Tuesday after Passion Sunday

The fact that Christ looked at Peter as the cock crowed for the third time is recorded only in St. Luke’s Gospel, but Luke, Matthew, and Mark all record that “Peter went out and wept bitterly.” That look of the Master cut Peter to the quick. As Moses’ rod once struck the rock and water flowed, so the gentle glance of Christ caused Peter’s heart to overflow. That heart was singularly touched, and the fear-frozen memories thawed into penitential tears.

St. Peter before the Virgin Guercino
Saint Peter weeping before the Virgin – Guercino

Peter’s conversion followed a fine pattern. First, you will notice that Peter went out – he left the place and persons who occasioned his shameful denial of our Lord. There can never be any true and lasting conversion until, and unless, we are determined to avoid the occasions of sin – that is, any person, place, or thing that may cause us to fall. We will notice, too, that when Peter took himself away from the evil company he was in, he was able to look at Christ and Christ at him. Whoever wants to cleave to God must sever himself from God’s enemies. Avoid, therefore, evil companions.

Consider next that Peter’s repentance was immediate. He did not put off his conversion and repentance. Many of us desire to avoid sin and be really converted but, like St. Augustine, say in folly, “but not yet.” We seem to put more than ordinary trust in becoming holy when our vices have forsaken us. We dwell too often on the easy conversion of the Good Thief, but as St. Augustine warns: “Christ pardoned one thief on the cross to show that such things are possible, but only one to show it was rare.”

Let us ask ourselves why Peter wept. First, in his quiet moments he realized that he had denied his Lord. Have we not all at one time or another denied our Lord? If you have deliberately missed Mass; given scandal or bad example; resisted God’s will or that of His Church – then take your place with Peter.

The second thing that brought Peter to penitential tears was the thought of the excellence of the Lord whom he had denied. Have you thought seriously of how much Christ has done for you, the graces He has merited for and showered upon you – the home, the health, the advantages He has provided for you?

Third, Peter remembered the position in which the Lord had placed him – converting, befriending, and calling him to his apostolate. Has Christ not placed us all in positions of honor and trust as Christians? Do we not call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ? Yet not only have we not always followed Christ, but we may well have led souls away from Christ by our bad examples and sins.

Fourth, Peter recollected that he had been forewarned. Have we not sinned against the light and with full knowledge and full consent in grave matters? Oh, have we not all frequently resisted the Holy Ghost, our conscience, and the warnings of parents, teachers, and the Church? Think about your wanderings, backslidings and your small progress on the road to perfection!

Peter fell dreadfully, but by repentance rises sweetly. A look of love melts him into tears. Clement notes that Peter was so repentant that all his life after, when he heard a rooster crow, he would fall upon his knees, and weeping, would beg pardon for his sins. Beg of Peter to teach you the necessity and the way of true repentance.

Guercino_-_St_Peter_Weeping_before_the_Virgin_-_WGA10949
St. Peter weeping before the Virigin – Guercino

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

*From Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle

Monday after Passion Sunday

It is noteworthy that Holy Scripture records first, that Peter emphasized his third denial with curses and oaths; and second that the cock crowed for the third time, at which instant it suddenly dawned on Peter that this is the very thing Christ had foretold; and third, that “the Lord turned and looked upon Peter and he remembered the word of the Lord, how He said: ‘Before the cock crows, thou wilt deny me thrice,’ and Peter went out and wept bitterly.” (Lk. 22: 61-62)

Basilica of Sant’ Apollinarius Nuovo, Ravenna – After Peter’s third denial of Jesus

There is a powerful lesson to be drawn from the fact that Peter endeavored to strengthen his third denial by cursing and swearing. Peter had been and was a fisherman. Before being converted and called to the apostolate, he had been a man of strong language. The three years with the gentle Christ had weaned him away from that habit. He was certain, no doubt, that he had mastered control of his tongue and language. Certainly the companionship with Christ had done much, but it had not done all. The “old man” was still alive and the “new man” was weak, and so the battle ensued and the old habits were quick to return. From this, we may learn that the fact that we have not committed sins of habit for a long time does not mean that they are completely eradicated. We must ever be on the watch and pray that we may not fall into them in times of temptation or stress.

Next, note that it was not until the cock crowed thrice that Peter remembered the words of our Lord. It is hard to understand why Peter did not realize what was happening after he heard the crow of the rooster after the first denial. And why did Peter not remember Christ’s prediction after the second denial? No, it took three denials and a heartbreaking glance from the gentle Savior to touch Peter’s heart, and to recall to mind the words of the Lord concerning Peter’s vain boasting about fidelity.

Learn from this that sin deadens the heart to every voice and blinds the eye to sin. From your own experience perhaps you can recall occasions when you yourself were so attached to sin that the warnings of your parents, the stirring sermons of retreats and parish missions left you cold and unmoved.

It may well have been that the gentle Savior looked tenderly at you too as He did at Peter. How wonderful is our God, who at a time when He Himself was about to be sentenced to the cruel death of the cross, thought of His poor weak Apostle, and forgot Himself and His own condition to cast a tender, merciful, understanding glance at His follower. “He spoke with His eye,” says Erasmus. The power that went with that look struck Peter’s heart. Without the calm sovereignty of that look, without its accompanying pitying kindness, Peter might well have followed the footsteps of Judas.

Walk the Way of the Cross today and beg of the gentle Christ to let His sacred healing glance fall upon you as it fell upon Simon the Cyrenian, St. Veronica, and the women who wept as He passed. Catch His eye as He falls under the cross and beg of Him to preserve you from despair.*

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

*Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle.

Passion Sunday

Source: @schrenk on Twitter. ca. 1920s Passionist Parish mission

This week the Scala Santa in Rome (the steps from the praetorium of Pilate, upon which Jesus was condemned to death) are being uncovered. They have been covered with wood as to protect them. They will be uncovered for 60 days.

Friday morning I will make a pilgrimage there. I will take your intentions with me. I invite you to write to me via my contact page: here with your intention.

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

First Friday: April 2019

For the First Friday Devotions: go HERE.

A brief meditation on the Scourging of Christ at the Pillar, from my publication here: [See HERE how you can help provide a copy of this publication to future priests!!]

Jesus during the time of scourging.

The executioners having prepared instruments proper for the purpose of inflicting intense suffering on Jesus, now strike that virginal and immaculate flesh with unparalleled fierceness and cruelty. That most Holy Body is soon all wounds. From the top of His head down to the soles of the feet, it is so lacerated that at length all the bones may be counted. And yet out of all the vast number of persons who behold this heart-rending sight, there is not one to compassionate our suffering Jesus. Hard indeed must your heart be if it be not moved to compassion at the sight of your blessed Lord enduring such a martyrdom. The executioners continue to strike Him, encouraging one another in their cruel labor. Wound succeeds wound, the suffering thus inflicted becomes more and more acute, and the Body of Jesus is one entire wound. The scourges fall heavily upon His tender limbs, tearing, rending, and even carrying away portions of the flesh, which fall on all sides. The blood flows in streams, blood bathes the whole person of our blessed Redeemer, blood trickles down the pillar, blood soaks the earth, and blood is sprinkled on the executioners, who feel no emotions of pity even at such a sight. The cruelty of the executioners is at length exhausted, but the patience of Jesus wearies not; He suffers excruciating torments, it is true, and each blow inflicts fresh torture, alone sufficient to cause His death, but yet He rejoices to shed so much blood, to suffer agony so unspeakable, to give us incontestable proofs of the greatness of His love for us, and to show us the enormity of sin. Jesus is scourged, for no crime of His own, but to expiate, in His innocent flesh, those sins of impurity with which you have so often defiled your body. Contemplate Jesus at the pillar, bleeding and lacerated from head to foot, and learn hence all that your sins of impurity have cost Him. Beseech Him to cleanse all the stains of your soul with His divine Blood.

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Christ before Caiaphas – Nicola Frangipane

The patient Christ broke His silence to answer the High Priest’s direct question couched in these words: “‘I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God.’ (Mt. 26: 63) To that question Christ replied:  “‘I am.  And you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’  But the high priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further need have we of witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy.  What do you think?  And they all condemned him as liable to death.’” (Mk. 14: 61-64)

How audacious of Caiphas to dare ask the Son of God to answer him under oath!  Yet Christ accepted the challenge even in the face of certain death and answered in the affirmative.  And how was Christ’s testimony received?  You must notice, if you study this scene casually, that it mattered little to Caiphas how Christ answered that question.  When Caiphas asked the question “Art thou the Christ?” was he prepared to accept the evidence?  Let us see.  Naturally, our Lord could not lie, but suppose He had said “No!”  In that case He would have been called an imposter and condemned to death as a blasphemer.  But now, when He answered “I am” to Caiphas question, was there the least tendency on the part of the high priest to accept the testimony?  No.  Instead, Caiphas rent his garments and cried out that all had heard the blasphemy he heard and then proceeded to lead the Sanhedrin into calling for Christ’s death.

No matter how the gentle Christ had answered Caiphas’ loaded question, He would have heard the same outcry – “death to the blasphemer.”

Unfortunately, the closed mind did not die with Caiphas.  Many people today are more like Caiphas than they are like Christ.  They have assumed a spirit of opposition to evident truth, and thereby, preclude any evidence from producing a lasting effect.

Our Holy Mother the Church teaches us through the Holy Scripture and the living word of her priests that when we begin to love the world we begin to dislike religion.  When we begin to worship money we cease to worship God as we should with our whole soul and all our strength.  When we begin to love houses of pleasure we begin to dislike the house of prayer.  When we seek godless, irreligious friends and companions, we soon find good people dull and boring.  The testimony is evident and copious but we often close our minds to its force and, like Caiphas, we preclude the evidence in favor of prayerful, upright moral lives and gradually banish Christ from our lives, homes, and actions.

Christ spoke the truth in the answer to Caiphas’ question:  “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the living God?” when  He replied “I am”.  Why do we doubt the truth of Christ’s words then when He says:  “Unless you do penance you shall likewise perish;” (Lk. 13:3) or when He says:  “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you shall not have life in you;” (Jn. 6:54) or when He says:  “Everyone that hath left house, or wife, or children, or lands, for my names sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting?” (Mt. 19: 29)  Caiphas had closed his heart so Christ’s words meant nothing to him.  Have you closed your heart to Christ’s words?  Do you listen to your conscience?  Do you take lightly the inspirations aroused by sermons and pious reading?  Mark well these words of God:  “My Son, forget not my law, and let thy heart keep my commandments.  For they shall add to thee length of days and years of life and peace.” (Prov. 3: 1-2)

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

*From Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

The poor dupes who had hoped to curry the favor of the Elders by offering to act as witnesses against Christ, no doubt received naught for their pains but the contempt of their leaders.  They had botched the job in relating that they personally had heard Christ say “He would destroy the temple and in three days rebuild it.”  Scripture records the court session as follows:  “For while many bore false witness against Him, their evidence did not agree.” (Mk. 14:56) The charge that was so nebulous, and the witnesses so damaging to the cause for which the Sanhedrin had been assembled that Caiphas decided to retrieve what he could from the farce.  He stood up, and said to our Lord: “Dost thou make no answer to the things these men prefer against thee?  But he kept silence and made no answer.” (Mt. 14: 60, 61)

he-who-has-seen-me-has-seen-the-father.jpg.jpeg

There is a silence which is often more eloquent than words, and means more than any words, and speaks volumes to the heart.  Such, for example, is the silence when the heart is too full for utterance and the organs of speech are choked by the overwhelming surge of emotions.  Such also is the silence of the wise man challenged to speak by those he feels unworthy of his words.  The man who can stand and listen to ignorance, venomous bigotry, or personal hurt or insult addressed to him in angry, insolent, offensive spirit, and offers no reply, exerts a far greater power over the mind of his assailant than he could by words, however forceful.  Such was the silence Christ now maintained in the house of the High Priest, Caiphas.

When one’s life and works are above reproach, these are the best defense against those who would do us harm.  The accusations against Christ were false and frivolous and His silence was a sufficient and powerful reply.  It is reported of Titus Vespasian that when anyone spoke ill of him he was wont to say he was above false reports:  and if they were true, he had more the reason to be angry with himself than with the person who started the story.

When we bear wrongs patiently, we benefit not ourselves only but also our fellow man; we prevent him from going to greater lengths, and make it easier to bring him to a sense of his wrongdoing.  Christ’s silence was magnificent.  He showed us a marvelous example of restraint under the most trying circumstances.  How solemnly His silence rebukes the chatter of the false witnesses before the Elders of the Sanhedrin.  The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing the blows.  Christ’s silence broke the spirit of his accusers.

Christ during his life on earth gave a number of examples of silence.  For instance he was silent in the presence of the Canaanite woman.  Scripture says “He answered her not a word” (Mt. 15: 23).  He was silent when the accusers threw at his feet the woman taken in adultery (Jn. 8: 4), but his most glorious silence was when He Himself was accused falsely.
How do you act when others accuse you wrongly?  Are you oversensitive about your honor?  St. Francis de Sales tells us that only when grave and disgraceful crimes are imputed to us, such as we cannot allow ourselves to be charged with, should we take steps to clear ourselves.  Ask our dear Lord to give you the courage to be silent like He was, when accused unjustly.

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

*From Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle