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Meditating on the Passion

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

First, I encourage you to receive the Sacrament of Confession be-fore Easter Sunday. There are several opportunities this coming week. Also, I urge you to prayerfully participate in the Sacred Liturgies of Holy Week! Holy Week is filled with spiritual riches that can be profoundly beneficial for one’s soul. Please see details in this bulletin.

This month of March is dedicated to growing in devotion to the great St. Joseph (Solemnity celebrated on March 19).

This weekend I share with you a reflection on the efficacy of the meditation on the Passion of our Lord.

“Meditating on the Passion - The custom of meditating on Our Lord’s Passion: My people! What have I done, in what way have I offended you? Answer me. I gave you the water of salvation which flowed from My sorrow to drink and you gave me honey and vine-gar. My people, what have I done to you? (Liturgy, Good Friday)

The liturgy of these days during Lent brings us closer to the fundamental mystery of our Faith - the Resurrection of the Lord. If the liturgical year is centered upon Easter then this period demands an even greater devotion on our part, given its proximity to the sublime mysteries of Divine Mercy. (St. Leo the Great, Sermon 47) But we should not tread this path too hastily, lest we lose sight of a very simple fact which we might easily overlook. We will not be able to share in Our Lord’s Resurrection unless we unite ourselves with Him in His Passion and death (cf. Rom. 8:17). If we are to accompany Christ in His glory at the end of Holy Week, we must first enter into His holocaust and be truly united to Him as He lies dead on Calvary. (J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 95) So during these days let us accompany Jesus, in our prayers, along His painful way to Calvary and His death on the Cross. As we keep Him company let us not forget that we too were protagonists in all those horrors, for Jesus bore the burden of our sins (cf. 1 Pet. 2:24), each and every one of them. We were freed from the hands of the devil and from eternal death at a great price (cf. 1 Cor. 6:20), that of the Blood of Christ.

The custom of meditating on the Passion began in the very earliest days of Christianity. Many of the faithful in Jerusalem had them-selves been present as Christ passed through the streets of the city on the eve of the Pasch. They would never forget Jesus’ sufferings as He made His way to Calvary. The Evangelists dedicated a good part of their writings to the detailed account of those events. We should read our Lord’s Passion constantly, said St. John Chrysostom; what great benefit we will gain by doing so. Even if you are as hard as stone, when you contemplate that He was sarcastically adorned, then ridiculed, beaten and subjected to the final agonies, you will be moved to cast all pride from you soul. (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 87, 1) How many people have been converted by careful meditation on the Passion!

St. Thomas Aquinas said that the Passion of Christ is enough to serve as a guide and model throughout our lives. (St. Thomas, About the Creed, 6) One day while he was visiting St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas asked him where he had acquired such good doctrine as the one that he set out in his works. It is said that St. Bonaventure showed him a crucifix which was blackened from all the kisses he had given it, and explained This is the book that tells me what I should write; the little I know I have learned from it. (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Meditations on Christ’s Passion, 1:4) From the crucifix the saints learned how to suffer and truly love Christ. We too should learn from it. Your crucifix… As a Christian, you should always carry your crucifix with you. And place it on your desk. And kiss it before going to bed and when you wake up; and when you poor body rebels against you soul, kiss it again. (J. Escriva, The Way, 302)

Our Lord’s Passion should be a frequent theme in our prayer, but especially so in these days leading up to the central Mystery of Redemption.

How we should meditate on the Passion: In our meditation, the Passion of Christ comes out of its cold historical frame and stops being a pious consideration, presenting itself before our eyes as terrible, brutal, savage, bloody… yet full of love. (J. Escriva, Fur-row, 993) We do well then to contemplate our Lord’s Passion: in our personal mediation, when reading the Gospel, in the sorrowful mysteries of the Holy Rosary, in The Way of the Cross… some-times we imagine ourselves to be there, present amongst those who witnessed those moments. We take a seat among the Apostles during the Last Supper, when our Lord washed their feet and spoke to them with infinite tenderness, at the supreme moment of the institution of the Sacred Eucharist. We picture ourselves as one more among the three who slept at Gethsemane when the Lord hoped that we would accompany Him in His infinite loneliness; as one amongst those who heard Peter swear that he did not know Jesus; as one who heard the false testimonies at that travesty of a judgement and saw the chief priest make a great show of being shocked at Jesus’ words; as one in the thick of the mob that screamed out for His death and saw Him hoisted up on the Cross on Calvary. We put ourselves among the onlookers and see the disfigured yet noble Face of Jesus. Astonishingly, we feel His infinite patience.

With the help of Grace, moreover, we can also try to contemplate the Passion of Christ as He Himself lived it. (cf. R. A. Knox, A Re-treat for Lay People) It seems impossible, and of course it will al-ways be a very impoverished view compared with the reality of what in fact took place, but it can become for us an extraordinarily rich source of prayer.” (From In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez)

Through the intercession of Mary, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Paul, and our Guardian Angels, may our good Lord grant us the Grace to contemplate His Passion!

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Kasel


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