Tag Archives: Good Friday

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day of our salvation, the day God died to redeem sinful man. Let us spend this day in prayer and penance in thanksgiving to Our Lord for paying such a great price for our sins.  Keep sacred the hours of 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock, the hours of Christ’s bitter Passion and Death. Satan was defeated and the Kingdom of God established. Let us rejoice in that. Behold the wood of the Christ upon which hung the God of the Universe, paying a price for our crimes that we couldn’t pay.

A Holy Good Friday to all!

Here is Fr. Prosper Gueranger on Good Friday:

Holy Church will soon be calling us once more to join with her in the holy Offices: meanwhile, let us, as it behoves us, keep our hearts and thoughts upou our Redeemer, for these are the very Hours when he wrought our Salvation. Our morning’s meditation brought us to Calvary, where we were considering how the executioners stripped Jesus of His clothes, preparatory to their nailing Him to the Cross. Let us reverently assist at the consummation of the Sacrifice, which He offers, for us, to the Justice of His Eternal Father.

The executioners led Jesus to the spot where the Cross is lying on the ground: it is the Eleventh Station. Like a lamb destined for a holocaust, He lays himself on the wood that is to serve as the Altar. They violently stretch His hands and feet to the places marked for them, and fasten them with nails to the wood. The Blood gushes forth from these four life-giving founts, wherein our souls are to find their purification. This is the fourth Bloodshedding. Mary hears the strokes of the hammer, and every blow wounds her heart. Magdalene’s grief is intensified by her incapability of helping her tortured Master. Jesus is heard to speak: it is his first Word on Calvary: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (St. Luke, xxiii. 34). O infinite goodness of our Creator! He has come into this world, which is the work of His hands, and men nail Him to a Cross: and on that Cross He prays for them, and in His prayer he seems to excuse them!

The Victim is fastened to the wood, whereon He is to die. But the Cross is not to be left, as it is, lying on the ground. Isaias has foretold that the Root of Jesse is to be raised up as a Standard of all nations (ls. xi.10.). Yes, our Crucified God must be raised up, and, by that elevation, purify the polluted atmosphere of this world, infested as it is by the spirits of wickedness. He is the Mediator between God and men; He is our High Priest; our Intercessor; He is lifted up (St. John, xii. 32) between earth and heaven, making reconciliation between them (Rom. v. 11). Not far from the spot where the Cross now lies on the ground, they have made a hole in the rock, wherein to fix it, so that all may have a sight of Him that hangs upon it. It is the Twelfth Station. It needs a great effort to raise and plant the Tree of the world’s Redemption. The soldiers lift it up, and then, with impatient vehemence, let it fall into the hole. The shock tears the four wounds. Oh! see Him now exposed naked before the multitude, this good Jesus Who is come to clothe the nakedness that sin has caused in us! The soldiers have done their work, and now they claim His Garments.

They tear them into four lots, and each takes a share: but a strange feeling induces them to respect His Tunic, which was without a seam, and, as we are told by a pious tradition, was woven by the hand of His Blessed Mother. Let us not cut it, say they: but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be (St. John, xix. 24.). It is a symbol of the unity of the Church, which is never to be broken under any pretext whatsoever.

Above our Redeemer’s head there are written these words, in hebrew, greek, and latin: JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS. The people read this Inscription, and say it to each other; without wishing it, they are once more proclaiming the Royalty of the Son of David. The enemies of Jesus are quick enough to perceive this: they hasten to Pilate, and beseech him to have the Title changed. The only answer he deigns to make them is: What I have written, I have written (Ibid. 22.). The Holy Fathers have noticed a circumstance of the Crucifixion, which expresses, how this King of the Jews is, indeed, rejected by His chosen people, but that He will reign all the more gloriously over the Nations of the earth, whom the Father has given to Him for His inheritance. The circumstance we allude to is this: the soldiers, when fixing the Cross in the rock, have so placed it, that Jesus has His back to Jerusalem, and is stretching out His arms towards the countries of the west. The Sun of Truth is setting on the deicide City, and rising upon the new Jerusalem, that proud Rome, which feels that she is destined to be “The Eternal City,” yet knows not that she is to be so by the Cross.

The Tree of our Salvation, as it falls into the hole prepared for it, strikes against a tomb: and the Tomb is that of our First Parent. The blood of the Redeemer flows down the Cross, and falls upon a skull: it is the skull of Adam, whose sin has called for this great expiation. In His mercy, the Son of God wills that the instrument, wherewith He has gained pardon for the guilty world, should rest amidst the very bones of Him that first caused its guilt. Thus is Satan confounded: the creation is not, as he has hitherto thought, turned, by his own artifice, to the shame of its Creator. The hill, on which is raised the Standard of our Salvation, is called Calvary, which signifies a skull. Here, according to the tradition of the Jews, was buried our First Parent, the first Sinner. Among the Holy Fathers of the early Ages, who have handed down this interesting tradition to us, we may cite St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome. Origen, too, who had such opportunities of knowing the Jewish traditions, mentions this among the number. At a very early period, Christian Art introduced the custom of placing a human skull at the feet of Jesus’ image on the Cross: it was done to commemorate the great fact, to which we have been alluding.

But let us look up and see this Jesus of ours, Whose life is so soon to end upon this instrument of torture. Here we behold Him exposed to the view of the Jewish people, as the Serpent was, of old, lifted up, by Moses, in the desert (St. John, iii. 14). His enemies pass before Him, making insulting gestures, and saying: Vah! Thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it, save Thine own self! If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross (St. Matth. xxvii. 40)! The Chief Priests and the Ancients continue the blasphemy, but adding their own emphasis to it: He saved others; Himself He cannot save! If He be King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusted in God; let Him now deliver Him, if He will have Him; for He said: I am the Son of God (St. Matth. xxvii. 42, 43). The two thieves, who were crucified with Him, insulted Him in like manner.

Never had God conferred on His creatures a blessing comparable to this: and yet, never did man so boldly insult His God! Let us Christians, who adore Him Whom the Jews blaspheme, offer Him, at this moment, the Reparation He so infinitely deserves. These impious men cite His own words, and turn them against Him: let us reverently remind our Jesus of an expression He once deigned to use, which should fill us with hope: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself (St. John, xii. 32.). Sweet Jesus! the time is come: Thou art lifted up from the earth: fulfil Thy promise, draw us to Thyself! Alas! this earth has such hold upon us, we are chained fast to it by so many ties; self-love fetters us; and when we attempt to fly towards Thee, our flight is checked. Oh! break our chains, and draw us to Thyself, that we may at length reach Thee, and Thou be consoled by the conquest of our souls!

It is the Sixth hour, or, as we call it, mid-day. The sun immediately withdraws his light, and darkness covers the face of the earth. The stars appear in the heavens, and a gloomy silence pervades throughout the world. It is said, that the celebrated Denys the Areopagite of Athens, who was afterwards a disciple of St. Paul, exclaimed, on witnessing this awful eclipse: “Either the God of nature is suffering, or the world is coming to an end.” Phlegon, a pagan author, who wrote a century after, tells us, that this sudden darkness spread consternation throughout the Roman Empire, and that the Astronomers owned it baffled all their calculations.

So terrible an indication of the wrath of heaven produced a panic of fear among the spectators on Calvary. Blasphemers are struck dumb, and the blasphemies of them, that were just now insulting our Redeemer, cease. All is silent as death. The Thief, whose cross was at the right of Jesus’, feels himself touched with repentance and hope. Turning to his companion, he upbraids him for what he had been saying: Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? And we, indeed, justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done no evil (St. Luke, xxiii. 40, 41).

Jesus defended by a Thief, at the very time that He is being insulted by them who boast that they know every iota of God’s Law, and are sitting in the Chair of Moses! Nothing could give us a clearer idea of the blindness, to which the Synagogue has voluntarily brought itself. This poor criminal, whose name is Dimas, represents the Gentile world, which now is steeped in ignorance and crime, yet is soon to be cleansed from all its abominations by confessing Jesus Crucified to be the Son of God. Turning his head towards our Saviour’s Cross, he thus prays to Him: Lord! remember me, when thou shalt come into Thy kingdom! He believes Jesus to be King; and the Chief Priests and Ancients were, but a moment ago, making jests with this King! Dimas sees the divine calmness and dignity of the innocent Victim: it is evidence enough; he gives Him his faith, and begs a remembrance from Him when the day of His glory comes. Grace has made him a true Christian: and who can doubt, but that the grace was asked and obtained for him by Mary, the Mother of Mercy, who is now uniting herself in sacrifice together with her Jesus? Jesus is pleased to find in this poor criminal the faith He had vainly sought for from Israel: He thus grants his humble prayer: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise (St. Luke, xxiii. 42, 43). It is the second of Jesus’ Words on the Cross. The happy penitent is filled with joy, and awaits in patient silence the blissful moment when death shall set him free.

Meanwhile, Mary draws near to the Cross, whereon hangs her Son. She recognises Him, in spite of all the darkness; her love was her light. The eclipse has dispersed the crowd; all is silent; and the Soldiers can find no reason for keeping the afflicted Mother from approaching her Son. Jesus looks with tenderest affection upon Mary; the sight of her sorrow is a new grief to His sacred Heart. He is dying, and His Mother cannot console or embrace Him. Magdalene, too, is there, distracted with grief. Those feet, which, a few days before, she had anointed with her most precious perfumes, are now pierced through with nails, and the Blood is clotting round the wounds. They are near enough to the ground for her to reach and bathe them with her tears; but her tears cannot stay the pain. She is come to see the Death of Him that forgave her all her sins. John, the Beloved Disciple, the only Apostle that has followed Jesus to Calvary, is overwhelmed with sorrow. He thinks of the favour bestowed upon him last night, when he rested his head on the Breast of this dear Master, and the remembrance intensifies his grief. He grieves for the Son, he grieves for the Mother. He little knows the reward he is soon to receive for this his love! Mary of Cleophas has followed the Holy Mother up to the foot of the Cross. At some distance off, there stands a group of women, who loved Jesus, and had ministered unto Him during His life (St. Matth. xxvii. 55).

The silence is again broken: Jesus speaks His third Word, and it is to His Mother: but He does not call her by that dear name, for it would redouble her pain: Woman! He says, behold thy son! Then looking upon John, He says to him: Son! behold thy Mother (St. John, xix. 26, 27)! What an exchange was here for Mary! but, O what a blessing it brought upon John, and through him to all mankind! the Mother of God was made our Mother! This was the subject of our meditation on the Friday of Passion Week: let us, today, gratefully receive this last Testament of our Jesus, Who, having by His Incarnation made us the adopted Children of His Heavenly Father, now, in His dying moments, makes us Children of His own Blessed Mother.

It is close upon the Ninth hour, the third hour after mid-day, and it is the one fixed by the eternal decree of God for the Death of Jesus. The feeling of abandonment, which had caused our Redeemer to suffer an Agony in the Garden, now returns. He has taken upon Himself the sins of mankind: the whole weight of God’s justice now presses on His soul. The bitter Chalice of God’s anger, which He is drinking to the very dregs, extorts from His lips this plaintive cry: My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken Me (St. Matth. xxvii. 46)? It is the fourth Word. He does not say My Father! He speaks as though He were but a poor Sinner, trembling before the judgment seat of God. A burning thirst elicits from Him the fifth Word: I thirst (St. John, xix. 28). Whereupon, one of the soldiers presents to His dying lips a sponge full of vinegar; and this is all the refreshment He receives from that earth, on which He daily pours a heavenly dew, and to which He has given ever-flowing fountains and rivers.

The moment is at length come, when Jesus is to yield up His Soul to His Father. He has fulfilled every single prophecy that had been foretold of Him, even that of His receiving vinegar when parched with thirst. He therefore speaks this His sixth Word: It is consummated (St. John, xix. 30)! He has, then, but to die; His Death is to put the finishing stroke to our Redemption, as the Prophets assure us. But He must die as God. This man, worn out by suffering, exhausted by His three hours agony, Whose few words were scarce audible to them that stood round His Cross, now utters a loud cry, which is heard at a great distance off, and fills the Centurion, Who commands the guard, with fear and astonishment: Father! into Thy hands I commend My spirit (St. Luke, xxiii. 46)! This is His seventh and last Word; after which He bows down His head, and dies.

At this awful moment, the sun reappears in the heavens, and darkness ceases: but the earth is shaken by an earthquake, and the rocks are split. The space between the Cross of Jesus and that of the bad Thief is violently rent asunder, and the opening is shown to this day. The Jewish Priests, who are in the Temple, are terrified at seeing the Veil, which hides the Holy of Holies, torn from top to bottom: the time for figures and types is over, the great realities are come. Many holy personages arise from their graves, and return to life. But it is in hell itself that the Death of Jesus is most felt. Satan now sees Who He is, against Whom He has excited all this persecution. He sees, that the Blood which He has caused to be shed, has saved mankind and opened the gates of heaven. This Jesus, Whom he dared to tempt in the desert, He now recognises as the Son of God, Whose precious Blood has purchased for men a Redemption that was refused to the rebel Angels!

O Jesus! Son of the Eternal Father! we adore Thee now lying dead on the wood of thy Sacrifice. Thy bitter Death has given us Life. Like those Jews who saw Thee expire, and returned to Jerusalem striking their breasts, we, also, confess that it is our sins which have caused Thy Death. Thou hast loved us, as none but God could love. Henceforth, we must be Thine, and serve Thee, as creatures redeemed at the infinite price of Thy Blood. Thou art our God; we are Thy people. Accept, we beseech Thee, our most loving thanks for this final proof of Thy goodness towards us. Thy holy Church now silently invites us to celebrate Thy praise. We leave Calvary for a time; but will soon return thither, to assist at Thy holy Burial. Mary, Thy Mother, remains immoveable at the foot of Thy Cross. Magdalene clings to Thy feet. John and the holy women stand around Thee. Once more, dearest Jesus! we adore thy sacred Body, Thy precious Blood, and Thy holy Cross, that have brought us Salvation.

THE EVENING
Let us return to Calvary, and there close this mournful day. We left Mary there, with Magdalene and other holy women, and the Beloved Disciple John. An hour has scarcely elapsed since Jesus died, when a troop of soldiers, led on by a Centurion, come up the hill, breaking the silence with their tramp and voices. They are sent by Pilate. The Chief Priests lost no time in returning to the Governor’s house; and he, at their request, has sent these men to break the legs of the three Crucified, detach them from their crosses, and bury them before night. The Jews count the days of their week from sunset; so that the great Sabbath-day of the Parasceve is close upon them. The soldiers come to the Crosses; they begin with the two thieves, and put an end to their sufferings and life by breaking their legs. Dimas dies in saintly dispositions, for the promise made to him by Jesus is his consolation: his companion dies blaspheming. The soldiers now advance towards Jesus: Mary’s heart sinks within her: what fresh outrage are these men about to offer to the lifeless and bleeding body of her Son? On inspection, they find that he is dead; but, that no doubt may be left, and no blame for neglect of orders fall upon them, one of the company raises up his spear and thrusts it into the right Side of the divine Victim, even to the Heart; and when he draws his spear out, there gushes forth a stream of Water and Blood. This is the fifth Bloodshedding, and the fifth Wound inflicted on our Jesus upon the Cross. The Church honours this mystery on the Feast of the Sacred Heart; let us reserve our reflections till then. The soul of the Holy Mother is pierced by this cruel Spear; and they that are with her redouble their sobs and tears. How is this terrible day to end? Who shall take the Body of her Jesus from His Cross? Who will enable her to give it a last embrace? The soldiers return to the City, and with them Longinus, he that pierced Jesus’ Side, but is already feeling within himself the workings of that faith, for which he is one day to lay down his life as a Martyr. But lo! two other men are seen coming towards the Cross: they are not enemies, they are faithful Disciples of Jesus: one is the wealthy counsellor Joseph of Arimathea; the other is Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews. Mary gratefully welcomes their arrival: they are come to take the body of Jesus from the Cross, and give it an honourable burial. They have the requisite authorisation, for Pilate has given permission to Joseph to take the Body of Jesus (St. John, xix. 38).

They lose no time in doing so, for the sun is near to setting, and then begins the Sabbath. Within a few yards from where stands the Cross, at the foot of the hillock which forms the summit of Calvary, there is a garden, and in this garden a sepulchre cut into the rock. No one has yet been buried in this tomb. It is to be Jesus’ Sepulchre. Hither Joseph and Nicodemus carry the sacred Body: they lay it upon a slab of stone, near to the Sepulchre. It is here that Mary receives into her arms the Body of her Jesus: she kisses each wound, and bathes it with her tears. John, Magdalene, and all that are present, compassionate the holy Mother. She resigns it into the hands of the two Disciples, for they have but a few moments left. Upon this slab, which, even to this day, is called the Stone of the Anointing, and designates the Thirteenth Station of the way of the Cross, Joseph unfolds a piece of fine linen (St. Mark, xv. 46), and Nicodemus, whose servants have brought a hundred pound weight of myrrh and aloes (St. John, xix. 39), makes every arrangement for the embalming. They reverently wash the Body, for it was covered with Blood; they remove the Crown of Thorns from the Head; and, after embalming it with their perfumes, they wrap it in the Winding-Sheet. Mary gives a last embrace to the remains of her Jesus, Who is now hidden under these swathing-bands of the Tomb.

Joseph and Nicodemus take the Body into their arms, and enter the Sepulchre. It is the Fourteenth Station of the Way of the Cross. It consists of two open cells; it is into the one on the right hand that they enter, and there, in a cavity cut into the side of the rock, they lay the Body of Jesus. They then retire; and, with the assistance of their servants, they close up the entrance of the Sepulchre with a large square stone, which Pilate, at the request of the Jews, orders to be fastened with his own seal, and guarded by a patrol of soldiers.

The sun is just setting; the great Sabbath, with its severe legal prescriptions, is just about to begin. Magdalene and the other women carefully notice the place where Jesus’ Body has been laid, and return with all speed to Jerusalem, that they may have time to purchase and prepare a quantity of materials for a more careful embalming of the Body early on the Sunday morning, that is, immediately after the Sabbath is over. The holy Mother takes a farewell-look at the Tomb wherein lies her Jesus, and then follows the rest into the City. John, her adopted son, keeps close to her. He is the guardian of Her, who, without ceasing to be Mother of God, has been made, also, Mother of Men. But oh! how much this second Maternity cost her! She was standing at the Foot of the Cross, seeing her Jesus die, when she received us as her children. Let us imitate St. John, and keep our Blessed Mother company during these trying hours which she has to pass before her Son is risen from the Grave.

How, O most merciful Redeemer! shall we leave thy Holy Sepulchre, without offering Thee the tribute of our adoration and repentance? Death, which is the consequence of sin, has extended its dominion over Thee, for thou didst submit thyself to the sentence pronounced against Thee, and wouldst become like to us even to the humiliation of the tomb. It was Thy love for us, that led to all this! What return can we make Thee? The holy Angels stand around Thy Body, thus lying in its rocky grave. They are lost in amazement at Thy having loved, to such an excess as this, Thy poor ungrateful creature, man. Thou hadst made them, as well as us, out of nothing, and they loved Thee with all the intensity of their mighty spirits; but the sight of Thy Tomb reveals to them a fresh abyss of Thine infinite goodness: Thou hast suffered death, not for their fallen fellow-angels, but for us men, who are so inferior to the Angels! Oh! what a bond of love between us and Thee must result from this Sacrifice of Thy Life for us! Thou hast died, O Jesus, for us! we must, henceforth, live for Thee. We promise it upon this Tomb, which, alas! is the handiwork of our sins. We, too, wish to die to sin, and live to grace. For the time to come, we will follow Thy precepts and Thine examples; we will avoid sin, which has made us accomplices in Thy Passion and Death. We will courageously bear, in union with Thine own, the crosses of this life: they are indeed light compared with Thine, but our weakness makes them heavy. And our death, too, when the moment comes for us to undergo that sentence which even Thou didst submit to, we will accept it with resignation. Terrible as that last hour is to nature, our faith tells us, that Thy Death has merited for it graces rich enough to make it sweet. Thy Death, dearest Jesus! has made our death become but a passing into life: and as, now, we leave Thy holy Sepulchre with the certain hope of speedily seeing Thee glorious in Thy Resurrection; so, when our body descends into the tomb, our soul shall confidently mount up to Thee, and there blissfully await the day of the Resurrection of the flesh made pure by the humiliation of the grave.

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Our Lord Jesus Christ died


Today is Good Friday, the day of our salvation, the day God died to redeem sinful man. Let us spend this day in prayer and penance in thanksgiving to Our Lord for paying such a great price for our sins. Satan was defeated and the Kingdom of God established. Let us rejoice in that. Behold the wood of the Christ upon which hung the God of the Universe, paying a price for our crimes that we couldn’t pay.

A Holy Good Friday to all!

The following is a sermon by Bishop Ehrler, 1891:

“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” (Lament, i : 12.)

I present to your pitying contemplation, this morning, my dear brethren, the mightiest, the most profound sorrow that earth has ever witnessed. It is not merely a single affliction, (such as is often endured by the human heart), but the sum of all suffering and woe, that fullness of all sorrow, united and enclosed in a single heart, and that heart, the sacred heart of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! The King of martyrs, our divine Redeemer, appears, today, before our minds in bloody garments, saying to us: “Oh all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” Who will refuse to compassionate Him, overwhelmed with the bitterest anguish for our salvation? Who can live through this day, of all others in the year, without being penetrated by the most profound and sincere compassion for the mangled and martyred Lamb of God?

Behold, how our holy Church, the Bride of the King of martyrs, laments for her beloved! She can not find words to express her deep, sharp pain. Clad in the garments of mourning, with anguish in her countenance, and tears in her eyes, she sits before the Cross of her Bridegroom, and tenderly bewails His sufferings and death. To each of her children she cries out, today; “Let tears, like a torrent, run down day and night; give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thy eye cease. Arise, give praise in the night, in the beginning of the watches; pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord.” (Lament. 2: 18, 19.)

The bitter Passion of Jesus should always and continually engage the contemplation of our souls. Day and night, like the blessed in heaven, should we adore the wounds of our Redeemer; ever and always, should we weep with all holy souls over those sufferings which were borne for love of us. But today, my brethren, when all these agonies pass swiftly before our eyes, when the blood flows afresh, and the death-sweat oozes from his body, must not the stream of our tears, like a torrent, run down day and night? Ah! yes: the Passion and Death of our dear Redeemer reveal to us this Good Friday morning the greatest and deepest of all sorrows.

I. Because of the extreme torments suffered;
II. Because of the person who endured those torments; and
III. Because of the cruel cause of those torments.

I. Who can fathom the depths and the bitterness of the deep sea of human anguish? Who can count the tears that have been shed since the unhappy fall of Adam? Who can reckon the cries of woe and misery, of agony and despair, that have issued from the mouth of one single suffering man? Yet there has been no earthly sorrow which can even be compared with that of our Saviour. If all the pains and miseries of the whole earth were collected together and united in one great mass of anguish, the sufferings of our Redeemer would far outweigh them all. So immense, so profound, so overwhelming were they, that only the mighty heart of the God-Man could endure them.

1. The prophet Isaias beheld in a vision the future sufferings of the Messias, and saw the holy Victim covered with blood and wounds; but when he attempted to paint the picture of the King of Martyrs, O then, my brethren, he was bewildered by the terrible, the awe-inspiring apparition. “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? He shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground; there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness; and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of him; despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity.” (Is. 53: 1-3).

“A worm, and no man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people,” (Ps. 21 : 7.), our Lord Jesus Christ has suffered all the pains which the soul can suffer. He has borne the excess of mental sufferings, such as anguish and fear, sorrow and desolation, dejection and dereliction–all that can inflict torture upon the heart of man. He cries out: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death” (Matt. 14: 34.); and then He sinks to the earth overcome by so fierce an agony that it forces a bloody sweat to issue from every pore of His sacred body. Each separate torment which He afterward endured in all the members of His body, He consented to suffer beforehand in His heart and soul. “Where is there a grief like unto my grief?”

2. Yes, my brethren, He suffered in every member of His sacred body. “From the sole of the foot to the top of the head, there is no soundness therein; wounds and bruises and swelling sores: they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.” (Is. 1 : 6.) His head is crowned with piercing thorns; His eyes are filled with blood that streams from His wounded brow; His cheeks are bruised by the blows of a wicked servant; His hands and feet are pierced through with cruel nails; His heart is opened with a spear; His shoulders are torn with terrible lashes, and all His wounds are inflamed and widened by the repeated taking-off and putting-on of his sacred garments. “Where is there any sorrow like to my sorrow?”

He endured every kind of affliction–His bitter chalice contained every form and species of woe. As a babe, He was repulsed by His own creatures, and forced to accept as a birth-place, a cold and miserable stable. As a helpless and harmless child, He was threatened with death, and obliged to flee from His own country into a distant and barbarous land. When grown to manhood, His chosen people, to whom He had shown naught but kindness, whom He had loaded with favors and benefits, despised and persecuted Him. They said: “He hath a devil,” and they sought to take His life. They tried to rob Him of His honor and reputation. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples, and sold by him for a contemptible sum of money, and this under the mask of friendship. He was deserted by His cherished disciples, who had sworn to follow Him unto death. He was bound with cords, and led forth like a criminal amid the wild clamor of His enemies. He was falsely accused, and dragged about from one tribunal to another. He was mocked and despised; a murderer and robber was preferred before Him. He was deprived of His clothing before the eyes of the whole people, and thus, stripped naked, was nailed to the cross: and even on the cross He was scoffed at and denied unto the end. Indifference and cowardice, human respect and treachery, hypocrisy, derision, malice, in fact, every kind of evil, had a share in His torments. “Where is there any sorrow like to my sorrow?”

He suffered from every class of men, priests and laymen, princes upon their thrones, and the scum of the people; strangers who knew Him not, and those of His own race; pagans who persecuted Him through ignorance, and Jews who had been instructed in the Law; soldiers hardened by cruel warfare, and judges who were appointed to protect the innocent; the ignorant who were the blind tools of the malignant Pharisees, and the learned who were filled with evil wisdom–all conditions of human society, all degrees of rank, became His enemies. He had not one executioner alone (as has the greatest criminal), but hundreds and thousands of them. “Where is any sorrow like unto my sorrow?”

He suffered throughout His whole earthly career, since no moment of it was free from pain and affliction. All the days of His life, the awful vision of His future sufferings stood out clearly before His omniscient eye, filling His soul with unspeakable woe and dread. Death itself did not put an end to the outrages heaped upon Him; for when He hung lifeless upon the cross, His enemies continued to wreak then vengeance upon His sacred remains. They pierced His side with a lance; they sealed up His grave and placed a watch upon it so that “that deceiver,” as they called Him, might not come forth from the tomb. Jesus, as St. John remarks, knew ” all things that were to come upon him.” (John 18:4.) “My sorrow is continually before me,” the Psalmist says in His person. (Ps. 37 : 18.) “My enemies have trodden on me all the day long; for there are many that make war against me.” (Ps. 55 : 3.)

3. Where is there sorrow equal to His sorrow? He suffered all these pains and sorrows from those who had been His friends, and for whose salvation He had descended from heaven to earth. His people, chosen before all the nations of the earth, whom He had led out of Egypt, fed with manna in the desert, opened the fountain of living water in the hard rock; whose enemies He had subdued, through whose cities, towns, and villages He went about blessing and doing good–this, His chosen people, prepared all these afflictions and humiliations for Him, their Messias. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel hath not known me.” (Is. 1 :3.) “I have brought up children, and exalted them, but they have despised me.” (Is. 1 :2.) Hearing these lamentations of our outraged God, must we not again exclaim: What sorrow is like unto His sorrow!

4. He endured all these sufferings without the least alleviation. No earthly consolation was offered Him, for His disciples had all fled; no heavenly comfort was sent to lighten His pain. He offered Himself willingly to suffer, and He wished to drink the bitter chalice even to the dregs. For this reason, He refrained Himself as far as possible from the succors of His Divinity, so that He might be, as it were, abyssed in the very depths of sorrow. “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there was not a man with me.” (Is. 63 : 3.) “I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none; and for one that would comfort me, and I found none. And they gave me gall for my food; and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Ps. 68 : 21, 22.)

In heart-felt sympathy, my brethren, let us, today, contemplate this deep ocean of suffering, for to nothing else can the great and bitter sorrows of our Redeemer be compared. “Let tears like a torrent run down day and night: give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thy eye cease.” The earth, the elements, and all inanimate nature once trembled on this day with grief and compassion for the mangled Lamb of God, and shall we, for whose salvation He was slain, alone remain indifferent? Let us fall upon our knees before our crucified Jesus,–let us venerate His sorrows, and detest with bitter tears the sins which caused His unspeakable sufferings.

II. Consider next, my beloved Christians, the dignity of the Person who endured those sufferings.

1. Who is this Man of Sorrows who appears before us, with torn and bleeding body and pierced heart?” Who is He that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra?” we ask in astonishment with the prophet Isaias. (Is. 63 :1.) “Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread the wine-press?” (Is. 63 : 2.) No human heart is strong or heroic enough to carry such a burden of sorrow, without being crushed, broken, annihilated! Ah, my beloved, the Man of Sorrows is the only-begotten Son of God–the strong and mighty Deity, who, for love of us, has borne all these torments; who in order to make satisfaction for our sins, took their crushing weight upon Himself and suffered in our stead. He, the Man of Sorrows, saw the want and misery of the earth, He saw the corruption of sin which had opened the abyss of hell, and closed the gates of heaven. From the throne of His heavenly glory, He looked down with grief upon the earth, and saw that only His own almighty hand could rescue it from its extreme and hopeless wretchedness. The prayers and sacrifices of centuries had been inadequate to appease the divine wrath. Neither Angel nor Archangel could make the requisite satisfaction to the offended majesty of God, or deliver the world from its impending ruin. Penetrated with an incomprehensible love, the Divine Word cries out to His heavenly Father: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not; but a body thou hast fitted to me . . . then said I, behold I come . . . that I should do thy will, O Lord!” (Heb. 10: 5-7.) “The Father did not lay the cross upon His Son without His consent,” says St. Cyril, “but the Son has given Himself for us on the cross, and the Father has agreed to it, so that the mystery of salvation might be accomplished.” (St. Cyril.)

2. The Man of Sorrows bore within Him a divine heart, and He suffered with the strength and supernatural power of a divine being. It is true that while He suffered intensely in His human nature, the divine nature was incapable of suffering, yet the divine, being united with the human nature, could not but sympathize with the sufferings of the latter. Indeed, Christ as God wished to sympathize with and share the sufferings of His humanity, so that, thereby, a sacrifice of infinite value might be offered to His Heavenly Father, as an infinite atonement for our sins. Where is there a sorrow like unto this sorrow?

Go through all the ranks of human beings, my dear Christians, and contemplate the misery which meets you on every side. Ponder well the greatest sorrow that has ever been the portion of any earthly creature, and you will acknowledge, after all, that it is only the suffering of a human heart. For all its depth and intensity it is only the trembling outcry and complaint of a finite human soul. But the sorrow which Jesus Christ endured, contains within its unfathomable depths–the unsearchable emotions of an incarnate God! Again: were it possible for the Angels of heaven to experience pain; nay, more, if they accepted it with the whole power of their angelic nature, the united sufferings of all that multitude of mighty spirits compared with those of our Redeemer, would be only as a soft sigh which trembles for a moment on the summer air. Where is sorrow like unto his sorrow?

3. Behold, again, this Man of Sorrows, and meditate upon the lessons of His wounds. Consider not merely that grand, divine Heart which bears human suffering with superhuman strength, but, if you would still further sound the depths of Christ’s excessive sorrow, contemplate, also, that sacred body which is led like a lamb to the slaughter. Not a human body formed from base and sinful dust of the earth is the body of Jesus Christ, but a miracle of the omnipotence and wisdom of God. It is a wonderful creation formed by the Holy Ghost in the immaculate womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Not merely royal blood flows through His veins, the tender plant from the root of Jesse, but this body is created by the divine operation of God Himself. As all the works of God are more perfect, the clearer and the more forcibly they show forth His power; as the manna which the Lord sent from heaven was sweeter and more exquisite than any earthly food; as the wine which our Saviour created at the marriage of Cana was finer than any juice of the vine; as Adam, the first man, had a most beautiful and perfect human body, because God Himself had formed it from the slime of the earth–so the body of Jesus Christ was more wondrously beautiful and perfect than that of any other human being. It was fine and delicate and perfect beyond all creatures, and formed with special capabilities for suffering. He was appointed to be the Lamb of God, to bear, and to take away, the sins of the world. According to the will of God, as well as through the nature of His holy body, the humanity of our Redeemer must have felt all His pains and sorrows much more keenly and intensely than could any other human body. The greatest and sharpest agony struggled and raged in the most sensitive and delicate of vessels; but through the will of God and the love of our Saviour, the vessel, not being able to break, endured and felt that extraordinary anguish to the bitter end. The fiercest fire, finding the most inflammable material, continues, without consuming or annihilating it, to feed upon it with ever increasing violence, as long as divine Justice requires the holocaust! Where is there a sorrow like unto this sorrow?

4. “Go forth, ye daughters of Sion; and see King Solomon in the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals.” (Cant. 3:11.) Behold your Bridegroom, who has delivered you through such exceeding sorrow, and has espoused Himself to your soul at such a great price! Not only will we fall down in adoration and extol the sufferings of our Redeemer, but lovingly we will raise up our eyes to the King and Bridegroom of our souls, and gratefully consecrate the love of our hearts to Him, the Incarnate God, who has given the whole of His divine and human nature to suffer for our redemption!

III. Come now, my dearly beloved, and descending once more into the deep abyss of our Saviour’s Passion, let us search with sincere earnestness for the cause of these terrible sufferings, this ineffable sorrow.

1. On account of our sins, my brethren, the Son of God came down from the glory of heaven. A great invalid lay suffering upon the earth, and a great Physician must needs appear to save and heal him. Love moved the good Samaritan Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, to take pity on sick humanity, and to offer to His heavenly Father the atonement for our sins. But was it necessary that our Saviour should suffer so much and so deeply? Would not a single sigh from his divine Heart have sufficed to appease the wrath of the Eternal Father? Certainly; one single drop of His precious blood was sufficient to cleanse the whole world from sin. A single work of our divine Saviour is everlasting and infinite in its redeeming power. Then, wherefore, has He borne the supreme measure of sorrow? Why did He wish to drain the bitter chalice to the dregs? It was to expiate our sins in general, as well as in particular. Every sin that has been or will be committed upon the earth He, in His character of Mediator, has atoned for. “Behold the man,” cried out Pilate, as he presented the scourged and bleeding Redeemer to the gaze of the Jewish people. “O, Pilate!” we must exclaim, “thou hast announced a deep truth!” Before us stands the Man who has taken upon Himself all the sins of the human race, and who bears them and atones for them in His own body. Before us stands the Man in whom we can see our sins and their punishment. “Surely He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows; and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His bruises we are healed.” (Is. 53 : 4, 5.)

2. Contemplate, today, the sufferings of our Saviour, my beloved brethren, and see if there is one sin which He has not taken upon himself and expiated. Consider first, our individual sins, and in them you will recognize all the sins of the world. Faithless and ungrateful, humanity has turned away from the good God, and bartered His friendship and love for the miserable wages of sin. The disciples, fleeing, abandon their divine master; Judas betrays Him for thirty pieces of silver; His enemies take Him prisoner, and bind Him like a criminal; they drag Him from one tribunal to another. Behold the man who continues in his vices, who is not satisfied with one sin or one insult to the Lord! They weave a crown of thorns and press it upon His head; they place a reed in His hand, and clothe Him in a garment of mockery. Behold the man who raises his head proudly and haughtily, who would elevate his throne as high as the stars in heaven! They scourge Him with cruel lashes, until His sacred body, which is exposed naked to the gaze of the rabble, is covered with blood. Behold the man who shamelessly wallows in the lusts of the flesh, rejoicing in them, and defiling his body with the filth of iniquity. Pilate releases a murderer, and condemns innocence to death. Behold the man who, full of envy, and jealousy, grudges his neighbor his position, or his fortune. They pierce His hands and feet with cruel nails. Behold the man who misuses his members for sin, whose feet hasten upon the road to ruin, and whose hands are greedily stretched forth towards injustice. They give Him gall and vinegar to drink. Behold the man who indulges in gluttony, and gratifies all his sensual appetites! They mock Him in His sufferings, and cry out to Him: “If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Behold the man who, in his anger, knows no limit to his hatred and revenge! In death, they pierced His Sacred Heart; and at the same time they pierced the soul of the man who had given away his heart to strange gods. Behold the man of sin! Behold the man of punishment!” It is not the Redeemer and the Saviour,” each one of us might exclaim, “that hangs before me upon the cross, it is I myself whose sins he has borne and atoned for, it is the man of sin that is crucified in Him!”

“What was the cause of Thy suffering, O Son of God?” exclaims St. Anselm. “I was the scourge of Thy pain; I the cause of Thy death; I the sting of Thy torments; I the ground of Thy condemnation. O marvelous verdict, O mysterious dispensation! The wicked sin, and the just is punished; the guilty commit the offense, and the innocent atones for it; the master pays for what the servant has broken; God becomes surety for the debts of man.”

3. Wherein lies the cause of all these incomprehensible sufferings of our Saviour? He did not wish merely to bear all the sins of the world in His afflicted person, but, also, to make an everlasting and superabundant satisfaction for us, in order to lay up for us an everlasting and superabundant merit. “Christ has paid much more than we owed,” says St. Chrysostom; “as much as the ocean exceeds a drop of water, so much do Christ’s merits exceed our guilt.” (Hom. 20 in Epist. ad. Rom.) This superabounding merit of Christ does not merely blot out all the stains of sin and its punishment in us, but it, also, wins for us in the richest measure all the graces necessary to our souls for the gaining of everlasting life. As the good Samaritan did not merely raise up the wounded man from the wayside, and wash his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, but, also, out of love, placed him upon his horse, and brought him to an inn, and left money for his further care, so our Redeemer, the genuine Good Samaritan, does not simply heal the wounds of Our hearts through His atonement; but, also, gives us, through His holy Passion, all graces in the highest degree. He would reveal to the world His everlasting love and its great power; therefore has He suffered so much for us. As the loving pelican opens its breast and gives its own life-blood to feed its famishing brood, so does Jesus, our Pious Pelican, nourish and strengthen our souls with His own sacred Blood, the last drop of which He shed for us.

Today, then, my beloved brethren, let us descend into the holy mystery of the Passion of our Lord. And when we have gone down into the deep well whence such streams of suffering and sorrow burst forth, each one of us may strike his breast remorsefully, and cry out to himself in bitter sorrow: “Thou art the cause of all these innumerable sufferings of Thy Redeemer!” Our sins have prepared these pains for our loving Saviour. Therefore “let tears, like a torrent, run down day and night: give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thine eye cease.” Today, at least, dear Christians, let us pour out our hearts like water before the face of the Lord. When King David learned and recognized of old the justice of God in his family, and when the punishing hand of the Lord was revealed to him, then that royal penitent “kept a fast, and going in by himself, lay upon the ground. And the ancients of his house came to make him rise from the ground, but he would not: neither did he eat meat with them.” (2 Kings 12: 16, 17.) So let us spend in the holy practice of prayer and penance this solemn day, in which the Justice and the Mercy of God have been so clearly revealed to us: and let us promise the Lord, my dear brethren, at the foot of His cross that, henceforth, we will never again renew His endless sufferings, and unspeakable sorrows, by any future relapses into sin. Amen.

“Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth. And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written.

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.” ~John 19: 16-30

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day of our salvation, the day God died to redeem sinful man.  Let us spend this day in prayer and penance in thanksgiving to Our Lord for paying such a great price for our sins. Satan was defeated and the Kingdom of God established. Let us rejoice in that. Behold the wood of the Christ upon which hung the God of the Universe, paying a price for our crimes that we couldn’t pay.

A Holy Good Friday to all!

The following is a sermon by Bishop Ehrler, 1891:

“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” (Lament, i : 12.)

I present to your pitying contemplation, this morning, my dear brethren, the mightiest, the most profound sorrow that earth has ever witnessed. It is not merely a single affliction, (such as is often endured by the human heart), but the sum of all suffering and woe, that fullness of all sorrow, united and enclosed in a single heart, and that heart, the sacred heart of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! The King of martyrs, our divine Redeemer, appears, today, before our minds in bloody garments, saying to us: “Oh all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” Who will refuse to compassionate Him, overwhelmed with the bitterest anguish for our salvation? Who can live through this day, of all others in the year, without being penetrated by the most profound and sincere compassion for the mangled and martyred Lamb of God?

Behold, how our holy Church, the Bride of the King of martyrs, laments for her beloved! She can not find words to express her deep, sharp pain. Clad in the garments of mourning, with anguish in her countenance, and tears in her eyes, she sits before the Cross of her Bridegroom, and tenderly bewails His sufferings and death. To each of her children she cries out, today; “Let tears, like a torrent, run down day and night; give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thy eye cease. Arise, give praise in the night, in the beginning of the watches; pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord.” (Lament. 2: 18, 19.)

The bitter Passion of Jesus should always and continually engage the contemplation of our souls. Day and night, like the blessed in heaven, should we adore the wounds of our Redeemer; ever and always, should we weep with all holy souls over those sufferings which were borne for love of us. But today, my brethren, when all these agonies pass swiftly before our eyes, when the blood flows afresh, and the death-sweat oozes from his body, must not the stream of our tears, like a torrent, run down day and night? Ah! yes: the Passion and Death of our dear Redeemer reveal to us this Good Friday morning the greatest and deepest of all sorrows.

I. Because of the extreme torments suffered;
II. Because of the person who endured those torments; and
III. Because of the cruel cause of those torments.

I. Who can fathom the depths and the bitterness of the deep sea of human anguish? Who can count the tears that have been shed since the unhappy fall of Adam? Who can reckon the cries of woe and misery, of agony and despair, that have issued from the mouth of one single suffering man? Yet there has been no earthly sorrow which can even be compared with that of our Saviour. If all the pains and miseries of the whole earth were collected together and united in one great mass of anguish, the sufferings of our Redeemer would far outweigh them all. So immense, so profound, so overwhelming were they, that only the mighty heart of the God-Man could endure them.

1. The prophet Isaias beheld in a vision the future sufferings of the Messias, and saw the holy Victim covered with blood and wounds; but when he attempted to paint the picture of the King of Martyrs, O then, my brethren, he was bewildered by the terrible, the awe-inspiring apparition. “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? He shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground; there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness; and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of him; despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity.” (Is. 53: 1-3).

“A worm, and no man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people,” (Ps. 21 : 7.), our Lord Jesus Christ has suffered all the pains which the soul can suffer. He has borne the excess of mental sufferings, such as anguish and fear, sorrow and desolation, dejection and dereliction–all that can inflict torture upon the heart of man. He cries out: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death” (Matt. 14: 34.); and then He sinks to the earth overcome by so fierce an agony that it forces a bloody sweat to issue from every pore of His sacred body. Each separate torment which He afterward endured in all the members of His body, He consented to suffer beforehand in His heart and soul. “Where is there a grief like unto my grief?”

2. Yes, my brethren, He suffered in every member of His sacred body. “From the sole of the foot to the top of the head, there is no soundness therein; wounds and bruises and swelling sores: they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.” (Is. 1 : 6.) His head is crowned with piercing thorns; His eyes are filled with blood that streams from His wounded brow; His cheeks are bruised by the blows of a wicked servant; His hands and feet are pierced through with cruel nails; His heart is opened with a spear; His shoulders are torn with terrible lashes, and all His wounds are inflamed and widened by the repeated taking-off and putting-on of his sacred garments. “Where is there any sorrow like to my sorrow?”

He endured every kind of affliction–His bitter chalice contained every form and species of woe. As a babe, He was repulsed by His own creatures, and forced to accept as a birth-place, a cold and miserable stable. As a helpless and harmless child, He was threatened with death, and obliged to flee from His own country into a distant and barbarous land. When grown to manhood, His chosen people, to whom He had shown naught but kindness, whom He had loaded with favors and benefits, despised and persecuted Him. They said: “He hath a devil,” and they sought to take His life. They tried to rob Him of His honor and reputation. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples, and sold by him for a contemptible sum of money, and this under the mask of friendship. He was deserted by His cherished disciples, who had sworn to follow Him unto death. He was bound with cords, and led forth like a criminal amid the wild clamor of His enemies. He was falsely accused, and dragged about from one tribunal to another. He was mocked and despised; a murderer and robber was preferred before Him. He was deprived of His clothing before the eyes of the whole people, and thus, stripped naked, was nailed to the cross: and even on the cross He was scoffed at and denied unto the end. Indifference and cowardice, human respect and treachery, hypocrisy, derision, malice, in fact, every kind of evil, had a share in His torments. “Where is there any sorrow like to my sorrow?”

He suffered from every class of men, priests and laymen, princes upon their thrones, and the scum of the people; strangers who knew Him not, and those of His own race; pagans who persecuted Him through ignorance, and Jews who had been instructed in the Law; soldiers hardened by cruel warfare, and judges who were appointed to protect the innocent; the ignorant who were the blind tools of the malignant Pharisees, and the learned who were filled with evil wisdom–all conditions of human society, all degrees of rank, became His enemies. He had not one executioner alone (as has the greatest criminal), but hundreds and thousands of them. “Where is any sorrow like unto my sorrow?”

He suffered throughout His whole earthly career, since no moment of it was free from pain and affliction. All the days of His life, the awful vision of His future sufferings stood out clearly before His omniscient eye, filling His soul with unspeakable woe and dread. Death itself did not put an end to the outrages heaped upon Him; for when He hung lifeless upon the cross, His enemies continued to wreak then vengeance upon His sacred remains. They pierced His side with a lance; they sealed up His grave and placed a watch upon it so that “that deceiver,” as they called Him, might not come forth from the tomb. Jesus, as St. John remarks, knew ” all things that were to come upon him.” (John 18:4.) “My sorrow is continually before me,” the Psalmist says in His person. (Ps. 37 : 18.) “My enemies have trodden on me all the day long; for there are many that make war against me.” (Ps. 55 : 3.)

3. Where is there sorrow equal to His sorrow? He suffered all these pains and sorrows from those who had been His friends, and for whose salvation He had descended from heaven to earth. His people, chosen before all the nations of the earth, whom He had led out of Egypt, fed with manna in the desert, opened the fountain of living water in the hard rock; whose enemies He had subdued, through whose cities, towns, and villages He went about blessing and doing good–this, His chosen people, prepared all these afflictions and humiliations for Him, their Messias. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel hath not known me.” (Is. 1 :3.) “I have brought up children, and exalted them, but they have despised me.” (Is. 1 :2.) Hearing these lamentations of our outraged God, must we not again exclaim: What sorrow is like unto His sorrow!

4. He endured all these sufferings without the least alleviation. No earthly consolation was offered Him, for His disciples had all fled; no heavenly comfort was sent to lighten His pain. He offered Himself willingly to suffer, and He wished to drink the bitter chalice even to the dregs. For this reason, He refrained Himself as far as possible from the succors of His Divinity, so that He might be, as it were, abyssed in the very depths of sorrow. “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there was not a man with me.” (Is. 63 : 3.) “I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none; and for one that would comfort me, and I found none. And they gave me gall for my food; and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Ps. 68 : 21, 22.)

In heart-felt sympathy, my brethren, let us, today, contemplate this deep ocean of suffering, for to nothing else can the great and bitter sorrows of our Redeemer be compared. “Let tears like a torrent run down day and night: give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thy eye cease.” The earth, the elements, and all inanimate nature once trembled on this day with grief and compassion for the mangled Lamb of God, and shall we, for whose salvation He was slain, alone remain indifferent? Let us fall upon our knees before our crucified Jesus,–let us venerate His sorrows, and detest with bitter tears the sins which caused His unspeakable sufferings.

II. Consider next, my beloved Christians, the dignity of the Person who endured those sufferings.

1. Who is this Man of Sorrows who appears before us, with torn and bleeding body and pierced heart?” Who is He that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra?” we ask in astonishment with the prophet Isaias. (Is. 63 :1.) “Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread the wine-press?” (Is. 63 : 2.) No human heart is strong or heroic enough to carry such a burden of sorrow, without being crushed, broken, annihilated! Ah, my beloved, the Man of Sorrows is the only-begotten Son of God–the strong and mighty Deity, who, for love of us, has borne all these torments; who in order to make satisfaction for our sins, took their crushing weight upon Himself and suffered in our stead. He, the Man of Sorrows, saw the want and misery of the earth, He saw the corruption of sin which had opened the abyss of hell, and closed the gates of heaven. From the throne of His heavenly glory, He looked down with grief upon the earth, and saw that only His own almighty hand could rescue it from its extreme and hopeless wretchedness. The prayers and sacrifices of centuries had been inadequate to appease the divine wrath. Neither Angel nor Archangel could make the requisite satisfaction to the offended majesty of God, or deliver the world from its impending ruin. Penetrated with an incomprehensible love, the Divine Word cries out to His heavenly Father: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not; but a body thou hast fitted to me . . . then said I, behold I come . . . that I should do thy will, O Lord!” (Heb. 10: 5-7.) “The Father did not lay the cross upon His Son without His consent,” says St. Cyril, “but the Son has given Himself for us on the cross, and the Father has agreed to it, so that the mystery of salvation might be accomplished.” (St. Cyril.)

2. The Man of Sorrows bore within Him a divine heart, and He suffered with the strength and supernatural power of a divine being. It is true that while He suffered intensely in His human nature, the divine nature was incapable of suffering, yet the divine, being united with the human nature, could not but sympathize with the sufferings of the latter. Indeed, Christ as God wished to sympathize with and share the sufferings of His humanity, so that, thereby, a sacrifice of infinite value might be offered to His Heavenly Father, as an infinite atonement for our sins. Where is there a sorrow like unto this sorrow?

Go through all the ranks of human beings, my dear Christians, and contemplate the misery which meets you on every side. Ponder well the greatest sorrow that has ever been the portion of any earthly creature, and you will acknowledge, after all, that it is only the suffering of a human heart. For all its depth and intensity it is only the trembling outcry and complaint of a finite human soul. But the sorrow which Jesus Christ endured, contains within its unfathomable depths–the unsearchable emotions of an incarnate God! Again: were it possible for the Angels of heaven to experience pain; nay, more, if they accepted it with the whole power of their angelic nature, the united sufferings of all that multitude of mighty spirits compared with those of our Redeemer, would be only as a soft sigh which trembles for a moment on the summer air. Where is sorrow like unto his sorrow?

3. Behold, again, this Man of Sorrows, and meditate upon the lessons of His wounds. Consider not merely that grand, divine Heart which bears human suffering with superhuman strength, but, if you would still further sound the depths of Christ’s excessive sorrow, contemplate, also, that sacred body which is led like a lamb to the slaughter. Not a human body formed from base and sinful dust of the earth is the body of Jesus Christ, but a miracle of the omnipotence and wisdom of God. It is a wonderful creation formed by the Holy Ghost in the immaculate womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Not merely royal blood flows through His veins, the tender plant from the root of Jesse, but this body is created by the divine operation of God Himself. As all the works of God are more perfect, the clearer and the more forcibly they show forth His power; as the manna which the Lord sent from heaven was sweeter and more exquisite than any earthly food; as the wine which our Saviour created at the marriage of Cana was finer than any juice of the vine; as Adam, the first man, had a most beautiful and perfect human body, because God Himself had formed it from the slime of the earth–so the body of Jesus Christ was more wondrously beautiful and perfect than that of any other human being. It was fine and delicate and perfect beyond all creatures, and formed with special capabilities for suffering. He was appointed to be the Lamb of God, to bear, and to take away, the sins of the world. According to the will of God, as well as through the nature of His holy body, the humanity of our Redeemer must have felt all His pains and sorrows much more keenly and intensely than could any other human body. The greatest and sharpest agony struggled and raged in the most sensitive and delicate of vessels; but through the will of God and the love of our Saviour, the vessel, not being able to break, endured and felt that extraordinary anguish to the bitter end. The fiercest fire, finding the most inflammable material, continues, without consuming or annihilating it, to feed upon it with ever increasing violence, as long as divine Justice requires the holocaust! Where is there a sorrow like unto this sorrow?

4. “Go forth, ye daughters of Sion; and see King Solomon in the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals.” (Cant. 3:11.) Behold your Bridegroom, who has delivered you through such exceeding sorrow, and has espoused Himself to your soul at such a great price! Not only will we fall down in adoration and extol the sufferings of our Redeemer, but lovingly we will raise up our eyes to the King and Bridegroom of our souls, and gratefully consecrate the love of our hearts to Him, the Incarnate God, who has given the whole of His divine and human nature to suffer for our redemption!

III. Come now, my dearly beloved, and descending once more into the deep abyss of our Saviour’s Passion, let us search with sincere earnestness for the cause of these terrible sufferings, this ineffable sorrow.

1. On account of our sins, my brethren, the Son of God came down from the glory of heaven. A great invalid lay suffering upon the earth, and a great Physician must needs appear to save and heal him. Love moved the good Samaritan Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, to take pity on sick humanity, and to offer to His heavenly Father the atonement for our sins. But was it necessary that our Saviour should suffer so much and so deeply? Would not a single sigh from his divine Heart have sufficed to appease the wrath of the Eternal Father? Certainly; one single drop of His precious blood was sufficient to cleanse the whole world from sin. A single work of our divine Saviour is everlasting and infinite in its redeeming power. Then, wherefore, has He borne the supreme measure of sorrow? Why did He wish to drain the bitter chalice to the dregs? It was to expiate our sins in general, as well as in particular. Every sin that has been or will be committed upon the earth He, in His character of Mediator, has atoned for. “Behold the man,” cried out Pilate, as he presented the scourged and bleeding Redeemer to the gaze of the Jewish people. “O, Pilate!” we must exclaim, “thou hast announced a deep truth!” Before us stands the Man who has taken upon Himself all the sins of the human race, and who bears them and atones for them in His own body. Before us stands the Man in whom we can see our sins and their punishment. “Surely He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows; and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His bruises we are healed.” (Is. 53 : 4, 5.)

2. Contemplate, today, the sufferings of our Saviour, my beloved brethren, and see if there is one sin which He has not taken upon himself and expiated. Consider first, our individual sins, and in them you will recognize all the sins of the world. Faithless and ungrateful, humanity has turned away from the good God, and bartered His friendship and love for the miserable wages of sin. The disciples, fleeing, abandon their divine master; Judas betrays Him for thirty pieces of silver; His enemies take Him prisoner, and bind Him like a criminal; they drag Him from one tribunal to another. Behold the man who continues in his vices, who is not satisfied with one sin or one insult to the Lord! They weave a crown of thorns and press it upon His head; they place a reed in His hand, and clothe Him in a garment of mockery. Behold the man who raises his head proudly and haughtily, who would elevate his throne as high as the stars in heaven! They scourge Him with cruel lashes, until His sacred body, which is exposed naked to the gaze of the rabble, is covered with blood. Behold the man who shamelessly wallows in the lusts of the flesh, rejoicing in them, and defiling his body with the filth of iniquity. Pilate releases a murderer, and condemns innocence to death. Behold the man who, full of envy, and jealousy, grudges his neighbor his position, or his fortune. They pierce His hands and feet with cruel nails. Behold the man who misuses his members for sin, whose feet hasten upon the road to ruin, and whose hands are greedily stretched forth towards injustice. They give Him gall and vinegar to drink. Behold the man who indulges in gluttony, and gratifies all his sensual appetites! They mock Him in His sufferings, and cry out to Him: “If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Behold the man who, in his anger, knows no limit to his hatred and revenge! In death, they pierced His Sacred Heart; and at the same time they pierced the soul of the man who had given away his heart to strange gods. Behold the man of sin! Behold the man of punishment!” It is not the Redeemer and the Saviour,” each one of us might exclaim, “that hangs before me upon the cross, it is I myself whose sins he has borne and atoned for, it is the man of sin that is crucified in Him!”

“What was the cause of Thy suffering, O Son of God?” exclaims St. Anselm. “I was the scourge of Thy pain; I the cause of Thy death; I the sting of Thy torments; I the ground of Thy condemnation. O marvelous verdict, O mysterious dispensation! The wicked sin, and the just is punished; the guilty commit the offense, and the innocent atones for it; the master pays for what the servant has broken; God becomes surety for the debts of man.”

3. Wherein lies the cause of all these incomprehensible sufferings of our Saviour? He did not wish merely to bear all the sins of the world in His afflicted person, but, also, to make an everlasting and superabundant satisfaction for us, in order to lay up for us an everlasting and superabundant merit. “Christ has paid much more than we owed,” says St. Chrysostom; “as much as the ocean exceeds a drop of water, so much do Christ’s merits exceed our guilt.” (Hom. 20 in Epist. ad. Rom.) This superabounding merit of Christ does not merely blot out all the stains of sin and its punishment in us, but it, also, wins for us in the richest measure all the graces necessary to our souls for the gaining of everlasting life. As the good Samaritan did not merely raise up the wounded man from the wayside, and wash his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, but, also, out of love, placed him upon his horse, and brought him to an inn, and left money for his further care, so our Redeemer, the genuine Good Samaritan, does not simply heal the wounds of Our hearts through His atonement; but, also, gives us, through His holy Passion, all graces in the highest degree. He would reveal to the world His everlasting love and its great power; therefore has He suffered so much for us. As the loving pelican opens its breast and gives its own life-blood to feed its famishing brood, so does Jesus, our Pious Pelican, nourish and strengthen our souls with His own sacred Blood, the last drop of which He shed for us.

Today, then, my beloved brethren, let us descend into the holy mystery of the Passion of our Lord. And when we have gone down into the deep well whence such streams of suffering and sorrow burst forth, each one of us may strike his breast remorsefully, and cry out to himself in bitter sorrow: “Thou art the cause of all these innumerable sufferings of Thy Redeemer!” Our sins have prepared these pains for our loving Saviour. Therefore “let tears, like a torrent, run down day and night: give thyself no rest, and let not the apple of thine eye cease.” Today, at least, dear Christians, let us pour out our hearts like water before the face of the Lord. When King David learned and recognized of old the justice of God in his family, and when the punishing hand of the Lord was revealed to him, then that royal penitent “kept a fast, and going in by himself, lay upon the ground. And the ancients of his house came to make him rise from the ground, but he would not: neither did he eat meat with them.” (2 Kings 12: 16, 17.) So let us spend in the holy practice of prayer and penance this solemn day, in which the Justice and the Mercy of God have been so clearly revealed to us: and let us promise the Lord, my dear brethren, at the foot of His cross that, henceforth, we will never again renew His endless sufferings, and unspeakable sorrows, by any future relapses into sin. Amen.

“Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth.  And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha.  Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written.

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.”  ~John 19: 16-30