“Look at the life of any Saint you like, and you will find an extraordinary devotion to the Passion. It was the distinguishing mark of the Saints; they would not have been Saints without it.”
~From Meditation on the Passion
When we meditate on the Passion, we will find ourselves in good company. The numerous examples of Saints, tracing from St. Pio of Petrelcina of our own times back to the Apostles themselves, show us the primary place in which the contemplation of Christ’s Passion must remain in our interior lives. The saints not only meditated on the Passion but, in their own lives they imitated and loved the Passion of Christ.
--St. Paul said that he desired nothing but Jesus - and Jesus Crucified.
--St. Bonaventure said the Crucifix was his “book” from “whence I receive everything that I write, and it has taught me whatever little I know.”
-- St. Augustine said that the shedding of a single tear over the remembrance of the Passion is worth more than a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or even a year of fasting on bread and water.
--St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “For the Lord Himself says that He is the Way; the Lord also says that He is the light, and that no one can come to the Father save by Him; and ‘he that seeth Me seeth My Father.’ ”
Why can we never forget that it is our passions – the weaknesses to which we consistently abandon ourselves – which led to Christ’s Passion? That reason alone should incline us to think about the Passion of Christ.
“Be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” The interior life begins when we accept Our Lord’s invitation, “Pick up your cross and follow Me.” Consider for a moment the three principle motives for meditating on the Passion of Christ: the Sublimity of the Passion, the Justice we owe God, and our own interest.
THE SUBLIMITY of CHRIST’s PASSION: “It will be well to understand that the dignity of suffering depends not only on the intensity, but on the natural dignity of the person who suffers. The sufferings of Jesus Christ were the sufferings of a person of infinite dignity. That He, who was (and is) the King of Glory, should submit to the insult of His creatures..!”
THE JUSTICE WE OWE GOD: “It is most just that we should think of Our Lord’s Passion and meditate lovingly upon it; first because it cost Him His most Precious Life, and amidst what pain and anguish He gave it up. Surely it is not too much for us to think at least of what He suffered for us. People pay so little heed to the Passion of Our Lord. The thoroughfares of the world are crowded with people, but how few tread the Way of the Cross! How often Our Lord complains by the mouth of the prophets that He is left solitary, without comfort or sympathy.”
OUR OWN INTEREST: “The Passion is holy – and makes us holy.” Meditation of the Passion leads to the hatred and horror of sin. “The merits and graces of Jesus Christ are the means and atonement for sin. If a soul be tempted to discouragement or despair, the Passion of Jesus will give new courage and show the value of the soul and of what love and sacrifice God and His Divine Son consider it worthy.”
“Holiness of life consists in overcoming irregular passions. Nothing proves their terrible power more clearly than Christ’s Death, of which they are the accursed instruments. If the Passion of Christ is the sublimest tragedy, the passions are the actors who stage and perform it…there is nothing that more powerfully incites us to fight against our evil passions than the example of our suffering Lord and Savior…”
“Strength and zeal to work and suffer for God and His holy Kingdom are other constituents of holiness of life. Under this heading we may place that precious heritage, the spirit of the Cross – love of the Cross, generosity, and the desire to promote the Kingdom of God’s glory and the salvation of souls…The Saints employed no means of becoming Saints oftener and more effectively than meditation upon the Passion of Christ – ‘In the cross is height of virtue; in the cross is perfection of sanctity.’ ”
THE ADVANTAGES OF MEDITATING ON THE PASSION
“Jesus has now many lovers of His Heavenly Kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross.”
1. "The Passion of Jesus Christ…is the surest way to justifying grace. Do I look upon the crucifix with repentant love? If so, I may have all the confidence that, after sacramental Confession, all my sins will be forgiven by the Precious Blood of Jesus."
2. "The Passion of Jesus Christ is the means to obtain from God all that we need. Do I remember this when I humbly approach the throne of God?"
3. "The Passion of Jesus Christ is the surest means of kindling love. We love Him because He first loved us and showed His love by shedding His Precious Blood for us. We see in His Sacred Passion what the forgiveness of our sins cost Him..."
Catholic life offers many ways of practicing devotion to the Passion of Christ. The first is meditation, in which we do well to become acquainted with Our Lord’s disposition with regard to His Passion, in order to imitate Him and make His dispositions our own.
Christ always had His Passion in mind from the first moments of His life. We know that Jesus longed for the Passion, for He alluded to it in various ways:
“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“I have a baptism, wherewith I am to be baptized; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished.”
“The chalice which my heavenly Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
Reverence and holy desire – these were Our Lord’s dispositions in regard to His Passion. Love, gratitude and awe describe our dispositions when we strive to meditate upon the mysteries of the Passion of Christ.
(With excerpts from Meditation on the Passion)