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MEDITATION FOR HOLY SATURDAY


Morning Meditation

MARY HAS TO BID FAREWELL TO JESUS

In raising the stone to close up the entrance to the Tomb, the holy disciples of the Saviour had to approach the Blessed Mother and say: Now, O Lady, we must close the Sepulcher. Forgive us. Look once more on your Son, and bid Him a last farewell. Then, my beloved Son--must the afflicted Mother have said--then shall I see You no more? Receive, therefore, on this last occasion that I behold You, my last farewell, the farewell of Your dear Mother, and receive also my heart which I bury with You.


I.

When a mother is by the side of her suffering and dying child, she undoubtedly feels and suffers all his pains; but after he is actually dead, when, before the body is carried to the grave, the afflicted mother must bid her child a last farewell; then, indeed, the thought that she is to see him no more is a grief that exceeds all other griefs. Behold the last sword of Mary's sorrow. After witnessing the death of her Son on the Cross, and embracing for the last time His lifeless Body, this blessed Mother had to leave Him in the sepulcher, never more to enjoy His beloved presence on earth.


That we may better understand this last dolour, we will return to Calvary and consider the afflicted Mother, who still holds the lifeless Body of her Son clasped in her arms. O my Son, she seemed to say in the words of Job: My Son, you art changed to be cruel towards me. (Job xxx. 21). Yes, for all Your noble qualities, Your beauty, grace, and virtues, Your engaging manners, all the marks of special love You host bestowed upon me, the peculiar favours You have granted me,--all are now changed into grief, and as so many arrows pierce my heart, and the more they have excited me to love You, so much the more cruelly do they now make me feel Your loss. Ah, my own beloved Son, in losing You I have lost all. "O truly-begotten of God, You were to me a father, a son, a spouse: You were my very soul! Now I am deprived of my father, widowed of my spouse, a desolate, childless Mother; having lost my only Son, I have lost all." (St. Bernard).


Thus was Mary, with her Son locked in her arms, absorbed in grief. The holy disciples, fearful that the poor Mother might die of grief, approached her to take the Body of her Son from her arms to bear it away for burial. This they did with gentle and respectful violence, and having embalmed it, they wrapped it in a linen cloth which was already prepared.


The disciples then bore Jesus to the tomb. As the mournful train sets forth, choirs of Angels from Heaven accompanied it, the holy women followed, and with them the afflicted Mother also followed her Son to the place of burial. When they had reached the appointed place, O how willingly would Mary have there buried herself alive with her Son had such been His will. "I can truly say," Mary revealed to St. Bridget, "that at the burial of my Son one tomb contained, as it were, two hearts."

My afflicted Mother, I will not leave you to weep alone; no, I will accompany you with my tears. This grace I now ask of you. Obtain that I may always bear in mind and always have a tender devotion towards the Passion of Jesus and your sorrows, that the remainder of my days may thus be spent in weeping over your sufferings, my own sweet Mother, and those of my Redeemer. These sorrows, I trust, will give me the confidence and strength that I shall require at the hour of death, that I may not despair at the sight of the many sins by which I have offended my Lord. They must obtain me pardon, perseverance, and Heaven, where I hope to rejoice with you, and to sing the infinite mercies of my God for all eternity. Amen.


II.

Before leaving the Sepulcher, according to St. Bonaventure, Mary blessed the sacred stone which closed it, saying: "O happy stone, that doth now enclose that sacred Body which for nine months was contained in my womb. I bless you and envy you; I leave you the guardian of my Son, of that Son Who is my whole Treasure and all my Love." Then, raising her heart to the Eternal Father, she said: "O Father, to You do I recommend Him--Him Who is Your Son at the same time that He is mine." Thus bidding her last farewell to her beloved Jesus and to the Sepulcher, she left it, and returned to her own house. This Mother, says St. Bernard, went away so afflicted and sad, that she moved many to tears in spite of themselves; and wherever she passed, all who met her wept, and could not restrain their tears. And he adds that the holy disciples and women who accompanied her "mourned even more for her than for their Lord."


St. Bonaventure says that, passing, on her return before the Cross still wet with the Blood of her Jesus, she was the first to adore it. "O holy Cross," she then said, "I kiss you, I adore you; for you are no longer an infamous gibbet, but a throne of love and an altar of mercy, consecrated by the Blood of the Divine Lamb, sacrificed on you for the salvation of the world."


She then left the Cross, and returned home. When there, the afflicted Mother cast her eyes around, and no longer saw her Jesus; but, instead of the sweet presence of her dear Son, the remembrance of His beautiful life and cruel death presented itself before her eyes. She remembered how she had pressed that Son to her bosom in the stable of Bethlehem; the conversations she had held with Him during the many years they had dwelt in the house of Nazareth; she remembered their mutual affection, their loving looks, the words of Eternal Life which fell from those Divine lips; and then, the sad scene she had that day witnessed again presented itself before her. The nails, the thorns, the lacerated flesh of her Son, those deep Wounds, those uncovered bones, that open mouth, those dimmed eyes, all presented themselves before her. Ah, what a night of sorrow was that night for Mary! The afflicted Mother, turning to St. John, mournfully said: "Ah, John, tell me where is your Master?" She then asked the Magdalene: "Daughter, tell me, where is your Beloved? O God, who has taken Him from us?" Mary wept, and all who were present, wept with her.


And you, my soul, weep not! Ah, turn to Mary, and address her with St. Bonaventure: "O my own sweet Lady, let me weep; you art innocent, I am guilty." Entreat her at least to let you weep with her: "Grant that I may weep with you." She weeps for love; do you weep through sorrow for your sins. I pity you, my afflicted Mother, for the bitter sword which pierced you on seeing your Son in your arms already dead, no longer fair and beautiful as you received Him in the stable at Bethlehem, but covered with Blood, livid and all lacerated with Wounds, so that even His bones were seen. You then said: "My Son, my Son, to what has love reduced You!" And when He was borne to the Sepulcher, you yourself accompanied Him, and place Him with your own hands in the Tomb; and bidding Him the last farewell, you left your loving heart buried with Him. By this Martyrdom of your beautiful soul, obtain for me, O Mother of fair love, the forgiveness of the offences I have committed against my beloved God, and of which I repent with my whole heart. Defend me in temptations; assist me at the moment of my death, that, saving my soul through the merits of Jesus and you, I may one day, after this miserable exile, go to Paradise to sing the praises of Jesus and of you for all eternity. Amen.


Spiritual Reading

FRUITS OF THE DEATH OF JESUS.

St. John writes that our Saviour, in order to make His disciples understand the death He was to suffer upon the Cross, said: And I, if I be lifted up from, the earth, will draw all things to myself. Now this he said, signifying what death he should die. (Jo. xii. 32).

And, in fact, by exhibiting Himself crucified and dead, how many souls has Jesus drawn to Himself, so that they have left all to give themselves up entirely to His Divine love. Ah, my Jesus, draw my soul to Yourself, which was one time lost; draw it by the chains of Your love, so that it may forget the world, to think of nothing else but of loving and pleasing You. Draw me after you by the odour of your ointments.


O my Lord, You know my weakness and the offences that I have committed against You. Draw me out of the mire of my passions; draw all my affections to Yourself, so that I may attend to nothing but Your pleasure only, O my God, most lovely! Hear me, O Lord, by the merits of Your death, and make me wholly Yours.


St. Leo tells us that he who looks with confidence upon Jesus dead upon the Cross is healed of the wounds caused by his sins. "They who with Faith behold the death of Christ are healed from the wounds of sin." Every Christian, therefore, should keep Jesus crucified always before his eyes, and say with St. Paul, I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Cor. 2). In short, the Apostle says that he did not desire any other knowledge in this world than that of knowing how to love Jesus Christ crucified. My beloved Saviour, to obtain for me a good death, You have chosen a death so full of pain and desolation! I cast myself into the arms of Your mercy. I see that many years ago I ought to have been in hell, separated from You for ever, for having at one time despised Your grace; but You have called me to penance, and I hope hast pardoned me; but if through my fault You have not yet pardoned me, pardon me now. I repent, O my Jesus, with my heart, for having turned my back upon You, and driven You from my soul. Restore me to Your grace. But that is not enough: give me strength to love You with all my soul during my whole life. And when I come to the hour of my death, let me expire burning with love for You, and saying: My Jesus, I love You! My Jesus, I love You! and thus continue to love You for all eternity. From this moment I unite my death to Your holy death, through which I hope for my salvation. In you, O Lord, have I hoped; I shall not be confounded forever. (Ps. xxx. 2).


O great Mother of God, you after Jesus art my hope. In you, O Lady have I hoped; I shall not be confounded forever.


O devout souls, when the devil wishes to make us distrustful about our salvation by the remembrance of our past sins, let us lift up our eyes to Jesus dead upon the Cross, in order to deliver us from eternal death. After a God has made us know, by means of the holy Faith, the desire He has had for our salvation, having even sacrificed His life for us, if we are resolved really to love Him for the rest of our lives, cost what it may, we should be on our guard against any weakness of confidence in His mercy. After He has given us so many signs of His love for us, and of His desire for our salvation, it is a kind of sin against Him not to put our whole confidence and hope in His goodness.

Full, then, of holy confidence, let us hope for every good from the hands of a God so liberal and so loving; and at the same time let us give ourselves to Him without reserve, and thus pray to Him: O Eternal God, we are sinners, but You Who are Almighty canst make us Saints; grant that henceforth we may neglect nothing that we know to be for Your glory, and may do all to please You. Blessed shall we be if we lose all to gain You, the Infinite Good. Grant that we may spend the remainder of our lives in pleasing You alone. Punish us as You will for our past sins, but deliver us from the chastisement of not being able to love You; deprive us of all things save Yourself. You have loved us without reserve; and we also will love You without reserve, O Infinite Love, O Infinite Good! O Virgin Mary, draw us wholly to God; you canst do so; do so for the love you hast for Jesus Christ.


Evening Meditation

O INCARNATION, O REDEMPTION, O PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST! O SWEET NAMES!


I.

Oh, the unhappy state of a soul in sin which has lost God! It lives on in wretchedness, for it lives without God. God sees it, but no longer loves it; He hates and abhors it. There was, then, my soul, a time when you didst live without God. The sight of you no longer rejoiced the Heart of Jesus Christ, as it did when you wast in His grace, but wast hateful to Him. The Blessed Virgin regarded you with compassion, but detested your deformity. When hearing Mass, you didst see Jesus Christ in the consecrated Host, Who has become your enemy. Ah, my God, despised and lost by me, pardon me and let me find You again! I wished to lose You, but You would not abandon me. And if You not yet returned to me, I pray You to come to me now that I repent with all my heart of having offended You. Let me be sensible of Your return to me, by feeling a great sorrow for my sins, and a great love towards You.


My beloved Lord, rather than see myself separated from You and deprived of Your grace, I am content to suffer any punishment. Eternal Father, for the love of Jesus Christ, I pray You to give me grace never more to offend You. May I die rather than turn my back upon You again!


Ah! my crucified Jesus, look on me with the same love with which You looked on me when dying on the Cross for me; look on me and have pity on me; give me a general pardon for all the displeasure I have given You; give me holy perseverance; give me Your holy love; give me a perfect conformity to Your will; give me Paradise, that I may love You there for ever. I deserve nothing, but Your Wounds encourage me to look for every good from You. Ah! Jesus of my soul, by that love which made You die for me, give me Your love! Take away from me all affection for creatures, give me resignation in tribulation, and make Yourself the object of all my affections, that from this day forward I may love none other than You.


You have created me, You have redeemed me, You have made me a Christian, You have preserved me whilst, I was in sin, You have pardoned me many times; above all, instead of chastisements You have increased Your favours to me. Who should love You, if I do not? Arise, and let Your mercy triumph over me; and may the fire of love with which I burn for You be as great as the fire which should have devoured me in hell. O my Jesus, my Love, my Treasure, my Paradise, my All!


II.

O Incarnation, O Redemption, O Passion of Jesus Christ! O Calvary, O Scourges, O Thorns, O Nails, O Cross, that did torment my Lord! O sweet names, which remind me of the love a God has had for me, never depart from my mind and my heart. Remind me always of the pains Jesus my Redeemer willed to suffer for me! O most sacred Wounds, ye are the perpetual resting-place of my soul; ye are the blessed furnaces where it forever burns with Divine love!


My beloved Jesus, I have deserved hell, and to be for ever separated from You! I refuse not the fire, nor the other pains of hell, if You for my just punishment dost will to send me there; but what I cannot consent to is, not to be able to love You any more. Let me love You and then send me where You will. It is just that I should suffer for my sins, but it is not just that I should have to hate and curse Him Who created me, Who redeemed me, and Who has loved me so much! Justice requires that I should love and bless You for ever. I bless You, then, and love You, Jesus my Love, and I hope to love and bless You for all eternity.


My sweet Redeemer, I know You wish me to be wholly Yours. Ah I permit not that, from this day forward, creatures should have any part in that love which belongs altogether to You. You alone deserve all my affections, You alone are infinitely beautiful, You alone have truly loved me; You alone, then, will I love, and I will do all I can to please You. I renounce all,-- pleasures, riches, honours, and all the creatures of the earth. You alone, my Jesus, are sufficient for me. Away from me all earthly affections! Once upon a time you had a place in my heart; but then I was blind: now that God by His grace has enlightened me, and has made me to know the vanity of this world and the love which He has borne me, and that He desires me to give Him all my love, I will consecrate it to Him alone. Yes, my Jesus, take possession of my whole heart; and if I know not how to give it to You entirely as You desire, take it Yourself, and make it Your own. I love You, my God, with all my heart; I love You more than myself. Trahe me post te: draw me, my Lord, all to You, and destroy in me the love of all created things.


O Paradise, O country of loving souls, O kingdom of love, O sure haven where God is loved for all eternity, and where there is no more fear of losing Him! When shall I pass your threshold, and see myself free from this miserable body, and delivered from the many enemies that continually try to deceive me in order to deprive me of Divine grace? Ah, my crucified Jesus, make known to me the immense riches You have prepared for the souls that love You. Give me a great desire of possessing Paradise, so that, forgetting this world, I may there make my continual abode; and whilst I live, may I have no other desire than to come to see You and love You face to face in Your kingdom. I do not deserve it, and I know that at one time my name was written amongst those who were condemned to hell; but now that I am, as I hope, in Your grace, I beseech You, by that Blood You shed for me on the Cross, to write me in the Book of Life. You have died to win Paradise for me: I wish for it, I ardently desire it, and I hope to attain it through Your merits, that I may there ascend to be consumed with Your love by loving You with all my strength. There, forgetting myself and everything else, I shall think only of loving You; I shall desire nothing but to love You, and I shall do nothing but love You. O my Jesus, when shall this be? O Mary, Mother of God, by your prayers bring me to Paradise. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.

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