Today’s ✠Challoner Meditation: Holy Tuesday

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✠Challoner Meditation: Holy Tuesday



Consider first, how our Lord being at length arrived at mount Calvary, quite wearied and spent, the untired malice of his enemies pursuing him still, finds out a new torture for him by mingling gall with the wine that, according to custom, was presented as a strengthening draught to criminals that were to be executed. Our Lord, that he might suffer the more for us, was pleased by tasting it to embitter his palate parched up before with a violent thirst; but he would not admit of the comfort that the drinking of it might have afforded his stomach: ‘When he had tasted, he would not drink,’ Matt. xxvii. 34. And now they strip him violently of his clothes, which by this time began to cleave fast to his mangled body, being pressed into the wounds by the weight of the cross; so that all his wounds are now opened afresh, and this Lamb of God is in a manner flayed alive in order to be laid on the altar of the cross. O! my soul, see how he stands all covered with his blood, with his eyes lifted up to Heaven, with infinite charity praying for poor sinners, and even for his very executioners. O! run in now and cast thyself at his feet, and bathe thyself in that precious blood, which he so plentifully sheds for thee; but see thou mingle with it thy penitential tears, in consideration of the share thou hast had in bringing these sufferings upon him by thy sins.

Consider 2ndly, how all things being now ready, they order him to lie down upon the cross. He obeys without resistance or demur, and lays himself down upon this hard bed on which he is to die; the bed of sorrow on which he is to bring us forth to God. Here he lies with his eyes fixed on heaven as high priest of all mankind, offering himself a victim of propitiation for our sins to his eternal Father, and freely giving up his hands and feet to the executioners to be pierced with the nails. See now, my soul, how one of these ruffians comes with a large sharp nail, and fixing the point of it upon the sacred palm of one of our Saviour’s hands, violently drives it with his hammer into the tender flesh, forcing its way with inconceivable torment through the nerves, sinews, muscles, and bones of which the hand is composed, deep into the hard wood of the cross. The extremity of pain which was caused by the violent piercing of so many nerves and bones as meet in the hands made all the nerves and sinews shrink up, and draw the body towards that hand that was nailed; so that great violence was used by the executioners in dragging the other arm and hand to the opposite side, to the place prepared for it, where they served it in like manner. And then, with equal barbarity they drew down his sacred feet, and nailed them also to the cross, verifying the words of the prophet, Ps. xxi.17, ‘they have dug my hands and feet; they have numbered all my bones:’ inasmuch as by the violence of their pulling the bones of our Lord were so drawn from their places and disjointed that they might be numbered. Ah! sweet Saviour, who can conceive the least part of what thou hast here endured for the love of me.

Consider 3rdly, what shocks, what tortures, our Lord (being now nailed fast to the cross) must have suffered in his whole body, when they dragged the cross along the ground to the hole prepared for it; how much, when they began with ropes to raise him up in the air; how much, when they let the foot of the cross fill with a jolt into the hole; how much, when they fastened it in the ground with long stakes, which they drove in with their mallets. O! who can think without horror on the racking pains that every motion or shock of this nature must have caused to a body all disjointed, and supported only by the bones and sinews of the hands and feet pierced through with gross nails But though this torture which our Lord here endured was so great and insupportable that one would think it might have moved the hardest heart to compassion, to have seen even a brute beast undergo so much: yet such was the insatiable malice of the enemies of our Saviour that instead of showing him any pity, or relenting at the sight of his torments, they shout and triumph when they see him appear above the heads of the people; and drawing nigher they stand shaking their heads at him, rejoicing at all his sufferings, scoffing, and insulting over him. Christians, whilst you detest this Jewish malice see you have no share in it, by your obstinacy in sin; ‘crucifying again to yourselves the Son of God, and making a mockery of him.’ Heb. vi. 6.

Conclude by detesting the handiwork of your sins, which have nailed your Saviour to the cross; and by loving him who out of pure love for you has endured so much. O! that we could say here with the martyr Ignatius, and with the like affection, ‘My love is fastened to the cross.’

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