Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the
Spiritual Exercises, in the third week of the month retreat which is dedicated
to the contemplation of the Passion, suffering and death of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ accentuates the fact that Jesus suffered all in His Passion for me… This is very intimate and personal!
In other words instead of viewing the
Passion from afar, 2000 years back buried in history, Saint Ignatius brings it
to us right now. Jesus suffered all of
the details of His bitter passion for me. The Agony in the Garden, the scourging at
the pillar, His crowning with thorns with the insults, spitting, buffeting,
punching and pounding, the carrying of the cross, the brutal crucifixion, the
hours of agony as He hung on the cross, the profuse loss of His Precious Blood
and suffocation—all of these excruciating sufferings and many more, He suffered
If that were not enough, if you and I
were the only person in the entire world, Jesus would have become Incarnate,
lived and died accompanied with all of those gruesome and excruciating details
and just for me and just for you! Still more Jesus would be willing to
do it over and over, simply for love of me! How great is the love of Jesus for
all, but especially for you and for me.
Saint Faustina highlights in the
Diary that love can be measured by one measuring-rod—the willingness to suffer
for the loved one! No greater love ever
existed than the love that Jesus manifested that Holy Thursday night and Good
Friday—the day of His passion, crucifixion and death on the cross.
In moments of desolation it is very
propitious for all of us to recall how much Jesus really does love us by
reflection on His Passion that he underwent for me individually.
Furthermore, most salutary is the contemplation of Jesus shedding His Precious
Blood for the salvation of my immortal soul.
How precious and valuable is your
immortal soul! Saint Peter reminds us
with these penetrating words:
That you were ransomed
from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things
like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless,
unblemished lamb.(I Peter 1:18-19)
Your immortal soul was saved by Jesus
and the Precious Blood that He shed especially as He hung on the cross that
Friday that we call “Good!” Overwhelmed
by the awesome and fathomless reality of the Passion, suffering, shedding of
Blood and death of Jesus, we might ask ourselves how can we plumb the depths of
the greatest love story ever penned, not with regular ink, but with the
Precious red Blood (INK) of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Time and time again Jesus invited Saint
Faustina Kowalska, if she really wanted to plumb the depths of the love of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus, then to contemplate the Passion of Jesus. “No greater love has a man that to lay down
His life for the ones He loves.”
The following are ten helpful
suggestions so that we can at least start to plumb the depths of the love of
Jesus who died on Good Friday for love of you and for me and for
the salvation of my immortal soul!
READ THE BIBLICAL PASSION
ACCOUNTS. First of all we should become
familiar with the Biblical narratives of the Passion of Our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ; there are four and each one of the accounts has specific details
that differentiate them one from the other.
They can be found in two chapters of the four Gospels: Mt. 26-27, Mk. 14-15, Lk. 22-23, and finally
Jn. 18-19. Read them; meditate on them,
learn them; assimilate them and take them to heart! Let them transform your
CRUCIFIX. Spend some time in silent reflection and
contemplation before a graphic and moving crucifix. An important difference
between most Protestants and Catholics is that the Catholics emphasize having
the Corpus or Body of Jesus hanging from the cross. Look deeply into Jesus
eyes, wounds and Sacred Heart pierced with the lance and derive abundant
spiritual fruit. He died for you and me!
WAY OF THE CROSS. Make the pious practice and devotion that is
called the WAY OF THE CROSS. Jesus
suggested to Saint Faustina in the Diary that if her obligations did not block
it that at 3:00 p.m. every day (The Mercy Hour) that she make the Way of the
Cross. The past Popes have given public
witness to the Way of the Cross by making them in the Coliseum in Rome on Good Friday. Slowly and prayerfully move from one station
to the next (there are 14 in total) and talk to Jesus as your best friend;
accompany Him as did His Mother Mary. Help Him to carry the cross like Simon
the Cyrene. Wipe Jesus’ tired and dirty face as did the valiant Veronica. Be a real and active participant in the
Passion of Jesus through the pious practice of the WAY OF THE CROSS!
SORROWFUL MYSTERIES OF THE
ROSARY. Always and at all times that we
are free for a few minutes it is very profitable to pray the most Holy Rosary.
Especially important is it to pray and meditate the mysteries of the Holy
Rosary, especially the five Sorrowful Mysteries in Lent and Holy Week. They
are: The Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with
thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion of Jesus. Right now, which of these mysteries touches
your heart and life most? Talk to Jesus about this; He is waiting for you!
GOOD CONFESSION. Making frequent and heart-felt confessions is
a common practice among the saints and all of us are called to become saints.
Jesus said: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” However, Holy Week is a
most opportune time. Saint Pope John
Paul II was seen often in the confessional reconciling sinners to God
especially on Good Friday. The Sacrament
of Confession is a clear and practical means to apply the Passion, Precious
Blood and death of Jesus to our own lives. Why?
For the simple reason that by making a good confession we die to sin and
rise to the new life of grace; also it is the Precious Blood of Jesus that He
shed for us on Calvary that first Good Friday that washes and cleanses our soul
from the dirt and ugliness of sin!
MEDITATE ON THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, for many years preached on the seven last
words that Jesus uttered from the cross.
Sheen, with his typical eloquence, stated that Jesus ascended the pulpit
of the cross to preach His best and most eloquent sermon. Do you know the seven last words of Jesus
from the cross? If not, now is the time to make an effort to memorize them…
“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
“My God, my God why have your forsaken me?”
“Woman behold thy son; son behold thy mother.”
“Amen I say to you: today you will be with me in Paradise.”
“Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Which of these words or
short sentences that were the last words that Jesus uttered from the pulpit of
the cross seem to touch you most? Enter into a deep conversation with Jesus
over these words; He is longing to talk to you!
7. The Passion of the Christ. View the classic film by Mel Gibson, “The
Passion of the Christ.” This film has turned out to be one of the greatest
classics of Hollywood. View this film,
but not simply as a Hollywood rendition, but rather as if it were a
contemplation, a deep prayer. As Saint Ignatius would suggest, try to enter
into the Composition of Place and truly be present. Be not present simply as a
passive spectator, but rather as an active participant. If you like, accompany the Blessed Virgin
Mary during the whole trajectory of the Calvary climb. Walk with Jesus; console
Jesus; have compassion on Jesus and love Him who loved you so much that he went
through all the bitter moment so His Passion for love of you and me!
8. PENANCE. Given that Jesus sacrificed and suffered so
much for you, why not offer up some form of sacrifice even if it be something
very small. Jesus does not look so much at the exterior greatness of the action
but in the love that accompanies even the smallest of actions. The love of the sacrifice
of Jesus demands love on our part! What are you willing to give the Lord?
9. GOOD FRIDAY LITURGY. Participate
fully, actively and consciously in the moving Liturgy and ceremony of GOOD
FRIDAY. There is no Mass, but there is a
moving and profound Liturgy that can be divided into three parts: 1) The Reading
(like on Palm Sunday) of the Passion of Jesus, from the Gospel of Saint John;
2) The veneration of the Holy cross. Draw close to the Holy Cross and
reverentially kiss it as a sign of your gratitude and love for the suffering
that Jesus underwent for the salvation of your immortal soul; 3) Holy
Communion. The most important part of the ceremony of Good Friday is the Rite
of Holy Communion. If you are well-disposed, receive Jesus into the depths of
your heart with burning love!
OUR LADY AND THE PASSION/OUR LADY OF SORROWS. Of enormous help in
plumbing the depths of the Passion, suffering and death of Jesus is the person
and the presence of Our Lady of Sorrows. Aside from Jesus Himself, nobody ever
suffered or loved as much as Our Lady. There she was “Stabat Mater”, the Mother
who stood valiantly at the foot of the cross as she watched her Son, shed every
drop of His Precious Blood that she gave to Him in His humanity. She heard and
meditated on His last words. She saw Him die and breathe forth His spirit into
the hands of the Father. Our Lady even saw and experienced the piercing of His
Sacred Heart from which flowed Blood and water—the birth of the Church, the
Mystical Body of Christ. Beg for the
grace to be able to contemplate the Passion of Jesus through the eyes and heart
of Mary, our life our sweetness and our hope! May our meditation on the
Passion, suffering, and death of Jesus transform our whole lives and being into
a living sacrifice of praise to our all-loving Savior and Redeemer!