|Devotion to Our Lady||
The following passage is taken from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
The procession was still at some distance from the south-west gate, which was large, and attached to the fortifications, and the street was rough and steep; it had first to pass under a vaulted arch, then over a bridge, and finally under a second arch. The wall on the left side of the gate runs first in a southerly direction, then deviates a little to the west, and finally runs to the south behind Mount Sion.
When the procession was near this gate, the brutal archers shoved Jesus into a stagnant pool, which was close to it; Simon of Cyrene, in his endeavors to avoid the pool, gave the cross a twist, which caused Jesus to fall down for the fourth time in the midst of the dirty mud, and Simon had the greatest difficulty in lifting up the cross again. Jesus then exclaimed in a tone which, although clear, was moving and sad: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered together thy children as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?" When the Pharisees heard these words, they became still more angry, and recommencing their insults and blows endeavored to force him to get up out of the mud. Their cruelty to Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed,"If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down the cross and carry it no further. I will do so if you kill me for it."
Jesus was on the point of again falling, but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand, hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus saved from falling to the ground. The procession again moved on; the road was very steep and rough between the walls of the town and Calvary, and Jesus had the greatest difficulty in walking with his heavy burden on his shoulders; but his cruel enemies, far from feeling the slightest compassion, or giving the least assistance, continued to urge him on by the infliction of hard blows, and the utterance of dreadful curses. At last they reached a spot where the pathway turned suddenly to the south; here he stumbled and fell for the sixth time. The fall was a dreadful one, but the guards only struck him harder to force him to get up, and no sooner did he reach Calvary than he sank down again.
Simon of Cyrene was filled with indignation and pity; notwithstanding his fatigue, he wished to remain that he might assist Jesus, but the archers first reviled, and then drove him away, and he soon after joined the body of disciples. The executioners then ordered the workmen and the boys who had carried the instruments for the execution to depart, and the Pharisees soon arrived, for they were on horseback, and had taken the smooth and easy road which ran to the east of Calvary.
The following passage is taken from The Mystical City of God by the
Venerable Mary of Agreda
WORDS OF OUR LADY
My daughter, know that a fall from the highest position is extremely dangerous and the damage done is either irreparable, or very difficult of redress. Lucifer held an eminent position in Heaven, as regards both natural gifts and gifts of grace; for in beauty he excelled all the creatures, and by his sin he fell to the deepest abyss of loathsomeness and misery and into a more hardened obstinacy than all his followers. The first parents of the human race, Adam and Eve, were exalted to the highest dignity and raised to exquisite favor, as coming forth from the hand of the Almighty: their fall caused perdition to themselves and to all their posterity, and faith teaches what was the cost of their salvation. To restore them and their posterity was the work of an infinite mercy.
Many other souls have reached the heights of perfection and have thence fallen most unfortunately, arriving at a state in which they almost despaired or found themselves incapable of rising. This sad state in the creature originates from many causes.
The first is the dismay and boundless confusion of one who feels that he has fallen from an exalted state of virtue; for he knows that he has not only lost great blessings, but he does not expect to obtain greater ones than those of the past and those he has lost; nor does he promise himself more firmness in keeping those he can obtain through renewed efforts, than he has shown in those acquired and now lost through his ingratitude.
From this dangerous distrust originates lukewarmness, want of fervor and diligence, absence of zeal and devotion; since diffidence extinguishes all these in the soul, just as the sprightliness of ardent hope overcomes many difficulties, strengthens and vivifies weak human creatures to undertake great works.
Another obstacle there is, not less formidable, namely: the spiritually minded souls, accustomed to the blessings of God, usually aggravate their sins by a certain contempt of these very blessings and a certain abuse of the divine things. For by the abundance of the divine favors they fall into a dangerous dullness of mind. They begin to think little of the divine favors and become irreverent. Thus failing to cooperate with God's grace, they hinder its effect. They lose the grace of holy fear of the Lord, which arouses and stimulates the will to obey the divine commandments and to be alert in the avoidance of sin and pursuit of eternal life in the friendship of God.
This is an evident danger for lukewarm priests, who frequent the Holy Eucharist and other Sacraments, without fear and reverence; also for the learned and wise, and the powerful of this world, who so reluctantly correct and amend their lives. They have lost the appreciation and veneration of the remedial helps of the Church, namely, the Sacraments, preaching and instruction. Thus these medicines, which for other sinners are so salutary and counteract ignorance, weaken those who are the physicians of the spiritual life.
There are other reasons for this kind of danger, which must be referred to the Lord Himself. For the sins of those souls who, by their state or by their advanced virtues, are more closely bound to their God, are weighed in the balance of God's justice in quite a different way from the sins of those who have been less favored by His mercy.
Although the sins of all are more or less essentially the same, yet the circumstances of sin are very different. For the priests and teachers, the powerful and the dignitaries, and those who, on account of their station or by reputation, are supposed to be advanced in a holy life, cause great scandal by their fall or by any sins they commit. There is much more of bold disrespect in their presumption and temerity against God, Whom they know better and to Whom they owe much more, but Whom they offend with more deliberation and knowledge than the ignorant. Hence, as is evident from the tone of all the Holy Scriptures, the sins of Catholics, and especially of those that are instructed and enlightened, are so displeasing to God. As the term of each man's life is preordained for each one, as the time in which he is to gain the eternal reward, so the measure, or number of sins to be borne by the patience or forbearance of the Lord, is likewise preordained.
This measure of divine justice is determined not only by the number and quantity of the sins, but also by their quality and weight. Thus it may happen, that in the souls favored by greater enlightenment and graces of Heaven, the grievousness supplies what is wanting in the number of the sins, and that, with fewer sins, they are forsaken sooner and chastised more severely than others, who are guilty of many more sins.
Many there are who wish to follow Christ and very few who truly dispose themselves to imitate Him; for as soon as they feel the sufferings of the Cross they cast it aside. Laborious exertions are very painful and averse to human nature according to the flesh; and the fruits of the spirit are more hidden and few guide themselves by the light. On this account there are so many among mortals, who, forgetful of the eternal truths, seek the flesh and the continual indulgence of its pleasures. They ardently seek honors and fly from injuries: they strive after riches, and contemn poverty; they long after pleasure and dread mortification. All these are enemies of the Cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18), and with dreadful aversion they fly from it, deeming it sheer ignominy, just like those who crucified Christ, the Lord.
Another deceit has spread through the world: many imagine that they are following Christ their Master, though they neither suffer affliction nor engage in any exertion or labor. They are content with avoiding boldness in committing sins, and place all their perfection in a certain prudence or hollow self-love, which prevents them from denying anything to their will and from practicing any virtues at the cost of their flesh. They would easily escape this deception, if they would consider that my Son was not only the Redeemer, but their Teacher; and that He left in this world the treasures of his Redemption not only as a remedy against its eternal ruin, but as a necessary medicine for the sickness of sin in human nature. No one knew so much as my Son and Lord; no one could better understand the quality of love than the divine Lord, Who was and is wisdom and charity itself; and no one was more able to fulfill all His wishes (1 John 4:16).
Nevertheless, although He well could do it, He chose not a life of softness and ease for the flesh, but one full of labors and pains; for He judged his instructions to be incomplete and insufficient to redeem man, if He failed to teach them how to overcome the demon, the flesh and their own self. He wished to inculcate, that this magnificent victory is gained by the Cross, by labors, penances, mortifications and the acceptance of contempt: all of which are the trademarks and evidences of true love and the special watchwords of the predestined.
The procession, starting from Pilate's mansion, moved in a westerly direction over twelve hundred paces through the middle of the city. The most frequented streets were carefully chosen for the march. "Whenever we crucify a criminal," writes Quintilian, "the most populous streets are selected so that the multiude may look on and be seized with fear."
What the Redeemer suffered on this way of the cross goes beyond all we can conceive. At every step on the uneven, hilly street, the wounds of His scourged shoulder become deeper and more yawning. Often the heavy cross-beam fell against the thorn-crowned Head. The Saviour, tired unto death and without strength, drags Himself wearily along under the mighty load. Suddenly the procession halts. What has happened? The Almighty, the infinitely Powerful has sunk exhausted, and upon Him has fallen the wood of martyrdom. He writhes in pain in the dust like to a worm trodden upon.
But the soldiers know a remedy. With scourges and sharp thorns applied according to Roman usage, they help Him to His feet, and again Christ staggers along. But behold, after a few hundred steps, He falls a second time and, near the gate of the city, a third time.' Our relapses into sin are the cause of this.
If the sufferings of His body were great, the sufferings of His Divine Heart were still greater. I shall not speak of the scorn of His avowed enemies, who gave vent to their satanic joy by blaspheming Him and spitting upon Him, by blows and kicks, and by throwing dirt and stones upon Him. It caused Christ more sadness that the official sentence of death had not failed to make an impression upon those who, during the trial, had been partly in sympathy with Him. "He must then," they said one to another, "have been an impostor, a magician, a blasphemer and a rebel, or matters would not have taken such a bad turn."
CONCLUDING MEDITATION AND PRAYER
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee,
R.. Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
O Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Offer me Thy helping hand, and aid me, that I may not fall again into my former sins. From this very moment, I will earnestly strive to reform: nevermore will I sin! Thou, O sole support of the weak, by Thy grace, without which I can do nothing, strengthen me to carry out faithfully this my resolution.
Our Father Hail Mary. Glory Be.
V. Lord Jesus, crucified,
R. Have mercy on us!