Updated: Sep 22
"The Fifteen Saturdays of the Holy Rosary"by Blessed Bartolo Longo
Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary, is also the apostle of the Fifteen Saturdays, which he in his times spread throughout the world, pouring an alluring spirituality into the pages complied by himself.
What are the “Fifteen Saturdays”?
The practice of the Fifteen Saturdays consists in pledging oneself to live, for fifteen consecutive Saturdays, the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, which, in synthesis, are the story of our salvation, the Gospel we pray along with the Mother of God.
That which above all emerges in this holy practice is participation in the Eucharist, in memory of the Son of God, having become incarnate, having died, having risen; therefore, deep meditation of a mystery is reserved to each Saturday, along with the reciting of the entire Rosary.
It is understood that, should there be the need, sacramental confession is to precede participation in the Eucharist.
Each mystery is to be honored by the practicing of a virtue in imitation of our Lord and of the Holy Virgin.
Those person who receive communion once a week can in the course of seven days prolong the fruits of the mystery which they have celebrated, reliving the mystery in their prayers, in penance, in offerings. Each day they may repeat the prayer and exercise themselves in that virtue which was meditated upon on the preceding Saturday. In this way, in fifteen weeks (or even in fifteen days), they will have celebrated the principal mysteries of our holy Religion which the Church celebrates in the course of a year.
This practice wishes to be an aid in experiencing a special spiritual atmosphere, by growing in the love of God and of the Divine Mother.
In this atmosphere, the soul is easily led toward making great progress and most surely discovers new horizons in the spiritual field.
With the exercise of the Fifteen Saturdays, the soul assumes such a love for the Rosary that it becomes desirous of reciting it in its entirety every day.
When, furthermore, we are faced with difficult situations or particular needs, and there is a more pressing need to seek divine help, the Fifteen Saturdays are a means discovered by Christian spirituality for the purpose of obtaining answers from Heaven.
We shall offer evidence at the end of the meditations of each Saturday, reporting the authentic narrations of the Blessed.
The value of practicing the “Fifteen Saturdays”
The excellent practice of the Fifteen Saturdays does not only contain what is most holy and most efficacious in the Rosary, that is, the memory of Jesus’ actions; it also includes participation in the sacraments, above all, Communion done in memory of that which our Savior did on our behalf, perseverance in prayer and the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin.
Moreover, to all these things this practice joins a particular concern: that we become pleasing to God and sanctified during this period of fifteen weeks.
In which period of the year is the devotion of the "Fifteen Saturdays" practiced?
Any period of the year is suitable for this pious devotion, however, at the Shrine of Pompeii, it is custom to have it precede the two very important days of May 8th, and the first Sunday of October, when, at 12 noon, at Pompeii and simultaneously in many churches throughout the world, there is the reciting of the Petition to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary.
Those who are not able to begin on Saturday may do so on a Sunday. They would therefore be doing the Fifteen Sundays.
Finally, in special cases, the holy practice may be summed up in fifteen consecutive days.
Where to practice the “Fifteen Saturdays”?
It is better that the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays be practiced in a church or public chapel where the image of the Virgin of Pompeii may be displayed.
The First Saturday: The First Joyful Mystery - The Annunciation of the Lord
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-55
1. At last the heavens open and He whom the Prophets call the just one, the desired of the Patriarchs, the expectation of the nations, the one sent from God, descends into the world. The weeks of Daniel are accomplished, the prophecies of Jacob are fulfilled, for the scepter of Judah has already passed into the hands of Herod, a foreign king. A maiden, remaining a virgin, is to bring forth to the world a Man, who is the Son of the Most High.
My soul, do you understand what this means: the Word is made man?… O the endless goodness and mercy of the Lord! This God thus loved you so much as to wish his only begotten Son to humble himself taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:7)?
And this, in order that He might suffer and die on a cross, to redeem you from hell and open the gates of heaven to you! To offer himself in sacrifice every day on the altars and be with you always, giving himself as food in the holy Eucharist!
Holy Trinity, I humbly adore you, and thank you for such great love. The Father gives his Son to humanity: the Word consents to be made Man, and the Holy Spirit offers to bring about this great mystery. What is my answer in return for such great love?
My soul, consider on one hand the highest dignity and the sublime favors of the Blessed Virgin, and on the other, her perfect humility. God creates her Immaculate, who was to be his Mother; and from the first moment of her conception He raises her holiness beyond the highest peak. Hear the Lord’s words in the Song of Solomon: “There are… maidens without number. My love, my perfect one, is only one…” (Song 6:8-9).
And this was the Mother of God, chosen for the highest humility which shined forth in Her.
In the Song Mary is likened to a fragrant spikenard: for, as St. Antoninus comments, the small and fragrant spikenard plant represents Mary’s humility, the smell of which ascended to heaven, and drew the divine Word into her virginal womb. Because, adds the same holy Dominican Archbishop, the humility of the Virgin was the most perfect and the closest disposition for becoming the Mother of God. St. Bernard concludes: “If Mary pleased God through her virginity, it was through humility that she conceived the Son of God.” The Virgin herself, appearing one day to St. Bridget, said: How is it that I deserved such grace as to be made my Lord’s Mother, unless because I recognized my nothingness, and humbled myself? And to attest it to all nations she had expressed it in her most humble Canticle: For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden,… he who is mighty has done great things for me… (Lk 1:48-49). The most humble eyes of Mary, as of a simple and humble dove, with which she forever admired the divine greatness, never lost sight of her own nothingness. And such violence did they do to God himself that the Almighty was drawn into her womb: “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves” (Song 4:1).
And the Lord for his part, for a greater merit of this mother, does not wish to become her Son without first obtaining her consent. So He sends a heavenly messenger to her, the Archangel Gabriel, the strength of God, to reveal to her the great event of the Incarnation of the Word in her womb.
O great, O holy humility of Mary! You made this mother small unto herself but great before God! Unworthy in her own eyes, yet worthy in the eyes of that great Lord who is not understood by the world! How, my Lady, how, I shall exclaim with St. Bernard, were you able to unite in your heart such a humble opinion of yourself with so much purity, with so much innocence, with such fullness of grace as you possess?
O most humble Queen, God save you; through you and from you the work of our redemption began. I pray, make me a part of your humility, and grant me perfect love of you and of your Son.
2. Behold, O my soul: the Angel has not been sent to the great cities, to the palaces of princes, to the king’s daughters covered in gold, but to Nazareth, a small town, to a Virgin, the wife of Joseph the worker. It is not one’s birth, therefore, nor the gifts of nature which attract the eyes of God; before him true merit is humility, modesty, innocence of habit, love of purity.
Mary was living alone in her poor home, as was revealed to St. Elizabeth, a Benedictine; and was sighing and praying to God more intensely than ever that He might send the promised Redeemer to the world, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her.
He bestowed upon her three titles of incomprehensible greatness.
The first regards Mary herself: Hail, full of grace: that is, You are the holiest of all, You are a treasure of all God’s graces and favours. The second regards God: the Lord is with you: that is, You have been protected, accompanied and governed by Him. The third concerns humanity: blessed are you among women: that is, You are privileged, raised above all others… With what respect do we address these same words to Mary when we recite her Rosary?
Mary is disturbed by the words of an Angel who speaks to her about God. The praises upset and frighten her: She refers nothing to herself but all to God. She was troubled, as she revealed to St. Bridget, because, being full of humility, she abhorred his every praise and desired that her Creator and Bestower of all good things alone be praised and blessed.
What a difference between Mary and Lucifer! Lucifer, seeing himself gifted with great beauty, aspired, as Isaiah says, to ascend above the stars and become like God himself. And what would the proud creature have said and pretended had he seen himself adorned with Mary’s virtues? The humble modest Virgin did not do so: the more she was exalted, the more she humbled herself, and this humility was the beauty that inspired the King of kings with love, “and she considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29).
And you, my soul, how do you imitate Mary in the dangerous praises bestowed upon you by others? Alas!, full of pride you believe you deserve them, you take pleasure in them, and if you appear to reject them, it is only to obtain even greater ones! How many shameful falls are caused by flattery!…
O Mary, O divine repairer of all our ills, O worthy Mother of God, how greatly am I confounded by your humility! Behold, for this… “all generations will call you blessed” (Lk 1:48). How I suffer to have so often offended my God, by my pride, and afflicted your sweet and humble Heart. Yet if you look upon me with the merciful eyes of a Mother, I shall soon be reconciled with Him. If I learn to love you, I shall cease being unhappy. All the graces are in your hands: you can save whom you will. O full of grace, save this soul of mine.
3. Finally, assured that she is not to lose her virginity, Mary gives her consent with two words: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
O blessed words, which accomplished the mystery of the Incarnation, fulfilled the prophecies and repaired the disobedience of our first parents, and the painful consequences of the sad conversation between Eve and the Angel of darkness! Wonderful words, in which the quickest faith, the deepest humility, the most subdued obedience, the tenderest love and the most perfect abandon to divine will, shine. Words which the Church, out of gratitude, places upon the lips of her children three times a day. My soul, you too must repeat them continuously, and with Mary’s same feelings.
Learn to be humble and resign yourself to what God has planned for you. Be disturbed: you are so wicked and so unlike Mary, and what is worse, you know neither how to cry nor how to pray. Begin at least from this moment to amend your deplorable condition, to detest your disorderly life, to begin devoting yourself to prayer. And, if you feel a heart of stone within you, turn to Mary and ask that she, through love of her Annunciation, exchange your heart with her Heart, so humble and so pure.
O great Mother of God, immense sea of graces and of blessings, I too shall be blessed if I live beneath your protection. Yes, from this day till the day of death I shall never cease greeting you, loving you, invoking you through your favorite prayer, which You yourself have taught to me with the holy Rosary. Every day it reminds me of your great humility, your purity and fullness of grace, your divine maternity, and my redemption and salvation. To us today you have offered a source of grace in the midst of the ruins of the famous Pompeii, in the vicinity of the city of death, to show to sinners who enclose death within their souls how, from you, life will come to all those who invoke you, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii; and to reveal to the world having driven Jesus from its bosom, how You, O Queen of the New Pompeii, will restore Jesus to the troubled human family, through a new life of grace and faith. O Mother of mercy, let Jesus reign in my heart; let Him reign in it as king, as its absolute master, as the Lord of my strength and power, so that I may draw life from his life and be consummated in Him, to live of Him and with Him unto eternity!
May you be blessed and loved by all the nations, O Lady of the Valley of Pompeii, O our remedy, our consolation, our glory. Amen.
VIRTUE – Humility
REFLECTION – Humble yourself inwardly at the sight of your miserable condition. Humble yourself externally as well by occupying the last place, giving preference to others. Today bear reproof, whether just or unjust, without seeking excuses for yourself. Stifle pride by always speaking humbly, and never about yourself, either well or badly.
EJACULATION – O Mary, beautiful and immaculate Virgin, make my heart pure and humble like yours.
The Second Saturday: The Second Joyful Mystery - The Visitation of Blessed Mary
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56
1. The grace of the Holy Spirit does not allow delay: it seeks a faithful answer and demands ready action. And Mary, obedient to the motions of the Holy Spirit, immediately offers her reply to God.
As soon as she has conceived the Redeemer of mankind in her womb, she is prompt in satisfying His desire, that of helping the human race and of destroying sin.
God desired to sanctify John the Forerunner fettered by original sin, to manifest the glory and power of his Son from the very moment of his Incarnation, and to fill the two courageous mothers with new joy and new grace. Mary, full of love of God and of her neighbour, notwithstanding the hard journey, the difficult roads, her young age, the fragility of her sex, her present condition of Mother of God’s son, promptly sets out from her humble home of Nazareth in Galilee and undertakes this long and rough journey all the way to the mountains of Judea.
My soul, how many worthy inspirations have you smothered in yourself, to which the special designs of God were perhaps bound, for his glory, your salvation and the good of your neighbour.
Behold: Elizabeth, already advanced in years, is expecting a child. She is in need of a friend who may assist and comfort her. And the loving Virgin who in love and beauty surpasses the Seraphim, does not delay in responding, does not sluggishly set out on her journey, but in haste. Love of her neighbour strongly urges her on. God’s love, when it reigns in our heart, is never idle. It always excites the soul to doing good for others, without regard for our own apprehensions; for indeed, love of God and of one’s neighbour is one and the same love, which turns now to the cause, now to the effects; now to the creator, now to the creature.
This virtue alone guides and animates Mary, and not love of pleasure or distraction, not the desire to see and be seen, that curiosity and ostentation which, to say the least, are often the reasons behind the visits we make. O my soul, imitate this true and fervent love of Mary; become humbled and confess that you possess not the true love of God.
O my divine Mother, Mother of love, show your abundant love to me also; have pity on me, a most miserable creature, who have so often resisted God. Inflame me with your holy love, force me with your chains to love God above all things, and my neighbour as myself.
2. O how many virtues along this journey of Mary’s! Observe her profound humility which does not permit her to consider the importance of her dignity and the infinite difference between the Son whom she bears and Elizabeth’s! The Handmaid of the Lord knows not those reservations of the nobility, those bizarre laws which the world’s vanity wishes to scrupulously observe and which love of self has imagined and introduced, and demands with such severity.
Observe how Mary greeted Elizabeth. True love anticipates the other’s wishes without any worldly interest. If divine love had not preceded us, and did not precede us every day, would we have known God? Would we think of Him?…
To Mary’s greeting, to this voice which has become the organ of God’s Word, there follows the greatest of all miracles: Jesus, from his Mother’s womb, sanctifies the soul of John who leaps for joy in the womb of his mother, and fills Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit. Christ displayed the power of his divinity first through his own Mother, and then through himself. Likewise the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar works the most wondrous effects on true believers.
Learn, my soul, that through Mary alone may you receive what you are expecting from Heaven. The first grace communicated to humanity by the Incarnate Word was done from Mary’s womb and at her voice.
O Mother of graces, however powerful is your voice! Let it be heard in my heart, or at least let it be heard by your Son on my behalf! O Holy Virgin, how may I worthily praise and celebrate you? I shall learn from Elizabeth, and with her shall loudly exclaim as long as I live: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42).
How dare heresy condemn the honours we offer to the Mother of God, honours inspired by the Holy Spirit and inseparable from those we must offer to the Son?
3. Elizabeth continues: “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).
Elizabeth recognizes the greatness of Mary’s Son and calls him her Lord… Have we the same feelings for Jesus Christ, when He visits us? Do his divine presence and his grace in the beloved Sacrament of his Body and Blood impress on us the same transports of joy, of faith and of humility?
Elizabeth then recognizes the Mother of God in Mary through divine enlightenment, and adds: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). All shall come to pass at the proper time.
It was then that Mary, full of light and grace, of gratitude and love, possessing a soul truly humble and faithful to the grace of her God, having been penetrated by his mercy, sang that divine song of gratitude and love, of prophecy and perfect praise of God’s attributes. She instructs us concerning the present, and prophesies what will take place with future generations regarding herself: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:46-48). She recalls the good done by God in the past: “He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts” (Lk 1:51).
She foretells the future and trust in the duration of the promises to the people of God, for centuries and centuries, till the end of time: “…from generation to generation his mercy is on those who fear him… as he spoke to Abraham and to his posterity for ever” (Lk 1:50 and 55).
My Soul, when false splendor and the illusion of human greatness allure you, acknowledge God alone as great, and attribute everything to his glory. When the enticements of pleasure attempt to seduce you, remember that in God alone there is steadfast certainty, and pure and lasting pleasure. When the poison of praises, or the tricks of self-love beguile you, return to your nothingness, and recall in your heart what Mary did not need to recall, the humiliating memory of your sins.
O Mary, from that moment you showed yourself as the true Mother of graces, and from this moment I hope, through the power of this Mystery of your Rosary, that you grant me the grace to love Jesus Christ greatly and to save my soul; for you are the universal Dispenser of graces, and therefore the Hope of everyone, and my Hope. I thank God for having made me understand that I must be saved principally through the merits of Jesus Christ and then through your intercession.
O Mary, pray for me, and recommend me to your Son. Your prayers cannot be rejected: they are the prayers of the Mother to a Son who so loves you. And furthermore you know my misery and my needs better than I, and the graces I am most in need of.
I give myself up to you, I trust in you; You must save me. Amen.
VIRTUE – Charity.
REFLECTION – Practice charity towards your neighbour by visiting hospitals or places of suffering, or sick persons or prisoners, or by helping a poor person.
In recreation and visits of courtesy speak about God. Especially help the Souls of Purgatory, by applying to them Rosaries, Communions, Masses, Indulgences, offerings and acts of mortification.The so-called “heroic act” is very useful for you and for these Souls, that is, forever offering God the merits of all of your good works, as relief for souls in purgatory.
EJACULATION – O Mary, blessed among women, visit and save my soul.
The Third Saturday: The Third Joyful Mystery - The Birth of Jesus Christ
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:1-14
1. The hour arrived in which the incarnate Word was to be born of a Virgin and appear in the world. The onrush of his joy was so great that the Prophet compares it to the first efforts of a giant about to engage in a great venture: He leaped, he says, like a giant to devour his path. Here is the story of the Evangelist Saint Luke.
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” (Lk 2:1-5).
Mary and Joseph therefore obey the authorities of this world also.
The road was long and rough, and in the grips of winter. And exhausted from the trip, Mary and her holy Spouse entered Bethlehem. How great was their patience, how perfect their acceptance before the refusals they suffered in the city of David! Not a single home or inn to welcome them for a few nights.
They proceed into the city and go about its quarters; every place is occupied by strangers. They turn back, they pray and implore: it is useless. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, all remain deaf to their pleas: they receive only refusals.
O holy poverty! Are you so uncommon that you find no one to receive you in this miserable world? That even the Mother of God herself adorned by you is repudiated? Poverty is shameful and despicable in the eyes of humanity, yet immeasurably dear to the eyes of God.
“And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered” (Lk 2:6). Mary is aware of the approaching delivery, not through pain as with other women, but through the growth of her love and her desire to see with her own eyes, and to hold in her own arms, this only Son of God and of herself.
But what a state she is in! What tribulations for Joseph! The cold, the night, the darkness, the gathering of so many strangers and the confusion increase their suffering, their bewilderment, their exhaustion.
And yet not a word of complaint escapes from them.
Better instructed than others in the secrets of God’s conduct, they know well that those whom He chooses for his great works must be prepared to meet the hardest trials.
2. Admire their poverty, my soul. Shut out from all homes on account of the multitude of guests, going here and there through the rugged and uneven streets, they reach the countryside, and the only refuge for the greatest persons on earth is a stable! To this place God leads these two holiest and dearest persons He has created, Mary and Joseph. They recognize the hand guiding them, they worship it with love and submission. To reward their faithfulness the Lord bestows the most remarkable favours upon them, and He grants them the consolation of being the first to gaze upon the Word of God made Flesh.
Therefore, in a corner of this refuge, fitting for the birth of a Child destined to one day die upon a cross, Mary enters into deep contemplation, and while remaining as she was, a Virgin and Immaculate, she truly becomes a Mother by delivering to the world her Son, the Head, Heir and Firstborn, according to the flesh, of the House of David.
The Incarnate Word through its own divine power, like a ray of sunlight passing through glass without breaking it, enters the world through Virgin Mary in a tiny but infinitely beautiful body. Who can describe the words and feelings of Mary and Joseph in that moment! The Angels recognize and adore the new-born Child as their Lord and, having called the shepherds, they sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14).
Behold the Queen of Heaven and Earth, my soul. She wraps the Creator of all things in poor clothes and places him in the manger, which serves as his crib. She calls her virgin Spouse, and together they offer him the first and purest adoration ever rendered to him on earth! Let us rejoice with this divine Mother and with St. Joseph; let us join our praises to theirs! Above all may we imitate their poverty, their resignation, their patience, submission and faithfulness to the designs of Divine Providence.
O Holy Divine Providence, how splendid you are in your designs, though they may seem the results of chance to the foolish world! The Roman Emperor, who by his edict carries out the designs of his policies and vanity, is the occasion for which Mary goes to Bethlehem and there gives birth to Jesus, to fulfil the prophecy which indicated this town as the place of his birth. Jesus is enrolled in the registers of the Empire, so that the place and time of his birth, and that He is the Son of Abraham and the Heir of David, remain manifest to the nations of the earth. Jesus is born in a stable, He is placed in a manger, to become the founder of an eternal empire that must subject everyone to the laws of humility and detachment from riches. To the eyes of the flesh everything appears as the result of chance, because man as animal does not rise from visible things to the invisible; he is therefore unaware of the ultimate reason of things and does not notice that it is God who governs the world.
Lord, I recognize and adore your wonderful Providence! Man is blind in his judgements. As for me, in whatever state of hardship, of humiliation, of contradiction I may find myself, I shall always recognize that these things come from you or are permitted as the result of your ineffable providence, which disposes all things for my good and your glory.
3. Then who is this Jesus born in a manger? He is our God, but a truly hidden God, as Isaiah called him: equal to the Father in his divinity, and like me in his humanity, except for sin. O most charming Infant, faith reveals you to my heart as my Saviour and model! Very early on You teach me obedience, humility, mortification, detachment, holy poverty, true disdain for all that the world esteems, and true esteem for all that the world disdains.
How eloquent are the voices of this stable and this manger! O great God! The Eternal has become an infant one day old! The Word Creator, who spoke, and it was done, has become a wordless creature! Witness, my soul, how this tender tiny body is being offended by the harshness of the manger. His delicate limbs already suffer the rigours of the cold; his loving eyes filled with tears, not to bemoan his sufferings but to wash your sins! And you so love worldly comforts and seek them with such anxiety? Jesus Christ treated his body so pure and innocent, and so perfectly submissive to divine will, with such roughness, while you seek such softness for yours that it has become a body of sin and the enemy of your happiness! He desired that his body, though holy and delicate, be placed on the ground on a bit of straw, because He knew how the love of our flesh and the false peace we derive from its depraved yearnings endanger our salvation.
They make us lose all the fruits of the pain which our Saviour endured for us, and the merits He acquired for us. Alas! St. Bernard moaned, we shall never be completely free of self-love if not in Heaven alone. Indeed if self-love, without the weakness of the flesh, cast so great a number of Angels into hell, what will it not do to creatures fashioned with mud who abandon themselves to their passions?
I adore you, O Incarnate Word! I adore you, O Son of the living God! I adore you, O true God, dressed in my flesh and willingly subject to my pains. Come into my soul with your grace, and be my true Saviour. How those first tears of yours which you shed at the sight of the world’s many sins do pierce me! I have already sacrificed a great part of my life to the cares of the world and of my body; what remains is not very much in order to gain Heaven. May I at least begin now, O my God, to serve you. I have been penetrated by the pain of my sins, and I sincerely wish to lament over them along with you. But it is up to you, O powerful tears which open Heaven, it is up to you to open my eyes in order to heal the blindness of my soul. O sweet tears, wash all the stains of my heart. O tears that penetrate the heart of the Eternal Father, penetrate my heart as well, and inflame it with love of God and hatred of profane love.
O Mary, O Joseph, I am unworthy of being heard; but through your intercession I hope to obtain everything.
VIRTUE – Poverty.
REFLECTION – Love poverty, frugality in your meals, being content with simple food; seek simplicity in your dress, leaving off pomp and vanity.
Suffer a lack of even the necessary things with patience, and become used to neither yearning after riches, nor suffering their loss greatly.
EJACULATION – O Mary, true Mother of God, remember that you are my Mother also.
The Fourth Saturday: The Fourth Joyful Mystery - Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-35
1. Love of sacrifice marks the first gesture of our Redeemer’s life and the entire life of his Blessed Mother. Barely forty days have elapsed from the moment of his birth, and already the Son and the Mother have accomplished two great sacrifices. Jesus, after eight days, offers the first drops of his Blood to his Father on the day of the Circumcision; and Mary, after the forty days required by the Law, offers her Firstborn Son to God.
On the day of the Circumcision the name Jesus was given to the Child, which means Saviour: a sublime name which had already been revealed by the Angel Gabriel even before the Word descended to become Mary’s son. The Circumcision was a humiliating ceremony! Jesus, the Holy of Holies, is confused with sinners! and receives upon himself the mark of the faith Abraham had in him, as a manifestation of his true humanity and as an example of obedience and humility, quite the opposite of our pride. My soul, he has thus compelled you to accept spiritual mortification, that is, a cutting away of all the evil and obstinate thoughts of your spirit, of all the unruly and wilful passions of your heart, of your eagerness to forever speak about yourself and criticize your neighbour.
O Jesus, You shed your Blood to save me and yet for the sake of my salvation I wish to bear nothing? You are so prompt to shed it, and yet I still hesitate to give you my heart? O Joseph! O Mary! You two alone on earth know the price of this divine Blood. What a wound it was for your Heart when you saw it dripping!
O Jesus, so strong and powerful a name, the only one through which humanity can be saved, at whose invocation God grants every grace; that name which opened up Heaven, closed hell, chained the devil, overturned idols and banished idolatry; O name pure and holy, which came by means of an Angel from Heaven, and was given by Mary and Joseph, those virgin Spouses. O gracious and sweet name, relieve my pain, strengthen me in misfortune and comfort me with the hope of Paradise in the hour of my death. May the sweetest name of Jesus be for ever in my heart and on my lips.
2. “And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be called holy to the Lord’)” (Lk 2:22-23).
Observe, my soul, Mary’s obedience. She, the Mother of God and for ever a virgin, is not subject to this humiliating law for she differs from other mothers in everything. And yet, in this Mystery she generously accomplishes three great sacrifices.
First, the sacrifice of her honour. In the eyes of man she sacrifices her virginity, of which she had been so jealous in the eyes of the Angels and before God, ready to renounce the honour of becoming the Mother of God rather than ceasing to be a virgin. She is holy in the eyes of God, she is all pureness, and for her this is enough; human judgement does not trouble her. Oh how different are we! Hateful in the eyes of God, we long to appear pure in the eyes of man. Deserving hell, we yearn to be honoured and esteemed by everyone. Woe to those who dare to insult us… we immediately want to seek revenge.
The second sacrifice: to show herself poor. According to the law the mother had to offer a lamb; the poor would present two turtledoves or two young pigeons. Mary, the Queen of Heaven and of earth, the Mother of the world’s Creator, is not ashamed to appear poor in the eyes of the world and in the house of the Lord. She knew that the poor were scorned, and that all men and women take pains by their dress to appear rich, even when they are not. Even in the house of God the rich want the best places! Precisely in this holy place we often display our vanity with even greater pomp and ostentation! So great is our shame in appearing poor in the midst of the world that we may even neglect the divine Sacrifice of the Mass and the other obligatory religious services, solely because we lack suitable clothes! What rigorous account shall we give to God for the scandal we offer by our flaunting of pompous dress, which is an insult to the sufferings of the hungry poor?
Consider then, my soul, the weight of this sacrifice Mary accomplished, against that other idol of the world, which is wealth.
The third sacrifice, the greatest, most ineffable and priceless, was offering her Only Begotten Son unto death for us sinners.
Who can completely understand the value of so great a sacrifice? Mary and Joseph hold this Child in their arms to satisfy their love and share their happiness. “Behold, O Father,” Mary had to say then, “here is your Son and mine; I offer him to you in thanksgiving, because You gave him to me and to humanity; I offer him to you to appease your justice and make you merciful toward all humankind…”
Oh! how many favours the divine Mother obtained for us through Jesus Christ in this supreme offering! What a sight this holy oblation was for Heaven! In that moment God received in his Temple an offering worthy of Him and equal to Him.
Observe: at the price of a few silver coins the divine Jesus is ransomed, He who was to ransom us from hell at the price of his Blood that would flow from the five Wounds of his innocent Body!... My soul, present yourself before the heavenly Father in the company of Mary, and with her and Jesus offer all the thoughts of your mind and all the affections of your heart to your most high Creator.
3. The righteous Simeon looks upon this heavenly sight, and believes in the revelation of the Holy Spirit. He sees the Child and acknowledges him as the true God, and he inwardly worships him. He then takes him up in his arms, presses him to his heart, and manifests his joy and his gratitude by glorifying God. Why do I not have Simeon’s burning faith, I who shall have the chance this very day to more intimately embrace this same Jesus, and to possess him in the holy Communion in a more absolute way?
Notice, my soul, how Simeon blesses Mary and foretells her sufferings and the death of Jesus: “a sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk 2:35). Mary must witness the heart of her Son transfixed by a spear, and must suffer that her own heart be transfixed by the pain… O great God! Was it not enough that Mary was destined to this cruel torment without having it announced to her thirty-three years in advance?
Nourish this dear Son with care, O Holy Virgin; your troubles shall grow along with him. Your martyrdom shall last for the length of his life; indeed, it shall increase day by day, as this tender Lamb slowly approaches the hour destined for his sacrifice. He is set for the fall and the rising of many, and as a sign of contradiction. Ah! If only my life too, along with yours, could be passed in retirement, in sorrow, in tears, in the remembrance of my Saviour’s suffering! From this day you deserve the noble title of Queen of Martyrs for you surpass them all with your sacrifice. They offer their life while you offered the life of your Only-Begotten Son, whom you loved and cherished far more than life itself. For them the sacrifice was momentary; for you it lasted your entire life, because you offered him to the Eternal Father in every moment, while always thinking of your Son’s future afflictions.
The Virgin revealed to St. Bridget that this sorrow foretold by Simeon remained with her till her death. From this day, St. Bernard says, though living, she began to slowly die by bearing deep within a pain crueler even than death.
Nevertheless, she accepted that painful message with heroic strength, perfectly submitting to the will of God. From this day, St. Augustine says, she became the Restorer of humankind; and, according to St. Ambrose, the Mother of all believers; and, as St. Epiphane calls her, the Redeemer of slaves; for she had but one wish, that of her Son: to save us.
O Queen of Martyrs, sea of sorrows, do not forsake me when, beneath the burden of suffering, I feel my strength and virtue weakening. From God obtain for me the strength and virtue to endure the trials and pain that He destines for me, with that peace, submission and love which He deserves. Let not the Wounds and the Blood of your most beloved Son be of no use to this soul.
My purest Mother, save me, and obtain Paradise for me. Give me the strength to truly begin this day to offer God an acceptable sacrifice of all my words, thoughts, desires, will, actions and passions.
May the example of your suffering comfort me in my moments of grief; may the example of your sacrifice inspire me to the sacrifice of my predominant passion.
O great saint, foster Father of Jesus and my Father, St. Joseph, your heart too was transfixed from this day till the end of your life: be my special guide in the paths of God, my protector throughout life, my comfort in the hour of death. Amen.
VIRTUE – Sacrifice.
REFLECTION – Offer God the sacrifice that is most acceptable to him, that is, the mortifying of your dominant passion. Therefore, for love of Mary’s heroic sacrifice, mortify yourself in those things which are most frequently the cause of your failings or falls. Or, force yourself to do what is most repugnant to your self-love, your own pleasures and satisfactions.
EJACULATION – O Mary, fountain of sweetness, help me in the anguish of my agony.
The Fifth Saturday: The Fifth Joyful Mystery - The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-51
1. Jesus is only twelve years old… yet how much suffering He has borne till this day! The Purification completed, the Angel of the Lord in a dream commands Joseph to flee to Egypt, to save the Child and the Mother from the murderous hands of Herod. Here is yet another sign of obedience. While still dark the holiest, most obedient, poorest and humblest family on earth takes flight. It lives in poverty and obscurity in Egypt, a land immersed in superstition, idolatry and sin. The Innocent have been cut down by Herod, who spares not even his own son, and who in the end dies, gnawed by worms and steeped in an unbearable stench. The prophecies regarding the birth of the Messiah have been fulfilled. The exile comes to an end and Joseph receives the Angel’s order to return in Israel. And Joseph is always the head of the family. Jesus and Mary are silent and allow themselves to be guided, as they observe the laws of most perfect obedience. What countless difficulties there are in this second voyage! What trials and privations! O holy Patriarch Joseph, true model of the interior soul, let my soul share that inner silence of yours, that peace produced by perfect obedience to God’s commandments, and that pureness of heart and mind, that I may fully fulfil his divine plans, his holy inspirations, and his words being spoken to me through my superiors and through the duties of my condition.
2. “And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it” (Lk 2:42-43).
This happened not through his fault but through the design of divine Wisdom. Jesus remained behind, to manifest himself to the Jewish teachers, to reaffirm the idea of his divinity to Joseph and Mary, and to make them both the model, refuge and consolation of troubled souls. Only those souls in love with Jesus, who no longer feel the sweetness of his presence and devotion, and who find themselves plunged into the dark night of the senses and passions, of aridity, temptations and abandonment… these souls alone can understand the overwhelming grief that oppressed the holy hearts of Mary and Joseph! They ask around and search for him; but no one has seen him.
O Mary, O Joseph, what was your anguish in that moment? How great was your grief? How did you pass those cruel nights? How many fears! How many thoughts! How many reproaches against yourselves you each made! The furies of Herod and the dangers of Egypt made you suffer nothing in comparison to this: then you had Jesus by your side, while now He is no longer with you.
My God, my God, how often have I lost you without feeling any sorrow! How often have I lived without you, untroubled? What would have become of me had You yourself, through your kindness, not sought me first?
3. “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions… And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:46-51).
These are the only words of Saint Luke which reveal what Jesus did until the thirtieth year of his life. And the other Evangelists said nothing, because He did not want us to know anything of his first thirty years, other than that He was obedient to those whom his Father had given him as his superiors.
This obedience is a summary of all his life and teachings, and, according to the Apostle St. Paul, the origin of all his glory. “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name…” (Phil 2:8-9).
In fact, his first words reported in the Gospel are words of obedience. “Did you not know,” he said to his Mother when found by her in the temple, “that I must be in my father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). In his private life Jesus appeared to others simply as a son obedient to his wise and moderate parents.
Consider here, my soul, with what great sorrow, humility and perfection Mary and Joseph commanded and received obedience from such a Son… whom they knew to be their Creator. Joseph as head of the family was respected by the Mother and the Son of God, and this superiority infinitely humbled him: to witness God submissive and obedient to a mere carpenter. Mary knew that when commanding her Son she was only obeying God’s wishes. Jesus obeyed both parents in silence with respect and gladness, as being those who held the place of God his Father. Behold, this is the most perfect obedience ever offered here on earth. O sweet model of a hidden life! They were precisely observing God’s law, and were living according to their condition by the work of their hands! At the end of their labour they would retire to pray. And what prayer! And how many heavenly gifts!
In his public life too Jesus showed himself as obedient to the will of his Father. Here is his teaching: He had descended from heaven in order to do his Father’s will, and this was his nourishment. His teaching was not his, but his Father’s. The cup He had to drink for us was the one given to him by his Father.
He summed up in charity the complete observance of the Law; however, complete proof of charity is found in the practice of obedience. “If you love me” he says “you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). “He who does not love me does not keep my words” (Jn 14:24).
Therefore, we cannot please God if we do not love, and he who loves, obeys. Indeed, love and obedience reconcile and unite our souls with God, and gain paradise.
In fact, with perfect submission He obeyed unjust judges, an idolatrous leader and cruel ministers, as superiors given to him by his Father in that moment. Therefore, in offering obedience we must not consider, in those who command us, age or suitability, merit, genius or affability, or even virtue or holiness. We must only consider Him whose place they hold. Jesus raised obedience to its highest perfection. The Son of God served in a humble home, to the point of tiring his very delicate body, without hope of reward. On the contrary, He well knew that by obeying his Father he eventually would have given up his serenity and honour, his life and blood, in exchange for a most ignoble death between two thieves.
And that his last words might be in conformity with the beginning and course of his life, when dying on the cross he cried out: “It is finished. Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Jn 19:30; Lk 23:46).
Therefore, the wisdom of the Christian lies in obedience; thus, David often would ask of God: “Lord, teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God” (Psalm 142:10). “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”(Psalm 27:4). As a faithful servant who knows and does the will of his master.
O eternal Incarnate Wisdom, I adore you. Everything is naturally submitted to you: the Angels and the worms, the earthly and celestial bodies. Nevertheless, to confound my pride you hide your greatness, you even subject yourself to your cruel and unjust creatures. What need have you of Mary and Joseph’s guidance for thirty years, compelling them to command you, that you may offer them your obedience, you who are the true light and infinite Wisdom, who govern those obeying? You see my constant rebellion, the result of presumption and self-love! I therefore am endlessly restless and full of a thousand errors, low spirits, contradictions and anger.
O divine Master, make my spirit and flesh submissive to you, and let not this filth ever oppose your will.
Infuse my wretched soul with the virtue of obedience, and reform it of all error and of its mean faults.
O purest Mother of God, O glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, the humblest and most obedient of all creatures, have mercy on the pitiable transgressions of my pride. From your most obedient Son obtain for me the grace of always doing his will. Amen.
VIRTUE – Obedience.
REFLECTION – Do today the will of others, without offering opposition. Restrain the idea that you must always be right in everything, and that your advice must be taken. Be persuaded that God is more pleased with us when we obey another, even if not the best person, than when we follow our own judgement. Obedience, the Wise Man says, is worth more than sacrifices.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Star of the sea, save me from the distress in which you see me.
The Sixth Saturday: The First Sorrowful Mystery - The Agony in the Garden (Jesus sweats blood as He takes on our sin)
1. Consider, my soul, how our divine Saviour, after washing his disciples’ feet, after instituting in their presence the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, and after speaking most tender and sublime words to them, went with them into the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, to be more easily found by his enemies.
And He said to them: “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray… Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:36 and 41).
Spontaneously He offered himself to the fulfilment of the Eternal Father’s command, for He himself desired it; and He fulfilled it in such a way that his Passion might both satisfy divine justice and inspire us to love him. Here then is the reason for his sorrow: love.
Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled” (Mt 26:37).
This loving Son wanted not only to sacrifice his whole body, but his entire soul too, with its powers; indeed, he wanted to begin the sacrifice of Redemption with this nobler part of his Humanity. Consequently, before his enemies appeared, He deprived his holy Humanity of the support it was receiving from the Divinity. And so, at the very moment that He disclosed all that it had to undergo, He reduced it to suffer the agony of a mortal man.
All the torments He was about to undergo in his body were then presented to his soul: the scourging, the thorns, the nails, the cross, the bile and vinegar; the soul’s torments, Judas’ betrayal, the disciples’ shameful flight, Peter’s apostasy, the slander of the priests, the injustice of the judges, the soldiers’ cruelty, the ignominies of his person, contempt for his teachings and miracles, the triumph of his enemies, the blasphemies of the rogues, the abandonment of God on the Cross and the anguishing sight of his sorrowful Mother! Immediately, therefore, fear and fatigue, disgust and bitterness, dejection and sorrow took possession of his soul, to such a degree as to threaten his life. He then said to them: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mt 26:38).
O troubled Heart of my beloved Redeemer, how is it that You have come to such desolation? Who has prematurely forced upon you death’s horrors and fears? This torment, the first of your Passion, was without doubt the most violent, for it wrung from you a prayer beseeching your Father to remove such a cup from you. “He fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’”. However, You immediately added: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39).
Observe, my soul: your Jesus turns to his disciples for comfort and finds them dejected because of his distress.
“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.’” (Mt 26:40-42).
And He did so for a third time. And his sorrow increased greatly, till seeming more the agony of a dying man than the ordinary pain of a man suffering. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly” (Lk 22:44).
The contrast that then appeared between the lower part of his soul full of repugnance, and the upper part full of submission, caused him to sweat blood so abundantly that He not only wet his clothing but also the ground where He was praying.
In this way He who defends everyone gave way to despair: in this way He who comforts everyone was distressed. And in this way the royal Prophet’s words were fulfilled: “I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 68:20).
O my most suffering Saviour, shall you thus gain my love? By taking on the same weakness and misery of man? In order to become the true comforter and faithful companion of the afflicted?
Oh how many splendid teachings You offer me in this Mystery!
2. My soul, four were the causes of your Jesus’ mortal sorrow, as He himself revealed to Blessed Battista Varani.
1st. The damnation of so many souls, notwithstanding his most bitter death. “Consider, my daughter,” Jesus said to Blessed Battista, “what sorrow and martyrdom were mine in seeing that so many members were being cut off from me, and so many souls that were to be damned! And each time a soul sins mortally, it is cut off from me.”
The innumerable and almost infinite multitude of the world’s sins were therefore distinctly present to his spirit, as well as a clear vision of divine Majesty being offended by so many crimes, rendered even graver by contempt of his love. Very few people would have profited by that remedy prepared from his love for all.
His only consolation was perfect compliance with his Father’s immutable decrees, who wanted him to suffer even for those who would not profit in the least from such suffering.
2nd. The sins and the sorrows of all the elect. “All the members of the elect who would have mortally sinned” said most benign Jesus “afflicted and crucified me by their separation from me.”
“Yet again, I felt and experienced all their bitterness, torments, repentance, temptations, the shame of their lives and even the sufferings of their Purgatory, as the very members of my body.”
3rd. The Most Holy Virgin, his Mother, whom He loved with an infinite love; his dear and beloved disciples and apostles, whom He loved more than a father loves his children; and the disciple Magdalene who, though she knew less about Jesus than John, nevertheless suffered his Passion and Death more than all the rest.
4th. The ingratitude both of the Jewish people, so blessed and favoured by God with a thousand miracles, as well as that of his dear disciple, Judas the betrayer. Jesus had knelt before this betrayer and washed his feet, and had embraced and kissed them as well with the greatest tenderness, speaking the warmest words of ineffable love. Finally, the ingratitude of all his creatures who, worse than Judas, would have betrayed him with their vile pleasures and even viler interests.
O Lord, how great a share I have had in causing your sorrow! How deeply my sins and transgressions, my infidelity and cowardice, were to pierce your purest and innocent heart! Unhappy creature that I am! Shall I never be the cause of joy and consolation to you? How different are the causes of my suffering in the world than those causing you this mortal sorrow!
O grieving Heart of my God, with this sorrow and sweat of blood you longed to expiate the foolish confidence of the wicked, and the senseless tranquility with which so many sinners slumber in sin, fearing not the least the surprise of sudden and eternal death. You longed to expiate the merriment, relish, pleasures and desires of life, those hopes to which I abandon myself even when they are contrary to your law.
You longed to repair the false contradictions of my heart and those confessions lacking inner sorrow.
You longed to sanctify in me and in everyone these same passions of sadness, fear, boredom, disgust and melancholy, which I experience along my spiritual path. You longed to comfort me whenever I suffer, and offer me the grace to bear my sorrow with patience, submission and joy.
You longed to fortify me, as You have fortified so many Martyrs in their struggle with death, and inspire me to repent, just as you have inspired so many other faithful souls to exercise themselves in harsh penance. How sweet, good and compassionate is your love! O sweetest Heart of Jesus, how I thank you for having so greatly suffered!...
3. My soul, your Saviour wanted to undergo this extreme suffering that you may come to learn the value of repentance regarding the senses, and the humiliations and contradictions of self-love; moreover, to teach you that no one shall ever be judged by the weakness of the flesh formed from mud, but according to the obedience of the will, a thing so pleasing to God.
In truth, He suffered mortal sorrow; however, it was in proportion to his strength in order to convince you that God, who distributes the sorrows of this life as He pleases, will never allow that your afflictions be beyond your strength.
In his very self He wanted to show you two opposing wills: one, human weakness, which flees suffering and seeks pleasure; the other, compliance with God’s will. This He wanted so that the Christian may not believe himself to be God’s enemy, though the flesh rebels against the spirit and yearns after its delights; and may be persuaded that nature is not at all harmful to the inner man, as long as he remains faithful to God’s law with all his will.
The Angel came down from heaven to comfort Jesus Christ, not because He lacked the strength necessary to combat the weakness of human nature, but to teach all those who suffer that their only comfort and strength come from heaven, and that God does not forsake us in our afflictions; indeed, where there are tribulations, there God is.
Finally, the Son prayed to his Father, though He knew that He was not to be exempted from suffering, in order to teach us, my soul, this most essential truth: that divine help does not consist in freeing you from the tribulations He visits upon you, but in helping you to bear them with humble submission and full conformity to his designs, forever united with him through love.
VIRTUE – Submission.
REFLECTION – From the break of day prepare to join your will to that of God in all things, both favourable as well as contrary. Throughout the day often repeat the short prayer of the Imitation of Christ: “O Lord, deal with me as thou wilt, for thy servant is ready to obey thee”. The practice of this prayer is a most efficacious way to reach the most sublime levels of perfection.
EJACULATION – O Mary, mirror of patience, You alone are my help in my temptations.
The Seventh Saturday: The Second Sorrowful Mystery - The Scourging of Jesus
1. Jesus before his judges. My soul, journey along these sorrowful roads your Father travels upon, your loving Jesus, in these hours of his atrocious afflictions.
Slapped in the house of Annas, He then passed into that of Caiphas where He was mocked, declared a blasphemer, an offender deserving death. He was then shut in a prison and there, until dawn, abandoned to the scorn, spittle and blows of insolent soldiers.
At break of day He was dragged through the streets, then handed over to Pilate and Herod by his judges. By Herod He was considered mad, and as such dressed in white and exposed to the ridicule and sneers of a seduced crowd.
My soul, admire your Jesus, ever humble, ever patient; He allows himself to be led like an innocent lamb, where He is to be tormented by humanity’s malice and Satan’s fury. Consider how he remains silent before the shouts, the slander and the scorn. And Jesus remains silent to teach you how to abandon yourself to God, whenever you yourself be accused or slandered; and for love of him do not seek any other justification but silence. “He was like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb” (Is 53:7).
In this way your heart shall find peace. How many Saints, how many solitary and peaceful persons have generated this silence of Jesus!
Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy! I am full of sin, while You are innocence itself: and yet, You love those who treat you so unjustly, even unto dying for them. And shall I cling to feelings of animosity and bitterness for the smallest of offences? You allow yourself to be judged by everyone, and yet I wish to be judged by no one? When will I see my heart changed, O infinite goodness? My God, my Saviour, my Teacher, I confess before you my ungratefulness, my pride and presumption: by your grace I long to imitate you and to suffer in silence every sort of pain and injury that will be done to me. With my whole heart I forgive all those who have injured me, and who will injure me. Through your love I free them from having to restore the honour of which they have deprived me, and I wish no other honour than that of loving and serving you. Destroy in me all sentiments of bitterness and vengeance, dilate my heart with your charity that I may unreservedly love you, and in you love all those who persecute me, “rejoicing to be counted worthy to suffer dishonour for love of the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41).
2. Jesus was taken from prison and dragged shamefully through the streets, so that He appear odious and contemptible to the people, who are accustomed to judging things by their appearance. He was treated as a cursed man, a seducer, a crazed person, and handed over to his executioners. Then, after being insulted and mocked, He was led through Jerusalem to the house of Pilate. Along the way they did him a thousand injuries, a thousand acts of violence. He heard nothing but curses. Dragged by ropes, pushed by spears, without rest, forced to walk on, worn out by the fatigue and torments of a whole night, if He fell He was loaded with blows and insults, as though the most despicable of all men. In this way the royal Prophet saw him: “I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6).
And in this way, from the garden to Calvary, in fewer than twelve hours they caused him to make six journeys, and all the way the sweet Master left behind traces of his steadfast patience, his profound humility, his infinite charity and his incredible penance.
Awake, my soul, arouse yourself from the drowsiness and apathy in which you lie. Admire those women who rush along the streets of Jerusalem with Mary, wetting them in their tears and filling the air with their sighs. Recognize the most beautiful among creatures, the most holy among women, the most afflicted among mothers; recognize Mary, Jesus’ dear mother and yours, who goes in search of her soul’s beloved, who goes about asking if anyone has seen him.
O Mary so meek, you persevered in sorrowful prayer the whole night long, till you came to know that your Son was in the hands of sinners. Who can express the anguish of your heart, when He was seized and put into prison, and made the butt of the soldiers’ insults and injuries, and when you heard from John the news of his torments and the death sentence handed down by the Sanhedrin? Yet you, ever submissive to the will of God, did not hint your anguish to anyone in the usual manner of women in pain; and though an unspeakable pain was tormenting you from within, you showed nothing but perfect submission. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, you repeated, let it be to me according to your word. And before the sun has risen you leave your silent dwelling, to go in search of Jesus and follow him all the way to the Cross.
And behold, turning into the street which leads to Pilate’s palace, there appears what seems a wave of agitated people. It is a huge crowd which, amidst shouts of scorn and curses, is dragging a man burdened down with chains, his hands tied behind his back, his hair torn, and his face bruised and deformed with spittle and blood, so much so He cannot be recognized. However, the violent beating of your heart, O Mary, indicates your innocent Son to you, in the middle of the ferocious multitude. In the midst of the mob’s curses and his enemies’ triumph, beneath the shameful robe, the Son of God, meek amid the insults, tranquil amid the shoves, lets out neither a whisper nor a complaint.
This divine Lamb, finding himself in the company of wolves, longed to see his holy mother; for those who love, when afflicted, feel the absence of their dear friends even more vividly, and ardently yearn their presence, though it may increase their pain.
But you, blessed Virgin, could not see your Son, nor could He enjoy this one consolation. Allow me then to accompany you so that once again you may see him, and be comforted with him.
3. The scourging. My soul, consider how Pilate, declaring Jesus innocent but wanting to satisfy the crowd, condemns the innocent man to a public scourging in order to save him from death. What justice! To condemn an innocent man solely to satisfy the hatred of his accusers!
Jesus Christ was made to enter the Praetorium and stripped of all his clothes, saying not a word nor showing resistance.
So, his heart overflowing in love, to the Eternal Father he offers his innocent Flesh, which is to be torn, and his precious Blood, which He has yearned to spill for us for so long a time. They tie him to a pillar and then, paying no heed to Jewish Law which prohibited serving more than forty lashes, but following Roman Law for which there was no limit in number, they give in to satisfying their fury.
An entire cohort of soldiers surrounds the place, forming an iron circle. Two powerful executioners, followed by others stronger and even crueler, seize a bundle of rods and leather whips and knotted ropes.
My soul, look upon your meek Jesus, as though convinced of all the crimes attributed to him, standing tied to a pillar.
Who can say what confusion and pain were his in that moment?
From the very first lashes his flesh is bruised, cut and torn; and his blood spills from every part. The whip-lashes tear at his flesh, they fall upon the open wounds, they continue opening sores upon sores. What atrocity, what a bloody spectacle! They scourge him beyond measure, yet He does not complain. They whip him so cruelly that his whole body is but an open wound.
Is this, O divine Jesus, the very cruel and shameful torment You longed to undergo for us, and to which You submitted in order to expiate our sinful pleasures? How can I continue offending you still? O my God, by what right have I deserved that You suffer so greatly for me? You had foretold everything through the words of the Prophets:
“The ploughers ploughed upon my back; they made long their furrows… (Psalm 129:3)… God gives me up to the ungodly,… He breaks me with breach upon breach (Job 16:11 and 14)… From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil” (Is 1:6).
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Is 53:5).
O my God, all this for our sins! Why? For wretches like me have You undergone such punishment? For me, guilty of so many sins, have You suffered such excessive pain? What can I do for you, therefore, O my Saviour, what shall I do to expiate my crimes?
Behold, my soul, this model of penance, from whom all the Saints learnt how to treat their body and to subject it to the spirit. For, as long as we live in this world, our soul will have no enemy greater than our flesh.
This flesh, ever rebellious, does not wish to submit to reins or a yoke. Without restraint it follows after the worldly inclinations favoured by the senses. It aims so violently for the objects it desires that the spirit is often oppressed, and suffers more pain from the flesh than from all its enemies joined together. Here, instead, are the objects of the great austerity practiced by Christians after the coming of Christ, unknown to the preceding centuries: hair shirts, iron chains, acts of discipline, continual mortification of the senses: and all of this for fear of seeing, hearing, saying and tasting anything that might contaminate the purity of their heart.
We must prevent temptation and falling by the mortification of our body. The Apostle Paul himself said: “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Cor 9:27). If even all the holiness of David and wisdom of Solomon could not prevent their falling, for they allowed themselves to be allured by the pleasures of the senses, what will be the fate of those whose lives are totally dedicated to seeking what pleases their body? Precisely to expiate and check this unruliness so common to humankind did our Saviour wish his innocent flesh to be so cruelly torn.
VIRTUE – Penance.
REFLECTION – Mortify the senses of your body, the instrument of sin and the cause of Jesus’ sorrows, by depriving yourself of your favourite food, or rising from bed earlier than usual, or spending an hour in silence.
Deprive yourself of a permitted amusement. Above all practice modesty, especially of the eyes.
Do not satisfy your curiosity regarding other people’s business.
Today recite the Rosary on your knees.
EJACULATION – O Mary, the refuge of sinners, I place all my hope in you.
The Eighth Saturday: The Third Sorrowful Mystery - Jesus is Crowned with Thorns
1. Consider, my soul, how the executioners, having tired of beating the Saviour, remove him from the pillar all covered in blood.
Observe your Jesus, ferociously wounded, his whole body an open sore, as He goes about searching for his clothes which the soldiers, in stripping him, had tossed here and there in anger and malice. He is forced to cross the Praetorium and undergo, in passing, the mocking and insolence of these unworthy men who add insult to injury. He suffers their insults, just as He had suffered their blows, with meekness, modesty and invincible patience. Finally having found his clothes, he gets dressed. Though He presented a picture worthy of the compassion of the hardest of hearts, those ravishing wolves were not softened. Indeed, to torment him even more, they invented a type of punishment until that time unknown, and which has never again been used even in the most barbarous martyrdoms.
This is the effect sin has on the soul committing sin shamelessly and with pleasure. A sin committed leaves behind itself the desire to commit others. Even when one is tired of sinning, one nevertheless is not satiated; and though one may no longer possess the energy to sin, there remains the sinful will.
One of the greatest illusions of sinners is to believe they can free themselves of temptation by satisfying it. Committing a sin has only the effect of increasing in us the inclination that draws us towards sin. In fact, according to the observation of St. Gregory (XXX Moral. 12), sin which has not been destroyed by penance draws us by its very weight to another sin. The soul, which loses God’s grace by sinning, also loses the strength to resist the occasions of sinning; and the body is less capable of restraining its passions, once it has tasted the pleasure of following after them.
Therefore, those scoundrels reached the point of losing every human sentiment. The Jews had accused Jesus of wanting to declare himself King of the Jews. Now, having beaten and made a mockery of him, they expose him to the hooting of the crowd, as a farcical king.
My soul, enter the courtyard of the Praetorium. Join Mary who, as the faithful companion of the pain and insults Jesus undergoes, is, she too, in this furious crowd’s midst, and hears their shouts and curses. Ask her for the grace of understanding this profound mystery and profiting by it, and alleviate her pain somewhat.
Again they remove Jesus’ clothes, which have already stuck to the sores recently received by the scourging. Again this blood begins to flow from all parts. They cover him with a worn-out purple robe, plait a crown with long thorns ending in hard and very sharp tips, and place it on his head. Moreover, so that it not fall, they fix it on with the blows of a stick. The thorns penetrate on all sides, in his forehead and temples, and the blood spills over his face, neck and entire person. These thorns cause him such acute pain that, were it not for divine virtue supporting him all the way to the cross, He would have died. This pain was to last until he’d have died. Oh what pain! Were a single one of these thorns driven into our head, what would become of us? And yet, as St. Anselm affirmed, the venerable head of Christ, the most splendid and delicate among man’s, was pierced by a thousand pricks.
He truly loved us and “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:4).
2. If you have ever suffered violent headaches, stop for a moment and consider how great this pain must have been for your Saviour, among the others He had to bear. The sole thought horrifies us!
And what would have caused compassion, what would have been impossible to witness without causing horror in the vilest of animals, served only to excite insolent laughter and cruel insults from those barbarous hearts. Jesus lets himself be led, undressed, and crowned, as they wanted, without saying a word or offering the least resistance, with superhuman patience. Closing his eyes on account of the extreme pain, He offers everything to the Eternal Father.
Here too the word of the Prophet Isaiah is fulfilled: “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Is 50:6).
Here Jesus’ eyes were not blindfolded as in Caiphas’ house: here He saw the insulting homage they were rendering to him, He saw the blows they were preparing. Yet He suffered all with the utmost silence, with steadfast patience.
“And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head” (Mt 27:28-30).
And because Jesus bore all of this with great patience, they gave in to their rage.
Oh, my proud, vile and sinful soul, consider how great your sins are which have been expiated by the very severe chastisement and punishment of the Eternal Father! Jesus mixed his tears with his blood, which He shed for you. Thus he expiated the delicacies of your body, the pleasures of your guilty flesh, the luxury of your clothes, the consequent vanity, and the pride they inspire in you. Thus He expiated the desire to dominate which is in all hearts. Thus He expiated all the sins conceived and preserved in our dishonest minds, in our memory, in our imagination and spirit. Thus your loving Saviour expiated the idolatrous care so many worldly persons take to adorn their proud and sinful heads, delighting in showing them off before the public gaze and alluring admirers, when they are merely dust. He merited for us the grace of patience and mortification, the grace of disdain of the world, its vanities and all its glory. He merited for us the grace of humility, kindness and patience.
My soul, in temptations, in projects of fortune, ambition and revenge, in your impure thoughts or imagination, think of Jesus crowned with thorns. And whenever you feel pain in the head, think of the sins you have committed; and, to atone for them, join the little you must undergo to the great things that Jesus himself bore for you.
Oh, my Saviour, what a great share I have had in those torments You suffered in the Praetorium! I myself placed that crown of thorns on your head, mocked you, spat in your face, struck your head, made your blood spill and caused you such cruel pain. Shall I ever be able to thank you for such love?
3. “So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe… Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’” (Jn 19:5-6).
O my divine Jesus, I wish never to crucify you again. I adore you as my true King, I recognize you, my sovereign Lord, in the midst of all these wounds, this shame and disgrace You have taken upon yourself that I may be invested with glory. Was not the blood pouring from your body sufficient, O my Saviour, without spilling that of your head also?
The head is the part of the body which distinguishes the individual, where a person’s features are found, where all the vital senses and organs unite, where beauty is revealed, where joy and sadness, health and sickness, and all the other sentiments of the soul appear. Precisely this part, O Lord, You allowed to be wounded by the thorns and bathed in blood. By these marks shall I recognize you, O loving Spouse of my soul, “the fairest of the sons of men” (Psalm 45:2).
Is this the face that draws sighs of yearning from the Angels, and offered delight to Joseph and Mary your Mother, now become the most afflicted among women? I adore, O God of my heart, I adore the ineffable love that has reduced you to this state, and infinitely thank you for such great compassion.
How wretched am I! Does this not yet suffice to make me love the cross, the insults and injuries, and all else that make me similar to you, O God of my soul? When troubles arrive, I am overwhelmed; when they last, I am downcast; when I am freed of them, I rejoice. When will you, O my God, destroy the weakness of my flesh by the strength of your love? All my thoughts aim toward the comforts of my body, the sweet things of life, the vain esteem I have of myself, the pleasure I take in the praises of others. I then forget how wretched I am, and how disgusting to your eyes. When shall I hate myself as much as I deserve?
You have been crowned with thorns while I flee from anything causing me the least pain!
O Most Holy Mother of God, perfect imitator of the Saviour, how greatly are you being crushed by sorrow! If even your innocent Son has been crowned with thorns, what will become of me who am so proud and delicate? Help me, O Refuge of sinners, to imitate his example; obtain for me the will and the strength to bear all the sorrow He shall wish to visit upon me, for I know I cannot belong to you without the cross and the thorns.
My Guardian Angel, and you O Angels of peace, who beheld my Saviour so disfigured and bleeding, and who clearly see the price of my Lord’s thorns, have mercy on a sinful and wretched soul seeking in the place of exile what can only be found at home; while, to be crowned with glory in Heaven with you, this soul must be crowned with thorns here on earth! Amen.
VIRTUE – Patience.
REFLECTION – With kindness bear the ill-tempered members of your family, who will never be lacking, for these temperaments are necessary for the exercising of virtue.
Bear weariness and boredom of spirit, melancholy and temptations, and even illness, without complaining and going from this person to that to speak about your woes or seek their pity.
Likewise bear the slander and scorn of others without becoming angry; in this way you shall find peace.
EJACULATION – O Mary, my life and hope, what would become of me were You to forsake me?
The Ninth Saturday: The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery - Jesus is Condemned to Death, Jesus Carries His Cross to Calvary
1. Jesus is condemned to death. My soul, consider how Pilate, grown fearful, tried three times to free Jesus; and for three times the crowd demanded his death with loud cries.
“Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” (Jn 19:15). Pilate could have served justice; instead, though declaring Jesus innocent, he frees Barabbas and with a vile consideration for human respect abandons Jesus into the hands of his enemies, to be crucified.
A herald announces that upon the order of the Emperor and conforming with Roman Law, because He wished to make himself king of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth has been condemned to death on the cross between two thieves sentenced to undergo the same punishment for their crimes.
My Soul, the hour has arrived in which your Jesus, your God, your Creator, the Saviour of humanity, is condemned by man to be killed at the very hands of man on an infamous cross. Who is there who can bear to hear such a cruel sentence of death? And you, what are you doing? From the very start implore Mary, that she deign to receive you in her company along the sorrowful road she travels over today, all the way to Calvary with her Son.
O Mary, Mary of sorrows, were you not forced to hear the furious shouts of death against your Son? Who sustains you in the midst of this inhuman mob? How can you bear such ferocity? Your Jesus, the life of your life, the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of humanity, the only hope of sinners, has been condemned to death! His enemies receive this news rejoicing, his friends and disciples are dismayed. Yet this innocent Lamb, notwithstanding the repugnance of nature and the pain of so great an injustice, accepts even death with loving obedience!
Oh, the excruciating pains of your Heart, my Jesus! You perceive the extreme ingratitude of these people who are shouting: “We have no king but Caesar…” (Jn 19:15). “His blood be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:25). Ungrateful people!
What a terrible lesson this is for you, my soul! How many times you have blamed the devil and the weakness of your flesh for the sin you committed through your own free will! So the Jews, blinded by their hatred, deemed it a trifling thing for the blood of God’s Son to be upon their and their children’s heads. The confused shouts of the crowd were joined to the voice of your sins, my soul, which were from that moment before the Eternal Father, seeking from him the death of the Saviour laden down with the world’s sins. This made St. Paul state that those who sin crucify him yet again, for they renew the cause of his death.
Forgive me, my God, because I am more wicked even than these people. They do not wish to see you because they do not know you; but I, who believe in you, who adore you, who confess you for what you are, how many times have I turned away when You came before me to draw me to you? Remedy this fault, Lord, let me never lose sight of you again, and may You forever be the object of my vision, my yearning and my love.
Sinful soul, listen to the voice of the herald. Observe the diligence of the soldiers in carrying out the cruel sentence. In the midst of this uproar observe the silence, peace, meekness and charity of Jesus who hears, sees and suffers everything, yet without a complaint, without any sign of impatience.
O God of my soul, how can I see what I see, and hear what I hear? You, a false King? You, the faithful friend of our souls, a criminal? You, the author of life, worthy of death? Indeed, I am guilty of such faults: yet I though guilty live, while the innocent one dies? The master gives up his life to save that of his slave? O divine and pure love, why do You not consume me with your flames? Why do You not completely subject me to you, O almighty Heart who sacrifice yourself for me?
2. Jesus is loaded with the Cross. So that Jesus be recognized by everyone, they violently tore the old robe off him, thus re-opening his wounds, and dressed him in his own tunic once again. Being without seams and with no front opening, it was necessary to pass it over his head; this was not possible without causing him great pain, as it got entangled in the thorns. And so the crown was sharply shaken, the pain of the sharp pricks renewed, and blood began flowing once more.
When all was ready the Saviour came out of Pilate’s house, flanked by a double line of soldiers who kept the crowd at bay. On coming out He caught sight of the cross that had been prepared for him. This was the most shameful of all punishments, reserved to slaves or to those subject to a public curse; and in fact, no one approached it for fear of the shame. This long, heavy cross, therefore, was placed on the scourged and torn shoulders of Jesus! Yet Jesus did not in the least remain dismayed!
He had always considered the cross as a bride very dear to him, as the refuge of his friends, as the star that was to lead his chosen ones on amidst the stumbling blocks of this world, as the trophy of his glory and the eternal monument of his boundless love.
No sooner had the Saviour been led before the cross than He fixed his eyes and heart upon it and said, not in words but with his soul:
“O dear beloved cross, which I have been longing for all my life! You indeed are the promised bride, and to win you I have served thirty-three years. You are the dispenser of my possessions, the trophy of my victories, the glory and crown of my love. Behold, the day has finally arrived on which we are to be closely joined. You shall be the standard of my chosen ones, who cannot attain to glory but through you, the cross. You are the glory of my servants: those who glory in you shall be honoured; those who will be ashamed of you shall fall into disgrace. Today you shall draw me into your arms, and I will bath you in my Blood; you will then become the Mother of all the nations. Come therefore, my faithful companion, let us go together to Calvary, where I must undergo death which is to tear my body from your arms; however it cannot separate my heart from you. You shall be the terror of hell and the joy of heaven. Those who seek me and wish to follow after me shall accept you as their guide, and through you shall obtain everything they desire from me.”
With such feelings of esteem and love for the cross, He allowed it to be laid on him. He tenderly embraced it, and in this way went before us as the leader and model of the elect. And because there was no one superior to his Virgin Mother, He granted her the first place beneath this standard.
She followed him through the streets of Jerusalem, in the trace of blood she found along the way, as she herself revealed to St. Bridget. And while Jesus was carrying this heavy cross on his shoulders, she carried a cross in her heart no less sorrowful.
In this way He wished to teach us these three truths: first, that it is a great grace to carry the cross behind Jesus Christ; second, how far removed from these two models of perfection, Jesus and Mary, must they who do not bear the cross consider themselves; third, how great the blindness is of those unwilling to understand this grace.
Jesus himself wished to be seen laden down with his cross in full daylight, in his own robe, in the presence of all these people along Jerusalem’s most crowded streets, from Pilate’s house all the way to Calvary, to affirm by His example what he had taught with his doctrine, that those who do not carry their cross after Him are not worthy of being his disciples.
3. Jesus carries the Cross. My soul, observe your Saviour coming out of the Praetorium bowed down beneath so great a weight, worn out by the loss of blood, barely able to remain standing. In such a state He walks toward Calvary, preceded by a herald and the two thieves who are to be crucified with him, surrounded by soldiers who continue to injure him, and followed by the Priests, the Doctors of the Law, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, who themselves lead him on; and they will not leave him until they are sure that He is dead.
Meanwhile this most meek Redeemer, out of breath, begins to sweat; all of his wounds reopen because of his exertions. Finally, having left the city, no longer able to bear up, He sinks to the ground beneath the cross. The soldiers cover him in blows and a thousand insults to make him rise. The Jews however, fearing He may die before they have the barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, force Simon of Cyrene, whom they meet coming in from the country, to take his cross and carry it to Calvary. “And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus, more concerned about our sins than his pains, turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children… For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’” (Lk 23:27-28 and 31).
Now Mary, passing along a shorter street, as St. Bonaventure meditates, places herself where she is sure to meet her Son when He passes this way. He arrives, but alas!, the sores, the bruises, the blackened blood make him seem a leper. Overwhelmed by love and fear Mary looks at him, and Jesus, removing a clot of blood from his eyes (as he revealed to St. Bridget), looks at his Mother. Looks of pain that rent these most noble, loving and holy Hearts. “My Son!...” the afflicted Mother said, but said no more for the pain was so great that, were it divided among all creatures, it would kill them all by its sharpness, as St. Bernard says.
The Prophet had said: “All you who pass by, look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam 1:12). The Mother longs to embrace him, but they insolently push her aside and press the grieving Lord on. Mary follows behind.
One of the most painful wounds causing our Redeemer intense suffering along this journey was a wound on his shoulder, as Venerable Taulero and St. Bernard meditate: a heavy beam of the cross had been placed there and had caused a large sore, which alone became the sum of all his other wounds. The pain penetrated into his most compassionate Heart.
O holy cross, consecrated by the sweat and blood of my Saviour, I too embrace you.
You shall be my refuge, my light, my knowledge and all of my wisdom. Do not abandon me, never leave me, though my flesh fears you and flees you. In you there is health, life, victory over the evil Spirits, the joy of the heart, the perfection of virtues. You confirmed the Apostles, fortified the Martyrs, sustained the Virgins, and sanctified all the Just. You delight the Angels, defend the Church, fill Heaven and, on the great day of the last Judgement, will appear with Jesus for the glory of his elect and the eternal confusion of his enemies.
My miserable and sinful soul, what did you find when you fled from the cross?
No matter what you do to avoid it, you nevertheless meet it, for you inhabit a place of exile and a valley of tears. Dodging it on one side, it only meets you on the other in an infinity of sorrows which sadden you, which worry, agitate and depress you, leaving you no hope.
If you abandon yourself to seeking the delights of this world, you lose peace of mind, inner consolation and heavenly wisdom. The world divides you, causes you distress, drags you after itself. If you shun the cross to follow the inclinations of your flesh, you find you are caught between constant agitation and confusion. If you shun it to follow after vanities, you remain empty, hungry, always yearning yet never satisfied. Meanwhile the things you have so highly valued slowly fade away: first your health, afterwards your honour, then your riches and finally your friends.
What you desire never arrives; or if it should sometimes make an appearance, it never lasts. You cannot place your trust in life: death is accompanied by fears and torments, for what surrounds you contaminates your conscience. At every step you find a thousand displeasures; and from so many useless cares you are often left with only bitter tears, pain without comfort and useless losses.
O holy cross, because I fled when you presented yourself to me, because I did not embrace you with my whole heart, behold the danger which has surrounded me.
O holy cross, light of heaven and the sure refuge of the afflicted, receive me in your arms and by your help join me to him who has redeemed me on you. Amen.
VIRTUE – Loving one’s cross.
REFLECTION – With your whole heart embrace your cross, which consists in the sum of all the little crosses inherent to your state. And if you are suffering from a chronic ailment, keep it hidden from the eyes of others as a true treasure which daily enriches you for eternity.
Often repeat today the words of Jesus Christ:
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).
EJACULATION – O Mary, though I be a great sinner, you are always my Mother.
The Tenth Saturday: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery - The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
1. Jesus is given gall to drink and then stripped of his garments. He arrives at Calvary, called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull. They leave him no time to breathe! Hurriedly they prepare everything necessary to crucify him, for they wish to remove this life, hated by its enemies, from the world as quickly as possible.
My soul, hear the cries, observe with what anger they untie him and tear away his garments which had clung to the wounds; and once again his pains are renewed. Observe his bleeding and torn body. Penetrate his very Heart; you will find it meditating upon your misery, or concentrating on heaven and your reconciliation. From the great fatigue and the heavy burden of the cross Jesus is exhausted, and they offer him wine mingled with gall. The Prophet had already foretold this gall. So Jesus, upon arriving here, begins expiating the sin of our first Fathers, which was the disobedience of the forbidden fruit. His throat was the only part of his body still intact, yet with this too he wanted to suffer for us.
How great is the number of those whose God is their belly, and who have made the temple of the Holy Spirit a dwelling place for the devil, losing their body and soul to satisfy the pleasures of their flesh!
We must show obedience with our throat also, by shunning sensuousness and by accepting without complaint the food set before us, though it be of a disagreeable taste, especially when the Church’s precepts join our penitence to that of all believers.
My soul, place your Saviour before your eyes, covered in blood, wretchedly disfigured, wholly an open sore. His heart grieving, shedding the warmest tears, He raises his eyes to heaven and once again offers himself to the Eternal Father as a sacrifice for us.
“And he was heard for his godly fear” (Heb 5:7).
Once again, with unbelievable pain, they place the crown of thorns on his head which they had before removed. His blessed head is again tortured, and new blood pours upon the ground. My soul, harder than stone, why do you not bow down at his feet to wet them with your tears and receive the precious flow of blood spilling from his every part? How many graces you will find there! How much enlightenment and consolation!
My Jesus, my Saviour, my Love, allow that I embrace your sacred feet. I long to kiss them before they are nailed to the cross; and I long to be consumed by your love before death takes you from me. With your divine hands, before they are pierced by the nails, embrace my sinful soul on whose behalf You are bearing such horrible torments. Destroy its malice, in its poverty clasp it to your Heart, that it may never again be separated from you.
O Lord, I behold you deprived of everything, of your garments, the company of your relatives and friends, the sweetness of your Mother, your reputation and honour. When, O Lamb of God, will You grant me the grace to detach myself from all that keeps me from you? Your Apostle Bartholomew imitated you to the point of losing his very skin; and Peter not only wished to be crucified, but upside down. Augustine, in practicing perfect detachment from all that had been an occasion of offence to you, never again admitted a woman in his house, nor touched money for fear of contaminating his soul. Others withdrew to the desert or in cloisters; others surrendered their bodies to torture. Those who were forced to live in the world used it as if they used it not.
O Love that deprives itself of all, O Love that transforms all, change this heart of mine, make it similar to yours, poor and deprived of everything, detached from creatures and intimately joined to you. Crucify my heart with yourself and consume me by your love, O my hope, my repose and my glory.
Jesus always obeys with meekness and promptness, as He considers his tormentors the executors of his Eternal Father’s orders; this to teach us to preserve submission and inner peace in the most disagreeable and painful events of our lives.
When we suffer violence, injustice, betrayals and other sorrows, and look upon them as ordered by God, who sends them to us by means of the ministers of his loving designs, we must sincerely submit to them. However, since it is natural to view those who torment us with aversion, the person we crucify with Jesus is being called to constantly sustain an inner struggle, so that he not view his tormentor with aversion and give in to despair. He must remain close to God and receive what befalls him in a spirit of submission and surrender. He must open his heart to faith and to the certain trust that it is Jesus who is sending this pain, that he will not be tempted beyond his strength, and that this tribulation shall one day end and be turned into joy (Cf. 1 Cor 10:13 and Jn 16:20).
And now, my soul, with intimate pain observe your sweetest Redeemer: He wanted to be born naked, He lived poor and naked He suffered, being unable to cover his purest limbs; nor did he have a place to lay his sacred head.
O Mary, they will cast lots for the seamless tunic woven by your hands! Who is there here who can penetrate the heavy sorrow oppressing your Heart?
2. Jesus is crucified. My soul, the cross is ready: behold the altar upon which this divine Lamb is about to be sacrificed for you. Behold the marriage bed upon which Jesus awaits his chosen souls.
Why, O my sweet Jesus, do you not permit me to be nailed to the cross instead of you? I and not you deserve this scaffold.
Observe, my soul, with what meekness and submission He stretches out on this bed of pain, having no pillow other than his crown of thorns. He lifts his eyes to heaven to open its doors, until then closed; and because he is both the Priest who reconciles and the victim of our reconciliation, without a word He offers himself to his Eternal Father with open arms and the burning desire to save all sinners.
He says: “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son” (Jn 17:1).
He has stretched out his arms to invite sinners, to embrace them and present them to his Eternal Father. He leads the guilty back to God, He joins heaven and earth, and He makes one family of humanity, of which God is the Father. There had never been nor ever will be a Priest more acceptable to God, nor a more sacred altar, nor a more perfect sacrifice, nor a holier victim, since this is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Observe how they seize his hands and drive huge nails through them, piercing his nerves, so that they might better support the weight of his body. The nerves contract owing to the violence of the pain. The same is done to his feet, and in this way the Saviour’s body is completely dislocated. But He is silent, He does not let a sound escape him: moreover, upon his face where the sharpest pain is depicted, there is revealed his superhuman patience, his deepest submission and his most vivid love.
My soul, if you are able, feel his pain; and if you cannot, at least desire to feel it. Ask Jesus to impress upon your heart what He is feeling in his most sacred body.
O my God, soften the hardness of my heart so that it becomes sensitive to your pain, to your love and to the hatred of sin which has reduced you to such a state. Do not deny me, O Lord, what I am seeking from you, for I cannot feel your pain if You yourself do not grant me this sentiment through your mercy. From this place your blazing heart raises its cry to all the world: “Come to me, all you who are guilty, and I shall forgive you; come to me, all you who are afflicted, and I shall comfort you; come to me in these arms extended to welcome you, all you who are lost, and I shall receive you.” “Learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29).
O divine Jesus, compassionate Shepherd of this tormented soul, behold I am coming to you. I obey your voice. Here is a lost sheep that is returning to the fold: welcome me in your arms. Grant me this love, this meekness, this lowliness to which you invite me. Subject me entirely to your will. Impress upon my soul these divine virtues, that I may follow close behind you and never again wander astray. For so long I have been deaf to your voice, which from within was prompting me to come to you. Open my ears today, that I may hear you and follow: and incessantly hold me with your omnipotent hand, for You know how easily I forsake you. Receive me in the company of those bearing the cross after you, and bind me to it that I may reap the fruits of salvation and of eternal love.
3. Jesus dies. When the cross, upon which the Saviour was nailed, was lifted and dropped into that hole, who can understand what pain these movements caused, what jolts to a body whose nerves were taut and limbs dislocated? He himself testified through his Prophet that all his bones could be counted! “They have pierced my hands and feet, I can count all my bones” (Psalm 21:16-17).
Before this spectacle ferocious cries of joy and derision were raised to heaven by his enemies who were satisfied, while the Saviour, suspended between heaven and earth, stretched out his arms to receive all sinners and offer Heaven to them as their possession, thus fulfilling his prophecy: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32).
It was the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land; the moon was the colour of blood; man had accomplished the killing of God!
Blaspheming beneath the cross, they mocked the Son of God amidst the curses of a thief, the scorn of the vilest soldiers and the challenges of the Chief Priests and Scribes.
And Jesus, silent until then, opens his most holy mouth and utters the word of forgiveness, not only for his executioners but for all those who were the cause of his death through their sins, imploring that they not obstinately continue in their sin but be converted. And with love and moans He said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
Such love! Such compassion! Why do my eyes not become two fountains of ever-flowing tears, and my heart, a furnace of eternal love? Lord, communicate the feeling of your pain to my soul.
I adore you, O Son of the living God, lifted up on the cross, exposed to the eyes of the world; I bow before you, I praise and bless you, love and thank you, and I acknowledge you as God of my heart, love of my soul. Here beneath this Cross You gather all your children scattered throughout the world; here You rip to pieces the sentence of eternal death uttered against all humankind; here You sanctify suffering and You give yourself to all souls. What an excess of love! You were born in secret and in the silence of night; You were visited and adored by a few shepherds and the three Magi alone. You were recognized in the Temple only by two just souls; you lived in obscurity for thirty years and publicly for a mere three. After your Resurrection You appeared to a few chosen persons only, for a short time and in solitary places. Only your disciples were witnesses of your Ascension, after which a cloud hid your glory from them. Yet, in being crucified You wished that this take place publicly, at the hour of noon, during Passover (when Jews came to Jerusalem from all over), between two thieves, with your arms extended and your heart full of sorrow and love.
“I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Rom 10:21; Is 65:2).
O Lord, may you be blessed, praised and glorified by all creatures.
Here you are, O my Jesus, your life at an end: our Redemption is complete. All is finished: and You have not yet been taken down from the Cross! Your only thought is to suffer and to love. This is what You want us to learn from you, the model for all of humanity: not the miracles, not the glory, but the suffering and the love.
The only treasure You leave to us is your divine Mother. Mother, behold your children; Children, behold your Mother… (Cf. Jn 19:26-27). May You be blessed! This is the great treasure you left us when dying: Mary, Your own Mother.
O Mary, you witnessed the cruel and shameful things they did to your Son; you heard the blows of the hammer as they drove the nails through the hands and feet of your Beloved; you saw him nailed to the cross. What will you do now, most afflicted Mother?
She was there, still and quiet, observing that excess of pain being communicated to her through her motherly love. She was weak, from a night passed in suffering, from lack of food, from the tears she had shed. Moreover she was a woman, a mother, the Mother of God, and therefore even more sensitive. Though bearing an immeasurable pain with great effort, she did not faint as women often do; she stood firm, her soul pierced through, in everything conforming to the will of the Father.
Her tears having dried, she stood there for a time pale and trembling, until, by means of a secret virtue communicated to her by her Son, she gathered her strength and rose, opened a way for herself with St. John and the women who had accompanied her, and drew near the cross.
In that moment, standing firm and fixing her eyes on the Saviour, she became our advocate by inwardly offering to the Eternal Father the pains and the blood of their Son, with the ardent wish of saving all of humanity.
She feared to see him dying, and suffered in seeing him living in the midst of torments.
She wanted the Eternal Father to alleviate the pain, yet desired that the orders of heaven be fulfilled to their fullest.
That divine Lamb and this innocent sheep gazed at each other, and understood: each was being tormented by the other’s sufferings.
Only the two holiest Hearts of the Mother and of the Son can understand everything they suffered; because their pain is in proportion to their love, to know how much they suffered we must understand how greatly they loved. And who can measure the extent of such love?
She is holy, innocent, without a blemish, the faithful companion of her Son’s pains. What greater cross can a mother bear than that of being forced to watch her own son dying in pain and torment, and she unable to offer him solace, or utter a word of comfort?... Such a bitter cross was reserved to Mary alone, for she alone could bear it. Her love for Jesus made her suffer more than all torturers ever could.
The Saviour saw from the cross that his pain was piercing the heart of his most holy Mother, the sight of which was yet another sorrow for his gentle heart.
But his Eternal Father had wanted it so; this was the height of the sacrifice and obedience being offered to his divine Parent. Hence, he did not even comfort her with the sweet name of Mother, but said to her, Woman, behold, your son!...
VIRTUE – Fortitude.
REFLECTION – Bear with courage all the pains and adversities that befall you today, imagining yourself to be with Jesus crucified in body and in soul.
Strong in spirit, reject all temptations, recalling the Apostle’s words: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24).
If your friends have forsaken you, do not complain. Forgive offences just as Jesus forgave those who crucified him, and for love of Mary of Sorrows give up all feelings of hatred and revenge.
Let your conversation be longer and more benevolent with those whom you do not like, while brief and reserved with those whom you like.
EJACULATION – O Mary, most bitter sea of sorrow, let me weep along with you.
The Eleventh Saturday: The First Glorious Mystery - The Resurrection of Jesus
1. Consider, my soul, how Nicodemus and the rich and noble Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Council, placed Jesus in a new tomb hewn out of the rock, wrapped in a linen shroud covered in spices. They rolled a great stone before the entrance of the tomb, and went away. However, the Chief Priests and Pharisees, recalling Jesus’ prophecy that He would have risen on the third day, obtained permission from Pilate to keep watch before the tomb: “So they went and made the sepulchre secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard” (Mt 27:66). How narrow is our vision, O My God! O human prudence, how weak are you against the Lord! You shall serve for your confusion and his glory. Jesus, who died on Friday, rose on the third day by virtue of his divinity. His most holy Soul, separated from his Body, remained joined to his Divinity and was still the Soul of a God. His sacred Body, though separated from his Soul, was still united with his Divinity and was still the Body of a God, even in death worthy of the admiration of man and of the Angels. Jesus descended to Limbo as God and as deliverer.
Imagine, my soul, how these holy souls were expecting him for so long a time; some, as Abel, from the world’s very beginning. Observe with what love and gratitude the Saints of the Old Testament, on seeing their Saviour, offered him their adoration and thanks. You too must imitate them in desiring to be admitted one day to Paradise through the merits of your Redeemer.
Jesus’ most sacred Body rested in the tomb for three days, because by suffering and dying He had freed from eternal death the people of the three ages of the world: those having piously lived under the Law of Nature, those under the Law of Moses and those who were to live under the Law of Grace.
It was barely dawn of the third day when Jesus in an instant rose from the dead and came forth from the sealed tomb, as He had come from the immaculate womb of his Mother, and as He would shortly enter the supper-room behind closed doors. As the omnipotent God He did not want to make known the manner of his resurrection, but worked in secret. This was to be revealed to man by means of Angels, as belonging to the supernatural order. “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (Mt 28:2-3). One Angel was enough to terrify the soldiers on guard before the tomb, topple them over like dead men, and make them all flee.
Come, Priests, Scribes and Pharisees, see now those men whom you armed against a dead man you called a seducer. Your example has been followed by the impious among us, who think they can quiet the apprehensions haunting them by numbering Jesus among outstanding men, like Numa, Moses and Mohammed.
But which of your fabulous heroes could ever state, while still living: After three days I shall rise? These portentous words were reserved to the true Son of God: neither fables, nor impiety, demons nor man, no matter how sublime and powerful, could imagine something similar! No one touched your soldiers, no one said a word to them; yet, behold their bewilderment, solely because of what they have seen. If they are not dead, if they are able to rise and flee, it is only so that you yourselves learn of your defeat and shame from these same undeniable witnesses of the Resurrection; indeed, so that everyone might realize that they have seen him undergoing scourgings, thorns and death only because He himself wished it. You are not worthy of understanding the Mystery of the Resurrection from the witnesses chosen by God.
O true Son of God, what consolation this is for me and for all those who sincerely believe in You! Your Resurrection, O my glorious Saviour, filled your enemies with fear while inspiring only joy and great consolation in me, for Your Resurrection assures me of my reconciliation with God, and therefore my justification as well. Yours is the model of the resurrection of our souls to grace, and of the final resurrection. And just as You took on a new life in rising, we too, having risen from sin to grace, live a new life. Help me, O Lord, to overcome the obstacles which still stand in my way. Remove the enemies of my salvation, send your holy Angels to me, and may you alone govern my actions till the moment when You shall manifest yourself to me in blessed eternity.
2. Observe, my soul, how Magdalene suffers at having to quit her beloved Master’s tomb. On Friday evening she wets this tomb with her tears; and the Sabbath rest surprises her still before this grave. On Saturday evening she returns, and does not leave but to go and buy spices, and once again return on Sunday morning. O noble example of a true conversion to God! O model of the human heart, though fragile yet made strong in God’s love! True love is not extinguished by the death of the beloved person, for “love is stronger than death” (cf. Song 8:6).
It is still night and the full moon continues shining brightly over the land, when Magdalene awakes her companions and urges them to set out on the journey with her. Magdalene anticipates daylight for the hours pass too slowly for her. Alas, why do I not possess Magdalene’s same longing, pious impatience and devout solicitude for the body of Jesus in the tomb, when I go to Jesus Christ to receive his living Body? I am so unlike her because I do not possess her same love! My soul, imitate her fervor by often visiting your Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: there express your tender feelings of love and burning desire to receive him, and through this spiritual Communion internally embrace him as often as possible throughout the day, during the wakeful hours of the night and upon awakening in the morning.
“Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb…” (Jn 20:1). The first object that surprises her is the huge stone (sealed upon the order of the Pontiffs) removed from its place and overturned. She approaches, glances inside the tomb and sees that her divine Master’s Body is no longer there. What a shock she receives! Without a doubt, she thinks, someone took it during the night; but where can she look for it? “So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’
Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
Stooping to look in, he saw the linen clothes lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen clothes but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that He must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.” (Jn 20:2-10).
My soul, consider Magdalene’s grief in not finding Jesus; and learn what must be the pain of a heart that truly desires to be converted to God. She does not quit this place, “but stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb…” (Jn 20:11). She is left behind by everyone and has only her pain and tears to keep her company. And how many tears she shed! How many times did she call her divine Master! How many times did she repeat his adorable name! O grieving heart, O desolate soul, why do you remain in a place so sad for you? Why do you continue looking into a tomb, where your Master no longer is? Ah, if only we sought Jesus, like Magdalene! If only, after losing his grace by sinning, or the consolation of his love by our indifference, we felt the gravity of our loss, like Magdalene. If only, like her, we persisted in looking for Jesus and calling him with our tears. Like her we would find him, with an abundance of joy far surpassing our expectations.
My God, today I shall recall the day of your Resurrection, and today is to be the day of my perfect conversion to you.
I now understand: to the tomb go those hearts most in love with You: Peter, John and Magdalene with the other pious women; and You wish that I too find You, by dying to myself, by burying my unhealthy desires, by practising mortification. Then grant me the grace to die to myself, to rise with you and to then lead a life similar to yours, that is, a new, divine and immortal life: new in the changing of my ways; divine in the purity of my sentiments; immortal in the perseverance of good. Work in me, O my God, this happy change. Let me pass from death to life, from darkness to light, from an imperfect life to a perfect life worthy of you.
3. Consider, my soul: another quality of a heart converted to God is an indifference towards anything that does not relate to Jesus. God alone, nobody but God: this is her motto, her daily exercise, her longing and the cause of her every desire. No other affection, no other interest must occupy her heart, for Jesus is soon to come and establish his kingdom therein. Take Magdalene as your model.
“And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.
They said to her:
‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them: ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him’” (Jn 20:12-13).
She is restless; she is not astonished at the appearance of the two angels, nor is she dazzled by their beauty or flattered by their words. She sees and hears them, and responds, but only to find out from them where Jesus is, ready to quit them for a gardener if he can offer her an explanation. She believes that everyone understands the reason for her weeping. She even mistakes Jesus for a gardener and offers to go take his dead body by herself, as though it were a flower. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away” (Jn 20:15).
How courageous is true love! Everything seems easy: the worst torments are borne with the same courage, as was seen in millions of martyrs. And what will she do when she hears her Master’s voice calling her by name? She who had never left the cross of her Jesus, nor could pull herself away from his tomb?
See, my soul, the sublime effects of a heart’s true conversion. It then becomes the Most Holy Trinity’s throne, satisfaction and delight, the object of its favours, and the admiration of angels. Observe this in Magdalene. With what satisfaction this divine Saviour observes her sentiments and desire, her love, perseverance and courage, wherefore she is willing to undertake anything! He rewards the love of the souls which convert to him by filling their hearts with the purest and most ineffable love, If Jesus were to see Magdalene’s generous disposition in me, what would He not do for me?... Alas, quite the opposite happens! To please the world and satisfy my passions I undertake things beyond my powers. Only when I should be serving God and trying to acquire perfection do I claim weakness and helplessness!
O Jesus, I acknowledge you as my true Master; deign to acknowledge me as your disciple. Manifest yourself to my heart and kindle it with your divine love. What is this I hear from your divine lips, O my Saviour? Go to my brethren… O Lord, You had said You would call them servants no more, but friends: and now You call them brothers?... O burning love of my Saviour! He calls them brothers who only a few days before had fled from him for fear, leaving him in the hands of his enemies! O my benefactor, You do not complain about them nor reproach them, rather, you call them by the loving name of brother? You set Peter apart to assure him of the forgiveness already granted to him, and You honour him as head of the Apostles. O love of Jesus, how compassionate You are towards the children of man, always gentle, always loving towards sinners! And who is the sinner so foolish, so hardened, that he does not throw himself at the feet of the best of fathers, always gracious and merciful towards his tormented children?
Peter immediately obtained forgiveness for his faults; though he had relapsed on Friday, he at once repented and ran to throw himself at the Blessed Virgin’s feet, saying, most certainly in tears: My Lady, forgive this unfaithful servant who out of fear has denied his God, your Son! And Mary comforted him. Moreover, he no longer doubted having received Jesus’ pardon too, for Jesus is never contrary to what his Mother wishes.
My sinful soul, if for your many relapses you lack the courage to come before Jesus, though He be gracious and compassionate, turn to his Mother, a source of divine mercy. Go before her with confidence; from her Son she will obtain for you the means of relinquishing sin and the grace of a sincere conversion. Jesus Christ, having received from Mary his most holy Humanity which He sacrificed for our Redemption, gave her all the treasures of the merits acquired during the course of his earthly life.
O Mary, you were the first to receive from Jesus the consolation of seeing him risen, you who as his Most Holy Mother had participated in his Passion more than anyone else. You were the first to see him in all the splendour of his glory, surrounded by the angels and the souls of the saints, just as you were the last to quit his cross when, dead and disfigured, you held him in your arms.
He thanked you for all you had suffered throughout his thirty-three years: for the very rough moments in Bethlehem, for the people’s rejection, the abjection, poverty and flight to Egypt among strangers, and the bitter participation in all his sufferings, as the Co-Redeemer of humankind. Make me a part of your spiritual joy, and fulfil the burning desire of my heart. Convert it to God, draw it entirely to you, and stamp upon it all the pain and the passion of your crucified Lord. Amen.
VIRTUE – Conversion of your heart to God.
REFLECTION – Examine your conscience to see what prevents you from progressing in your love of God and in the full conversion of your heart to Him; and seek a remedy by following the advice of your Confessor. Today arise from your sluggishness, and from this moment begin a new life of fervour and charity. Throughout the day renew fifteen times your resolution not to displease God any more, nor your Guardian Angel, by repeating: “Lord, better that I die than offend you any more”.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Queen of the world, take possession of my restless heart.
The Twelfth Saturday: The Second Glorious Mystery - The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven
Gospel Reading: Luke 24
Other Scripture Reading: Acts 1
1. Consider, my soul, how the risen Jesus wished to remain on earth for forty days in his glorious state, and show himself visibly to his Disciples, to confirm their faith in his real and true Resurrection. Yet He did not always wish to be manifest, so that without seeing him they would nevertheless believe in him, just as we believe him present everywhere as God, and as God-Man in the Eucharist.
The glorious Lord desired to remain on earth forty days, as though to compensate for the many tears and sighs of the just throughout the forty centuries they had awaited him.
The fixed time came: after giving every power to the Apostles, and commanding them to teach the nations and baptize them, He ordered them to gather together on Mount Olivet.
“And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me… before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth’” (Acts 1:4-8).
My soul, adore your Saviour who is about to ascend to Heaven. Rejoice with him for the glorious triumph and honours which He is going to receive from his heavenly Father and from all the blessed Spirits. From this moment and with ardour ask him for the spirit of faith. With this spirit go to Jerusalem: observe how your Saviour departs from this ungrateful town and sets out for the Mount of Olives, accompanied by his divine Mother, the Apostles, his first Disciples and by many pious Women, more than five hundred in number. The Lord wanted such a multitude of chosen witnesses to strengthen man’s belief in his Ascension to Heaven, where he was to be our Advocate by his Father, and our great Pontiff, taking pity on our miseries as He had done during his earthly life. Join Mary, pray that she grant you a share in her faith and follow her all the way to Mount Olivet.
Here, with profound respect and veneration, listen to Jesus’ final words as he upbraids the Apostles for their lack of faith in his resurrection and in the promise of the Holy Spirit. Turn a tender and respectful gaze upon Jesus who is about to ascend into heaven: his divine eyes which had shed so many tears, and were languid and dying on the cross, are now more blazing than the sun. His venerable head is no longer drenched in blood, nor crowned with thorns, but with immortal glory. All the wounds that formerly disfigured his body now cover him in divine splendour; no longer a motive of shame and infamy, they contribute to his glory and to the splendour of his triumph. With Mary and the Apostles, inflamed with celestial ardour and sustained by quick hope, observe Jesus: having become visible to them all, he raises his hands and blesses them, and then is most gently lifted into the air.
2. “Lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Lk 24:50).
What a spectacle! What a marvel! The disciples had never seen anything so wondrous. They had seen him walking on water before his death. He had come in their midst in the supper-room behind closed doors. But here Jesus is with them: they speak with him, He speaks with them, then is lifted up into the air. They gaze after him but no longer possess him: a white cloud has surrounded him and removed him from their sight. They know where He is going for He had so often told them. He is lifted to heaven, from whence He descended; He returns to his Father who had sent him to earth. He goes where they cannot go for now, but one day shall go. He goes to occupy the place reserved for him, and prepare the places He has merited for them and for all of us. He goes to sit at the right hand of his Father, and rest in his bosom, until He calls us to be with him. Why is my heart not moved by such a spectacle? My cold heart, open yourself to this surest hope; separate yourself forever from the earth to become more firmly established in heaven.
The Angels, the Archangels and all the heavenly Powers come before their King. All the just who have been dead from the beginning of the world, and all those who have risen with Jesus Christ, come together to accompany his glorious triumph. Adam, Eve, Abel, Matusalemme, Job, Tobias, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the holy Prophets with Isaiah and Jeremiah, the holy Kings with David; St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Joachim, St. John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the holy Wise Men, the old venerable Simeon and Anna, the good Thief. The flesh had been thrown out of the earthly paradise, but in the person of the Word made flesh it is now lifted into Heaven. “Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty” (Psalm 24:7-8). He is the Lamb of God who was killed; He is the victorious Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lord of hosts, the King of glory. This is the title with which Jesus Christ goes to sit at the right hand of the Father, and seats all those whom He has delivered. And there He shall await all those who will believe in him and profit from his redemption. How many are those already seated there! And how they observe the earth and all that keeps man occupied!
Towards heaven, then, O my soul! Keep your heart and mind forever directed towards heaven, as the end of your mortal journey, the place of your repose.
Faith teaches you: “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb 13:14). Therefore be lifted up through faith, keeping in mind that earth is not your home; a citizen of heaven, here you are only journeying as a pilgrim, always in expectation of your return up above. Accordingly, busy yourself today, strengthen your faith in the Christian virtues, which are opposed to false earthly possessions and vain illusions which corrupt the heart.
Faith is the eye and reason of the Christian, it is the foundation of the entire edifice of our eternal salvation: “the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb 11:1). The reward of faith is paradise. He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned. Through faith Jesus dwells in us, and we in him. Through faith Jesus works in us, and through faith his Mysteries and his Life are communicated to us.
3. My soul, if you look toward the promised reward, you will consider every burden light and will succeed in bearing poverty and the privation of life’s comforts. Peacefully you will accept insults and injury, and close your eyes to the false splendour of the world, that it may not dazzle you, remembering always that all worldly pomp and glory is doomed to end as dust in the grave. The soul separated from the body will carry with itself nothing but its works: unto its glory, if good; unto its confusion, if bad. So as to lose not the thought of eternity, Macarius, Anthony and the Stylite abandoned the towns to go live in the desert. Benedict, Bernard, Dominic and Francis withdrew to cloisters and, by sanctifying themselves, sanctified their neighbour!...
Now consider, my soul, what the affection of a soul touched by the desire of eternal life must be, which directs its every thought and action to Jesus Christ, as the Apostles did.
“And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11).
The Apostles, therefore, stood very still in that moment, unaware of everything happening about them, incapable of the least distraction, inflamed by heavenly ardour and sustained by joyous hope. Though they no longer saw Jesus, they could not quit gazing into heaven.
“And they worshipped him, and then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away” (Lk 24:52 and Acts 1:12).
Spiritual joy is therefore the fruit of obedience, which causes prayer to follow action, and action to follow prayer. The Apostles obeyed the command of the Angel… Just as you must obey your superiors who stand in the place of the Angel. Be obedient to your duties which are God’s will over you. Do not fear leaving the Holy Mount, that is, contemplation, to return to the Town, that is to say, the ordinary occupations God demands of you.
Remember that your Jesus entered into heaven from the top of Mount Olivet, at the foot of which he had begun his Passion. At the foot of this divine mount the Master was seen prostrate, in agony, then seized, tied and led forth like a criminal… From humiliation and suffering, therefore, which humble you in the sight of man, you will ascend to the mount of glory which is in heaven.
O my Jesus, full of love and gratitude I rejoice with you over your glory and triumph. But remember, O my divine Saviour: to redeem me you spilt all of your precious blood, and have ascended into heaven to prepare a place for me, as You yourself said. Make me worthy of occupying this place one day. Sustain me by your grace, that I may come to this heavenly and long-desired kingdom. Supply me with your strength, that I may overcome all my enemies wishing to be an obstacle along the way.
Mary, Mother of this beautiful hope, with your love and your grace pave the way which lead me to heaven. Amen.
VIRTUE – The desire of heaven.
REFLECTION – Following the example of the first Christians, show in all your actions the faith which animates you. “The just person lives by faith”: therefore do not attach your heart to vain speech and appearances. Spurn the distractions of the world in the hope of everlasting joy and the company of the Apostles.
In every disagreeable event say: “All must pass away; we do not have a permanent dwelling here, but aspire to one that is to come.” During the day repeat three times: “When, O Lord, shall I see your beautiful countenance?”.
EJACULATION – O Mary, the stairway of heaven, draw me with you to things of everlasting beauty.
The Thirteenth Saturday: The Third Glorious Mystery - The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Gospel Reading: Luke 24
Other Scripture Readings:
1. Jesus, before his Ascension, had said to the Apostles: “John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5)… “When they had entered (Jerusalem), they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:13-14).
“And they were continually in the temple blessing God” (Lk 24:53).
My soul, penetrate into the Upper Room. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is praying with the Apostles and the Disciples, who with confidence join this Holy Virgin in prayer to hurry the coming of the Holy Spirit. And we, what must we hope for in our petitions when we wish to invoke so great an Advocate? She is the Mother of Jesus; this very title is a pledge of her goodness and her power.
Let us contemplate them all together, as their hearts and spirits intimately enter into prayer; they express themselves powerfully, their desires and love forming one and the same language. What faith, what reverence, what concentration!
Here is the efficacious and necessary disposition to receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: devotion to the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Spirit’s most beloved Bride, and fervent and constant prayer, especially in common because this reveals a union of faith and charity with the Catholic Church, in which all the faithful are members of one body with the Pope as the visible Head.
O Mary, who have always been a Teacher of the Church, and full of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, teach me to pray well. Pray on my behalf, and from the depths of my heart draw forth those groans and sighs which have the power of attracting the Holy Spirit to me. Inspire in my soul and place on my lips those prayers most in conformity with your Heart, that they may please you and be fully satisfied by this bountiful God.
Spirit of Goodness and Love, penetrate my heart and pierce it with the dart of your divine fire, that it may never cease praying, according to the counsel of the Saviour, with ardent faith, concentration, deep humility, steadfast trust, generous perseverance, and above all with a love so fervent that it may never be weakened. Jesus himself promised: “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk 11:10).
2. Consider, my soul: just as the Patriarchs and the Prophets contributed by their sighs to draw on earth the Divine Word, so too the Holy Spirit wishes to be invoked by our desires. Let us therefore open to him not only our mouths, but our whole heart and our soul as well, saying with the Psalmist: “With open mouth I pant, because I long for thy commandments” (Psalm 119:131).
But this bountiful God always anticipates his creatures: I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, moved to compassion by your sufferings, I have drawn you to me (cf. Jer 31:3). And Jesus said to his disciples: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32).
Therefore often repeat, my soul, with the Bride of the Sacred Songs: Draw me, O Lord, after you, and we shall follow the fragrance of your oils (cf. Song 1:3-4).
Contemplate, my soul, what took place on the day of Pentecost. “They were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2). Understand that, as the wind scatters the clouds and purifies the air, so by entering the soul the Holy Spirit first cleanses the mind of all its evil thoughts and the heart of its earthly affections. It disperses the shadows of the intellect and then restores the soul to a wholly divine life. By his breath He gave life to humanity and to the Church of God, and by his breath shall preserve the Church throughout the centuries. “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4).
Behold these tongues of fire, lofty, shining bright, parted and resting on each one of these Saints…
These are the expressions of divine Goodness. This Spirit descends under the symbol of tongues. Man’s arrogance was the cause of the confusing of tongues at the Tower of Babel, which separated them from one another. The coming of the Holy Spirit brought to the Apostles the gift of tongues, by which the people of every nation were united in a unity of Faith and Baptism, in the Catholic Church. And a tongue of fire is the Holy Spirit, because He is a living source of love. Just as fire purifies metal by destroying any impurity, so the Holy Spirit is a burning fire purifying the soul of all its defilement. He consumes every obstacle, as attachment to ephemeral things, human honours, vanity and the comforts of life. He then raises the affections of the heart and the thoughts of the mind to heaven, and loosens the tongue to divine praises.
He is a bright fire illuminating our spirit as He sheds light on our sins and our thanklessness towards God, our Benefactor. He is a gentle fire insinuating itself in our heart, penetrating it and setting it on fire. Finally, He is a fire rising to heaven with its flames, a fire of love. This is essential to his nature, as He proceeds from the Father and from the Son by means of love. Therefore He longs to communicate what he possesses, indeed, what He is, and He pours charity and zeal into our soul.
Oh, the greatness and goodness of God! He propagates his truth and his Church through twelve Judean fishermen, deemed foolish and unrefined by the world in comparison to the wisdom of the Greeks and the Romans! These rough, ignorant and timid men, who so cowardly forsook their Master at the time of his Passion, inflamed by this divine fire communicated to them by the Holy Spirit, now confess the glories of his name in every language.
“And they began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
They preach Jesus Crucified in Jerusalem, and the Gospel to all the nations of the earth. “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” (Acts 2:5-6).
They announce to the world the greatness and wonders of Jesus of Nazareth. They fight like heroes, and prompted by burning zeal encounter torments and expose themselves to death. Finally, by suffering death they triumph over all the wisdom and powers of man, and cause even the tyrants to tremble.
We know well how to imitate the Apostles in their infidelity, cowardice and flight, but we do not wish to imitate them in their composure and incessant prayers. Therefore my soul, pray most fervently to the Holy Spirit, that He descend upon you this very day. From him seek a spirit of fervour and the fruit of zeal.
3. Fervour, the Holy Fathers say, is a supernatural movement of the soul which endlessly aims at becoming united with God by means of love, overcoming any obstacle rendering this union less than perfect. It is a divine fire, a heavenly flame coming from the Holy Spirit which generates zeal; that is, it readies the soul and renders it courageous in undertaking and fulfilling whatever God orders it, notwithstanding the difficulties. By multiplying acts of love the heart becomes so joined to God that, like the Apostle, it defies all creatures to separate them. “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ?” (cf. Rom 8:35). Neither the sword, nor hunger, nor the tyranny of man or of the passions.
Ever vigilant, the soul corrects all worldly gratification in itself: an indiscreet word it considers a tacit reproach; it allows itself not even a curious glance at creatures. Its gaze is directed to God alone whom it loves.
The soul moans with St. Paul in finding itself on earth still. Its exile weighs it down, yet its impassioned yearning incessantly raises it towards heaven. Whether advancing, says St. Bernard, or remaining still, whether acting or resting, it never strays from the loving presence of its Beloved.
It longs for everyone to burn for love of him. Yet, ever benevolent and compassionate, it prays and suffers for others.
This spirit of holiness and purity will not sanctify us if we fail to offer sacrifices in proportion to the sinful secrets and longings of our heart. This heart cannot remain empty: as soon as it becomes empty of itself and of creatures, God fills it with his spirit. But alas, I am so sensitive to any word which displeases me that I easily become disturbed and upset. I am so pusillanimous that I do not dare rebuke the blasphemies of others, or reproach any mockeries against God, the Virgin and the Pope.
O divine Spirit, inflame my heart with your irresistible love. But alas, how many times did your voice speak to my soul, yet I listened not! Had I been faithful to you, how many vices I should have uprooted, how many virtues acquired, and what rapid progress should I have made in the perfection of my state! I would be quite full of you, O my God; instead, I find I am only full of myself and all the things of this miserable world! I would be burning with your divine love, while instead I am so languid that I dare not even say I love you! O divine Spirit, forgive my past infidelity entirely, which I so bitterly deplore. Break my chains, draw me to you, for I have resolved to be faithful to you. Bow the heavens and descend even to my nothingness: let yourself be possessed by so mean a creature. I shall welcome you with joy, and faithfully keep you. Heavenly fire, purify my heart.
O holy Apostles, pray for me, communicate to me your ardour, your living faith, your burning zeal. Grant me a share in the gifts you received from this Sovereign Spirit of goodness and love, that like you I too may firmly believe and zealously work for Jesus, and with you may come to enjoy him in heaven for ever. Amen.
VIRTUE – Zeal.
REFLECTION – Today offer many acts of love to God. Do not be ashamed of openly showing that you are Catholic, and encourage others to love God. Show that you are devoted to Mary by uncovering your head at the ringing of the Angelus.
As often as you can prevent any blasphemies or offences made against Her.
Mary is very pleased when we rescue girls and orphans from being lost. Remember that if you save a soul, you shall have also saved your own.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Bride of the Holy Spirit, renew my heart and offer it to God.
The Fourteenth Saturday: The Fourth Glorious Mystery - The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
1. Consider, my soul: for Mary also the hour of departure from this valley of darkness has arrived. Finally, after so many torments, she too can repeat the words of her Beloved: All is fulfilled: the prophecies, the spread of the Church of Jesus Christ, the heroism of all the virtues.
After the Ascension of her divine Son, she lived in Jerusalem with St. John the Evangelist, with whom she then retired into Ephesus. She later returned to Jerusalem where she lived until her death.
As in every other place, here too her life was dedicated to the love of God, to uninterrupted prayer and to the perfect practice of every virtue, especially that of most ardent charity towards her neighbour. She would often visit the places sanctified by the Mysteries and the presence of her divine Son, and was the consolation, Teacher and Mother of his Church.
The moment finally came which she so ardently desired, that of being for ever united to the Sovereign Good. Her spirit rejoiced in the love and desire of its Lord, and most wholeheartedly offered itself to happily return to its principle.
And you, my soul, bound to the misery of this earth, why do you not aspire to your homeland? Why do you so greatly fear leaving this life? What does this world offer you? What enchants you in this valley of tears? Pray to Mary, that she obtain for you detachment from the earth and the desire of everlasting treasures, and prepare you for death by the ardour of her holy examples!
When John heard from the Blessed Virgin that she was about to depart from this life, we read that her relatives and friends, and the Disciples, came in a great number to Mount Sion where the Mother of God then was, to contemplate her yet another time, express their love to her, listen to her last memories and recommend themselves to her prayers. Indeed, by divine providence, as St. Dionysius the Areopagite tells us, the holy Apostles too were there, who at that time were scattered throughout the world to preach the faith of Jesus Christ. All were weeping over the loss of so gracious a Mother, and so powerful an Advocate and Teacher, as the Damascene writes, and the Blessed Virgin was consoling everyone with her sweetest love, promising them all her help and intercession.
May you too draw near this most gracious Lady, express your needs to her, seek her help, and through the merits of those holy Disciples ask that she obtain for you all the graces you desire. Have confidence, do not doubt, that our dear Mother will hear you. But remember the love of neighbour and the saving of souls, helping them as much as possible by your good example, by suitable warning, by patience, by charity and by praying to God for all the world. If you pay this homage to Mary, you can be sure that she will always be favourable to you.
O my sweet Mother, if only it had been my lot to be present at your felicitous passage! If only I could have kissed your sacred feet and recommended myself to your protection! However, because I did not have the pleasure of beseeching you then, I now kneel before the throne of your Majesty and recommend myself to you, glorious and immortal.
May you be present, I pray, at my bitter death and assist me in that tremendous moment on which depends my eternity, for the sake of this adored hour of your passage and triumph.
2. Consider how, the hour of Mary’s passage having arrived, her Divine Son came down from heaven accompanied by innumerable hosts of Seraphim. Think how He must have whispered the words of the Canticle “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past…” (Song 2:10). Quit the valley of tears where you have so greatly suffered for my sake. The voice of the turtledove, of your yearning heart, is heard in our land (cf. Song 2:12). Mary rejoiced exceedingly at this loving apparition, and her spirit was glad in Jesus her divine Son. And after receiving the Most Holy Eucharist from the very hands of Jesus, as St. John Damascene says, full of joy she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me once again according to your word. Into thy hands, O Son, I commit my spirit.” (ck. Lk 1:38; Lk 23:46). You gather to yourself this soul whom You created in your image and preserved from sin.
Behold, my soul, Mary is already departing for heaven; turning to those before her, she gives them her dear maternal blessing. You too draw near her feet and seek her blessing.
O dear Mother, I rejoice with you over your destiny and happiness, your glory and greatness. You well deserved, O Mary, to be so highly loved and glorified by God, for throughout life you thought only of loving and glorifying God.
However, I shall not quit this place till you will have blessed me. This is the last memory of the Mother who is about to leave her children orphaned and downcast. Recommend me to Jesus Christ, and have mercy on my misery. A loving glance from you, a kind recommendation, a word, a sound is sufficient to obtain every grace for me. Have pity on my mortal life, and at the hour of my death do not forget me, rush to my aid and assist me in my bitter agony.
My soul, if in death you wish to experience Mary the Mother of love, in life be a faithful child of Mary’s love. And if you desire that your death be accompanied by Jesus’ assistance, do not sever your heart from Jesus. Happy am I, should I love Jesus and Mary throughout my life! Blessed am I, should I die in their arms!
I promise you, O my God, to love no one but you, to think of no one but you alone. I recommend to you, O Mary, the tremendous passage of my soul.
A sweet melody resounded in the air accompanied by an angelic song which said: “Mary has been taken up into heaven amidst the rejoicing of Angels, who bless the Lord for having glorified their Queen. Open, O eternal gates, for the King of glory enters, and is leading his Beloved and our Queen.” The others were saying: “Who is she who comes from Lebanon leaning on her Beloved, like the Dawn appearing, beautiful as the Moon, shining as the Sun? She is a perfume sending out the fragrance of every virtue. She is a majestic olive tree, radiant in grace and beauty.”
Understand then, my soul: the Blessed Virgin, being free of original sin and any trace of present fault, does not lose her beauty; and the Lord wished that she rise into heaven, not by her own power, as Jesus, but by the power of God.
The glorification of her body in advance was a seal of the privileges of God’s Mother and of her Immaculate Conception. She was conceived in the blood of Adam, but through a very special grace without a shadow of his sin, completely pure, completely beautiful and immaculate. She became a mother while remaining the purest Virgin, a unique privilege granted to no other woman. It was therefore even more just that the glorification of her immaculate body be anticipated, this living temple of the Holy Spirit, with all the qualities of glorious bodies: agility, lightness, impassability and luminosity.
3. The light could not be divided from the sun. The light was Mary’s soul, rich in grace from the very moment of its creation; and the sun was her immaculate body, in which the Holy Spirit had formed the humanity assumed by the Word. The Church calls the Virgin choice as the Sun because she was privileged above all other creatures. And as the sun when setting leaves behind a golden light, so Mary at the setting of her mortal journey left to us the light of her examples, in all the theological and cardinal virtues, and especially in her fourfold purity: 1st. Purity of her body, by which she became the Mother of God. 2nd. Purity of her heart, by which she was the delight of the Holy Spirit in all the purest affections of her soul. 3rd. Purity in her faith in God which she preserved inviolate and fervent, and consequently she was teacher to the Apostles, consolation to new Christians and the seat of wisdom. 4th. Purity of intention, by which she directed everything to God and received everything from his hands, as a faithful handmaiden: joys and sorrows, humiliations and triumphs. She is therefore compared to the Cedar of Lebanon and to the Cypress of Mount Sion with its trunk towering towards heaven, and to the Palm in Cades.
Purity does not only regard the body, which is called chastity, but is the whole of all the virtues, which excludes any vice. As a result it belongs more to the soul, as the Psalmist says: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).
In fact, God’s blessing has been promised to the one who keeps his or her conscience pure: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5).
All of Mary’s glory, therefore, proceeds from her being Immaculate and from being from the very first moment superior to the very Angels. And from that moment God was looking towards our age, when after nineteen centuries the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into Heaven were to be defined.
O holy immaculate Virginity of Mary, together with the Church I too shall exclaim that I know not with what words I may praise you!
O my sweetest Lady, you have already left earth, and have arrived in your kingdom where you reign Queen over all the choirs of Angels. I congratulate you for the very lofty privilege of your Assumption into Heaven. But remember, it was on behalf of us sinners that you were raised to such dignity and glory; you therefore have not lost, indeed have increased, your compassion towards us poor children of Adam. And so, from the great throne upon which you reign turn your merciful gaze upon me too, O Mary, and have pity on me. See me, help me. Observe what storms and dangers I must encounter until arriving at my life’s end. Through the merits of your blessed death, therefore, obtain for me love of perfection with purity of faith, of conscience, of heart and intention, that I may end my days in the grace of God. And on the day of the Lord may my body too rise glorious and come to kiss your feet in paradise, as I join the blessed Spirits in praising you and in singing your glories, as You deserve. Amen.
VIRTUE – Purity.
REFLECTION – The best way to glorify Mary on earth is to imitate her virtues, especially purity of conscience, avoiding every offence against God. To obtain this, for ever struggle against the most frequent and deliberated venial sin, and make every effort to avoid it. Strive to overcome your passions and acquire perfection, thinking that you will gain Mary’s special protection and love. This is the way to go straight to heaven and avoid purgatory. Pray to her every day to obtain for you her fourfold purity; that is, purity of the body, purity of the heart, purity of intention and purity of faith.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Mother of divine love, let me die to the world and live only for You.
The Fifteenth Saturday: The Fifth Glorious Mystery - The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin and the Glory of All the Saints
1. Neither human nor angelic tongue, says St. Epiphanius, can describe the honour and triumph with which Mary was welcomed in heaven on the glorious day of her Assumption. This alone can be said: that there never was and never shall be a greater, after the glory and triumph of her Son. No created mind, St. Bernard states, can grasp with what glory the Blessed Virgin entered into heaven, with what devotion she was welcomed by all the choirs of Angels, with what pleasure and delight she was received and embraced by her divine Son.
Consider therefore, my soul, how the Angels, after the Redemption had taken place, longed to have in heaven in body and soul both the God-Man and his Mother. And now the desire of the heavenly inhabitants is fulfilled.
As the Lord had wanted the Ark of the Testament to be introduced into the city of David with great glory, so now with an even nobler and glorious triumph he ordered his Mother to enter into heaven. The King of heaven himself, St. Bernardine tells us, went to meet her with all his heavenly court, and thus surpassed the glory of his own Ascension.
Consider how, shining with joy and splendour, he invited her saying: “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon!” (Song 4:8). And Mary, fairer than all other creatures altogether, rises from earth, crosses the spheres and arrives at the throne of the Most Holy Trinity. And the Angels, upon seeing her so beautiful and glorious, ask: “Who can this creature be who comes from the wilderness of the earth, a place of thorns and tribulations, so pure and rich in virtue, leaning on her beloved Lord?” “Who is she?” The Angels accompanying her reply: “This woman is the Mother of our King, she is our Queen, the blessed among women, full of grace, the saintliest of the saints, the beloved of God, the Immaculate, the dove, the fairest of all creatures.” Hear then the canticle of all the blessed Spirits who praise her: “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great pride of our nation!” (Jud 15:9).
St. Bernard contemplates that as on earth there was no place or temple worthier of God than the virginal womb of Mary, so in heaven there is no throne higher than the regal throne upon which she was placed by her Son. He placed her at his right hand, above all the choirs of Angels, to make as it were a separate choir with his humanity. He associated her to himself as his Mother, his Bride, the Co-Redeemer, his Collaborator in the Redemption of the world, and as Queen of the universe.
O glorious and blessed Virgin, I rejoice and am glad with you for the great glory you enjoy in paradise, seated at the right hand of your Son and established as Queen of Heaven and earth. O dear Virgin, the whole universe, by believing in your divine Son and in the true Church, acknowledges you as Mother and Queen, and rejoices that in you it has such a gracious Mother at God’s side, and such a great, loving and powerful Queen.
2. Now consider, my soul, how the Most Holy Trinity crowns Mary with the most precious crown. The Eternal Father places the crown of power on her head, granting to her, after Jesus Christ, dominion over all the creatures of heaven and earth and hell, so that the Spirits of darkness tremble at her name. To her, therefore, the words of the Psalmist can be applied: You have crowned her, O Lord, with glory and honour; you have placed her above all the works of your hands (cf. Psalm 8:6-7). The Son encircles her head with a crown of wisdom, as the Queen of heaven, of the Angels and of man redeemed by his blood; and the fruit of redemption he places in her hands. As the Queen of clemency he gives her the keys of divine Mercy. The Holy Spirit adorns her with a crown of charity and, as the Mother of beautiful Love, infuses her with God’s love as well as a burning love for her fellow creatures, and ardent zeal for their well-being and salvation. Behold her, therefore, become the wonder and admiration of the angelic hierarchy.
Moreover, the Virgin was crowned with the wreaths of virginity, martyrdom and learning, for she was the Virgin of virgins, a martyr in the passion of her divine Son and a teacher of our religion, instructing the teachers themselves in the mysteries of the faith.
Finally Our Lady was crowned with the crown of twelve stars, as it is written in Apocalypse: “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12:1). For just as the greatness and virtues of all the orders of Saints who are in heaven were united in her, so she was crowned with all their merits, represented by the twelve stars. There shone in her to the highest degree the faith and hope of the Patriarchs, the light and contemplation of the Prophets, the charity and zeal of the Apostles, the fortitude and magnanimity of the Martyrs, the patience and penance of the confessors, the wisdom and prudence of the doctors, the holiness and purity of the priests, the solitude and prayer of the hermits, the poverty and obedience of the monks, the charity and purity of the virgins, the humility and patience of the widows, with the fidelity and the harmony of the married Saints. And by them she was recognised as their Queen.
My soul, who can ever imagine the angelic symphonies, the melodies and canticles of the blessed Regions in praising God and the Queen of mercy? The great Virgin sits at the right hand of her Son, and seems to be saying to all generations: “The Lord has regarded the humility of his handmaiden, and has been pleased to let the riches of his grace shine in me. Therefore, come to me all of you who in this valley of tears and sorrow are oppressed and afflicted, I shall relieve you, for God has made me the cause of your joy.”
Yes, my adored Mother, I come in answer to your call. I am oppressed by the weight of my faults, I am prostrate, weighed down by the chains of sin. Yet great is my hope, O Queen, that you will deliver me! O my Mother taken up into heaven, reigning in body and soul in blessed glory; I believe you as such, and love and revere you. O Mary, send your light to illuminate the darkness of my spirit which lies buried in the gloom of bitter night. Let the rays burning in your holy love penetrate me, to kindle this lukewarm heart of mine with virtue, zeal and fervour. O divine Mother, do not allow my soul to perish in darkness. Surly I deserve every misfortune and punishment for my sins; yet, interposing your merits before Jesus, let your goodness deliver me from the punishments I deserve and obtain for me the favours I deserve not.
3. Behold, my soul, how all the saints of paradise come to greet her as Queen, from Adam and Eve to the Patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, and the Prophets and holy Virgins. “The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens also, and they praised her” (cf. Song 6:9).
Then followed the martyrs and the confessors, her relatives, Elizabeth, Zechariah and the Baptist, her parents, Joachim and Anne, and her purest spouse, Joseph. Who can express the joy of all these, and their words of gladness and consolation? My soul, join your voice with the blessed choirs, as they exclaim:
Hail, O Queen of heaven,
Hail, O Queen of Angels;
Hail, sacred root, hail, O gate
whence light was born to the world.
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
the fairest of all,
and pray thy Jesus for us.
Now, if the human mind cannot comprehend the immense glory God has prepared in heaven for those who have loved him, who shall ever comprehend, notes St. Bernard, the glory He prepared for his beloved Mother, who on earth loved him more than all humans and Angels together?
Finally, Mary wishes us to contemplate in this last mystery not her glory alone, but also the glory of all the Angels and the Saints, as the glory of her vassals which is likewise unto her honour. This contemplation shall prompt us to do as the Saints did, to acquire glory.
Therefore consider, my soul: from heaven Mary invites you to contemplate in this mystery the glory of the Saints alongside her own; that glory which has been made ready for you too, to encourage you to begin and continue the path of virtue with perseverance. Thus the great Mother will always keep you in her company in the blessed kingdom. Then look towards paradise, and let the vision of so many Saints who were once weak and tempted like you, but by the grace of the Lord and through Mary’s intercession have now obtained this everlasting bliss, be an encouragement and comfort to you. Resolve therefore to do everything possible, to omit nothing, that may lead you to this infinite good: to live and reign with Jesus and Mary for ever.
If you are wanting in virtues, seek them from Mary on this day of her glorious triumph: especially, ask her for perseverance in her love, which is a sure pledge of predestination to glory.
Remember what Saint Alphonsus says: “He who is persevering in devotion to Mary, particularly in her Rosary, shall obtain final perseverance.” For as St. Augustine teaches us, final Perseverance is not a virtue one can acquire, but a gift granted to one as the reward of assiduous prayers. And what prayers are more efficacious than those which Mary addresses to her Son on our behalf?
O great and most glorious Lady, prostrate at the foot of your throne my soul venerates you from this valley of tears. Now that you are already enthroned as Queen of heaven and earth, do not forget me, your poor servant. Being so close to the source of graces, you can more easily furnish us with them. From heaven you see my miseries better, and so must have pity on me. Make me your faithful servant here on earth, that I may come to bless you in paradise. Today, as I contemplate you as Queen of the Universe, I consecrate myself to your service. In the midst of so much joy add to my consolation by accepting me as your son. You therefore are my Mother, and as Mother must save me. On this last of the Saturdays consecrated to you, grant me your love and everlasting devotion to your holy Rosary, and obtain for me final perseverance.
With you too I now rejoice, O blessed spirits and saints of paradise, because of the glory and unspeakable bliss you enjoy in God and with God. I too am destined to the same blessed glory, but shall never arrive if not with your virtues. Therefore, O angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, hermits and all you saints, pray to your Queen for me, that through her mediation I become worthy of one day joining you in contemplating my God, and may glorify and bless Him, with Her, for ever and ever. Amen.
VIRTUE – Perseverance in devotion to Mary.
REFLECTION – Kneel today before an image of Mary and, declaring that you wish to be her faithful servant for all your life, offer her your thoughts, affections, works and entire being. Promise that you shall never neglect reciting at least five decades of her Rosary. Ask for her love and perseverance in your devotion to her for the rest of your life. Blessed are you if you arrive to reciting the fifteen decades of her holy Rosary every day: Mary has promised final Perseverance for the daily reciting of the Rosary.
Invite every soul to the devotion of Mary, distribute rosaries and advise the practice of the Fifteen Saturdays. If you want Most Holy Mary to come and assist you at the hour of death, always trust in her goodness, and love her as your Mother.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Queen of the angels and of the saints, You are the Queen of my heart.