We have arrived at the time of the Paschal Triduum of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
As is the case each year, of course, we have much upon which to meditate these next three days, starting with the unsurpassed love that the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity made Man in His Most Blessed Mother’s Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power of God the Holy Ghost had for us to pay back the debt of Adam’s sin in His own Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. The love that Our Lord had for His Co-Equal and Co-Eternal Father and for each and every one of us impelled Him to embrace to take upon Himself the guilt of human sin although He, the God-Man, was guilty of nothing.
We must admit that our hearts, so stained by our sins, by our indifference and by our indifference, are puny, filled with so little real love of the Holy Cross upon which Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ wrought our very own salvation. We tend to be immersed in the world, preoccupied with our own problems, intent on maintaining our own “respect” and “dignity” in the eyes of others, convinced that no one is suffering as we suffer, reading the worst possible motives into the words and actions of others who we once considered our friends, personally offended by the slightest insult or word of criticism. We fail to understand that every cross that is sent to us from the loving hand of God, Who is love itself, is meant to purify us, to beat pride out of us, to help us to make reparation for our sins in this passing, mortal vale of tears as we offer all of the travails of daily living and all of the misunderstandings and estrangements that have taken place in this time of apostasy and betrayal to Him through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Are our hearts really ready after six weeks of prayer, fasting, penance, mortification and almsgiving to enter deep into the mysteries of Our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection, especially by thanking Him for each and every single one of our own crosses and seeing in them the means by which we can save our own souls and help others in the Church Militant to save theirs as we can help to expedite the passage to Heaven of the souls detained in the Church Suffering in Purgatory? Do we really, really understand that there is nothing that we we can suffer in this life that is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Our Lord to suffer in these days of His Passion and Death, during which time His Most Blessed Mother had the Fourth through the Seven Swords of Sorrow pierce her Immaculate heart through and through?
Our all-merciful God, Who extended His arms for us on the horizontal beam of the Holy Cross to lift us up to Him on the vertical beam, gives us lengths of years so that we can be purified and refined by our patience endurance of our crosses and by coming to pray for them as grow in love of God and desire to win for Him more and more souls as we seek to make reparation for our own many sins. This Paschal Triduum, which begins today, Maundy Thursday, with the Mass commemorating Our Lord’s institution of the Holy Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist and His washing of the feet of His Apostles, including the traitor Judas, gives us yet another opportunity to reflect upon our need for the Cross in our own daily lives, remembering that it is from Sacrifice that Our Lord effected the Holy Cross that we are fed His very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion. Our Lord was born for us in the wood of the manger, a feeding trough for animals, to die for us on the wood of Holy Cross, which has become for us the true manger for us unto eternal life itself if we persevere until the end in a state of Sanctifying Grace as a member of the Catholic Church.
Although other thoroughly inadequate and grossly insufficient reflections of mine that have been written over the years have sought to expatiate on the mystery of the Holy Cross, I thought that it would be useful as we begin the Paschal Triduum today to draw upon the true wisdom of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, who explained to us how difficult it is for human beings to love the Cross, explaining to us as well how necessary it is to do so and to see the Cross as the very means by which we can die to self so as to let the very inner life of the Most Blessed Trinity in Sanctifying Grace abide in our souls all the more as we store up treasures for all eternity.
Consider these few passages from Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort’s A Circular Letter to the Friends of the Cross:
50. Ninth. The love you are told to have for the Cross is not sensible love, for this would be impossible to human nature.
It is important to note the three kinds of love: sensible love, rational love and love that is faithful and supreme; in other words, the love that springs from the lower part of man, the flesh; the love that springs from the superior part, his reason; and the love that springs from the supreme part of man, from the summit of his soul, which is the intellect enlightened by faith.
51.God does not ask you to love the Cross with the will of the flesh. Since the flesh is the subject of evil and corruption, all that proceeds from it is evil and it cannot, of itself, submit to the will of god, and His crucifying law. It was this aspect of His human nature which Our Lord referred to when He cried out, in the Garden of Olives: “Father, . . . not My will but Thine be done.” (Luke 22, 42). If the power powers of Our Lord’s human nature, though holy, could not love the Cross without interruption, then, with still greater reason, will our human nature, which is very much vitiated, repel it. At times, like many of the saints, we too may experience a feeling of even sensible joy in our sufferings, but that joy does not come from the flesh though it is in the flesh. It flows from our superior powers, so completely filled with the divine joy of the Holy Ghost, that it spreads to our lower powers. Thus a person who is undergoing the most unbearable torture is able to say: “My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God” (Ps. 83, 3).
52. There is another love of the Cross which I call rational, since it springs from the higher part of man, his reason. This love is wholly spiritual. Since it arises from the knowledge of the happiness there is in suffering for God, it can be and really is perceived by the soul. It also gives the soul inward strength and joy. Though this rational and perceptible joy is beneficial, even very beneficial, it is not an indispensable part of joyous, divine suffering.
53.That is why there is another love, which the masters of the spiritual life call the love of the summit and highest point of the soul and which the philosophers call the love of the intellect. When we possess this love, even though we experience no sensible joy or rational pleasure, we love and relish, in the light of pure faith, the cross we must bear, even though the lower part of our nature may often be in a state of warfare and alarm and may groan, weep and sigh for relief; and thus we repeat with Jesus Christ: “Father . . . not My will but Thine be done” (Luke 22, 42), or with the Blessed Virgin: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto Thy word” (Luke 1, 38). (Saint Louis de Montfort, A Circular Letter to the Friends of the Cross, Montfort Publications, p. 24.)
To perfectly love the Cross, Saint Louis de Montfort explains, we must be willing to suffer all things well, to suffer them with equanimity and joy. This has special application today in this time of apostasy and betrayal when so many families are so torn apart from by the apostasies and sacrileges wrought by the conciliarists, allies of the devil who have set believing Catholics against each other in the most bitter terms. It is difficult to lose the respect and esteem of others, especially family members and close friends, when one has come to recognize that those who defect knowingly from even one article contained in the Deposit of Faith have expelled themselves from the Catholic Church and cannot hold ecclesiastical office within her legitimately. It is difficult to persevere in the truth when all manner of pressure is brought to bear to conform to the “mainstream” of opinion. This is how many Catholics went over to Arianism in the Fourth Century and how many Catholics in England defected to Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century. It is hard to go against the tide of prevailing views. It is, however, necessary to do so to be faithful to Our Lord, Who was abandoned by all but one of His Apostles at the foot of the Cross:
54. Tenth. Be resolved then, dear Friends of the Cross, to suffer any 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” (Ps. 56, 8) Be ready to be forsaken by men and angels, and seemingly by God Himself. Be ready to to be persecuted, envied, betrayed, calumniated, discredited and forsaken by everyone. Be read 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 our home like Job and St. Elizabeth of Hungary; thrown, like this saint, into the mire; or dragged upon a manure pile like Job, malodorous and covered with ulcers, without any 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 into your soul the least feeling of consolation.
Firmly believe that this is the summit of divine glory and real happiness for the true, perfect Friend of the Cross.
Many of you have suffered these exact things, have you not? Recognize these sufferings, especially that come from the ones who are closest to you, as gifts that unite you to Our Lord and Our Lady and to the red martyrs of Holy Mother Church who shed their blood for the Holy Faith and to the white martyrs who died interiorly a thousand times because of the sufferings imposed upon them by their own kith and kin. We must, as Saint Louis de Montfort wrote, see the very hand of of God in all that happens to us, that God is pleased when we fight against the riches of the world itself:
55. Eleventh. For proper suffering, form the pious habit of considering four things:
First, the Eye of God. God is like a great king, who from the height of a tower observes with satisfaction his soldier in the midst of battle, and praises his valor. What is it on earth that attracts God’s attention? Kings and emperors on their thrones? He often looks at that with nothing but contempt. Brilliant victories of a nation’s armies, precious stones, any such things that are great in the eyes of men? “What is great to men, is an abomination before God” (Luke 16, 15). What then does God look upon with pleasure and delight? It is about the man who is fighting for Him against riches, against the world, hell and himself, the man who is cheerfully carrying his cross. Hast thou not seen upon the earth that great wonder which the heavens consider with admiration? said the Lord to Satan; “hast thou considered My servant Job” (Job 2, 3) who is suffering for Me?
56. Second, the Hand of God. Every disorder in nature, from the greatest to the smallest, is the work of His almighty Hand. The Hand that devastates an army of a hundred thousand (4 Kings 19, 35) will make a leaf drop from a tree and a hair fall from your head (Luke 21, 18). The Hand that was laid so heavily upon Job is particularly light when it touched you with some little trial. This Hand fashions day and night, sun and darkness, good and evil. God permits the sin which provokes you; He is not the cause of its malice, although He does allow the act.
If anyone then, treats you as Semei treated King David (2 Kings 16, 5-11), loading you with insults and casting stones at you, say to yourself, “I must not mind; I must not take revenge for this is an ordinance of God. I know that I have deserved every abuse and it is only right that God punish me. Desist, my hands, and strike not; desist, my tongue, and speak not; the person who injures me by word or deed is an ambassador, mercifully sent by God to punish me as His love alone knows how. Let us not incur His justice by assuming His right to vengeance. Le us not despise His mercy by resisting the affectionate strokes of His lash, lest, for His vengeance, He should remand us to the rigorous justice of eternity.
Consider how God bears you up with one Hand, of infinite power and wisdom, with with the other He chastises you. With the one He deals out death, while with the other He dispenses life. He humbles you and raises you up. With both arms, He reaches sweetly and mightily (Wisdom 8, 1). from the beginning of your life to its end. Sweetly: by not allowing you to be tempted or afflicted beyond your strength. Mightily: by favoring you with a powerful grace, proportioned to the vehemence and duration of your temptation or affliction. Mightily:–and the spirit of His holy Church bears witness–”He is your stay on the brink of a precipice, your guide along a misleading road, your shade in the scorching heat, your raiment in the pouring rain or the biting cold. He is your conveyance when you are utterly exhausted, your help in adversity, your staff on the slippery way. He is your port of refuge when, in the throes of a tempest, you are threatened with ruin and shipwreck. (Saint Louis de Montfort, A Circular Letter to the Friends of the Cross, Montfort Publications, pp. 25-26.)
The only way to win the crown of glory in eternal life is to be willing to have a crown of thorns beat into our own skulls each and every day of our loves, considering our sufferings as nothing in comparison to those endured by Our Divine Redeemer during this days of His Passion and Death. The Cross is indeed the solution to every problem that we face in our lives:
57. Third, consider the Wounds and Sorrows of our crucified Jesus. Hear what He himself has to say: “All ye that pass along the thorny and crucifying way I had to follow, look and see. Look with the eyes of your body; look with the eye of contemplation, and see if your poverty, nakedness, disgrace, sorrow, desolation are like unto Mine. Behold Me, innocent, as I am, then will you complain, you are guilty” (Lam. 1, 12).
The Holy Ghost tells us, by the mouth of the Apostles, that we should keep our eyes on Jesus Crucified (Gal. 3, 1) and arm ourselves with this thought of Him (1 Pet. 4, 1) which is our most powerful and most penetrating weapon against all our enemies. When you are assailed by poverty, disrepute, sorrow, temptation or any other cross, arm yourselves with this shield, this breastplate, this helmet, this two-edged sword (Eph. 6, 12-18), that is, with the thought of Jesus crucified. There is the solution to your every problem, the means you have to vanquish all your enemies.
58. Fourth, lift up your eyes, behold the beautiful crown that awaits you in Heaven if you carry your cross as you should. That was the reward which kept patriarchs and prophets strong in faith under persecution. It gave heart to the Apostles and martyrs in their labors and torments. Patriarchs used to say as Moses had said: “We would rather be afflicted with the people of God,” so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him, “than to have the pleasure of sin for a short time (Heb. 11, 25-26). The prophets repeated David’s words: “We suffer great persecutions on account of the reward (Ps. 68, 8; 118, 112). The Apostles and martyrs voice the sentiments of St. Paul: We are, as it were, men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men,” by our sufferings “being made the offscouring of the world,” (1 Cor. 4, 913), “by reason of the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which this momentary and light tribulation worketh in us” (2 Cor. 4, 17).
Let us see and listen to the angels right above us: “Be careful not to forfeit the crown that is set aside for you if you bravely bear the cross that is given to you. If you do not bear it well, someone will bear it in your stead and will take your crown. All the saints warn us: fight courageously, suffer patiently and you will be given an everlasting kingdom.” Let us hear Jesus: “To him only will I give my reward who shall suffer and overcome through patience” (Apoc. 2, 6; 11, 17; 3, 5; 21,7). (Saint Louis de Montfort, A Circular Letter to the Friends of the Cross, Montfort Publications, p. 26-27.)
As one who was born and raised and who has lived about two-thirds of my life in and around the New York City metropolitan area, I know what it is to complain. I used to do a whole lot of it, especially when teaching in the cornfields of central Illinois from 1977-1979. Why did I complain? Because Illinois was not what I was used to in New York. Oh, I enjoyed my teaching. I simply could not stand the environment in which I lived. I refused to accept God’s Holy Will with joy and equanimity. I murmured, quite loudly at times. I gave bad Catholic example. Very bad.
As noted before, however, God gives us length of years to learn a few things by the graces He sends to us through the loving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces. It is only by the graces won for us by Our Lord’s shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flows into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady that we can learn to rejoice in our crosses, especially in those that beat down our pride and make us look like utter fools to most of the rest of the people in the world. To this we should say a hearty “Deo gratias!” and rejoice.
59. Twelfth. Never murmur or deliberately complain about any created thing that God may use to afflict you. It is important to note the three kinds of complaints that may arise when misfortune assails you. The first is natural and involuntary. This happens when the human body moans and groans, sobs and sighs and weeps. If, as I said, the higher point of the soul submits to the will of God, there is no sin. The second is rational. Such is the case when we complain and disclose our hardship to some superior or physician who is able to remedy it. This complaint may be an imperfection, if too eagerly made, but it is no sin. The third is sinful. This happens when a person complains of others either to rid himself of suffering they cause him, or to take revenge. Or else when he wilfully complains about the sorrow he must bear and shows signs of grief and impatience. (Saint Louis de Montfort, A Circular Letter to the Friends of the Cross, Montfort Publications, p. 27-28.)
Impatience? Impatience? Impatience? Impatience? Why, why, why, who’s Saint Louis de Montfort talking about? I know that he is talking about me, that’s who, me!
By Our Lady’s graces, however we can come to accept and to embrace our crosses with such love and patience that we look for voluntary crosses because our love grows every time we bear the cross with patience and joy:
60.Thirteenth. Whenever you are given a cross, be sure to embrace it with humility and gratitude. If God, in his infinite goodness, favors you with a cross some importance, be sure to thank him in a special way and have others join join you in thanking him. Do as that poor woman did who, through an unjust lawsuit, lost everything she owned. She immediately offered the last few pennies she had, to have a Mass said in thanksgiving to Almighty God for the good fortune that had come to her.
61. Fourteenth. If you wish to be worthy of the best crosses, those that are not of your choice, then, with the help of a prudent director, take on some that are voluntary.
Suppose you he a piece of furniture that you do not need but prize. Give it to some poor person, and say to yourself: “Why should I have things I do not need, when Jesus is destitute?”
Do you dislike certain kinds of food, the practice of some particular virtue, or some offensive odor? Taste this food, practice this virtue, endure this odor, conquer yourself.
Is your affection for some person or thing too ardent and tender? Keep away, deprive yourself, break away from things that appeal to you.
Have you that natural tendency to see and be seen, to be doing things or going some place? Mind your eyes and hold your tongue, stop right where you are and keep to yourself.
Do you feel a natural aversion to some person or thing? Rise above self by keeping near them.
62. If you are truly Friends of the Cross, then, without your knowing it, love, which is always ingenious, will discover thousands of little crosses to enrich you. Then you need not fear self-conceit which often accompanies the patient endurance of conspicuous crosses and since you have been faithful in a few things, the Lord will keep His promise and set you over many things (Matt. 25, 21, 23): over many graces He will grant you; over many crosses He will send you; over much glory He will prepare for you. . . . (Saint Louis de Montfort, A Circular Letter to the Friends of the Cross, Montfort Publications, p. 28.)
Although our Lenten penances and fastings will end with the conclusion of the Easter Vigil Mass on morning or the evening of Holy Saturday, April 19, 2014, our love of the Cross must grow with each beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. We will consider it pure joy to spend more time before Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament and to pray more Rosaries each day, especially by turning off the radio and the television (what are still doing with that thing in your house?) and refusing to listen or watch the naturalists blather on about the events of the day that they truly know nothing about as they refuse to refer everything that happens in the world to the standard of the Holy Cross as It is lifted high today by Holy Mother Church even as she suffers her Mystical Passion, Death and Burial in this time of apostasy and betrayal.
Yes, we enter into the Sacred Mysteries of our redemption today. We must follow Our Lord through these events, concentrating this evening on the time He spent in His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, during which time He shed droplets of His Most Precious Blood as He contemplated the horror of each one of the sins of every human being from the beginning to the end of the world. To aid the very few readers of this site in meditating on the suffering that Our Lord experience at the foot of the Mount of Olives before He was betrayed with the kiss of Judas Iscariot and arrested to be taken to His “trial” before the Sanhedrin, I am providing in the appendix below a few passages from the Venerable Mary of Agreda’s The Mystical City of God. You will find them to be of great help in realizing the torments that our sins imposed upon Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother and, of course, the great love He showed us by enduring those torments to the point of shedding every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Are you a friend of the Cross?
May we ask Our Lady, who stood so valiantly by the foot of her Divine Son’s Holy Cross on Good Friday, to help us to be more a friend of the Cross than we have been in the past, especially by assisting faithfully at true offerings of the Holy Mass offered by bishops and priests who give conciliarism no quarter at all and by making sure to spend time in fervent prayer before the King of Love on Calvary in His Real Presence.
A blessed Maundy Thursday to you all.
From The Mystical City of God
500. Moreover the immense love of our Savior for us demanded that full sway be given to this mysterious sorrow. For if He had caused it to stop short of the highest which that sorrow was capable of, his love would not have rested satisfied, nor would it have been so evident that his love was not to be extinguished by the multitude of tribulations (Cant. 8, 7). At the same time He showed thereby his charity toward the Apostles, who were with Him and were now much disturbed by perceiving, that his hour of suffering and death, which He had so often and in so many ways foretold them, was now at hand. This interior disturbance and fear con founded and confused them without their daring to speak of it. Therefore the most loving Savior sought to put them more at rest by manifesting to them his own sorrow unto death. By the sight of his own affliction and anxiety they were to take heart at the fears and anxieties of their own souls. There was still another mystery contained in this sorrow of the Lord, which referred especially to the three Apostles, saint Peter, John and James. For, than all the rest, they were imbued with an exalted conception of the greatness and Divinity of their Master as far as the excellence of his doctrine, the holiness of his works, and the power of his miracles were concerned. They realized more completely and wondered more deeply at his dominion over all creation. In order that they might be confirmed in their belief of his being a man capable of suffering, it was befitting that they should know as eye-witnesses his truly human sorrow and affliction. By the testimony of these three Apostles who were distinguished by such favors, the holy Church was afterwards to be well fortified against the errors, which the devil would try to spread against the belief in the humanity of Christ our Savior. Thus would the rest of the faithful have the consolation of this firmly established belief in their own affliction and sorrow.
501. Interiorly enlightened in this truth, the three Apostles were exhorted by the Author of life by the words: “Wait for Me, watch and pray with Me.” He wished to inculcate the practice of all that He had taught them and to make them constant in their belief. He thereby reminded them of the danger of backsliding and of the duty of watchfulness and prayer in order to recognize and resist the enemy, remaining always firm in the hope of seeing his name exalted after the ignominy of his Passion. With this exhortation the Lord separated Himself a short distance from the three Apostles. He threw himself with his divine face upon the ground and prayed to the eternal Father: “Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from Me” (Matth. 26, 38). This prayer Christ our Lord uttered, though He had come down from heaven with the express purpose of really suffering and dying for men; though He had counted as naught the shame of his Passion, had willingly embraced it and rejected all human consolation; though He was hastening with most ardent love into the jaws of death, to affronts, sorrows and afflictions; though He had set such a high price upon men, that He determined to redeem them at the shedding of his life-blood. Since by virtue of his divine and human wisdom and his in extinguishable love He had shown Himself so superior to the natural fear of death, that it seems this petition did not arise from any motive solely coming from Him self. That this was so in fact, was made known to me in the light which was vouchsafed me concerning the mysteries contained in this prayer of the Savior.
502. In order to explain what I mean, I must state, that on this occasion Jesus treated with the eternal Father about an affair, which was by far the most important of all, namely, in how far the Redemption gained by his Passion and Death should affect the hidden predestination of the saints. In this prayer Christ offered, on his part, to the eternal Father his torments, his precious blood and his Death for all men as an abundant price for all the mortals and for each one of the human born till that time and yet to be born to the end of the world; and, on the part of mankind, He presented the infidelity, ingratitude and contempt with which sinful man was to respond to his frightful Passion and Death; He presented also the loss which He was to sustain from those who would not profit by his clemency and condemn themselves to eternal woe. Though to die for his friends and for the predestined was pleasing to Him and longingly desired by our Savior; yet to die for the reprobate was indeed bitter and painful; for with regard to them the impelling motive for accepting the pains of death was wanting. This sorrow was what the Lord called a chalice, for the Hebrews were accustomed to use this word for signifying anything that implied great labor and pain. The Savior himself had already used this word on another occasion, when in speaking to the sons of Zebedee He asked them: whether they could drink the chalice, which the Son of man was to drink (Matth 20, 22). This chalice then was so bitter for Christ our Lord, because He knew that his drinking it would not only be without fruit for the reprobate, but would be a scandal to them and redound to their greater chastisement and pain on account of their despising it (I Cor. 1, 23).
503. I understood therefore that in this prayer. Christ besought his Father to let this chalice of dying for the reprobate pass from Him. Since now his Death was not to be evaded, He asked that none, if possible, should be lost; He pleaded, that as his Redemption would be superabundant for all, that therefore it should be applied to all in such a way as to make all, if possible, profit by it in an efficacious manner; and if this was not possible, He would resign Himself to the will of his eternal Father. Our Savior repeated this prayer three times at different intervals (Matth. 26, 44), pleading the longer in his agony in view of the importance and immensity of the object in question (Luke 22, 43). According to our way of understanding, there was a contention or altercation between the most sacred humanity and the Divinity of Christ. For this humanity, in its intense love for men who were of his own nature, desired that all should attain eternal salvation through his Passion; while his Divinity, in its secret and high judgments, had fixed the number of the predestined and in its divine equity could not concede its blessings to those who so much despised them, and who, of their own free will, made themselves unworthy of eternal life by repelling the kind intentions of Him who procured and offered it to them. From this conflict arose the agony of Christ, in which He prayed so long and in which He appealed so earnestly to the power and majesty of his omnipotent and eternal Father.
504. This agony of Christ our Savior grew in proportion to the greatness of his charity and the certainty of his knowledge, that men would persist in neglecting to profit by his Passion and Death (Luke 22, 44). His agony increased to such an extent, that great drops of bloody sweat were pressed from Him, which flowed to the very earth. Although this prayer was uttered subject to a condition and failed in regard to the reprobate who fell under this condition; yet He gained thereby a greater abundance and secured a greater frequency of favors for mortals. Through it the blessings were multiplied for those who placed no obstacles, the fruits of the Redemption were applied to the saints and to the just more abundantly, and many gifts and graces, of which the reprobates made themselves unworthy, were diverted to the elect. The human will of Christ, conforming itself to that of the Divinity, then accepted suffering for each respectively : for the reprobate, as sufficient to procure them the necessary help, if they would make use of its merits, and for the predestined, as an efficacious means, of which they would avail themselves to secure their salvation by co-operating with grace. Thus was set in order, and as it were realized, the salvation of the mystical body of his holy Church, of which Christ the Lord was the Creator and Head.
505. As a ratification of this divine decree, while yet our Master was in his agony, the eternal Father for the third time sent the archangel Michael to the earth in order to comfort Him by a sensible message and confirmation of what He already knew by the infused science of his most holy soul; for the angel could not tell our Lord anything He did not know, nor could he produce any additional effect on his interior conscious ness for this purpose. But, as I related above (No. 498), Christ had suspended the consolation, which He could have derived from his human nature from this knowledge and love, leaving it to its full capacity for suffering, as He afterwards also expressed Himself on the Cross (No. 684). In lieu of this alleviation and comfort, which He had denied Himself, He was recompensed to a certain extent, as far as his human senses were concerned, by this embassy of the archangel. He received an experimental knowledge of what He had before known by interior consciousness; for the actual experience is something superadded and new and is calculated to move the sensible and bodily faculties. Saint Michael, in the name of the eternal Father, intimated and represented to Him in audible words, what He already knew, that it was not possible for those to be saved who were unwilling; that the complaisance of the eternal Father in the number of the just, although smaller than the number of the reprobate was great; that among the former was his most holy Mother, a worthy fruit of his Redemption; that his Redemption would also bear its fruits in the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins and Confessors, who should signalize themselves in his love and perform admirable works for the exaltation of the name of the Most High. Among these the angel moreover mentioned some of the founders of religious orders and the deeds of each one. Many other great and hidden sacraments were touched upon by the archangel, which it is not necessary to mention here, nor have I any command to do so; and therefore what I have already said, will suffice for continuing the thread of this history.
506. During the intervals of Christ’s prayer, the Evangelists say, He returned to visit the Apostles and exhort them to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation (Matth. 14, 41 ; Mark 14, 38; Luke 22, 42). This the most vigilant Pastor did in order to show the dignitaries of his Church what care and supervision they were to exercise over their flocks. For if Christ, on account of his solicitude for them interrupted his prayer, which was so important, it was in order to teach them, how they must postpone other enterprises and interests to the salvation of their subjects. In order to understand the need of the Apostles, I must mention, that the infernal dragon, after having been routed from the Cenacle and forced into the infernal caverns, was permitted by the Savior again to come forth, in order that he might, by his malicious attempts, help to fulfill the decrees of the Lord. At one fell swoop many of these demons rushed to meet Judas and, in the manner already described, to hinder him, if possible, from consummating the treacherous bargain. As they could not dissuade him, they turned their attention to the other Apostles, suspecting that they had received some great favor at the hands of the Lord in the Cenacle. What this favor was Lucifer sought to find out, in order to counteract it. Our Savior saw this cruelty and wrath of the prince of darkness and his ministers; therefore as a most loving Father and vigilant Superior He hastened to the assistance of his little children and newly acquired subjects, his Apostles. He roused them and exhorted them to watch and pray against their enemies, in order that they might not enter unawares and unprovided into the threatening temptation.
507. He returned therefore to the three Apostles, who, having been more favored, also had more reasons for watchfulness in imitation of their Master. But He found them asleep; for they had allowed themselves to be overcome by insidious disgust and sorrow and in it had been seized by such a remissness and lukewarmness, that they fell asleep. Before speaking to them or waking them, the Lord looked at them for a moment and wept over them. For He saw them oppressed and buried in this deathly shade by their own sloth and negligence. He spoke to Peter and said to him: “Simon, sleepest thou? couldst not thou watch one hour?” And immediately He gave him and the others the answer; “Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation (Mark 14, 37) ; for my enemies and your enemies sleep not as you do” That He reprehended Peter especially was not only because he was placed as head of the rest, and not only because he had most loudly protested that he would not deny Him and was ready to die for Him, though all the others should be scandalized in Him and leave Him; but also because Peter, having from his whole heart made freely these protests, deserved to be corrected and admonished before all the rest. For no doubt the Lord chastises those whom He loves and is always pleased by our good resolutions, even when we afterwards fall short in their execution, as happened with the most fervent of all the Apostles, saint Peter. When the Lord came the third time and woke up all the twelve, Judas was already approaching in order to deliver Him into the hands of his enemies, as I shall relate in the next chapter.
508. Let us now return to the Cenacle, where the Queen of heaven had retired with the holy women of her company. From her retreat, by divine enlightenment, She saw most clearly all the mysteries and doings of her most holy Son in the garden. At the moment when the Savior separated Himself with the three Apostles Peter, John and James, the heavenly Queen separated Herself from the other women and went into another room. Upon leaving them She exhorted them to pray and watch lest they enter into temptation, but She took with Her the three Marys, treating Mary Magdalen as the superior of the rest. Secluding Herself with these three as her more intimate companions, She begged the eternal Father to suspend in Her all human alleviation and comfort, both in the sensitive and in the spiritual part of her being, so that nothing might hinder Her from suffering to the highest degree in union with her divine Son. She prayed that She might be permitted to feel and participate in her virginal body all the pains of the wounds and tortures about to be undergone by Jesus. This petition was granted by the blessed Trinity and the Mother in consequence suffered all the torments of her most holy Son in exact duplication, as I shall relate later. Although they were such, that, if the right hand of the Almighty had not preserved Her, they would have caused her death many times over; yet, on the other hand, these sufferings, inflicted by God himself, were like a pledge and a new lease of life. For in her most ardent love She would have considered it incomparably more painful to see her divine Son suffer and die without being allowed to share in his torments.
509. The three Marys were instructed by the Queen to accompany and assist Her in her affliction, and for this purpose they were endowed with greater light and grace than the other women. In retiring with them the most pure Mother began to feel unwonted sorrow and anguish and She said to them: “My soul is sorrowful, because my beloved Son is about to suffer and die, and it is not permitted me to suffer and die of his torments. Pray, my friends, in order that you may not be over come by temptation.” Having said this She went apart a short distance from them, and following the Lord in his supplications. She, as far as was possible to Her and as far as She knew it to be conformable to the human will of her Son, continued her prayers and petitions, feeling the same agony as that of the Savior in the garden. She also returned at the same intervals to her companions to exhort them, because She knew of the wrath of the demon against them. She wept at the perdition of the foreknown; for She was highly enlightened in the mysteries of eternal predestination and reprobation. In order to imitate and co-operate in all things with the Redeemer of the world, the great Lady also suffered a bloody sweat, similar to that of Jesus in the garden, and by divine intervention She was visited by the archangel saint Gabriel, as Christ her Son was visited by the archangel Michael. The holy prince expounded to Her the will of the Most High in the same manner as saint Michael had expounded it to Christ the Lord. In both of Them the prayer offered and the cause of sorrow was the same ; and therefore They were also proportionally alike to one another in their actions and in their knowledge. I was made to understand that the most prudent Lady was provided with some cloths for what was to happen in the Passion of her most be loved Son; and on this occasion She sent some of her angels with a towel to the garden in which her Son was then perspiring blood, in order to wipe off and dry his venerable countenance. The Lord, for love of his Mother and for her greater merit, permitted these ministers of the Most High to fulfill her pious and tender wishes. When the moment for the capture of our Savior had arrived, it was announced to the three Marys by the sorrowful Mother. All three bewailed this in dignity with most bitter tears, especially Mary Magdalen, who signalized herself in tenderest love and piety for her Master.
INSTRUCTION WHICH MARY, THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN, GAVE ME.
510. My daughter, all that thou hast understood and written in this chapter will serve as a most potent incentive to thee and to all the mortals who will consider it carefully. Estimate then, and weigh within thy soul, how important is the eternal predestination or reprobation of the souls, since my most holy Son looked upon it with such great anxiety, that the difficulty or impossibility of saving all men added such immense bitterness to the Death, which He was about to suffer for all. By this conflict He manifests to us the importance and gravity of the matter under consideration, He prolonged his supplications and prayers to his eternal Father and his love for men caused his most precious blood to ooze forth from his body on perceiving, that the malice of men would make them unworthy of participation in the benefits of his Death. The Lord my Son has indeed justified his cause in thus having lavished his love and his merits without measure for the purchase of man’s salvation; and likewise the eternal Father has justified Himself in presenting to the world such a remedy and in having made it possible for each one freely to reach out for such widely different lots, as death and life, fire and water (Eccli. 15, 71).
511. But what pretense or excuse will men advance for having forgotten their own eternal salvation, when my divine Son and I have desired and sought to procure it for them with such sacrifices and untiring watchfulness? None of the mortals will have any excuse for their foolish negligence, and much less will the children of the holy Church have an excuse, since they have received the faith of these admirable sacraments and yet show in their lives little difference from that of infidels and pagans. Do not think, my daughter, that it is written in vain: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matth. 20, 16) : fear this sentence and renew in thy heart the care and zeal for thy salvation, conformable to the sense of obligation arising from the knowledge of such high mysteries. Even if it were not a question of eternal salvation for thee, thou shouldst correspond to the loving kindness with which I manifest to thee such great and divine secrets. That I call thee my daughter and a spouse of my Lord, should cause thee to pay no attention to any visible thing and embrace only love and suffering for his sake. This I have shown thee by my example, since I applied all my faculties continually to these two things with the highest perfection. In order that thou mayest attain this, I wish that thy prayer be without intermission and that thou watch one hour with me, that is during the whole of thy life; for, compared with eternity, life is less than one hour, yea less than one moment. With such sentiments I wish that thou follow up the mysteries of the Passion, writing them, feeling them and imprinting them upon thy heart. ( (Venerable Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God, Volume III: The Transfixion, pp. 397-404.)
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, 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.