REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus, by the mouth of the Prophet, made lamentation that, when dying upon the Cross, He went in search of some one to console Him, but found none: And I looked for one to comfort me, and I found none. (Ps. lxviii. 21). The Jews and the Romans, even while He was dying, uttered against Him their execrations and blasphemies. The Most Holy Mary–yes, she stood beneath the Cross, in order to afford Him some relief, had it been in her power to do so; but this afflicted and loving Mother by the sorrow which she suffered through sympathy with His pains, only added to the affliction of this her Son, Who loved her so dearly. St. Bernard says that the pains of Mary all went towards increasing the torments of the Heart of Jesus: “The Mother being filled with it, the ocean of her sorrow poured itself back upon the Son.” So that the Redeemer, in beholding Mary sorrowing thus, felt His soul pierced more by the sorrows of Mary than by His own; as was revealed to St. Bridget by the Blessed Virgin herself: “He, on beholding me, grieved more for me than for Himself.” Whence St. Bernard says, “O good Jesus, great as are Thy bodily sufferings, much more dost Thou suffer in Thy Heart through compassion for Thy Mother.”
What pangs, too, must not those loving Hearts of Jesus and Mary have felt when the moment arrived in which the Son, before breathing His last, had to take leave of His Mother! Behold what the last words were with which Jesus took His leave in this world of Mary: “Mother, behold thy son”–assigning to her John, whom, in His own place, He left her for a son.
O Queen of Sorrows, things given as memorials by a beloved son at the hour of his death, how very dear they are, and never do they slip away from the memory of a mother! Oh, bear it in mind, that thy Son, Who loved thee so dearly, has, in the person of John, left me, a sinner, to thee for a son. For the love which thou didst bear to Jesus, have compassion on me. I ask thee not for the good things of earth: I behold thy Son dying in such great pains for me; I behold thee, my innocent Mother, enduring also for me such great sufferings; and I see that I, a miserable being, who deserve hell on account of my sins, have not suffered anything for love of thee–I wish to suffer something for thee before I die. This is the grace that I ask of thee; and with St. Bonaventure, I say to thee, that if I have offended thee, justice requires that I should have suffering as chastisement; and if I have been serving thee, it is but reasonable that I should have suffering as a reward: “O Lady, if I have offended thee, wound my heart for justice’ sake; if I have served thee, I ask thee for wounds as my recompense.” Obtain for me, O Mary, a great devotion to, and a continual remembrance of the Passion of thy Son; and, by that pang which Thou didst suffer on beholding Him breathe His Last upon the Cross, obtain for me a good death. Come to my assistance, O my Queen, in that last moment; make me die, loving and pronouncing the sacred Names of Jesus and of Mary.
Jesus, seeing that He found no one to console Him upon this earth, raised His eyes and His Heart to His Father, craving relief from Him. But the Eternal Father, beholding the Son clad in the garment of a sinner, replied: No, My Son, I cannot give Thee consolation, now that Thou art making satisfaction to My justice for all the sins of men; it is fitting that I too should abandon Thee to Thy pains, and let Thee die without solace. And then it was that our Saviour, crying out with a loud voice, said, My God, my God, and why hast Thou too abandoned Me? Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt. xxvii. 46). In his explanation of this passage, Blessed Denis the Carthusian says that Jesus uttered these words with a loud cry to make all men understand the greatness of the pain and sorrow in which He died. And it was the will of the loving Redeemer, adds St. Cyprian, to die bereft of every consolation, to give proof to us of His love, and to draw to Himself all our love: “He was left in dereliction, that He might show forth His love towards us, and might attract our love towards Himself.”
Ah, my beloved Jesus, Thou art in the wrong to make Thy lamentation, saying, My God, My God, why hast Thou abandoned Me? “Why,” dost Thou say? And why, I will say to Thee, hast Thou been willing to undertake to pay our penalty? Didst Thou not know that for our sins we had already deserved to be abandoned by God? With good reason, then, is it that Thy Father has abandoned Thee, and leaves Thee to die in an ocean of sufferings and griefs. Ah, my Redeemer, Thy dereliction gives me both affliction and consolation: it is afflicting to me to see Thee die in such great pain; but it is consoling, in that it encourages me to hope that, by Thy merits, I shall not remain abandoned by the Divine mercy, as indeed I well deserve, for having myself so often abandoned Thee in order to follow my own humours. Make me understand that, if to Thee it was so hard to be deprived, even for a brief interval, of the sensible Presence of God, what my pain would be if I were to be deprived of God for ever. Oh, by this dereliction of Thine, suffered with so much pain, forsake me not, O my Jesus, especially at the hour of my death! Then, when all shall have abandoned me, do not Thou abandon me, my Saviour. Ah, my Lord, Who wert so desolate Thyself, be Thou my comfort in my desolations! Already do I understand that, if I shall love Thee without consolation, I shall content Thy Heart the more. But Thou knowest my weakness; help me by Thy grace, and then grant me perseverance, patience, and resignation.