Evening Meditations for the Fourth Monday in Lent ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Evening Meditation



Behold, here we are at the Crucifixion, at that last torture, which brought death to Jesus Christ; here we are at Calvary, converted into a theatre for the display of Divine love, where a God departs this life in an ocean of sufferings: And when they had come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there. (Luke xxiii. 33). The Lord having, with great difficulty, at length reached the top of the Mount alive, they violently, and for the third time, tear His clothes off Him, sticking as they did, to the sores upon His wounded Flesh, and they throw Him down upon the Cross. The Divine Lamb stretches Himself out upon that bed of torment; He reaches forth to the executioners His hands and His feet to be nailed; and raising His eyes to Heaven, He offers up to His Eternal Father the great sacrifice of His life for the salvation of men. After the nailing of one of His hands, the nerves shrunk, so that they had need of main force and ropes, as was revealed to St. Bridget, to draw the other hand and the feet up to the places where they were to be nailed; and this occasioned so great a tension of the nerves and veins that they broke asunder with a violent convulsion: “They drew my hands and my feet with a rope to the places of the nails, so that the nerves and veins were stretched out to the full and broke asunder”; insomuch that all His bones might have been numbered, as David had already predicted: They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones. (Ps. xxi. 17, 18). Ah, my Jesus, by what power was it that Thy hands and Thy feet were nailed to this wood, but by the love Thou didst bear to men! Thou, by the pain of Thy pierced hands, wert willing to pay the penalty due to all the sins of touch that men have committed; and, by the pain of Thy feet, Thou wert willing to pay for all the steps by which we have gone our way to offend Thee. O my crucified Love, with these pierced hands give me Thy benediction! Oh, nail this ungrateful heart of mine to Thy feet, that so I may no more depart from Thee, and that this will of mine, which has so often rebelled against Thee, may remain ever steadily fixed in Thy holy love. Grant that nothing but Thy love, and the desire of pleasing Thee, may move me. Although I behold Thee suspended upon this gibbet, I believe Thee to be the Lord of the world, the true Son of God, and the Saviour of mankind. For pity’s sake, O my Jesus, never abandon me again at any period of my life; and more especially at the hour of my death, in those last agonies and struggles with hell, do Thou assist me, and strengthen me to die in Thy love. I love Thee, my crucified Love, I love Thee with all my heart.


St. Augustine says there is no death more bitter than that of the Cross: “Among all the different kinds of death, there was none worse.” Because, as St. Thomas observes, those who are crucified have their hands and their feet pierced through, parts which, being entirely composed of nerves, muscles, and veins, are the most sensitive to pain–and the very weight of the body itself which is suspended from them, causes the pain to be continuous and ever-increasing in its intensity up to the moment of death. But the pains of Jesus were far beyond all other pains; for, as the angelic Doctor says, the body of Jesus Christ, being perfectly constituted, was more quick and sensitive to pain– that Body which was fashioned for Him by the Holy Spirit, expressly with a view to His suffering as He foretold, and as the Apostle testifies: A body thou hast fitted to me. (Heb. x. 5). Moreover, St. Thomas says that Jesus Christ took upon Himself an amount of suffering so great, as to be sufficient to satisfy for the temporal punishment merited by the sins of all mankind. Tiepoli tells us that, in the Crucifixion, there were dealt twenty-eight strokes of the hammer upon His hands and thirty-six upon His feet.

O my soul, behold thy Lord, behold thy Life, hanging upon that tree: And thy life shall be, as it were, hanging before thee. (Deut. xxviii. 66). Behold how, upon that gibbet of pain, fastened by those cruel nails, He finds no place of rest. Now He leans His weight upon His hands, now upon His feet; but on what part soever He leans, the anguish increases. He turns His afflicted Head, now on one side, now on the other: if He lets it fall towards His breast, the hands, by the additional weight, are rent the more; if He lowers it towards His shoulders, the shoulders are pierced with thorns; if He leans it back upon the Cross, the thorns enter the more deeply into the Head. Ah, my Jesus, what a death of bitterness is this that Thou art enduring! O my crucified Redeemer, I adore Thee on this throne of ignominy and pain. Upon this Cross I read it written that Thou art a King: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. But apart from this title of scorn, what is the evidence that Thou dost give of being a King? Ah, these hands transfixed with nails, this Head pierced with thorns, this throne of sorrow, this lacerated Flesh, make me well know that Thou art King, but a King of love! With humility, then, and tenderness do I draw near to kiss Thy sacred feet, transfixed for love of me; I clasp in my arms this Cross, on which Thou, being made a victim of love, was willing to offer Thyself in sacrifice for me to the Divine justice: being made obedient unto death, the death of the cross. O blessed obedience which obtained for us the pardon of our sins! And what would have become of me, O my Saviour, hadst Thou not paid the penalty for me? I thank Thee, O my Love, and by the merits of this sublime obedience do I pray Thee to grant me the grace of obedience in every thing to the Divine will. All that I desire Paradise for is that I may love Thee for ever with all my strength.

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