It is not sufficient to point out the good; it also must be put into practice.
~Il Fermo Proposito (On Catholic Action in Italy, 1905)
How might we “put into practice” that which we still need to know? How can we live the interior life of the faithful Catholic without meditating on the Passion of Christ? There are many ways to accomplish these holy desires for there are various ways to practice devotion to the Passion of Christ.
---Praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, in which we are allowed to take Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart “as a mirror and consider the Passion as it is reflected there. “ (Meditation on the Passion)
In a true spirit of penance, we might pray each day the traditional Rosary with its three Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Praying the Rosary brings many graces and promises and, as St. Alfonsus di Liguori taught, “Devotion to Our Lady is necessary for salvation.” (Glories of Mary)
St. Bonaventure explains that, to garner fruit from our meditation on the Passion, our meditation must be:
HUMBLE: For the Passion is unlike anything else in the world; it is unfathomable to human reason, a bottomless ocean of mystery. Reason must bow its head, confess its inability to grasp the mysteries that even Faith sees only darkly and through a glass. The story of Christ’s humiliation is a sealed book to the proud; they see nothing attractive in it. Christ suffering has no beauty that they should admire Him. Meditation on the Passion, therefore, begins by praying *humbly.*
FULL OF CONFIDENCE: The Passion is the source of all our confidence… proof of the exceeding love with which Christ loves us. How can I fear with the sight before me of Christ suffering for love of me? The Passion of Christ is the antidote for every possible temptation, every possible sin. Whatever afflicts my soul, the Passion of Christ can cure it.
PERSEVERING: The Wisdom and Understanding gained from the Holy Ghost while meditating on the Passion does not come all at once. The world considers the Passion of Christ a degradation. The careless and the indifferent are unmoved by it. Even the faithful scarcely penetrate the depth and breadth of the Passion – unless they pray earnestly and continually to appreciate it, and frequently meditate on it. (Meditation on the Passion)
To benefit from a good meditation, we must:
1. Avoid distraction. The “chatter of the mind” is never entirely silenced. Still, one who wishes to meditate must strive toward quieting and controlling the imagination by fixing his attention on heavenly things and quickly squelching the thoughts of earthly matters that flit through the mind. Whoever desires to be recollected for some time every day in meditation must avoid being *altogether* distracted.
2. Place ourselves in front of God. St. Ignatius taught that we must mentally lift our minds, imagine ourselves in front of God, and know that God sees us and always reads our hearts.
3. Pray to God and ask His help in attaining a “good and fruitful meditation. Begin by praying the Pater Noster (“Our Father”), perhaps followed by “Veni, Spiritus Sanctus” (“Come, Holy Spirit”). Next, St. Ignatius’ suggested the following preparatory prayer, which consists of five actions (Adoration, Humiliation, Contrition, Oblation, and Petition):
O Almighty and Eternal God, I firmly believe that I am in Thy Divine Presence. I believe that Thou seeest me and that, as of this moment, Thou beholdest the very inner most recesses of my being. I adore Thee with all the powers of my soul. I am utterly unworthy of appear ing in Thy Divine Presence, much less that Thou should hold communion with Me.
I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I beseech of Thee, O my Jesus, to pardon me my sins, offences, and negligences, that they may not now stand between Thee and me. Give me grace to make a good and fruitful meditation.
Grant, Lord Jesus, that all my intentions, actions and operations may tend solely, through the most pure Heart of Mary, to the praise and service of Thy Divine Majesty, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
It was St. Ignatius who strongly recommended praying for a true compassion, the kind that is resigned and resolved to suffer with Jesus, the kind that will enable us to humbly say with St. Paul: “I fill up those things that are wanting of the suffering of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the Church.’ (Col. 1:24)
We may also ask for other spiritual fruits: fervor in prayer, patience in trouble, conformity to the Divine Will in adversity, courage in offering sacrifices and humiliations, or simply for that fruit that God Himself knows we need most. (Meditation on the Passion)
---Praying five “Paters” (Our Fathers) in honor of Christ’s five Wounds, because through them God was appeased, the gates of Heaven reopened, and mankind offered Redemption.
---Making the Way of the Cross, in which we pray and meditate as we follow Our Lord’s last steps, accompany Him to Gesthemane, witness His Crucifixion, stand with Our Lady and St. John at the foot of the Cross, and, finally, witness Our Lord’s Death and Burial.
---Participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “the crown of all devotions to the Passion of Jesus, because it is the unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord’s Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
---Making the sacrifice of our daily duty, as required by our state in life, in a spirit of love and reparation to God. Daily duty is the means of practicing the virtue of charity, just as it is a means of penance.
We may begin each day by making the Morning Offering, by which we offer to God, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Precious Blood of Jesus , and uniting with the Precious Blood all that we will think, say and do.
Accomplishing our daily duty includes practicing in every day life the virtues and dispositions we are privileged to understand in our meditation of the Passion.
In doing our daily duty with the right dispositions, we imitate He Whom we adore; like Jesus, we love God first and, for love of Him, we place ourselves at the service of others – family, friends, neighbors and those who may come into our lives for only a moment.
Our Lord told Sr. Lucia of Fatima that the sacrifice He now requires of faithful Catholics today is the fulfillment of their daily duty. Why did He ask for what seems so simple a thing?
It is because in the “faithful fulfillment of daily duty, there is too much time to experience the temptation to weaken, to rationalize and to anticipate.” (Fatima and the Way of Divine Love). Although we may be drawn to loving sacrifice, Our Lord knows that self-denial is difficult for us. Temptation is always waiting and it is too easy to give in, either to Self and its willful inclinations, or to the unrelenting resistance of others. How can we, weak as we are, ever hope to do our daily duty as Christ wishes?
Our Lord Jesus Christ told St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in infirmity.” (2 Cor.. 12:9) That is why we make our Morning Offering in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. "Thus is confirmed that law of merciful mediation of which we have spoken, and which St. Bernadine of Siena thus expresses: 'Every grace granted to man has three degrees in order: for by God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us.'" (Pope St. Leo XIII, “Jucunda Semper,” 1894; cf. St. Bernardine of Siena, “Serm. in Nativit. B.V.M.,” n. 6.)
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!