Cross I bore in Calvary; his cross, the grandest of all the gifts I have for My chosen ones on earth; his cross, made up in its thickness of temporal loss, humiliation, disdain, sorrow, illness and spiritual trial which My Providence will not fail to supply him with every day of his life; his cross, made up in its length of a definite period of days or months when he will have to bear with slander or be helplessly stretched out on a bed of pain, or forced to beg, or else a prey to temptation, to dryness, desolation and many another mental anguish; his cross, made up in its breadth of hard and bitter situations stirred up for him by his relatives, friends or servants; his cross, finally, made up in its depth of secret sufferings which I will have him endure nor will I allow him any comfort from created beings, for by My order they will turn from him too and even join Me in making him suffers.

Let him carry it, and not drag it, not shoulder it off, not lighten it, nor hide it. Let him hold it high in hand, without impatience or peevishness, without voluntary complaint or grumbling without dividing or softening, without shame or human respect.

Let him place it on his forehead and say with St. Paul: “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let him carry it on his shoulders, after the example of Jesus Christ, and make it his weapon to victory and the scepter of his empire.

Let him root it in his heart, and there change it into a fiery bush, burning day and night with the pure love of God, without being consumed.

The cross: it is the cross he must carry for there is nothing more necessary, more useful, more agreeable and more glorious than suffering for Jesus Christ.

All of you are sinners and there is not a single one who is not deserving of hell; I myself deserve it the most. These sins of ours must be punished either here or hereafter. If they are punished in this world, they will not be punished in the world to come.

If we agree to God’s punishing here below, this punishment, will be dictated by love. For mercy, which holds sway in this world, will mete out the punishment, and not strict justice. This punishment will be light and momentary, blended with merit and sweetness and followed up with reward both in time and eternity. . . .

Be resolved then, dear Friends of the Cross, to suffer every kind of cross without excepting or choosing any: all poverty, all injustice, all temporal loss, all illness, all humiliation, all contradiction, all calumny, all spiritual dryness, all desolation, all interior and exterior trials. Keep saying, “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready.” Be ready to be forsaken by everyone. Be ready to undergo hunger, thirst, poverty, nakedness, exile, imprisonment, the gallows and all kinds of torture, even though you are innocent of everything with which you may be charged. What if you were cast out of your own home like Job and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; thrown, like this saint, into the mire; or dragged upon a manure pile like Job, malodorous and covered with ulcers, without anyone to bandage your wounds, without a morsel of bread, never refused to a horse or a dog? Add to these dreadful misfortunes all the temptations with which God allows the devil to prey upon you, without pouring your soul the least feeling of consolation. Firmly believe that this is the summit of divine glory and real happiness for a true, perfect Friend of the Cross. (Saint Louis de Montfort, Friends of the Cross.)

The first Adam lost our birthright to Heaven when he stretched out his arm to a tree. The second Adam stretched out His arms to a tree and made it possible to enter Heaven by being incorporated as members of His one, true Church and persisting in a state of sanctifying grace until the point of our dying breaths. What was lost for us on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden was won back for us on the Tree of Life that is the Holy Cross. The One whose newborn Body was placed in a manger, a feeding trough for animals, was affixed by our sins to the wood of the Holy Cross, which has become the true manger from which we are fed His very own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Oh, what sublime mysteries of love and mercy, of forgiveness and redemption. Our Lord, the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass, extends His arms in the gesture of the Eternal High Priest on the horizontal beam of His Most Holy Cross to lift us up on the vertical beam to His Father in Heaven for all eternity:

Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself. (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.) The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth. (John 12: 31-35.)

We must thank Our Lord today for His gift to us of our Redemption, a gift which we did not and do not merit. We must thank Him for the gift of the true Church. And those of us who have embraced, perhaps much later than we should have, the glories of the Church’s authentic tradition in the catacombs where shepherds make no concessions to conciliarism or to the nonexistent legitimacy of its false shepherds must thank Him and His Blessed Mother, the Co-Redemptrix and the Mediatrix of all graces, for helping us to see that the sermon preached on Calvary can heard only if Catholics of the Roman Rite assist exclusively at the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, where everything points to the Cross of the Divine Redeemer–and from there to the glories of an unending Easter Sunday in Paradise if we remain faithful to the point of our dying breaths.

Father Frederick Faber reflected on this in The Foot of the Cross (published originally in England in 1857 under the title of The Dolors of Mary):

The first hour of the three begins,–the three hours that were such parallels to the three days when she was seeking her lost Boy. In the darkness she has come close up to the Cross; for others fell away, as the panic simultaneously infected them. There is a faith in the Jews, upon which this fear can readily graft itself. But the executioners are hardened, and the Roman soldiers were not wont to tremble in darkness. Near to the Cross, by the glimmering light, they are diceing for His garments. The coarse words and rude jests pierced the Mother’s heart; for, as we have said before, it belonged to her perfection that her grief absorbed nothing. Every thing told upon her. Every thing made its own wound, and occupied her, as if itself were the sole suffering, the exclusively aggravating circumstance. She saw those garments–those relics, which were beyond all price the world could give–in the hands of miserable sinners, who would sacrilegiously clothe themselves therewith. For thirty years they had grown with our Lord’s growth, and had not been worn by use,–renewing that miracle which Moses mentions in Deuteronomy, that, through all the forty years of the desert, the garments of the Jews were not “worn out, neither the shoes of their feet consumed with age.” Now sinners were to wear them, and to carry them to unknown haunts of drunkenness and sin. Yet what was it but a type? The whole of an unclean world was to clothe itself in the beautiful justice of her Son. Sinners were to wear His virtues, to merit by His merits, to satisfy in His satisfactions, and to draw, at will, from the wells of His Precious Blood. As Jacob had been blessed in Esau’s clothing, so should all mankind be blessed in the garments of their elder Brother.

Then there was the seamless tunic she herself had wrought for Him. The unity of His Church was figured there. She saw them cast lots for it. She marked to whom it had fallen. One of her first loving duties to the Church will be to recover it for the faithful as a relic. Then it was the history of the Church rose before her. Every schism, which should ever afflict the mystical Body of her Son, was like a new rent in her suffering heart. Every heresy, every quarrel, every unseemly sin against unity, came to her with keenest anguish., there on Calvary, with the living Sacrifice being actually offered, and the unity of His Church being bought with so terrible a price. All this bitterness filled her soul, without distracting her from Jesus for a single moment. As holy pontiffs, with hearts broken by the wrongs and distresses of the Church, have been all engrossed by them, yet never for an instant lost their interior union with Jesus, so much more was it with His Mother’s now. It was on Calvary she felt all this with an especial feeling, as it is in Lent, and Passiontide, and in devotion to the Passion, that we learn to love the Church with such sensitive loyalty.

Fresh fountains of grief were opened to her in the fixing of the title to the Cross. It had come from Pilate, and a ladder was set up against the cross, and the title nailed above our Saviour’s Head. Every blow of the hammer was unutterable torture to Him, torture which had a fearful echo also in the Mother’s heart. Nor was the title itself without power to extend and rouse her suffering. The sight of the Holy Name blazoned there in shame to all the world,-the Name, which to her was sweeter than any music, more fragrant than any perfume,-this was in itself a sorrow. The name of Nazareth, also, how it brought back the past, surrounding the Cross, in that dim air, with beautiful associations and marvellous contrasts. Everywhere in the Passion Bethlehem and Nazareth were making themselves felt, and seen, and heard, and always eliciting new sorrow from the inexhaustible depths of the Mother’s heart. If He was a king, it was a strange throne on which His people had placed Him. Why did they not acknowledge Him to be their king? Why did they wait for a Roman stranger to tell it them as if in scorn? Why did they not let Him rule in their hearts? Ah! poor people! how much happier would it be for themselves, how many sins would be hindered, how many souls saved, how much glory gained for God! King of the Jews! would that it were so! Yet it was really so. But a king rejected, disowned, deposed, put to death! What a load lay upon her heart at that moment! It was the load of self invoked curses, which was to press to the ground that poor regicide people. She would have borne al her seven dolors over again to abolish that curse, and reinstate them, as of old, in the predilection of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was too late. They had had their day. They had filled up the measure of their iniquity. It rose to the brim that very morning, and the breaking of Mary’s heart was a portion of their iniquity. But at least over her heart Jesus was acknowledged king, and reigned supreme. So was it with the dear Magdalen and the ardent John; and, as she thought of this, she looked upon them with a very glory of exceeding love. Is it that Jesus breaks the hearts over which He reigns or that He comes of special choice to reign in broken hearts? But as the the sense passed over her of what it was to have Jesus for a king,-of the undisputed reign which by His own grace He exercised over her sinless heart,–of the vastness of that heart, far exceeding by his own bounty the grand empire of the angels or the multitudinous perfections of the saints,–and of the endless reign which He would have in that beautiful “ivory palace” of hers which made Him so glad,–her love burst out afresh upon Him, as if the dikes of ocean had given away, and the continents and every gush of love was at the same time an exquisite gush of pain.

She had enough of occupation in herself. But sorrow widens great hearts, just as it contracts little ones. She had taken to herself the thieves for her sons. She was greedy of children. She felt the value of them then, in the same way in which we know the value of a friend when we are losing him. His dead face looks it into us, and means more than his living expression did. She has wrestled in prayer for those two malefactors, and God has given her to see the work of grace beginning in the heart of one of them. Does this content her? Yes! with that peculiar contentment which comes of answered prayer, that is to say, she became more covetous because of what she had not. She counted that only a beginning. She pleaded, she insisted. One would have thought such prayer at such a time resistless. It is not Heaven that resists. Graces descend from above like flights of angels to the heart of the impenitent thief. They fluttered there. They sang for entrance. They waited. They pecked at the heart of flesh. They made it bleed with pain, with terror, with remorse. But it was its own master. It would not open. So near Jesus, and to be lost! It might well be incredible to Mary. yet so it was. The thief matches his hardness against her sweetness, and prevailed. Mary may not be queen of any heart where Jesus is not already king. But, oh, the unutterable anguish to her of this impenitence! His face so near the Face of Jesus, the sights of the spotless victim dwelling in his ear as silence dwells in the mountains, the very Breath of the Incarnate God reaching to him, the Precious Blood strewn all around him, like an overflow of waste water, as if there was more than men knew what to do with, and in the midst of all this to be damned, to commute the hot strangling throes of that crucifixion for everlasting fire, to be detached by his own will from the very side of the Crucifix, and the next moment to become part of a hopeless hell! Mary saw his eternity before her as in a vista. She took in at a glance the peculiar horror of his case. There came a sigh out of her heart at the loss of this poor wretched son, which had sorrow enough in it to repair the outraged majesty of God, but not enough to soften the sinner’s heart.

Such were the outward, or rather let us call them the official, occupations of Mary during the first hour upon the Cross. Her inmost occupation, and yet outward also, was that which was above her, overshadowing her in the darkness, and felt more vividly even than if it had been clearly seen,–Jesus hanging upon the Cross! As our guardian angels are ever by our sides, engrossed with a thousand invisible ministries of love, and yet all the while see God, and in that one beatifying sight are utterly immersed, so it was with Mary on Calvary. While she seemed an attentive witness and listener of the men dividing our Lord’s garments among them, and of the nailing of the title to the Cross, or appeared to be occupied with the conversion of the thieves, she did all those things, as the saints do things, in ecstasy, with perfect attention and faultless accuracy, and yet far withdrawn into the presence of God and hidden in His light. A whole hour went by. Jesus was silent. His Blood was on fire with pain. His body began to depend from the Cross, as if the nails barely held it. The Blood was trickling down from the wood all the while. He was growing whiter and whiter. Every moment of that agony was an act of communion with the Father. Mysteries, exceeding all mysteries that had ever been on earth, were going on in His Heart, which was alternately contracted and dilated with agony too awful for humanity to bear without miraculous support. It had divine support; but divine consolation was carefully kept apart. The interior of that Heart was clearly disclosed to the Mother’s inward eye, and her heart participated in its sufferings. She, too, needed a miracle to prolong her life, and the miracle was worked. But with the same peculiarity. From her, also, all consolation was kept away. And so one hour passed, and grace had created many worlds of sanctity, as the laden minutes went slowly by, one by one, then slower and slower, like the pulses of a clock at midnight when we are ill, beating sensibly slower to reproach us for our impatient listening.

The second hour began. The darkness deepened., and there were fewer persons round the Cross. No diceing now, no disturbance of nailing the title to the Cross. All was as silent as a sanctuary. Then Jesus spoke. It seemed as if he had been holding secret converse with the Father, and He had come to a point when He could keep silence no longer. It sounded as if He had been pleading for sinners, and the Father had said that the sin of His Crucifixion was too great to be forgiven. To our human ears the word has that significance. It certainly came out of some depth, out of something which had been going on before, either His own thoughts, or the intensity of His pain, or a colloquy with the Father. “Father! forgiven them; for they know not what they do!” Beautiful, unending prayer, true of all sins and of all sinners in every time! They know not what they do. No one knows what he does when he sins. It is his very knowledge that the malice of sin is past his comprehension which is a great part of the malice of his sin. Beautiful prayer also, because it discloses the characteristic devotion of our dearest Lord! When He breaks the silence, it is not about His Mother, or the apostles, or a word of comfort that affectionate forlorn Magdalen, whom He loved so fondly. It is for sinners, for the worst of them, for His personal enemies, for those who crucified Him, for those who had been yelling after Him in the streets, and loading Him with the uttermost indignities. It is as if at Nazareth He might seem to love His Mother more than all the world beside, but that now on Calvary, when His agony had brought out the deepest realities and the last disclosures of His Sacred Heart, it was found that His chief devotion was to sinners. Was Mary hurt by this appearance? Was it a fresh dolor that He had not thought first of her? Oh, no! Mary had no self on Calvary. It could not have lived there. Had her heart cried out at the same moment with our Lord’s, it would have uttered the same prayer, and in like words would have unburdened itself of that of which it was most full. But the word did draw new floods of sorrow. They very sound of His voice above her in the obscure eclipse melted within her. The marvel of His uncomplaining silence was more pathetic now that He had spoken. Grief seemed to have reached its limits; but it had not. The word threw down the walls, laid a whole world of possible sorrow open to it, and poured the waters over it in an irresistible flood. The well-remembered tone pieced her [Our Lady] like a spear. They very beauty of the word was anguish to her. Is it not often so that deathbed words are harrowing because they are so beautiful, so incomprehensibly full of love? Mary’s broken heart enlarged itself, and took in the whole world, and bathed it in tears of love. To her that word was like a creative word. It made the Mother of God Mother of mercy also. Swifter than the passage of light, as that word was uttered, the mercy of Mary had thrown round the globe a mantle of light, beautifying its rough places, and giving lust re in the dark, while incredible sorrow made itself coextensive with her incalculable love.

The words of Jesus on the Cross might almost have been a dolor by themselves. They were all of them more touching in themselves than ny words which ever have been spoken on the earth. The incomparable beauty of our Lord’s Soul freights each one of them with itself, and yet how differently? The sweetness of His Divinity is hidden in them, and for ages on ages it has ravished the contemplative souls who loved Him best. If even to ourselves these words are continually giving out new beauties in our meditations, what must they be to the saints, and then, far beyond that, what were they to His Most Blessed Mother? To her, each of them was a theology, a theology enrapturing the heart while it illumined he understanding. She knew they would be His last. Through life they had been but few, and now in less than two hours He will utter seven, which the world will listen to and wonder at until the end of time. To her they were not isolated. They recalled other unforgotten words. There were no forgotten ones. She interpreted them by others, and others again by them, and so they gave out manifold new meanings. Besides which, she saw the interior from which they came, and therefore they were deeper to her. But the growing beauty of Jesus had been consistently a more copious fountain of sorrow all through the Three-and-Thirty Years. It was not likely that law would be abrogated upon Calvary. And was there not something perfectly awful, even to Mary’s eye, in the way in which His divine beauty was mastering every thing and beginning to shine out in the eclipse? It seemed as if the Godhead were going to lay Itself bare among the very ruins of the Sacred Humanity, as His bones were showing themselves through His flesh. It was unspeakable. Mary lifted up her whole soul to its uttermost height to reach the point of adoration due to Him, and tranquilly acknowledged that it was beyond her power. her adoration sank down into profusest love, and her love condensed under the chill shadow into an intensity of sorrow, which felt its pain intolerably everywhere as the low pulsations of His clear gentle voice ran and undulated through her inmost soul.

The thought which was nearest to our Blessed Saviour’s Heart, if we may reverently venture to speak thus of Him, was the glory of His Father. We can hardly doubt that after that, chief among the affections of the created nature which He had condescended to assume, stood the love of His Immaculate Mother. Among His seven words there will be one, a word following His absolution of the thief at Mary’s prayer, a double word, both to her and of her. That also shall be like a creative word, creative for Mary, and still more creative for His Church. He spoke out of an unfathomable love, and yet in such mysterious guise as was fitted still more to deepen His Mother’s grief. He styles her “Woman,” as if He had already put off the filial character. He substitutes John for Himself, and finally appears to transfer to John His own right to call Mary Mother. How many things were there here to overwhelm our Blessed Lady with fresh affliction! She well knew the meaning of the mystery. She understood that by this seeming transfer she had been solemnly installed in her office of the second Eve, the mother of all mankind. She was aware that now Jesus had drawn her still more closely to Himself, had likened her to Himself more than ever, and had more their union more complete. The two relations of Mother and Son were two no longer; they had melted into one. She knew that never had He loved her more than now, and never shown her a more palpable proof of His love, of which, however, no proof was wanting. But each fresh instance of His love was a new sorrow to her; for it called up more love in her, and with more love, as usual, more sorrow. (Father Frederick Faber, The Foot of the Cross, published originally in England in 1857 under the title The Dolors of Mary, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers, pp. 244-252.) 

Pope Pius XII, writing in Summi Pontificatus, October 10, 1939, sounded a very similar theme, explaining that there must be darkness over the earth in a world that does not acknowledge the Redemptive Act of the Divine Redeemer and makes sinful man and his naturalistic desires the measure of all things, that it is only the Catholic Faith that can unite men in a bond of true peace, that of the King of Calvary Himself:

The Holy Gospel narrates that when Jesus was crucified “there was darkness over the whole earth” (Matthew xxvii. 45); a terrifying symbol of what happened and what still happens spiritually wherever incredulity, blind and proud of itself, has succeeded in excluding Christ from modern life, especially from public life, and has undermined faith in God as well as faith in Christ. The consequence is that the moral values by which in other times public and private conduct was gauged have fallen into disuse; and the much vaunted civilization of society, which has made ever more rapid progress, withdrawing man, the family and the State from the beneficent and regenerating effects of the idea of God and the teaching of the Church, has caused to reappear, in regions in which for many centuries shone the splendors of Christian civilization, in a manner ever clearer, ever more distinct, ever more distressing, the signs of a corrupt and corrupting paganism: “There was darkness when they crucified Jesus” (Roman Breviary, Good Friday, Response Five).

Many perhaps, while abandoning the teaching of Christ, were not fully conscious of being led astray by a mirage of glittering phrases, which proclaimed such estrangement as an escape from the slavery in which they were before held; nor did they then foresee the bitter consequences of bartering the truth that sets free, for error which enslaves. They did not realize that, in renouncing the infinitely wise and paternal laws of God, and the unifying and elevating doctrines of Christ’s love, they were resigning themselves to the whim of a poor, fickle human wisdom; they spoke of progress, when they were going back; of being raised, when they groveled; of arriving at man’s estate, when they stooped to servility. They did not perceive the inability of all human effort to replace the law of Christ by anything equal to it; “they became vain in their thoughts” (Romans i. 21).

With the weakening of faith in God and in Jesus Christ, and the darkening in men’s minds of the light of moral principles, there disappeared the indispensable foundation of the stability and quiet of that internal and external, private and public order, which alone can support and safeguard the prosperity of States.

It is true that even when Europe had a cohesion of brotherhood through identical ideals gathered from Christian preaching, she was not free from divisions, convulsions and wars which laid her waste; but perhaps they never felt the intense pessimism of today as to the possibility of settling them, for they had then an effective moral sense of the just and of the unjust, of the lawful and of the unlawful, which, by restraining outbreaks of passion, left the way open to an honorable settlement. In Our days, on the contrary, dissensions come not only from the surge of rebellious passion, but also from a deep spiritual crisis which has overthrown the sound principles of private and public morality.

Among the many errors which derive from the poisoned source of religious and moral agnosticism, We would draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to two in particular, as being those which more than others render almost impossible or at least precarious and uncertain, the peaceful intercourse of peoples.

The first of these pernicious errors, widespread today, is the forgetfulness of that law of human solidarity and charity which is dictated and imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, to whatever people they belong, and by the redeeming Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Altar of the Cross to His Heavenly Father on behalf of sinful mankind.

In fact, the first page of the Scripture, with magnificent simplicity, tells us how God, as a culmination to His creative work, made man to His Own image and likeness (cf. Genesis i. 26, 27); and the same Scripture tells us that He enriched man with supernatural gifts and privileges, and destined him to an eternal and ineffable happiness. It shows us besides how other men took their origin from the first couple, and then goes on, in unsurpassed vividness of language, to recount their division into different groups and their dispersion to various parts of the world. Even when they abandoned their Creator, God did not cease to regard them as His children, who, according to His merciful plan, should one day be reunited once more in His friendship (cf. Genesis xii. 3).

The Apostle of the Gentiles later on makes himself the herald of this truth which associates men as brothers in one great family, when he proclaims to the Greek world that God “hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation, that they should seek God” (Acts xvii. 26, 27).

A marvelous vision, which makes us see the human race in the unity of one common origin in God “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians iv. 6); in the unity of nature which in every man is equally composed of material body and spiritual, immortal soul; in the unity of the immediate end and mission in the world; in the unity of dwelling place, the earth, of whose resources all men can by natural right avail themselves, to sustain and develop life; in the unity of the supernatural end, God Himself, to Whom all should tend; in the unity of means to secure that end.

It is the same Apostle who portrays for us mankind in the unity of its relations with the Son of God, image of the invisible God, in Whom all things have been created: “In Him were all things created” (Colossians i. 16); in the unity of its ransom, effected for all by Christ, Who, through His Holy and most bitter passion, restored the original friendship with God which had been broken, making Himself the Mediator between God and men: “For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy ii. 5).

And to render such friendship between God and mankind more intimate, this same Divine and universal Mediator of salvation and of peace, in the sacred silence of the Supper Room, before He consummated the Supreme Sacrifice, let fall from His divine Lips the words which reverberate mightily down the centuries, inspiring heroic charity in a world devoid of love and torn by hate: “This is my commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you” (Saint John xv. 12).

These are supernatural truths which form a solid basis and the strongest possible bond of a union, that is reinforced by the love of God and of our Divine Redeemer, from Whom all receive salvation “for the edifying of the Body of Christ: until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians iv. 12, 13).

In the light of this unity of all mankind, which exists in law and in fact, individuals do not feel themselves isolated units, like grains of sand, but united by the very force of their nature and by their internal destiny, into an organic, harmonious mutual relationship which varies with the changing of times.

And the nations, despite a difference of development due to diverse conditions of life and of culture, are not destined to break the unity of the human race, but rather to enrich and embellish it by the sharing of their own peculiar gifts and by that reciprocal interchange of goods which can be possible and efficacious only when a mutual love and a lively sense of charity unite all the sons of the same Father and all those redeemed by the same Divine Blood. (Pope Pius XII, Summi Pontificatus, October 10. 1939.)

The Cross of the Divine Redeemer, at which stood His Most Blessed Mother, is the one and only standard of human liberty. Crucifixes would be displayed very prominently in every community in the United States of America and every other nation in the world if He was recognized as King as He has revealed Himself to men exclusively through His Catholic Church. His Most Blessed Mother would be honored publicly in each community by all citizens with shrines and weekly Rosary processions. The overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King wrought by the Protestant Revolt against the Divine Plan that God Himself had instituted to effect man’s return to Him through His Catholic Church and thus to order nations rightly along the paths of temporal justice pursued in light of man’s own Last End, a revolt against both Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen that was institutionalized by the rise of Judeo-Masonry and its religiously indifferentist civil state, has plunged mankind into barrenness and darkness and barbarism.

Yes, the Cross of the Divine Redeemer, upon which hung the Salvation of the World, is our only hope. We must lift it high in our own daily lives, especially on this most solemn day of the year, Good Friday, April 15, 2022.

Father Benedict Baur wrote the following reflection that is useful for our own consideration on this most solemn day of the year:

This is a day of mourning for the Church and for the faithful. The cross occupies the most prominent place in the liturgy of the day. It was on the cross that the Lord carried out the will of the Father to its last detail by giving up His life for our sins. He “loved me and delivered Himself for me” (Gal. 2: 20)

“And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified Him there; and the robbers, one on the right hand and the other on the left. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing His garments, cast lots. And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided Him saying: He saved others; let Him save Himself if He be the Christ, the elect of God. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar, and saying: If Thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And also there was a superscription written over Him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew: This is the King of the Jews. And one of those robbers who were hanged blasphemed him, saying: If Thou be the Christ save Thyself and us. . . . And it was almost the sixth hour; and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit. And saying this, He gave up the ghost” (Luke 23: 33 ff.) “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phil. 2: 8). “Oh all ye that pass by the way attend and see if there is any sorrow like to my sorrow.” (Lam. 1: 12)

The holy body has been torn by the cruel scourge until it is one mass of burning and bleeding wounds. The terrible crown of thorns has pierced His head, and He is consumed by thirst. To this unspeakable physical pain is added an anguish of soul that is even more terrible. He hears the shocking cry of His blinded people: “His blood be upon us and upon our children” (Matt. 27: 25). He hears the exultant yells of His enemies, and He looks into the future and sees that millions of men will repay suffering and His love with the basest ingratitude and the cruelest indifference. Why do they act thus? They have no time to attend to Christ. The grace which He won for them with such prodigal suffering and which so much love they neglect abuse, and thus run the risk of losing their immortal souls. The immense inheritance which He purchased by His blood they allow to slip through their fingers. How this ingratitude and blindness tortures Him! With Mary and John we stand under His cross today to share His agony.

Christ died in our stead. “Surely he hat born our infirmities and carried our sorrows; and we have thought of him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities; he was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53: 4-6). No mortal man could satisfy for the insult offered to God by sin; not even the highest of the angels could make adequate satisfaction. “Search not for a man to redeem you; Christ the God-man alone can perform works of sufficient value” (St. Basil). He takes our indebtedness upon Himself and lifts it up to His cross. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled (1 Pet. 1: 18 f.). The penalties which Christ suffered should have been our penalty. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13).

Christ has died for each one of us personally. The wages of sin is death. All the penalties of sin press upon us at death. God’s justice has not prepared anything so frightening as the prospect of death. Every creature shrinks from the thought of it. Nothing is so surely a punishment for sin as is death. Death cuts the bonds that secure the body and soul to the earth, just as sin first severed the bond which bound men to God. Christ the Lord delivers Himself up freely to death for our sake. His love is “strong as death.” His submission to this most terrifying of God’s punishments is the highest token of His love. He chooses the most terrible prospect of death that He may give me the surest sign of His love.

In giving over His body to death, He destroys the body of sin and death on the cross. Having bathed mankind in His precious blood, He has provided humanity with a new and holy body. Men thus reborn are worthy to become the sons of God and merit eternal life and eternal glory.

Christ died for us on the cross. What a mysterious dispensation of God’s providence! The unjust man commits the sin, but the Just One satisfies for it. The guilty one escapes the penalty of sin, but the Innocent One pays the penalty. What a contrast between the wickedness of man, and the goodness and justice and mercy of God! God has done all this for us: what we have done for Him? (Father Benedict Baur, The Light of the World, Volume I, pp. 424-426.)

What have we done for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who redeemed us this very day?

What we can do for Him is to show Him some small token of our love and gratitude by spending time with Him before the Altar of Repose before He is taken away at noon today, Good Friday, April 15, 2022. 

Can we not watch one hour with Him?

Most people alive in the world today, including most Catholics, sadly, are going about their business today without a clue or a care about this, the most solemn day of the year. 

Merchants will sell their wares.

Sporting events, which are just one of the world's contemporary versions of the bread and circuses offered by the Roman caesars of yore, will be played.

The China/Wuhan/Chinese/Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis will continue to capture the attention of the mutlitudes without hardly of mention of the fact that today is the most solemn day of the year.

The modern Pontius Pilates will continue to wash their hands of any responsibility for adhering to the binding precepts of the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law in order to serve the "wishes" of "the people," who are more than happy to choose Barrabas over and over and over again. 

Indeed, most of our own neighbors are absolutely clueless about First and Last Things, and some will be playing their awful "music" at a very loud volume all throghout the Paschal Triduum. 

We, however, must eschew the world and its false attractions this solemn day as we make reparation for our own sins, which have worsened the state of the world at-large and the state of the Church Militant in this time of apostasy and betrayal more than we can ever know in this passing, mortal vale of tears. 

May Our Lady of Sorrows, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by the fourth through seventh swords of sorrow prophesied by Simeon, pray for us this day, Good Friday, April 15, 2022, so that we will withdraw from the world and thus draw close to her as we seek to console her for what our sins and ingratitude and indifference caused her and her Divine Son to suffer, so that we might be with her in the gaze of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for all eternity, a destiny that would have been impossible unless she had consented to be the Mother of the King of Calvary at the Annunciation. May we keep Our Lady company at the tomb of her Divinei Son so that we may celebrate with joy His Easter victory over sin and eternal death made possible by His paying back in His own Sacred Humanity the very debt of sin that was owed to Him in His Infinity as God.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our deaths!

Relics in the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, May 22, 2005. (The wooden sign with the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is pictured in the lower right hand corner of the photograph. Wood from the True Cross is visible in the horizontal and vertical beams of the Cross in the reliquary. A nail is visible in the upper left hand corner. Two thorns from the Crown of Thorns are visible in the upper right hand corner. Visible in the lower left hand corner is the bronzed finger of Saint Thomas the Apostle with which he probed the nail marks in the hands of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.)

 

The Crucifix that is based on the Holy Shroud of Turin, Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, May 22, 2005 (a small pilgrim, then three years of age and now fourteen days past her eighteenth birthday (and the one who had the inspiration for the current fifty-four day Rosary Novena), was photographed venerating the Crucifix on her own volition without any prompting)

 

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us now and in death’s agony.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.

Appendix 

From The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God

The Scourging and the Crowning; the Crucifixion and Death of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Chapter XX

Our Lord's Scouring and Being Crowned with Thorns

624. Aware of the obstinate hostility of the Jews against Jesus of Nazareth, and unwilling to condemn Him to death because he knew Him to be innocent, Pilate thought a severe scourging of Jesus might placate the fury of the ungrateful people and soothe the envy of the high priests and scribes. If He had failed in anything pertaining to their ceremonies and rites they would probably consider Him sufficiently chastised and cease in their persecutions and clamors for his death. Pilate was led to this belief by what they had told him in the course of his trial, for they had vainly and foolishly calumniated Christ of not observing the Sabbath and other ceremonies, as is evident from his sermons reported by the Evangelists (Jn. 9:16). But in his thinking in this matter Pilate was entirely ignorant, for neither could the Master of sanctity be guilty of any defect in the observance of the law which He had come not to abolish but to completely fulfill (Mt. 5:17), nor even if the accusation had been true would He have deserved such an outrageous punishment, for the laws of the Jews, far from demanding such an inhuman and cruel scourging, contained other regulations for atonement of the more common faults. In still greater error was this judge in expecting any mercy or natural kindness and compassion from the Jews. Their anger and wrath against the most meek Master was not human,* nor such as is ordinarily appeased by the overthrow and humiliation of the enemy; for men have hearts of flesh, and the love of their own kind is natural and the source of at least some compassion, whereas these perfidious Jews were clothed in the guise of demons, or rather transformed into demons, who exert the more furious rage against those who are rendered more helpless and wretched, who when they see anyone most helpless say: Let us pursue him now, since he has none to defend nor free him from our hands (Eccles. 4:10).

625. Such was the implacable fury of the priests and their allies the Pharisees against the Author of life, for Lucifer, despairing of being able to hinder his murder by the Jews, inspired them with his own dreadful malice and outrageous cruelty. Pilate, placed between the known truth and his human and earthly motives which governed him, chose to follow the erroneous leading of the latter and commanded Christ to be scourged with rigor, though he himself had declared Him free from guilt (Jn. 19:1). In order to execute this suggestion and persuasion of the demon and hence act most unjustly, there were assigned six rugged executioners of the greatest strength, who as vile men, reprobate and merciless, accepted the office of executioner with great pleasure, because the wrathful and envious man always delights in executing his rage, even with actions which are dishonest, cruel and horrific. Thereupon those ministers of Satan with many others brought Jesus our Savior to the place of punishment, which was a courtyard or enclosure attached to the house and set apart for the torture of criminals in order to force them to confess their crimes. It was enclosed by a low, open building surrounded by columns, some of which supported the roof, while others were lower and stood free. To one of these columns, which was of marble, they bound Him very securely, for they still thought Him a magician and feared his escape. * cf. I Cor. 10:13 [Ed.]

626. They first took off the white garment with not less ignominy than when they clothed Him with it in the house of the adulterous murderer Herod. In loosening the ropes and chains, which He had borne since his capture in the garden, they cruelly widened the wounds which his bonds had made in his arms and wrists. Having freed his hands they commanded Him with infamous blasphemies to despoil Himself of the seamless tunic which He wore. This was the identical garment with which his Blessed Mother had clothed Him in Egypt when He first began to walk, as I have related in its place (Inc. 691). Our Lord at present had no other garment, since they had taken from Him his mantle or cloak when they seized Him in the garden. The Son of the eternal Father obeyed the executioners and began to unclothe Himself, ready to bear the shame of the exposure of his most sacred and modest body before such a multitude of people. But his tormentors, impatient at the delay which modesty required, tore away the tunic with violence in order to hasten his undressing and, as is said, flay the sheep with the wool. His Majesty now stood completely naked with the exception of the loincloth which He wore beneath the tunic, with which his Mother likewise had clothed Him in Egypt.* These garments had grown with his sacred body, nor had He ever taken them off. The same is to be said of the sandals which his Mother had placed on his feet; however, as I have said on a former occasion, He had many times walked barefooted during his preaching (457).

627. I understand that some of the doctors have said or have pondered that our Savior Jesus at his scourging and at his crucifixion, for his greater humiliation, permitted the executioners to despoil Him of all his clothing. But having again been commanded under holy obedience to ascertain the truth in this matter, I was told the divine Master was prepared to suffer all the insults compatible with decency, and that the executioners attempted to subject his body to this shame of total nakedness, seeking to despoil Him of the loincloth, but they failed because upon touching it their arms became paralyzed and stiff as had happened also in the house of Caiphas when they attempted to take off his clothes, as I said in chapter XVII (579). All six of his tormentors separately made the attempt with the same result. Yet afterwards these ministers of evil, in order to scourge Him with greater effect, raised some of the coverings, for so much the Lord permitted, but not that they uncover and despoil Him of his garments entirely. The miracle of their being hindered and paralyzed in their brutal attempts did not however move or soften the hearts of these human beasts, but with diabolical insanity they attributed it all to the supposed sorcery and witchcraft of the Author of truth and life.

628. Thus the Lord stood uncovered in the presence of a great multitude, and the six torturers bound Him brutally to one of the columns in order to chastise Him so much the more at their ease. Then two and two at a time in their order they scourged Him with such unheard-of cruelty as was not possible in the human condition if Lucifer himself had not possessed the impious hearts of those merciless executioners, his ministers. The first two scourged the most innocent Lord with some branching and knotted cords, hard and thick, and in their sacrilegious fury they strained all the powers of their body to inflict the blows. This first scourging raised in the deified body of our Savior great bruises and welts which joined together, causing his whole body to swell and become disfigured, and the most precious blood to burst through the wounds throughout his entire body. When these executioners became tired, two new executioners entered in competition with the first two; with branching straps like the hardest reins they leveled their strokes upon the places already wounded, breaking open all the welts and bruises the first scourging had caused and shedding the sacred blood, which not only entirely bathed the sacred * cf. Incarnation 686 [Ed.] body of Jesus our Savior, but also spattered onto and covered the garments of the sacrilegious executioners who tormented Him, running down even to the ground. With that the second pair of executioners withdrew and the third pair began, using as new instruments of torture branching rawhides, nearly as hard as dried wicker. They scourged Him still more cruelly because they were wounding not so much his virginal body as cutting into the wounds already produced by the previous scourging; moreover, they had been secretly incited to greater fury by the demons, who were filled with new rage at the patience of Christ.

629. Since the veins of the sacred body had now been opened and his whole Person seemed but one continuous wound, the third pair found no more room for new wounds; so repeating the inhuman blows they tore the immaculate and virginal flesh of Christ our Redeemer, tearing many pieces of it off which scattered to the ground, clearly exposing the bones of many parts of his back, which then showed red through the flowing blood; and in other places the bones were laid bare larger than the palm of the hand. In order to wipe out entirely that beauty which exceeded that of all other men (Ps. 44:3), they scourged Him in his divine face and in the feet and hands, thus leaving unwounded not a single spot upon which they could exert their fury and wrath against the most innocent Lamb. The divine blood flowed to the ground, gathering here and there in great abundance. The scourging in the face and in the hands and feet was unspeakably painful because these parts are so full of sensitive and delicate nerves. His venerable countenance became so swollen and wounded that the blood and the swellings blinded Him. And above all this the executioners covered Him with the most filthy spittle and loaded Him with insulting epithets (Lam. 3:30). The exact number of lashes dealt out to the Savior from the soles of the feet to the top of the head was 5,115. The great Lord and Author of all creation, who by his divine nature was incapable of suffering, was in his human flesh and for our sake reduced to a man of sorrows (as Isaias had prophesied in chapter LIII [v. 3]), well acquainted with the experience of our infirmities, the last of men and reputed as the outcast of all.†

 630. The multitudes who had followed the Lord filled the courtyard of the house of Pilate and the surrounding streets, for all of them waited for the issue of this event, discussing and arguing about it according to each one’s views. Amid all this confusion the Virgin Mother endured unheard-of insults, and She was deeply afflicted by the injuries and blasphemies heaped upon her divine Son by the Jews and gentiles. When they brought Him to the place of the scourging She retired to a corner of the courtyard in the company of the Marys and St. John, who attended upon Her and accompanied Her in her affliction. Assisted by her divine visions She there witnessed the entire scourging and all the torments of our Savior. Although She did not see it with the eyes of her body nothing was hidden to Her, no more than if She had been standing quite near. Human thoughts cannot comprehend how great and how diverse were the afflictions and sorrows of the great Queen and Lady of the Angels; together with many other mysteries of the Divinity they shall become manifest in the next life for the glory of the Son and the Mother. I have already mentioned in other places of this History, and especially during the Passion (508, 553), that the Blessed Mother felt in her own body all the torments of her Son. This was true also of the scourging, which She felt in all the parts of her virginal body in the same intensity as they were felt by Christ in his body. Although She shed no blood except what flowed from her eyes with her tears, nor was lacerated in her flesh, yet the bodily pains so changed and disfigured Her that St. John and the holy women failed to find in Her any resemblance of Herself. Besides the tortures of the body She suffered ineffable sorrows of her most pure soul, for there any addition to her knowledge only added to her sorrow (Eccles. 1:18). And beyond the natural love of a mother, and her supreme love of Christ, She alone knew and could ponder more accurately than all creatures the innocence of Christ, the dignity of his divine Person, and the atrocity of the injuries He was receiving from the perfidious Jews and the very children of Adam whom He was redeeming from eternal death.

631. Having at length executed the sentence of scourging, the executioners unbound the Lord from the column, and with imperious and blasphemous presumption commanded Him immediately to put on his garment. But one of those executioners, instigated by the demon, had hidden his clothes out of sight while they scourged the most meek Master in order to prolong his nakedness for the greater derision and affront of his divine Person. This evil intention of the demon was well known to the Mother of the Lord; therefore, making use of her power as Queen, She commanded Lucifer and all his demons to leave the neighborhood, and they immediately fled, compelled by her sovereign power and virtue. She gave orders for the tunic to be brought by the holy Angels within reach of her most holy Son so He could again cover his sacred and lacerated body. All this was executed immediately, though the sacrilegious executioners understood not the miracle, nor how it had been wrought; they attributed it all to the sorcery and cunning of the demon. During this protracted exposure our Savior had in addition to his wounds suffered greatly from the cold of that morning, as mentioned by the Evangelists (Mk. 14:54; Lk. 22:55; Jn. 18:18). His sacred blood had frozen and compressed the wounds, which had become inflamed and extremely painful, and the cold had diminished his powers of resistance, though the fire of his infinite charity strained them to the utmost in order to suffer more and more. Though compassion is so natural in rational creatures, there was none for Him* in his affliction and necessity, except that of his Sorrowful Mother, who tearfully bewailed and pitied Him in the name of the whole human race.

632. Among other sacraments of the Lord, hidden to human wisdom, this also causes great astonishment, that the wrath of the Jews, who were men of flesh and blood like ourselves, was not appeased at seeing Christ our Good so torn and wounded by the scourging, and that the sight of a person so lacerated failed to move their natural compassion, but rather aroused their envy to invent new types of injuries and torments against one already so torn; for so implacable was their fury they at once planned another new and unheard-of species of torment. They went to Pilate and in the presence of his counselors said: “This seducer and deceiver of the people, Jesus of Nazareth, in his boasting and vanity, has sought to be recognized by all as the king of the Jews. So his pride might be humbled and his presumption be confounded, we desire your permission to place upon Him the royal insignia merited by his fantastic pretensions.” Pilate yielded to the unjust demand of the Jews, permitting them to proceed according to their intentions.

633. Thereupon they took Jesus our Savior to the praetorium, where with the same cruelty and contempt they again despoiled him of his garments, and in order to deride Him before all the people as a counterfeit king clothed Him in a much torn and soiled mantle of purple color. They placed also upon his sacred head a cap made of woven thorns to serve Him as a crown (Jn. 19:2). This cap was woven of thorn branches, and in such a manner that many of the hard and sharp thorns would penetrate into the skull, some of them into the ears, and others into the eyes. Hence one of the greatest tortures suffered by the Lord was that of the crown of thorns. Instead of a sceptre they placed into his hands a contemptible reed. They also threw over His shoulders a * cf. Ps. 68:21; Ecclus. 51:10; Offertory, Palm Sunday and the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus [Ed.] violet colored mantle, something of the style of capes worn in churches, for such a garment belonged to the vestiture of a king. With all this ignominy of a mock king the perfidious Jews loaded Christ the King, who by nature and all titles was the true King of kings and Lord of lords (Apoc. 19:16). Then all the soldiers, in the presence of the priests and Pharisees, gathered around Him and heaped upon Him their blasphemous mockery and derision. Some of them bent their knees and mocked Him, saying: God save Thee, King of the Jews; others struck Him; others snatched the cane from his hands and struck Him on his crowned head; others ejected their disgusting spittle upon Him (Mt. 27:29-30); and all of them, instigated by furious demons, insulted and affronted Him in different manners.

634. O charity incomprehensible and exceeding all measure! O patience never seen or imagined among mortals! Who, my good Lord, since Thou art the true and mighty God both in essence and in thy works, who could oblige Thee to suffer the humiliation of such unheard-of torments, insults and blasphemies? Rather who, O infinite Good, among all men has not disobliged Thee, causing Thee to refuse to suffer for them? Who could ever believe all this if we did not know of thy infinite goodness? But now, since we see it and in firm faith look upon such admirable blessings and miracles of love, where is our judgment? What effect upon us does the light of truth have? What enchantment is this that we suffer, since at the very sight of thy sorrows, scourges, thorns, insults and affronts we seek for ourselves without the least shame or fear the delights, riches, ease, preferments and vanities of this world? Truly great is the number of fools (Eccles. 1:15), since the greatest foolishness and dishonesty is to recognize a debt and be unwilling to pay it; to receive blessings and never give thanks for them; to have before one’s eyes the greater good and despise it; to claim it for ourselves and make no use of it; to turn away and flee from life and seek eternal death. The most innocent lamb Jesus opened not his mouth in such and so many ignominies, yet neither was the furious wrath of the Jews appeased, neither by the derision and scorn heaped upon the divine Master nor by the torments which added to the contempt of his most exalted Person.*

635. It seemed to Pilate that the spectacle of a man as pitiable as Jesus of Nazareth would move and fill with shame the hearts of that ungrateful people. He therefore commanded Him to be brought from the praetorium to an open window where all could see Him as He then was, having been scourged, disfigured, crowned with thorns, and wearing the ignominious vestments of a mock king. Pilate himself spoke to the people, calling out to them: Ecce homo, behold the Man (Jn. 19:5). This was as if to say: Look upon this Man, whom you hold as your enemy. What more can I do with Him than to have punished Him in this severe manner? You certainly have nothing more to fear from Him. I do not find any cause of death in Him. What this judge said was certainly the entire truth, but in his own words he condemned his outrageous injustice, since knowing and confessing this Man was just and not guilty of death he had nevertheless ordered Him to be tormented and punished in such a way that according to the natural course He should have been killed many times over. O blindness of self-love! O hellish malice of estimating only the influence of those who can confer or take away mere earthly dignities! How deeply do such motives obscure the reason, how much they twist the course of justice, and how completely they pervert the greatest truths in judging the just by the standards of the unjust! Tremble, ye judges of the earth (Ps. 2:10); beware that the sentences you render are not full of deceit, for you yourselves shall be judged and condemned by your unjust judgments! Since the priests and Pharisees in their eager and insatiable hostility were irrevocably determined to take away the life * cf. Ps. 68:27 [Ed.] of Christ our Savior, nothing but his death would content or satisfy them. Therefore they answered Pilate: Crucify Him, crucify Him (Jn. 19:6).

 636. The blessed among women, most holy Mary, when She saw her divine Son as Pilate showed Him to the people and heard him say ecce Homo, fell upon her knees and openly adored Him as the true Godman. The same was also done by St. John and the holy women, together with all the holy Angels of the Queen and Lady, for She as Mother of our Savior ordained it so, besides it being the will of God himself as known by the Angels. The most prudent Lady spoke to the eternal Father, to the Angels, and especially to her most beloved Son precious words of sorrow, compassion, and profound reverence, possible to be conceived only in her chaste and love-inflamed bosom. In her exalted wisdom She pondered also the ways and means by which the evidence of his innocence could be made most opportunely manifest at a time when He was so insulted, mocked and despised by the Jews. With this most proper intention She renewed the aforementioned petitions (595), namely that Pilate in his position as judge would continue to maintain the innocence of Jesus our Redeemer, and that all the world would understand that He was not guilty of death nor of any of the crimes imputed to Him by the Jews.

637. Pilate, due to these prayers of the Blessed Mother, was made to feel great compassion at seeing the Lord so wounded by the scourging and opprobrium heaped upon Him, and regret at having punished Him with such cruelty. Although he was naturally disposed to such emotions by his soft and compassionate disposition, yet they were principally caused by the light he received through the intercession of the great Queen and Mother of Grace. This same light moved the unjust judge after the crowning of thorns to prolong his parley with the Jews for the release of Christ, as is recorded by St. John in chapter XIX (v. 4). When they again asked him to crucify the Lord, he answered: “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no just cause for doing it.” They replied: “According to our law He is worthy of death, because He made Himself the Son of God” (Jn. 19:6-7). This reply threw Pilate into greater consternation, for he began to think it might be true that Jesus was the Son of God according to his heathen notions of the Divinity. Therefore he withdrew with Him into the praetorium, where speaking alone with the Lord he asked whence He was (Ib. 9). The Lord did not answer this question, for Pilate was not in a state of mind either to understand or to merit a reply. Nevertheless he insisted and said to the King of heaven (Ib. 10): Speakest Thou not to me? Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and I have power to release Thee? Pilate sought to move Jesus to defend Himself and tell him what he wanted to know. It seemed to Pilate that a man so afflicted and tormented would gladly accept any offer of favor from a judge.

638. But the Master of truth answered Pilate without defending Himself, but rather with greater grandeur, and thus He said: Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore, he that hath delivered Me to thee, hath the greater sin (Ib. 11). This answer by itself made the condemnation of Christ inexcusable in Pilate, since he could have understood therefrom that neither he nor Caesar had any power of jurisdiction over this Man Jesus; that by a much higher decree He had been so unreasonably and unjustly delivered over to his judgment; that therefore Judas and the priests had committed a greater sin than he in not releasing Him; yet nevertheless he too was guilty of the same crime, though not in such a high degree. Though Pilate failed to arrive at these mysterious truths, he was struck with still greater consternation at the words of Christ our Lord, and therefore made still more strenuous efforts to liberate Him. The priests, who knew the intention of Pilate, threatened him with the displeasure of the Emperor which he would incur, and by which he would be brought down, if he released and did not execute one who raised himself up to be king. They said to him: “If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend. For whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against his orders and commands” (Ib. 12). They said this because the Roman emperors never permitted anyone in the whole empire to assume the title or insignia of a king without their consent and order, and hence if Pilate permitted it he would contravene the decrees of Caesar. Pilate was much disturbed by this malicious threat and warning of the Jews, and seating himself in his tribunal at the sixth hour in order to pass sentence upon the Lord (Ib. 13) he once more turned to plead with the Jews, saying (Ib. 14-15): Behold your King. And all of them responded: Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him. He replied: Shall I crucify your King? Whereupon they shouted unanimously: We have no king but Caesar.

639. Pilate permitted himself to be overcome by the obstinacy and malice of the Jews. On the day of Parasceve then, seated in his tribunal, which in Greek was called Lithostrotos, and in Hebrew Gabbatha, he pronounced the sentence of death against the Author of life, as I shall relate in the following chapter. The Jews departed from the hall in great haughtiness and rejoicing, proclaiming the sentence of the most innocent Lamb; in their disregard for Him consisted our remedy. All this was well known to the sorrowful Mother, who though outside the hall of judgment saw all the proceedings by exalted vision. When the priests and Pharisees rushed forth exulting in the condemnation of her most holy Son to the death of the cross, the most pure Heart of the Blessed Mother was filled with new sorrow, and was pierced and transfixed by the sword of unalleviated bitterness. Since the sorrow of most holy Mary on this occasion surpassed all that can enter the thoughts of man it is useless to speak more of it, and it must be referred to Christian piety. Just as impossible is it to enumerate her interior acts of adoration, worship, reverence, love, compassion, sorrow and resignation.

INSTRUCTION WHICH THE GREAT LADY AND QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME.

640. My daughter, thou dost reflect with wonder upon the obstinacy and malice of the Jews and the weakness of Pilate, who knew their evil dispositions yet permitted himself to be overcome, though fully convinced of the innocence of my Son and Lord. I desire to relieve thee of this astonishment by furnishing thee with instructions and warnings suitable for making thee careful on the path to eternal life. Know then that the ancient prophecies concerning the mysteries of the Redemption and all the Holy Scriptures were to be infallibly fulfilled (Acts 3:18), for sooner shall heaven and earth fall to pieces than their words fail in their effect as determined in the divine mind (Mt. 24:35). So the most ignominious death foretold for my Lord could occur (Wis. 2:20; Jer. 11:19), it was necessary for Him to be persecuted by men; however, that these men happened to be the Jews, the priests, and the unjust Pilate was their own fault, not the choice of the Almighty, who desires all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4). Their own wickedness and malice brought them to their ruin, for they resisted the great grace of having in their midst their Redeemer and Master, of knowing Him, conversing with Him, hearing his doctrine and preaching, witnessing his miracles, and receiving such great favors as none of the ancient Patriarchs had attained by all their longings (Mt. 13:17). Hence the cause of the Savior was justified. It is clear He had cultivated his vineyard by his own hands and showered his favors upon it, but it brought Him only thorns and briars, and its keepers took away his life (Mt. 21:33- 39), refusing to recognize Him as was their opportunity and duty before all other men.

641. This same which happened in the Head, Christ my Lord and Son, must likewise happen to all the members of his Mystical Body, that is, to the just and predestined to the end of the world, for it would be a monstrosity for the members to not correspond with the Head, the children with the Father, or the disciples with the Master. Although sinners must always exist (Mt. 18:7), since in this world the just shall always be mingled with the unjust, the predestined with the reprobate, the persecutors with the persecuted, the murderers with the murdered, the afflicting with the afflicted, yet these lots are divided by the malice or the goodness of men. Unhappy shall he be who through his fault and evil causes scandal to come into the world, thus making himself an instrument of the demon. This kind of activity was begun in the new Church by the priests, Pharisees and Pilate, who all persecuted the Head of this Mystical Body, and in the future course of the world by all those who persecute its members, the saints and the predestined, imitating and following the Jews and the demon in their evil work.

642. Think well then, my dearest, which of these lots thou dost desire to choose in the presence of my Son and of myself. If thou dost see thy Redeemer, thy Spouse, and thy Head tormented, afflicted, crowned with thorns, and saturated with reproaches, and at the same time desire to have a part in Him and be a member of his Mystical Body, it is not becoming or even possible for thee to live steeped in the pleasures of the flesh. Thou must be the persecuted and not a persecutor; the oppressed and not the oppressor; the one who bears the cross and suffers the scandal, not the one who causes it; the one who suffers, and at the same time makes none of the neighbors suffer. On the contrary, thou must exert thyself for their conversion and salvation to the extent compatible with the perfection of thy state and vocation. This is the portion of the friends of God and the inheritance of his children in mortal life; in this consists the participation in grace and glory which by his torments, reproaches, and death of the cross my Son and Lord has acquired for them. I too have cooperated in this work, and have paid the price of the sorrows and afflictions which thou hast understood, and which I desire thee to never allow to be blotted out from thy inmost memory. The Almighty would indeed have been powerful enough to exalt his predestined in this world, giving them riches and favors beyond those of others and making them as strong as lions for reducing the rest of mankind to their invincible power. But it was inopportune to exalt them in this manner so men would not be led into the error of thinking that greatness consists in what is visible, and happiness in earthly goods; lest being induced to forsake virtue and obscure the glory of the Lord, they fail to experience the efficacy of divine grace and cease aspiring for spiritual and eternal things. This is the science which I desire thee to study continually and in which thou must advance day by day, putting into practice all thou dost come to know and understand. (New English Edition of The Mystical City of God, Chapter XX.)

Chapter XXII

The Crucifixion and Death of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

664. Our Savior, the new and true Isaac, the Son of the eternal Father, arrived at the mountain of sacrifice, which is the same one to which Isaac, his prototype and figure, was brought by the patriarch Abraham (Gen. 22:9). Upon the most innocent Lamb of God was to be executed the rigor of the sentence which had been suspended in favor of the son of the Patriarch. Mount Calvary was held to be a place of defilement and ignominy as being reserved for the chastisement of condemned criminals, whose cadavers spread their stench around it and attached to it a still more evil fame. Our most loving Jesus arrived at its summit so worn out, wounded, torn and disfigured, that He seemed altogether transformed into an object of pain and sorrows. The power of the Divinity, which deified his most holy humanity by the hypostatic union, did not help Him to lighten his pains, but rather to strengthen Him against death, that still retaining life until death would be permitted to take it away on the Cross He could satiate his love to the fullest extent. The sorrowful and afflicted Mother, filled with bitterness, also arrived at the summit of Calvary and remained very close to her divine Son; but in the sorrows of her soul She was as it were beside Herself, being entirely transformed by her love and by what She suffered. With Her were St. John and the three Marys, for they alone, through her intercession and the favor of the eternal Father, had obtained the privilege of remaining so constantly near the Savior and his Cross.

665. When the most prudent Mother perceived that now the mysteries of the Redemption were to be fulfilled and the executioners were about to strip the Lord of his clothes for crucifixion, She turned in spirit to the eternal Father and prayed as follows: “My Lord and eternal God, Thou art the Father of thy onlybegotten Son. By eternal generation He is engendered, true God of true God, namely Thyself, and as man He was born from my womb and received from me this human nature in which He now suffers. I have nursed and sustained Him at my own breast, and as the best of sons who could ever be born of any creature I love Him with maternal love. As his Mother I have a natural right in the Person of his most holy humanity, and never shall thy providence deny a right to one who possesses it and to whom it belongs. This right of a Mother I now yield to Thee and once more place into thy hands thy and my Son as a sacrifice for the Redemption of man. Accept, my Lord, this pleasing offering, since this is more than I could ever offer by submitting my own self to be sacrificed and to suffer. This sacrifice is greater not only because my Son is true God of thy own substance, but because this sacrifice costs me a much greater sorrow and pain, for if the lots were exchanged and I would be permitted to die in order to preserve his most holy life, I would consider it a great relief and the fulfillment of my dearest desires.” The eternal Father received this prayer of the exalted Queen with ineffable pleasure and complacency. The patriarch Abraham was permitted to go no further than to prefigure and attempt the sacrifice of a son (Gen. 22:12), because the real execution of such a sacrifice God reserved to Himself and to his Onlybegotten. Nor was Sara, the mother of Isaac, informed of the mystical ceremony, this being prevented not only by the prompt obedience of Abraham, but also because he could not rely upon the maternal love of Sara, who perhaps might have tried to impede the command of the Lord, though she was a just and holy woman. But it was not so with most holy Mary, to whom the eternal Father could manifest without reserve his unchangeable will so She could, as far as her powers were concerned, unite with Him in the sacrifice of his Onlybegotten.

666. The invincible Mother finished her prayer and perceived that the impious executioners were preparing to give the Lord the drink of wine, myrrh and gall of which St. Matthew and St. Mark speak (Mt. 27:34; Mk. 15:23). In order to add this new torment to our Savior, the Jews took occasion of the custom in which those condemned to death were given a drink of strong and aromatic wine in order to raise their vital spirits and help them to bear their torments with greater fortitude, deriving this act of mercy from the words of Solomon written in the book of Proverbs (31:6): Give strong drink to those who are sad, and wine to those who suffer bitterness of heart. This custom they now perverted in order to augment the sufferings of the Savior. The drink which was intended to assist and strengthen other criminals was now mixed with gall* by the perfidy of the Jews so it would have no other effect than to torment his sense of taste by its bitterness. The divine Mother was aware of this inhuman cruelty, and with maternal compassion and tears She prayed to the Lord, beseeching Him not to drink it. His Majesty, condescending to the petition of his Mother, and without rejecting entirely this new suffering, tasted the mixture but would not drink it entirely (Mt. 27:34).

667. It was already the sixth hour, which corresponds to our noontime, and the executioners, intending to crucify the Savior naked, despoiled Him of the seamless tunic and his garments. Since the tunic was large and seamless they stripped Him by pulling it over his head without taking off the crown of thorns, and by the violence with which they proceeded they inhumanly tore off the crown with the tunic. Thus they opened anew all the wounds of his head, and in some of them remained the thorns, which in spite of their being so hard and sharp were wrenched off by the violence with which the executioners despoiled Him of his tunic and with it the crown. With heartless cruelty they again forced it down upon his sacred head, opening up wounds upon wounds. By the rude tearing off of the tunic were renewed also the wounds of his whole body, since the tunic had dried into the open places and its removal was, as David says, adding new pains to his wounds (Ps. 68:27). Four times during the Passion did they despoil our Lord and our Good of his garments and again vest Him: The first time in order to scourge Him at the pillar; the second time in order to clothe Him in the mock purple; the third when they took this off in order to clothe Him in his tunic; and the fourth when they finally took away his clothes. This last was the most painful because his wounds were more numerous, his holy humanity was much weakened, and there was less shelter against the sharp wind on mount Calvary, for also this element was permitted to afflict Him at his death by the inclemency of its cold blasts.

668. To all these sufferings was added the sorrow of being bereft of his garments in the presence of his Blessed Mother, of her pious companions, and in full sight of the multitudes gathered around. By his power He reserved for Himself only the loincloth with which his most holy Mother had wound underneath his tunic in Egypt, for neither at the scourging nor at the crucifixion could the executioners remove it, and He was laid in the sepulchre still covered with this cloth. That this really happened has been revealed to me many times (627). Certainly He desired to die in the greatest poverty and take with Him nothing of all He had created and possessed in this world. He would gladly have died entirely despoiled and bereft of even this covering had it not been for the desires and prayers of his most holy Mother to which Christ desired to yield.† On her account He substituted this most perfect obedience of a Son toward his * cf. Ps. 68:22 [Ed.] † cf. Incarnation 686 [Ed.] Mother for extreme poverty at his death. The Holy Cross was lying on the ground and the executioners were busy making the necessary preparations for crucifying Him and the two thieves. In the interim our Redeemer and Master prayed to the Father and said:

669. “Eternal Father and my Lord God, to thy incomprehensible Majesty of infinite goodness and justice I offer my entire humanity and the works I have accomplished in it according to thy most holy will, having descended from thy bosom to assume passible and mortal flesh in order to redeem in it men, my brethren. I offer Thee, Lord, with Myself my most loving Mother, her love, her most perfect works, her sorrows, her sufferings, her cares and most prudent solicitude in serving Me, imitating Me, and accompanying Me unto death. I offer Thee the little flock of my Apostles, the holy Church, and the congregation of the faithful such as it is now and as it shall be to the end of the world, and with them I offer to Thee all the mortal children of Adam. All this I place in thy hands as the true God and omnipotent Lord. On my part I willingly suffer and die for all, desiring by my death for all to be saved, if all shall follow Me and profit from my Redemption, so from the slavery of the demon they pass to become thy children, my brethren and coheirs by the grace I have merited and left for them. Especially, my Lord, do I offer to Thee the poor, despised and afflicted, who are my friends and who follow Me on the Way of the Cross. I desire the just and the predestined to be written in thy eternal memory. I beseech Thee, my Father, to withhold thy chastisement and raise not the scourge of thy justice over men, and let them not be punished as they merit for their sins; from this hour be their Father as Thou art mine. I likewise beseech Thee for those who with pious affection accompany Me in my death, that they may be enlightened by thy divine light, and for all who are persecuting Me so they may be converted to the truth. Above all I ask Thee for the exaltation of thy ineffable and holy Name.”

670. This prayer and these supplications of our Savior Jesus were known to his most holy Mother, and She imitated Him and made the same petitions to the eternal Father insofar as She was concerned. The most prudent Virgin never forgot or disregarded the first words which She heard from the mouth of her divine Son as a newborn: “Become like unto Me, my Beloved” (Inc. 480). He continually fulfilled his promise that in return for the new human existence which She had given Him in her virginal womb He would by his almighty power give Her a new existence of divine and eminent grace above all other creatures. To this favor pertained the knowledge and most exalted enlightenment by which the great Lady knew all the operations of the most holy having his entire Passion copied in some mere creature, and no one possessed such a right to this benefit more than his own Mother.

671. In order to find the places for the auger holes on the Cross, the executioners with imperious arrogance commanded the Creator of the universe (O dreadful temerity!) to stretch Himself out upon it. The Teacher of humility obeyed without hesitation. But they, following their inhuman instinct of cruelty, marked the places for the holes not according to the size of his body, but farther apart, having in mind a new torture for their Victim. This inhuman intent was known to the Mother of light, and the knowledge of it was one of the greatest afflictions of her most chaste Heart during the whole Passion. She saw through the intentions of these ministers of sin and anticipated the torments to be endured by her beloved Son when his limbs would be wrenched from their sockets in being nailed to the Cross; yet She could not do anything to prevent it since it was the will of the Lord to suffer these pains for men. When He rose from the Cross and they set about boring the holes, the great Lady approached and took hold of one of his hands, adoring Him and kissing it with the greatest reverence. The executioners allowed this because they thought the sight of his Mother would cause so much the greater affliction to the Lord, for they wished to spare Him no sorrow they could cause Him. But they were ignorant of such hidden mysteries, for the Lord during his Passion had no greater source of consolation and interior joy than to see in the soul of his Blessed Mother the beautiful likeness of Himself and the full fruits of his Passion and Death. This joy, to a certain extent, comforted Christ our Lord also in that hour.

672. Having bored the three holes into the Cross, the executioners again commanded Christ the Lord to stretch Himself out upon it in order to be nailed to it. As the Author of patience the supreme and almighty King obeyed, and at the will of the hangmen placed Himself with outstretched arms upon the blessed wood. The Lord was so weakened, disfigured and exhausted that if the ferocious cruelty of those men had left the least room for natural reason and kindness they could not have brought themselves to inflict further torments upon the innocent and meek Lamb humbly suffering such nameless sorrows and pains. But not so with them, for the Jews and their ministers (O terrible and most hidden judgments of the Lord!) were transformed by the mortal hatred and evil will of the demons, devoid of the feelings of sensible and earthly men and urged on only by diabolical wrath and fury.

673. Presently one of the executioners seized the hand of Jesus our Savior and placed it upon the auger hole, while another hammered a large and rough nail through the palm. The veins and sinews were torn, and the bones of the sacred hand, which made the heavens and all that exists, were forced apart. When they stretched out the other hand they found it did not reach the auger hole, for the sinews of the other arm had been shortened, and the executioners had maliciously set the holes too far apart as I mentioned above. In order to overcome the difficulty they took the chain with which the Savior had been bound in the garden, and looping one end through a ring around his wrist, they with unheard-of cruelty pulled the hand over the hole and fastened it with another nail. Thereupon they seized his feet, and placing them one above the other they tied the same chain around both and stretched them with barbarous ferocity down to the third hole. Then they drove through both feet a large nail into the Cross. Thus his sacred body, in which dwelled the Divinity, was nailed motionless to the Holy Cross, and the handiwork of his deified members, formed by the Holy Ghost, was so stretched and torn asunder that the bones of his body, dislocated and forced from their natural position, could all be counted (Ps. 21:18). The bones of his breast, of his shoulders and arms, and of his whole body yielded to the cruel violence and were torn from their sinews.

674. It is impossible for human tongue or discourse to describe the torments of our Savior Jesus and what He suffered on this occasion; only on Judgment Day shall more be made known, in order to justify his cause against the reprobate, and so the saints may worthily praise and glorify Him. But at present, while our faith in this truth gives us occasion and obliges us to apply our reason (if such we possess), I ask, implore and beseech the children of the holy Church, each one for himself, to study this most venerable sacrament. Let us contemplate it and weigh it with all its circumstances, and we shall find powerful motives to abhor sin and firmly resolve to avoid it as the cause of all this suffering to the Author of life. Let us contemplate and look upon his Virgin Mother, so afflicted in spirit and overwhelmed by the torments of her most pure body, so through this gate of light we may enter and recognize the sun which illumines the heart. O Lady and Queen of virtues! O true Mother of the immortal King of ages become man! It is true, O my Lady, that the hardness of our ungrateful hearts makes us very unfit and unworthy of suffering thy pains and those of thy most holy Son our Lord; yet through thy clemency make us partakers of this favor which we do not deserve. Purify and free us from this deadening lukewarmness and gross neglect. If we are the cause of these sufferings, what propriety or what justice can there be in visiting them only on Thee and on thy Beloved? Let the chalice pass from the lips of the Innocent so it can be tasted by the guilty who deserve it. But alas! Where is our good sense? Where is wisdom and knowledge? Where is the light of our eyes? Who has so entirely deprived us of our understanding? Who has robbed us of our human and sensible hearts? If I, O Lord, had not received from Thee this being according to thy image and likeness (Wis. 2:23), if Thou hadst not given me life and motion (Acts 17:28), if all the elements and creatures formed by thy hand for my service (Ecclus. 39:30) were not giving me continual notice of thy immense love, at least thy being nailed so outrageously to the Cross, and all thy torments and sorrows for my salvation, should suffice to draw me to Thee with the bonds of compassion, gratitude, love, and confidence in thy ineffable kindness. But if so many voices cannot awaken me, if such love does not enkindle mine, if thy Passion and Death do not move me, and if such great benefits cannot oblige me, what end must I expect as the result of my stupidity?

675. After the Savior was nailed to the Cross the executioners judged it necessary to bend the points of the nails which projected through the back of the wood so they might not be loosened and drawn out by the weight of the body. For this purpose they raised up the Cross in order to turn it over so the body of the Lord would rest face down upon the ground with the weight of the Cross upon Him. This new cruelty appalled all the bystanders and a shout of pity arose in the crowd. But the sorrowful and compassionate Mother intervened by her prayers and asked the eternal Father not to permit this boundless outrage to happen in the way the executioners intended. She commanded her holy Angels to come to the assistance of their Creator; therefore, when the executioners raised up the Cross to let it fall with the crucified Lord face down upon the ground, the holy Angels supported Him and the Cross above the stony and fetid ground, and thus his divine countenance did not come in contact with the rocks and pebbles. Then the executioners bent over the points of the nails, though altogether ignorant of the miracle, for the sacred body was so near to the ground, and the Cross was so firmly held by the Angels, that the malicious Jews thought it rested upon the hard rock.

676. Then they dragged the lower end of the Cross with the crucified God near to the hole wherein it was to be planted. Some of them getting under the upper part of the Cross with their shoulders, others pushing upward with their halberds and lances, they raised the Savior on his Cross and fastened its foot in the hole they had drilled into the ground. Thus our true life and salvation now hung in the air upon the sacred wood in full view of the innumerable multitudes of different nations and countries. I must not omit mentioning another barbarity inflicted upon the Lord as they raised Him, for some of them placed the sharp points of their lances and halberds to his body, fearfully lacerating Him under the armpits in helping to push the Cross into position. At this spectacle arose anew the voices of the people in greater shouts and confusion: The Jews blasphemed, the kindhearted lamented, and the strangers were astounded; some of them as well as others called the attention of the bystanders to the proceedings, while others could not look upon Christ crucified due to the pain they felt; some pondered the warning given by such a punishment inflicted on someone else, while still others proclaimed Him a just man; and this entire variety of judgments and sentiments were like arrows piercing the Heart of the afflicted Mother. The sacred body now shed much blood from the nail wounds, which had widened by the weight of the body and the shock of the Cross falling into the hole. They were the fountains, now opened up, to which Isaias invites us to hasten with joy to quench our thirst and wash off the stains of our sins (Is. 12:3). No one shall be excused who does not quickly approach to drink these waters, since they are sold without exchange of silver or gold, and they are given freely to those who will but receive them (Is. 55:1).

677. Then the executioners crucified also the two thieves and planted their crosses to the right and the left of the Savior, for thereby they wished to indicate He deserved the most conspicuous place as being the greatest evildoer. The Pharisees and priests, forgetting the two thieves, turned all the venom of their fury against the Sinless and Saint by nature. Wagging their heads in scorn and mockery (Mt. 27:39) they threw stones and dirt at the Cross of the Lord and his royal Person, saying (Ib. 40, 42): Vah, Thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it, save thy own self; He saved others, Himself He cannot save. Others said (Ib.): If this be the Son of God, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. The two thieves in the beginning also mocked the Lord and said: “If Thou art the Son of God, save Thyself and us” (Ib. 44; Lk. 23:39). These blasphemies of the thieves caused especially great sorrow to the Lord since they were so near to death and were losing the fruit of their death pains by which they could have satisfied in part for their justly punished crimes; however, soon after one of them availed himself of the greatest opportunity a sinner ever had in this world and was converted from his sins.

678. When the great Queen of the Angels, most holy Mary, perceived that the Jews in their perfidy and obstinate envy vied in dishonoring Him, in blaspheming Him as the most wicked of men, and in desiring to blot out his name from the land of the living as Jeremias had prophesied (Jer. 11:19), She was inflamed with new zeal for the honor of her Son and true God. Prostrate before his royal Person crucified (where She had been adoring Him), She asked the eternal Father to provide for the honor of his Onlybegotten, and manifest it by such evident signs that the perfidy of the Jews would be confounded and their malicious intentions frustrated. Having presented this petition to the Father, She addressed all the irrational creatures with the zeal and authority of the Queen of the universe and said: “Insensible creatures, created by the hand of the Almighty, do thou manifest the sorrow which at his death is denied to Him so foolishly by men capable of reason. Ye heavens, thou sun and moon, and ye stars and planets, stop thy course and suspend thy activity in regard to mortals. Ye elements, change thy condition; earth, lose thy stability, let thy rocks and cliffs be rent. Ye sepulchres and monuments of the dead, open and send forth the dead from thy hidden shelters for the confusion of the living. Thou mystical and figurative veil of the temple, divide into two parts, and by thy separation threaten the unbelievers with chastisement, and testify to the truth and to the glory of their Creator and Redeemer which they are trying to obscure.”

679. In virtue of this prayer and the commands of Mary, the Mother of the Crucified, the omnipotence of the Most High provided for all that was to happen at the death of his Onlybegotten. The Lord enlightened and moved the hearts of many of the bystanders at the time of these happenings on earth, and even before that time, so they could confess Jesus crucified as holy, just, and the true Son of God; for example, this happened with the centurion and many others mentioned in the Gospels, who went away from Calvary striking their breasts in sorrow (Mt. 27:54; Lk. 23:48). Among them were not only those who previously had heard and believed his doctrine, but also a great number who had never seen Him or witnessed his miracles. By the same prayer Pilate was also inspired not to change the title of the Cross which already had been placed over the head of the Savior in the three languages of Hebrew, Greek and Latin; for though the Jews protested and asked him not to write “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” but rather “this one says, He is King of the Jews,” Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written, and I do not wish it to be changed (Jn. 19:21-2). All the inanimate creatures, by the divine will, obeyed the command of most holy Mary. From the noon hour until three o’clock in the afternoon (which was called the ninth hour) when the Lord expired they exhibited the great disturbances and changes mentioned in the Gospels: The sun hid its light, the planets showed great alterations, the earth quaked, many mountains were rent, the rocks shook one against the other, and the graves opened and sent forth some of the dead alive (Mt. 27:51-2; Lk. 23:45). So new and incredible were the elementary alterations of the whole visible universe that they were felt throughout the entire earth (Mt. 27:45; Mk. 15:33; Lk. 23:44). The Jews throughout Jerusalem were amazed and astonished, though their unheard-of perfidy and malice prevented and made them unworthy of understanding the truth which all the insensible creatures preached to them.

680. The soldiers who had crucified Jesus our Savior, according to a custom permitting the executioners to take possession of the property of those whom they executed, now proceeded to divide the garments of the innocent Lamb. The cloak or outside mantle, which by divine disposition they had brought to mount Calvary (and which was the one Christ had laid aside at the washing of the feet), they divided among themselves, cutting it into four parts (Jn. 19:23). But the seamless tunic, being thus ordained by the providence of the Lord with great mystery, they did not divide, but rather cast lots over it and assigned it entirely to the one who drew the lot for it, thus fulfilling the prophecy of David in Psalm XXI (v. 19). The mysterious signification of the undivided tunic is variously explained by the Saints and Doctors, one of these explanations being that although the Jews lacerated and tore with wounds the sacred humanity of Christ our Lord, yet they could not touch or injure the Divinity which was enclosed in the sacred humanity, and whoever would obtain the lot of justification by partaking of his divinity would thenceforward possess and enjoy it entirely.

681. Since the wood of the Cross was the throne of His Majesty and the chair of the doctrine of life, and as He was now raised upon it confirming his doctrine by his example, Christ now uttered his first word on the Cross, words of highest charity and perfection: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Lk. 23:34). This principle of charity and fraternal love the divine Teacher had appropriated to Himself and proclaimed by his own lips (Jn. 15:12; Mt. 5:44); He now confirmed and executed it upon the Cross, not only loving and pardoning his enemies, but excusing by their very ignorance those whose malice had reached the highest point possible to men in persecuting, blaspheming and crucifying their God and Redeemer. Such was the difference between the behavior of ungrateful men favored with such great enlightenment, instruction and blessing, and the behavior of our Savior Jesus in his most burning charity while suffering the crown of thorns, the nails, the Cross, and unheard-of blasphemy at the hands of men. O incomprehensible love! O ineffable sweetness! O patience inconceivable to man, admirable to the angels, and fearful to the demons! One of the two thieves, called Dismas, perceived something of this sacrament of mercy and forgiveness, and most holy Mary at the same time working to intercede and pray for him, he was interiorly enlightened in order to recognize his Redeemer and Master by this first word spoken by Christ on the Cross. Moved by true sorrow and contrition for his sins, he turned to his companion and said (Lk. 23:40-1): Neither dost thou fear God, who with these blasphemies perseveres in the same condition? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man, who suffers with us, hath done no evil. And then speaking to our Savior he said: Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into thy kingdom (Ib. 42).

682. In this happiest of thieves, in the centurion, and in the others who confessed Jesus Christ on the Cross, began to appear the results of the Redemption. But the one most favored was this Dismas, who merited to hear the second word of the Savior on the Cross: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise (Ib. 43). O fortunate thief, who of all others heard those words so much desired by all the saints and just of the earth! Such a word the ancient Patriarchs and Prophets did not hear; they judged themselves very happy to be allowed to descend into limbo and wait through the long ages for paradise, which thou in changing so happily thy condition didst acquire in one moment. Thou hast now ceased to rob earthly possessions of thy neighbor, and immediately snatchest heaven from the hands of thy Master. Thou dost seize it in justice and He yields it to thee in grace, since thou wast the last disciple of his doctrine on earth and the most alert of all in practicing it after having heard it from his mouth. Thou hast lovingly corrected thy brother, confessed thy Creator, reprehended those who blasphemed Him, imitated Him in patient suffering, and asked Him humbly as thy Redeemer not to forget thy miseries; and He, as thy Exalter, has at once fulfilled thy desires without delaying the reward merited for thee and all mortals.

683. Having thus justified the good thief, Jesus turned his loving gaze upon his afflicted Mother, who with St. John was standing at the foot of the Cross. Speaking to both his third word, He first addressed his Mother, saying: Woman, behold thy son; and then to the Apostle: Behold thy Mother (Jn. 19:26-7). The Lord called Her Woman and not Mother because this name of Mother had in it something of sweetness and consolation, the very pronouncing of which would have been a sensible relief; but during his Passion He would admit no exterior consolation, having renounced for that time all exterior alleviation and easement, as I have mentioned above (249). By this word Woman he tacitly and by implication said: Woman blessed among all women (Lk. 1:42), the most prudent among all the daughters of Adam, Woman strong and constant (Prov. 31:10ff.), unconquered by any fault of thy own, unfailing in my service and most faithful in thy love toward Me, which even the mighty waters of my Passion could not extinguish or oppose (Cant. 8:7), I am going to my Father and cannot accompany Thee further. My beloved disciple shall attend upon Thee and serve Thee as his Mother, and he shall be thy son. All this the heavenly Queen understood. The holy Apostle on his part received Her as his own from that hour on, for he was enlightened anew in order to understand and appreciate the greatest treasure of the Divinity in all of creation next to the humanity of Christ our Savior. In this light he reverenced and served Her for the rest of her life, as I shall relate farther on (744; Cor. 175, 369, etc.). Our Lady also accepted him as her son in humble subjection and obedience. She then and there promised him this obedience, without allowing the immense sorrow of the Passion to hinder her magnanimous and most prudent Heart, always practicing the highest perfection and holiness without omitting any act of virtue possible to Her.

684. Already the ninth hour of the day was approaching, although the darkness and confusion of nature made it appear to be rather a chaotic night. Our Savior spoke the fourth word from the Cross in a loud and strong voice so all the bystanders could hear it (Mt. 27:46): My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Although the Lord spoke these words in his own Hebrew language they were not understood by all. Since they began with Eli, Eli, some of them thought He was calling upon Elias, and a number of them mocked Him saying: “Let us see whether Elias will come to free Him from our hands” (Ib. 49). But the mystery concealed beneath these words of Christ our Good was just as profound as it was unintelligible to the Jews and gentiles, and they have been interpreted in many ways by the holy Doctors of the Church. I shall give the interpretation which has been manifested to me. The dereliction of which Christ speaks was not one in which the Divinity separated from the humanity, dissolving the hypostatic union, nor included a cessation of the beatific vision in his soul; for both of these He possessed and could never lose from the instant in which, by the work of the Holy Ghost, He was conceived in the virginal bridal-chamber. This is the true and Catholic doctrine. While it is also certain that his most holy humanity was forsaken by the Divinity in not being defended from death and the sorrows of his most bitter Passion, on the other hand the eternal Father did not forsake Him entirely regarding the restoration of the honor of his Son, since the Father demonstrated his sentiments by causing the changes in the visible creation in order to give testimony to his honor at his death. Christ our Savior intimated quite a different dereliction by these words of complaint, one which originated from his immense love for men, namely from his love of the foreknown and the reprobate which during his last hour caused in Him the same anguish as it did during his prayer in the garden (499). He grieved that his copious and superabundant Redemption, offered for the whole human race, would not be efficacious in the reprobate, and that He would find Himself deprived of them in the eternal happiness for which He had created and redeemed them. As this was to happen in consequence of the decree of the eternal will of his Father, He lovingly and sorrowfully complained of it in the words my God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?, that is, insofar as God deprived Him of the salvation of the reprobate.

685. In greater testimony of this desire the Lord added his fifth word and said: I thirst (Jn. 19:28). The sufferings of Christ our Good and his anguish could easily cause a natural thirst, but for Him this was not the time to complain of this thirst or to quench it, and therefore His Majesty would not have spoken of it so near to its expiration unless it was in order to give expression to a most exalted mystery. He was thirsting to see the captive children of Adam make use of the liberty which He merited for them and offered to them, and which so many were abusing; thirsting eagerly and solicitously for all to correspond with Him in the faith and love due to Him, that they profit by his merits and sufferings, accept his friendship and grace now acquired for them, and not lose the eternal happiness which He would leave as an inheritance for those who desired to merit and accept it. This was the thirst of our Savior and Master, and only Mary most holy understood it perfectly and began with ardent affection and charity to invite and interiorly call upon all the poor, the afflicted, the humble, the despised, and the downtrodden to approach their Savior and thus quench his thirst at least in part, since it was not possible to quench it entirely. But the perfidious Jews and the executioners, in testimony of their unhappy hardness of heart, fastened a sponge soaked in gall and vinegar to a reed and mockingly raised it to his mouth so He might drink of it (Jn. 19:29). Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of David: In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (Ps. 68:22). Our most patient Savior tasted it, partaking of this drink in mysterious submission to the condemnation of the reprobate, but at the petition of his Blessed Mother He immediately desisted, because the Mother of Grace was to be the portal and Mediatrix of those who were to profit by the Passion and the Redemption of mankind.

686. In connection with this same mystery the Savior then pronounced the sixth word (Jn. 19:30): Consummatum est (it is consummated). Now is consummated this work of my coming from heaven, and I have obeyed the command of my eternal Father who sent Me to suffer and die for the salvation of men; now are fulfilled the Holy Scriptures, the prophecies and figures of the Old Testament, and the course of my earthly and mortal life assumed in the womb of my Mother; now are established on earth my example, my doctrines, my Sacraments, and my remedies for the sickness of sin; now is appeased the justice of my eternal Father in regard to the debt of the children of Adam; now is my holy Church enriched with the remedies for the sins committed by men. The whole work of my coming into the world is perfected insofar as concerns Me, its Restorer, and the secure foundation of the Church Triumphant is now laid in the Church Militant, so nothing can overthrow or change it. These are the mysteries contained in the brief words: Consummatum est.

687. Consequent upon having finished and established the work of human Redemption in its ultimate perfection, it followed that just as the incarnate Word came forth from the Father to enter mortal life (Jn. 16:28), by the death of this life He return to the Father with immortality. Therefore Christ our Savior added the seventh word, the last words He spoke from the Cross: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit (Lk. 23:46). The Lord spoke these words in a loud and strong voice so the bystanders heard them. In pronouncing them He raised his eyes to heaven as one speaking with the eternal Father, and with the last syllable He gave up his spirit and inclined his head. By the divine force of these words Lucifer with all his demons were hurled into the deepest caverns of hell where they lay motionless, as I shall relate in the next chapter. The invincible Queen and Mistress of all virtues understood these mysteries beyond the understanding of all creatures, since She was the Mother of the Savior and the Coadjutrix of his Passion. In order to participate in it to the end, just as She had felt in her own body the other torments of her Son She now, though remaining alive, felt and suffered the pangs and agony of his death. She did not die in reality,* but this was because God miraculously preserved her life when according to the natural course death should have ensued. This miraculous aid was more wonderful than all the other favors She received during the Passion, for this last pain was more intense and penetrating. All that the martyrs and men sentenced to death have suffered from the beginning of the world cannot equal what most holy Mary suffered during the Passion. In return for this ultimate sorrow the little which remained of this earthly life, and which the most pure Mother still felt, in a special manner was more than ever spiritualized. The great Lady remained at the foot of the Cross until evening when the sacred body (as I shall relate) was buried.

688. The holy Evangelists make no mention of many of the sacraments and mysteries connected with the doings of Christ our Savior on the Cross, and we as Catholics can only form prudent conjectures founded upon the infallible certainty of our faith. But among those which have been manifested to me in this History, and concerning this part of the Passion, is a prayerwhich Christ addressed to his eternal Father before speaking the seven words on the Cross recorded by the Evangelists. I call it a prayer because it was addressed to the eternal Father, though it was in the manner of a last disposition or testament which He made as a true and most wise Father in order to consign his possessions to his family, that is, to the whole human race. Even natural reason teaches us that he who is the head of a family or the lord over many or few possessions would not be a prudent dispenser of his goods, and inattentive to his office or dignity, if at the hour of his death he would not make known his will in regard to the disposition of his goods and his estate so each one of his family could know what belongs to him and may possess it justly and peacefully without recourse to lawsuits. For this very reason, and so they can set their minds at ease in preparation for the hour of death, men of the world make their last testaments. And even religious thus divest themselves, because in that hour earthly matters and their cares weigh heavily on the soul and prevent it from rising toward its Creator. Although earthly things could not disturb our Savior, since He neither possessed them nor if He had possessed any could be hindered by them in his infinite power, yet it was appropriate for Him in that hour to dispose of the spiritual riches and treasures which He had amassed for mankind in the course of his earthly life.

689. Regarding these eternal goods the Savior made his testament on the Cross, distributing them and pointing out those who would be legitimate heirs and those who would be disinherited, mentioning the reasons for the one as well as the other. Conferring with his eternal Father, He did all this as the supreme Lord and most just Judge of all mortals, for in this testament are rehearsed the mysteries of the predestination of the saints and of the reprobation of the foreknown. It was a testament hidden and sealed for mankind; only most holy Mary understood it, because in addition to knowing clearly all the operations of the most holy soul of Christ, She was the universal Heiress of all creation, constituted as Mistress of all created things. As the Coadjutrix of the Redemption She was also to be the testamentary Executrix through whose hands He was to execute his will (since into her hands her Son placed all things, just as the Father had placed all things into his hands [Jn. 13:3]); moreover, this great Lady was to distribute the treasures acquired and owing to her Son because of who He is and because of his infinite merits. This understanding has been given to me as part of this History in order to declare more fully the dignity of our Queen, and so sinners can approach Her as the Depositary of all the treasures gained by her Son and our Redeemer in the sight of his eternal Father. All help and assistance is in the hands of most holy Mary, and She is to distribute it according to her most sweet kindness and liberality.

TESTAMENT MADE BY CHRIST OUR SAVIOR, PRAYING TO HIS ETERNAL FATHER FROM THE CROSS.

690. When the holy wood of the Cross had been raised on mount Calvary, bearing aloft with it the incarnate Word crucified, before speaking any of the seven last words, Christ prayed interiorly to his heavenly Father and said: “My Father and eternal God, I confess and exalt Thee from this tree of my Cross, and I praise Thee with the sacrifice of my sorrows, Passion and Death; for by the hypostatic union with the divine nature Thou hast raised my humanity to the supreme dignity, that of Christ, the Godman, anointed with thy own divinity. I confess Thee for the plenitude of all possible gifts of grace and glory which from the instant of my Incarnation Thou hast communicated to my humanity, and because from all eternity up to this present hour Thou hast given Me full universal dominion of all creatures in the order of grace and of nature. Thou hast made Me the Lord of the heavens and of the elements (Mt. 28:18), of the sun, moon, and stars; of fire, of air, of the earth and the seas, and of all the sensible and insensible creatures which live in them; of the disposition of the times, of the days and nights, giving Me dominion and power over all according to my will and disposition. Thou hast made Me the Head, the King, and the Lord of all angels and men (Eph. 1:21), to govern and command them, to reward the good and punish the wicked (Jn. 5:22). Thou hast given Me power over all things and the keys of the abyss (Apoc. 20:1), from the highest heaven to the deepest abysses of hell. Thou hast placed into my hands the eternal justification of men, their empires, kingdoms and principalities, the great and the little, the poor and the rich; of all who are capable of thy grace and glory Thou hast made Me the Justifier, Redeemer and Glorifier, the universal Lord of the entire human race (I Cor. 1:30), of life and death, of all those who come into this world, of the holy Church, its treasures, Scriptures, mysteries, Sacraments, helps, laws, and gifts of grace. All of this hast Thou, my Father, given into my hands and subjected to my will and disposition, and for this I praise and exalt Thee, I confess and magnify Thee.

691. “Now, Lord and eternal Father, when I am returning from this world to thy right hand by means of my Death on the Cross, and by my Passion and Death leave fulfilled the Redemption of men which Thou didst entrust to Me, I desire, my God, that this same Cross be the tribunal of our justice and mercy, and being nailed upon it I desire to judge those for whom I give my life; and justifying my cause I desire to dispense and arrange the treasures of my coming into the world and of my Passion and Death, so from this hour shall remain established what belongs to each one of the just and the reprobate according to their works* by which I have been loved or hated.† I have sought all mortals and called them to my friendship and grace, and from the instant in which I took human flesh I have ceaselessly labored for them. I have suffered inconveniences, fatigues, affronts, ignominies, reproaches, scourges, a crown of thorns, and now suffer the most bitter death of the Cross; I have implored for all of them thy immense kindness; I have prayed for them in vigils, fasted, and wandered about teaching them the way of eternal life. As far as my part and my will are concerned I have desired eternal happiness for all, just as I have merited it for all without exception or excluding anyone. I have set up and formed the law of grace for all; and the Church, in which salvation can be attained, shall always be stable and permanent.

692. “Yet by our knowledge and foresight We know, my God and Father, that due to the malice and rebellion of men not all desire our eternal salvation, nor avail themselves of our mercy and the way I have opened up for them by my life, works and death, but rather prefer to follow their sinful ways unto perdition. Thou art just, my Lord and Father, and most righteous are thy judgments (Ps. 118:137), and it is just Thou hast made Me the Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42), between the good and the bad, to give to the just the reward of having served and followed Me, and to sinners the chastisement of their perverse obstinacy; that the just have part with Me‡ in my goods, and sinners be deprived of my inheritance since they refuse to accept it. Now therefore, my eternal Father, in thy name and mine, for thy exaltation I decree my final testament according to my human will, which is conformable to thy eternal and divine will. I desire in the first place to name my most pure Mother, who gave Me human existence: I constitute Her as my sole and universal Heiress of all the goods of nature, grace and glory which are mine, so She can be Lady with full dominion over all. All the gifts of grace which She, being a mere creature, is capable of receiving I grant to Her with efficacy, and those of glory I promise Her in its time. I desire angels and men to be Hers, that She have entire dominion and Queenship over them, and that all obey and serve Her; that the demons fear Her and be subject to Her; that likewise all the irrational creatures, the heavens, stars and planets, the elements, and all the living creatures contained in them, the birds, fishes and animals be subject to Her; that all have Her as their Lady in order for all to hallow and glorify Her with Me. I likewise desire for Her to be the Depositary and Dispenser of all the goods contained in heaven and on earth. That which She ordains and disposes in the Church for my children among men shall be confirmed in heaven by the three divine Persons; and all She shall ask for mortals now, afterwards and forever We shall concede according to her will and disposition.

693. “To the angels who have obeyed thy holy and just will, I declare as theirs the highest heaven as their proper and eternal habitation, and in it the joy of the clear vision and fruition of our Divinity. I desire them to enjoy its everlasting possession together with our friendship and company. I command them to recognize my Mother as their legitimate Queen and Lady, that they serve, accompany, and attend upon Her, and bear Her up in their hands in all places and times, obeying Her reign and all that She desires to command and ordain. The demons, as rebellious to our perfect and holy will, I cast out and separate from our vision and company; anew do I condemn them to our abhorrence and eternal deprivation of our friendship and glory, and the vision of my Mother and of my friends, the saints and the just. I assign and designate for their everlasting habitation the place most remote from our royal throne, namely the infernal caverns, the center of the earth, deprived of light and containing the horror of sensible darkness (Jude 6). I declare this to be their portion and inheritance as chosen by them in their pride and obstinacy by which they rose up against the divine Being and his decrees. In those dungeons of obscurity they shall be tormented by everlasting and inextinguishable fire.

694. “From the whole human race, in the fullness of my entire will, I call, choose and select all the just and predestined, who through my grace shall be saved by imitating Me, accomplishing my will, and obeying my holy law. These in the first place, after my most pure Mother, I name as the inheritors of all my promises and mysteries, the blessings and treasures of my Sacraments, and the secrets of my Scriptures, since they are enclosed therein; of my humility and meekness of heart; of the virtues of faith, hope and charity; of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance; of my divine gifts and favors; of my cross, labors, reproaches and contempt, poverty and nakedness. This shall be their portion and inheritance in this present and mortal life; and since they must with good will choose this portion in order to labor well, and in order to undergo it with joy, I point it out to them as a pledge of my friendship, since I have chosen it for Myself. I offer them my protection and defense, my holy inspirations, my favors and powerful assistance, my gifts and justification, according to each one’s disposition and love.* For them I shall be a Father, a Brother, and a Friend, and they shall be my children (II Cor. 6:18), my elect and beloved; and since they are my children I name them as the inheritors of all my merits and treasures without any limitation on my part. I desire that in my holy Church they participate in and receive the Sacraments whenever they properly prepare themselves to receive them, and if they lose my grace and goods they shall be able to recover them and return to my friendship, renewed and copiously washed by my blood. All of them shall avail themselves of the intercession of my Mother and my saints, and She shall recognize them as her children, shielding * cf. II Cor. 9:6-7 [Ed.] them and holding them as her own. My angels shall defend them, guide them, act as their patrons, and bear them up in their hands lest they stumble (Ps. 90:11-12); and if they fall, they shall help them to rise.

695. “I likewise desire that my just and chosen ones be superior in excellence to the reprobate and the demons, and that my enemies fear them and be subject to them; that all the rational and irrational creatures serve them; that the heavens, the planets, and the stars preserve them and give them life by their influences; that the earth, its elements, and all of its animals sustain them; that all the creatures which are mine and serve Me be theirs and serve them as my children and friends (I Cor. 3:22; Wis. 16:24); and that their blessing be in the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth (Gen. 27:28). I also desire to hold with them my delights (Prov. 8:31), communicate to them my secrets, converse with them intimately, and live with them in the Church Militant here below in the species of bread and wine as an earnest and infallible pledge of the eternal happiness and glory promised to them, and of this eternal happiness I make them participants and heirs so with Me they shall enjoy it in heaven by perpetual possession and in rejoicing which cannot be lost.

696. “To the foreknown and reprobated by our will (though they were created for another much higher end) I assign and permit that their portion and inheritance in this mortal life shall be the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes, and pride with all its effects (I Jn. 2:16); that they eat and be satisfied with the sand* of the earth, namely riches, with the fumes and the corruption of the flesh and its delights, and with the vanity and presumption of the world. In order to acquire such possessions they have labored and employed all the diligence of their will and senses; in such occupations they have consumed their powers and the gifts and benefits We gave them; and they themselves have voluntarily chosen deceit, abhorring the truth I have taught them in my holy law (Rom. 2:8). They have renounced what I have written in their very hearts, and what I have inspired by my grace; they have despised my teachings and blessings, and listened to my and their own enemies; they have accepted their deceits, loved vanity (Ps. 4:3), wrought injustice, followed ambition, delighted in vengeance, persecuted the poor, humiliated the just, mocked the simple and the innocent, craved their own exaltation, and desired to be raised above all the cedars of Lebanon (Ps. 36:35) in the law of injustice which they have observed.

697. “Since they have done all this in opposition to the goodness of our Divinity, and remained obstinate in their malice, renouncing the rights of children which I have acquired for them, I disinherit them of my friendship and glory; and just as Abraham separated from himself the children of the slave, allotting them certain gifts, and reserving his principal inheritance for Isaac (Gen. 25:5), the son of the free woman Sarah, likewise I disinherit the foreknown from my inheritance by giving them the transitory and earthly goods which they themselves have chosen. Separating them from our company and from that of my Mother,† and from the angels and saints, I condemn them to the eternal dungeons and fire of hell in the company of Lucifer and his demons, whom they have freely served, and I deprive them for our eternity of the hope of a remedy. This is, my Father, the sentence which I pronounce as the Judge and Head of men and angels (Eph. 4:15; Col. 2:10), the testament I decree at my death, and the effect of human Redemption, repaying‡ each one with that which justly belongs to him according to his works (II * cf. Mt. 7:26-7 [Ed.] † cf. Mt. 25:32 [Ed.] ‡ cf. Ps. 17:21; Dt. 32:35, 41 [Ed.] Tim. 4:8)* and to the decree of thy incomprehensible wisdom in the equity of thy most strict justice.” Thus far did Christ our Savior on the Cross speak with his eternal Father. This mystery and sacrament was sealed and deposited in the Heart of most holy Mary as a hidden and enclosed testament, so through her intercession and disposition it would in its time, and even from that hour, be executed in the Church, just as until that time it had begun to be executed by divine knowledge and foresight in which the entire past and future is always one with the present.

INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO ME BY THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN, MARY MOST HOLY.

698. My daughter, seek with all the powers of thy mind during thy whole life to remember the mysteries manifested to thee in this chapter. I, as thy Mother and Instructress, shall ask the Lord by his divine power to imprint in thy heart the knowledge which I have vouchsafed thee so it may remain fixed and ever present to thee as long as thou livest. In virtue of this blessing keep in thy memory Christ crucified, who is my divine Son and thy Spouse, and never forget the sufferings of the Cross and the doctrine taught by His Majesty upon it. This is the mirror by which thou must arrange all thy adornments, and the source from which thou art to draw thy interior beauty like a true daughter of the Prince (Ps. 44:14), so thou mayest be prepared, proceed and reign (Ib. 5) as the spouse of the supreme King. Since this honorable title obliges thee to seek with all effort his imitation and proportional similarity as far as possible to thee by his grace, and since this is to be the fruit of my doctrine, I thus desire that from today thou live crucified with Christ (II Cor. 5:15), entirely assimilated to thy Exemplar and Model, and dead to this earthly life. I desire the effects of the first sin to vanish in thee, for thee to live only for the operations and movements of divine virtue, and for thee to renounce thy inheritance as a daughter of the first Adam, so in thee may bear fruit the inheritance of the second Adam, who is Jesus Christ, thy Redeemer and Teacher.

699. Thy state of life must be for thee a most rigid cross on which thou must remain crucified, and thou must not widen thy path by seeking for dispensation and weakening the interpretation of thy rules to make it easy and comfortable, but at the same time, insecure and full of imperfections. This is the deception into which the children of Babylon and of Adam fall, that each one according to his state seeks in his works to look for widenings in the law of God; they work sparingly for the salvation of their souls in their efforts to buy heaven very cheaply, or risk losing it by dreading the restrictions and entire subjection necessary to observe rigorously the divine law and its precepts. Hence arises the desire to find explanations and opinions which smooth the paths and highways of eternal life, without heeding the doctrine of my divine Son that the path of life is very narrow (Mt. 7:14). They forget the Lord himself has walked these narrow paths so no one might imagine he can reach eternal life over paths more spacious and comfortable to the flesh and to the inclinations vitiated by sins. This danger is greater for ecclesiastics and religious, who by their state must follow their Master and adjust themselves to his life and poverty, and for this must choose the Way of the Cross. Yet some of them desire the dignity they attain or the religious state itself to be for their own temporal comfort and the increase of the estimation and applause they receive from others, and the attainment of greater honors than they would have received in another state; and in order to obtain this they lighten the cross they have promised to carry, in this way living in their state very comfortably and conformable to the carnal life by deceitful opinions and explanations. In their time they shall * cf. also Lam. 3:64; Lk. 14:14; Is. 35:4, 66:6 [Ed.] recognize the truth of that saying of the Holy Ghost (Prov. XXI [v. 2]): Every way of a man seemeth right to himself; but the Lord weigheth the hearts.

 

 

700. I desire thee to be so far from this deceit, my daughter, that thou strictly live up to the most rigorous demands of thy profession in such a way that thou shalt become unable to stretch thyself in any way, being nailed immovably to the cross with Christ. Thou must set aside all temporal advantages for the least point pertaining to the utmost perfection of thy state. Thy right hand, my daughter, thou hast nailed by obedience, reserving for thyself not the least movement, activity, word or thought not controlled by this virtue. Thou must not maintain any position that is of thy own choice, but only such as is willed by others; thou must not appear wise in thy own conceit in anything (Prov. III [v. 7]), but ignorant and blind in order to follow entirely the guidance of thy superiors. He who promises (says the Wise Man, Prov. VI [v.1-2]) binds his hands, and by his words shall he be bound and chained. Thou hast nailed thy right hand by the vow of obedience, and hast thereby lost thy liberty and thy right to desire or not desire. Thy left hand thou hast nailed by the vow of poverty, depriving thee of all right to follow any inclination toward the objects usually coveted by the eyes, for in both the use and the desire for such creatures thou must rigorously imitate Christ impoverished and despoiled upon the Cross. By the third vow of chastity thou hast nailed thy feet so all thy steps and movements may be pure, chaste and beautiful.* For this thou must not permit in thy presence the least word offensive to purity, nor by looking upon or touching any human creature allow any sensual image or impression within thee. Thine eyes and all thy senses are to remain consecrated to chastity, without making more use of them than to fix them upon Jesus crucified. The fourth vow of perpetual enclosure thou shalt securely guard in the side and bosom of my divine Son to which I assign thee. So this doctrine may appear to thee sweet, and this path less narrow, contemplate and consider in thy heart the image of my Son and Lord full of blood, torments, sorrows, and at last nailed to the Cross, no part of his sacred body being exempt from wounds and excruciating pains. His Majesty and I were most solicitous and compassionate toward all the children of men; for them we suffered and endured such bitter sorrows so they would be encouraged not to refuse less severe sufferings for their own eternal good and in return for so obliging a love. Therefore let mortals show themselves grateful, willingly entering upon the rough and thorny path, taking up the cross in order to imitate and follow Christ (Mt. 16:24) and reach eternal happiness, since this is the straight path thereto. (The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God, Chapter XXII.)