Friday, April 17, 2015

The gaze of the suffering Christ

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The path of reparation begins with the contemplation of the sufferings of Christ; a contemplation, Blessed Marmion tells us, that is "like a sacramental causing the soul to share in that divine sadness which invaded the soul of Jesus in the Garden of Olives . . . "  In this contemplation the gaze of Christ also penetrates the depths of our hearts and touches them with repentance.  We are touched by the sorrow of the Lord and by the realization of our participation in what brought him such suffering.  Only when we have allowed this gaze to take root in our hearts will we experience a quickening within us of a "hope in the infinite value of the sufferings by which Christ satisfied for us, and this brings us ineffable peace."

If you contemplate with faith and devotion the sufferings of Jesus Christ you will have a revelation of God’s love and justice; you will know, better than with any amount of reasoning, the malice of sin. This contemplation is like a sacramental causing the soul to share in that divine sadness which invaded the soul of Jesus in the Garden of Olives, to share in His sentiments of religion and zeal and abandonment to the will of His Father.

On the night of the Passion, Peter, the Prince of the Apostles to whom Christ had revealed His glory upon Tabor, who had just received Holy Communion from Jesus’ own hands, Peter, at the voice of a servant-maid, denies His Master. Soon afterwards, the gaze of Jesus, abandoned to the caprices of His mortal enemies, meets that of Peter. The Apostle understands; he goes out, and bitter tears flow from his eyes: Flevit amare.

A like effect is produced in the soul that contemplates the sufferings of Jesus with faith: it, too, has followed Jesus, with Peter, on the night of the Passion; it, too, meets the gaze of the Divine Crucified, and that is for it a true grace. Let us often keep close in the footsteps of the suffering Christ, by making the Way of the Cross. Jesus will say to us: “See what I have suffered for thee; I have endured a three hours’ agony, endured the desertion of My disciples, and having My face spat upon, the false witnesses, the cowardice of Pilate, the derision of Herod, the weight of the Cross beneath which I fell, the nakedness of the gibbet, the bitter sarcasms of My most deadly enemies, the thirst which they would have quenched with gall and vinegar, and, above all, the being forsaken by My Father. It was for thee, out of love for thee, to expiate thy sins that I endured all; with My blood I have paid thy debts; I underwent the terrible exigencies of justice that mercy might be shown to thee!” Could we remain insensible to such a plea? The gaze of Jesus upon the Cross penetrates to the depths of our soul “and touches it with repentance, because we are made to understand that sin is the cause of all these sufferings. Our heart then deplores having really contributed to the divine Passion. When God thus touches a soul with His light, in prayer, He grants it one of the most precious graces that can be.

It is a repentance, moreover, full of love and confidence. For the soul does not sink down in despair beneath the weight of its sins: compunction is accompanied with consolation and comfort; the thought of the Redemption prevents shame and regret from degenerating into discouragement. Has not Jesus purchased our pardon superabundantly: Et copiosa apud eum redemptio? The sight of His sufferings, at the same time as it gives birth to contrition, quickens within us hope in the infinite value of the sufferings by which Christ satisfied for us, and this brings us ineffable peace: Ecce in pace amaritudo mea amarissima.

Blessed Columba Marmion