Evening Meditations for the Twenty-second Friday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

THE DESOLATE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST

I.

The life of our loving Redeemer was full of desolation, and bereft of every comfort. It was a great ocean of bitterness, without one drop of sweetness or consolation: For great as the sea is thy destruction (Lam. ii. 13). This was revealed by our Lord to St. Margaret of Cortona, when He told her that in His whole life He never experienced sensible consolation.

The sadness which He felt in the Garden of Gethsemani was so great that it was sufficient to take away His life. My soul, He said, is sorrowful even unto death (Matt. xxvi. 38). This sadness afflicted Him not only in the Garden, but it always filled His soul with desolation, from the first moment of His Conception: for all the pains and ignominies He was to suffer until death were always present to Him.

But the extreme affliction He suffered during His whole life arose not so much from the knowledge of all the sufferings He was to endure during life, and especially at death, as from the sight of all the sins men would commit after His death. He came to abolish sin, and to save souls from hell by His death; but, after all His cruel sufferings, He saw all the sins men would commit; and the sight of each sin, being clearly before His mind while He lived here below, was to Him, as St. Bernardine of Sienna writes, a source of immense affliction. This was the sorrow which was always before His eyes, and kept Him always in desolation: My sorrow is continually before me (Ps. xxxvii. 18). St. Thomas teaches that the sight of the sins of men, and of the multitude of souls that would bring themselves to perdition, excited in Jesus Christ a sorrow which surpassed the sorrow of all penitents, even of those who died of pure grief. The holy Martyrs suffered great torments, they bore tortures from iron hooks, and nails, and red-hot plates: but God always sweetnened their pains by interior consolations. But no Martyrdom has been more painful than that of Jesus Christ, for His pain and sadness were pure, unmitigated pain and sorrow, without the smallest comfort. “The greatness of Christ’s suffering,” says the Angelic Doctor, “is estimated from the pureness of His pain and sadness.”

II.

Such was the life of our Redeemer, and such was His death, all full of desolation. Dying on the Cross bereft of all comfort, He sought some one to console Him, but found none. I looked for one … that would comfort me, and I found none (Ps. lxviii. 21). He found only scoffers and blasphemers, who said: If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. He saved others, himself he cannot save (Matt. xxvii. 40, 42). Hence, our afflicted Lord, finding Himself abandoned by all, turned to His Eternal Father; but seeing that His Father too had abandoned Him, He cried out with a loud voice, and sweetly complained of His Father’s abandonment, saying: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Ibid. 46).

Thus our Saviour terminated His life, dying, as David had foretold, immersed in a tempest of ignominies and sorrows: I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me (Ps. lxviii. 3).

When we are in desolation, let us console ourselves by meditation on the desolate death of Jesus Christ: let us offer Him our own desolation in union with that which He, the innocent God, suffered on Calvary for the love of us.

Ah, my Jesus, who will not love Thee when he sees Thee die in such desolation, consumed by sorrows, in order to pay our debts? Behold, I am one of the executioners, who have, by sin, so grievously afflicted Thee during Thy whole life. But since Thou dost invite me to repentance, grant that I may feel at least a part of that sorrow which Thou didst feel during Thy Passion, for my sins. How can I, who have, by my sins, so much afflicted Thee during Thy life, seek after pleasures? No, I will not ask for pleasures and delights; I ask of Thee tears and sorrow: make me, during the remainder of my life, to weep continually for my offences against Thee. I embrace Thy feet, O my crucified and desolate Jesus, and embracing them, I wish to die. O afflicted Mary, pray to Jesus for me.

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