Passio Domini Thursday Meditations
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
From the First Letter of St. Peter (2:21-25):
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’ (Is 53:9). When He was insulted, He returned no insult; when He suffered, He did not threaten; instead, He handed Himself over to the one who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
Beginning of the prayers of the Rosary: Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s …
1. The Cross is the essential mark of a Christian because it was the vehicle for the world’s Redemption.
The Lord frequently used the expression “bear the cross” to summarize in this figure the Christian meaning of pain and contradiction. In the Gospel of St. Luke Jesus emphasizes this truth: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple (LC 14:27). On another occasion the Lord said to the crowd: “If any man would come after me, let him, deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23). (Under the Roman occupation crucifixion and its preliminaries were a fairly common occurrence, and the people of Palestine knew exactly what this figure of speech meant.)
Suffering is a universal reality that has many manifestations. St. Paul compared suffering to the pains of a woman in childbirth: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now” (Rom 8:22). We know from experience that all creatures suffer in one form or another, both rich and poor, young and old, men and women. It is for this reason that St. Peter warns the first Christians: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet 4: 12). It almost seems as if pain is an integral part of human nature. Nevertheless, the Faith teaches us that suffering first came into the world as a result of sin. In His infinite goodness, God created man to live in His presence free from sin. God intended man to move immediately from a temporal paradise to the ultimate joy of eternal bliss.
Decade of the Rosary
2. The sin of Adam wrecked this wonderful scheme of things that had been promised.
This sin has been transmitted from one generation to another. It brought pain and death into the world. Yet the Lord became man and experienced both these evils, as well as human limitations such as hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. Jesus accepted suffering to the greatest degree possible in His Passion and Death. He thereby converted human suffering and pain into an immense good. What is more, we Christians are invited to participate in the Passion of Jesus through our experience of suffering and through voluntary mortification.
As Pope John Paul II has pointed out: “Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person ‘completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’ (cf. Col 1 :24); the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore, he is carrying out an irreplaceable service. In the Body of Christ, which is ceaselessly born of the cross of the Redeemer, it is precisely suffering permeated by the spirit of Christ’s sacrifice that is the irreplaceable mediator and author of the good things which are indispensable for the world’s salvation. It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption” (Apostolic Letter, Salvifici doloris, 11, February 1984,27).
We can collaborate with Christ’s salvific mission by accepting the pains, contradictions and difficulties of ordinary life. The Lord permits suffering in our life for the purpose of our sanctification and that of the entire Church. Pain has thus acquired a deeper meaning. We can become active participants in the Lord’s work of salvation. By sanctifying our suffering here on earth, we will win for ourselves the glory of Heaven.
Decade of the Rosary
3. The tree of the Cross is replete with fruits.
Suffering can help us become more detached from the things of the earth, such as physical health. “Deus meus et omnia! My God and my all! (St. Francis of Assisi, “Opusculi, Pedeponti, 1739,1). This was the exclamation of St. Francis of Assisi. When we have the Lord in our lives, we can weather any storm.
Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. St. Augustine teaches that on such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine. Suffering moves us to have recourse to the Divine Mercy. As the Lord said through the lips of the Prophet Hosea: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has tom, that He may heal us.” (Hos 6:1). Jesus Himself invites and urges us to rely on Him in times of trial: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11 :28). How many times have we experienced His consolation! Truly Christ is “our refuge and our strength” (Ps 45 :2). In the midst of life’s many tempests, Christ is our one safe harbor.
Contradictions, sickness and pain challenge us to acquire and live many virtues such as faith, fortitude, cheerfulness, humility, docility to the divine Will… Countering these problems also allows us to earn a great deal of supernatural merit. Surely there are periods in our life when there is no shortage of such opportunities. Let us not fail to convert them into spiritual goods.
Decade of the Rosary
4. Sorrow that is borne with a Christian spirit is a wonderful road to holiness.
Our interior life virtually needs contradiction and obstacles if it is to prosper. St. Alphonsus Ligouri has stated that just as a fire needs contact with air, so does the soul require tribulation if it is to be perfected. Even temptations can serve to renew our love for the Lord. As St. Paul has revealed to us: “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial He will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cr 10:13). Any trial, then, that is borne with the Lord’s help will bring us added blessings.
Whenever we are beset by difficulties let us go to Jesus with confidence. In the words of the Psalmist, let us pray: “In my distress I cry to the Lord, that He may answer me” (Ps 119:1).” For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron 20:12). We will always find peace and strength in the merciful Heart of Jesus. Let us not be the ones to hear that tender rebuke of the Master: “0 man of little faith, why did you doubt? (Mt 14:31). St. Teresa of Avila once exclaimed: “But oh, God! What little power has the strongest opposition when You, Lord, are pleased to bestow courage” (Foundations, 3,4). Let us ask Jesus for this “courage” when we run up against suffering and trial.
Decade of the Rosary
5. With the Lord by our side, there is nothing we cannot do.
Separated from Him, we will collapse almost immediately. With Jesus, we will learn how to weather difficulty with joy and good humor. In this we shall be imitating the lives of the saints.
The Lord will also show us how to view our problems with objectivity. We should take care to see things as they really are. We should not invent problems because of a lack of humility or an over-active imagination. There are many times when a contradiction can be born quietly without making a big issue of it and allowing it to develop into some kind of tragedy.
As we finish our meditation today, let us go to the Blessed Virgin. She will teach us how to bring fruit from difficulty. Let us invoke the Heart of Holy Mary, with the purpose and determination of uniting ourselves to her sorrow, in reparation for our sins and the sins of of men of all times. And let us pray to her for every soul that her sorrow may increase in us our aversion for sin, and that we may be able to love the physical and moral contradictions of each day as a means of expiation.
Decade of the Rosary
*Meditations taken from: In Conversation with God, Vol V.
Prayer to Jesus, Agonizing on the Mount of Olives
My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay here and watch. (St. Mark XIV-34).
All. 0 Jesus, through the superabundance of Your love, and in order to overcome our hardness of heart, You pour out torrents of graces over all those who reflect on Your most sacred sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane, and who spread devotion to it. I pray You, move my soul and my heart to think often, at least once a day, of Your most bitter Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, in order to compassionate You and to be united with You as closely as possible.
O Blessed Jesus, You, who took upon Yourself the immense burden of our sins that night, and atoned for them fully; grant me the great grace of complete repentant love over my numerous sins, for which You sweat blood.
O Blessed Jesus, for the sake of Your most bitter struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, grant me final victory over all temptations, especially over those to which I am most subjected.
O suffering Jesus, for the sake of Your unfathomable and indescribable agonies, during that night of betrayal, and of Your most bitter anguish of mind, enlighten me, so that I may recognize and fulfill Your will; grant that I may ponder continually on Your heart-wrenching struggle on how You emerged victoriously, in order to fulfill, not Your will, but the will of Your Father.
Be blessed, 0 Jesus, for all Your sighs on that holy night; and for the tears which You shed for us.
Be blessed, 0 Jesus, for Your sweat of blood and the terrible agony, which You suffered lovingly in coldest abandonment and in inscrutable loneliness.
Be blessed, 0 sweetest Jesus, filled with immeasurable bitterness, for the prayer which flowed in trembling agony from Your Heart, so truly human and divine.
Eternal Father, I offer You all the past, present, and future Masses together with the Blood of Christ shed in Agony in the Garden of Sorrow at Gethsemane.
Most Holy Trinity, grant that the knowledge and thereby the love, of the Agony of Jesus on the Mount of Olives will spread throughout the whole world. Grant, 0 Jesus, that all who look lovingly at You on the Cross, will also remember Your immense Suffering on the Mount of Olives, that they will follow Your example, learn to pray devoutly and fight victoriously, so that, one day, they may be able to Glorify You eternally in Heaven. Amen. – by Saint Padre Pio
If time permits, the leader (or each one Silently) can pray:
Jesus, I beg You for a drop of Your most Precious Blood in this hour of Your most bitter agony for [insert intention]
-for the Holy Church
-for our Holy Father
-for our bishops
-for the sanctification of priests
-for vocations to the priesthood and religious life
-for the conversion of sinners
-for our country
-for an end of abortion and contraception
-for an end of divorce
-for sanctification of family life
-for all who are dying
-for the Poor Souls in purgatory
( … for personal intentions)
Prayers for the intention of the Holy Father
Holy, holy, holy …
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