January 20, 2019

The Seventh Saturday: The Second Sorrowful Mystery - The Scourging of Jesus

Gospel Readings

MEDITATION

1. Jesus before his judges. My soul, journey along these sorrowful roads your Father travels upon, your loving Jesus, in these hours of his atrocious afflictions.

Slapped in the house of Annas, He then passed into that of Caiphas where He was mocked, declared a blasphemer, an offender deserving death. He was then shut in a prison and there, until dawn, abandoned to the scorn, spittle and blows of insolent soldiers.

At break of day He was dragged through the streets, then handed over to Pilate and Herod by his judges. By Herod He was considered mad, and as such dressed in white and exposed to the ridicule and sneers of a seduced crowd.

My soul, admire your Jesus, ever humble, ever patient; He allows himself to be led like an innocent lamb, where He is to be tormented by humanity’s malice and Satan’s fury. Consider how he remains silent before the shouts, the slander and the scorn. And Jesus remains silent to teach you how to abandon yourself to God, whenever you yourself be accused or slandered; and for love of him do not seek any other justification but silence. “He was like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb” (Is 53:7).

In this way your heart shall find peace. How many Saints, how many solitary and peaceful persons have generated this silence of Jesus!

Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy! I am full of sin, while You are innocence itself: and yet, You love those who treat you so unjustly, even unto dying for them. And shall I cling to feelings of animosity and bitterness for the smallest of offences? You allow yourself to be judged by everyone, and yet I wish to be judged by no one? When will I see my heart changed, O infinite goodness? My God, my Saviour, my Teacher, I confess before you my ungratefulness, my pride and presumption: by your grace I long to imitate you and to suffer in silence every sort of pain and injury that will be done to me. With my whole heart I forgive all those who have injured me, and who will injure me. Through your love I free them from having to restore the honour of which they have deprived me, and I wish no other honour than that of loving and serving you. Destroy in me all sentiments of bitterness and vengeance, dilate my heart with your charity that I may unreservedly love you, and in you love all those who persecute me, “rejoicing to be counted worthy to suffer dishonour for love of the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41).

2. Jesus was taken from prison and dragged shamefully through the streets, so that He appear odious and contemptible to the people, who are accustomed to judging things by their appearance. He was treated as a cursed man, a seducer, a crazed person, and handed over to his executioners. Then, after being insulted and mocked, He was led through Jerusalem to the house of Pilate. Along the way they did him a thousand injuries, a thousand acts of violence. He heard nothing but curses. Dragged by ropes, pushed by spears, without rest, forced to walk on, worn out by the fatigue and torments of a whole night, if He fell He was loaded with blows and insults, as though the most despicable of all men. In this way the royal Prophet saw him: “I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6).

And in this way, from the garden to Calvary, in fewer than twelve hours they caused him to make six journeys, and all the way the sweet Master left behind traces of his steadfast patience, his profound humility, his infinite charity and his incredible penance.

Awake, my soul, arouse yourself from the drowsiness and apathy in which you lie. Admire those women who rush along the streets of Jerusalem with Mary, wetting them in their tears and filling the air with their sighs. Recognize the most beautiful among creatures, the most holy among women, the most afflicted among mothers; recognize Mary, Jesus’ dear mother and yours, who goes in search of her soul’s beloved, who goes about asking if anyone has seen him.

O Mary so meek, you persevered in sorrowful prayer the whole night long, till you came to know that your Son was in the hands of sinners. Who can express the anguish of your heart, when He was seized and put into prison, and made the butt of the soldiers’ insults and injuries, and when you heard from John the news of his torments and the death sentence handed down by the Sanhedrin? Yet you, ever submissive to the will of God, did not hint your anguish to anyone in the usual manner of women in pain; and though an unspeakable pain was tormenting you from within, you showed nothing but perfect submission. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, you repeated, let it be to me according to your word. And before the sun has risen you leave your silent dwelling, to go in search of Jesus and follow him all the way to the Cross.

And behold, turning into the street which leads to Pilate’s palace, there appears what seems a wave of agitated people. It is a huge crowd which, amidst shouts of scorn and curses, is dragging a man burdened down with chains, his hands tied behind his back, his hair torn, and his face bruised and deformed with spittle and blood, so much so He cannot be recognized. However, the violent beating of your heart, O Mary, indicates your innocent Son to you, in the middle of the ferocious multitude. In the midst of the mob’s curses and his enemies’ triumph, beneath the shameful robe, the Son of God, meek amid the insults, tranquil amid the shoves, lets out neither a whisper nor a complaint.

This divine Lamb, finding himself in the company of wolves, longed to see his holy mother; for those who love, when afflicted, feel the absence of their dear friends even more vividly, and ardently yearn their presence, though it may increase their pain.

But you, blessed Virgin, could not see your Son, nor could He enjoy this one consolation. Allow me then to accompany you so that once again you may see him, and be comforted with him.

3. The scourging. My soul, consider how Pilate, declaring Jesus innocent but wanting to satisfy the crowd, condemns the innocent man to a public scourging in order to save him from death. What justice! To condemn an innocent man solely to satisfy the hatred of his accusers!

Jesus Christ was made to enter the Praetorium and stripped of all his clothes, saying not a word nor showing resistance.

So, his heart overflowing in love, to the Eternal Father he offers his innocent Flesh, which is to be torn, and his precious Blood, which He has yearned to spill for us for so long a time. They tie him to a pillar and then, paying no heed to Jewish Law which prohibited serving more than forty lashes, but following Roman Law for which there was no limit in number, they give in to satisfying their fury.

An entire cohort of soldiers surrounds the place, forming an iron circle. Two powerful executioners, followed by others stronger and even crueler, seize a bundle of rods and leather whips and knotted ropes.

My soul, look upon your meek Jesus, as though convinced of all the crimes attributed to him, standing tied to a pillar.

Who can say what confusion and pain were his in that moment?

From the very first lashes his flesh is bruised, cut and torn; and his blood spills from every part. The whip-lashes tear at his flesh, they fall upon the open wounds, they continue opening sores upon sores. What atrocity, what a bloody spectacle! They scourge him beyond measure, yet He does not complain. They whip him so cruelly that his whole body is but an open wound.

Is this, O divine Jesus, the very cruel and shameful torment You longed to undergo for us, and to which You submitted in order to expiate our sinful pleasures? How can I continue offending you still? O my God, by what right have I deserved that You suffer so greatly for me? You had foretold everything through the words of the Prophets:

“The ploughers ploughed upon my back; they made long their furrows… (Psalm 129:3)… God gives me up to the ungodly,… He breaks me with breach upon breach (Job 16:11 and 14)… From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil” (Is 1:6).

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Is 53:5).

O my God, all this for our sins! Why? For wretches like me have You undergone such punishment? For me, guilty of so many sins, have You suffered such excessive pain? What can I do for you, therefore, O my Saviour, what shall I do to expiate my crimes?

Behold, my soul, this model of penance, from whom all the Saints learnt how to treat their body and to subject it to the spirit. For, as long as we live in this world, our soul will have no enemy greater than our flesh.

This flesh, ever rebellious, does not wish to submit to reins or a yoke. Without restraint it follows after the worldly inclinations favoured by the senses. It aims so violently for the objects it desires that the spirit is often oppressed, and suffers more pain from the flesh than from all its enemies joined together. Here, instead, are the objects of the great austerity practiced by Christians after the coming of Christ, unknown to the preceding centuries: hair shirts, iron chains, acts of discipline, continual mortification of the senses: and all of this for fear of seeing, hearing, saying and tasting anything that might contaminate the purity of their heart.

We must prevent temptation and falling by the mortification of our body. The Apostle Paul himself said: “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Cor 9:27). If even all the holiness of David and wisdom of Solomon could not prevent their falling, for they allowed themselves to be allured by the pleasures of the senses, what will be the fate of those whose lives are totally dedicated to seeking what pleases their body? Precisely to expiate and check this unruliness so common to humankind did our Saviour wish his innocent flesh to be so cruelly torn.

***

VIRTUE – Penance.

REFLECTION – Mortify the senses of your body, the instrument of sin and the cause of Jesus’ sorrows, by depriving yourself of your favourite food, or rising from bed earlier than usual, or spending an hour in silence.
Deprive yourself of a permitted amusement. Above all practice modesty, especially of the eyes.
Do not satisfy your curiosity regarding other people’s business.
Today recite the Rosary on your knees.

EJACULATION – O Mary, the refuge of sinners, I place all my hope in you.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

IN LECCEAn astonishing conversion.

On the first day of the year 1890, in which the Virgin of Pompeii was to receive the highest exaltation by the Pope of the Rosary, Leo XIII, who was to render her cult universal, in the cultivated and pious town of Lecce, an act of mercy took place the likes of which can be read in the early pages of Christian history. This fact was published in IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI in the VI issue, 1890.

In the large Church of the Rosary in Lecce, before a crowd of gentlefolk, lawyers, students and artists who make up the population of this cultivated town, a priest approached the Altar for the divine Sacrifice. After thirty years of shameful estrangement from his beloved Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ, between tears of repentance and a public confession of his sins, he was offering to God, for the first time after so long an interval, the Victim of expiation and forgiveness.

The people gathered there joined their tears to those of the repentant man, this new Saul who, from being Christ’s persecutor, had now become an instrument of election by means of a great miracle on the part of the compassionate Queen of Pompeii.

The name of this priest who was offering the world this new proof of the power of God’s Mother, invoked under the title of the Rosary of Pompeii, was well-known for his public retraction and confession. It was Rev. Pasquale Bortone.

This extraordinary fact was recorded by the venerable pastor of that Diocese, by the Most Excellent Monsignor Salvatore Luigi Zola, the Bishop of Lecce. Msgr. Zola, because of his tender love for our Queen of the Vesuvian Valley, considered himself fortunate to be able to offer witness to the world of so great a miracle from such a Virgin, granted to his beloved town of Lecce where one of her lost sheep was returning to the fold.

It was 1860 and Fr. Pasquale Bortone, a priest in the town of Lecce, influenced by the novelty of the times and allured by youthful passions, wanted to shake off the Lord’s sweet yoke. Forgetting the lofty dignity to which God had called him, caring nothing for the indissoluble bonds which joined him to Christ and to the Church, he wanted to shamefully apostatize.

And there he was, another prodigal son wandering here and there far from his father’s home, always carrying within cruel pangs of remorse which gnawed at him night and day for having betrayed his God.

“In vain (he stated in his public confession) I tried to distract myself with recreation and pleasures; in vain I sought peace in the delights and allurements my new condition could offer me. Remorse was ever present, tormenting my soul and driving sleep from my eyes.”

It is useless to say how he fell from abyss to abyss after the first step. Bortone, after having betrayed the faith he had sworn to God at his Ordination, added corruption to corruption.

He spent thirty years living this life of sin.

He preserved only one thing from his days of youth: in this miserable state he did not forget Mary. May those reading this report take heed of Our most excellent Lady’s compassion!

“I would often pray to Our Lady, even if without faith,” he himself wrote.

In 1888 Bortone returned to his native town, Lecce, but in such a poor state of health that he made a pitiful sight.

From the doctor’s certificate which was published in the above-mentioned Magazine, it was noted that the unfortunate man was suffering from serious nervous disorders owing to poor dietary habits, as well as partial paralysis of the senses and movements in his whole body. As a result he suffered continuous tremors in his arms and legs, and a considerable weakening of strength.

Furthermore he suffered mental disturbances, for he was convinced that everyone wanted to do him harm; he was suspicious of everyone and everything. Lacking health, lacking the grace of God which grants patience and acceptance in illness, Pasquale Bortone gave in to desperation and twice attempted taking his life!...

He was found in this condition by Dr. Luigi Sellitto who, called in to visit him and having seen the serious condition of the sick man, frankly declared that he had little hope for his recovery.

“I had him in treatment for four months without positive results” the doctor wrote in his certificate.

On the contrary, the paralysis had invaded his arms and hands and had reduced him to such a state that he could no longer sign the paper for his pension which he received monthly.

Most fortunately the poor man had been taken in by the family of a nephew of his, a lawyer of Lecce, Mr. Nicola Bortone. With apostolic zeal for the Shrine of Pompeii and a tender devotion to the Holy Virgin invoked by this miraculous title, along with a steadfast holiness, this nephew had for some time turned to this Shrine seeking the prayers of all the Brotherhood, and especially of the young Orphan Girls of Our Lady of Pompeii.

The feast of the Rosary of 1889 arrived; he prayed with the Novena to the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, to obtain grace in the most desperate cases. And to use even greater force on the heart of our merciful Queen, he joined the prayers said in his home to those said by the Orphans in this Shrine.

The result of such great faith and so many prayers was that the Blessed Virgin never forsook that soul, though it was tormented.

Pasquale Bortone, torn by remorse, at times tried to reconcile himself with God by means of the sacrament of confession; however, whenever he was told to make a public confession in reparation of the public scandal, he would refuse, tenaciously reluctant, and would even grow furious. He was enrolled in a Masonic Lodge.

This situation continued until the beginning of November, 1889.

It was the 29th of that month, when all the devotees affectionately turn to the Immaculate Virgin, beginning the Novena in preparation for her feast of December 8th.

The family of Avv. Bortone plucked up courage and suggested to the sick man to begin a Novena to the miraculous Virgin of Pompeii along with them, so that he might at least obtain a lessening of such great torments of the body, and consequently at least the possibility of sleeping. The sick man gave his consent, and so he too, with his nephews and nieces, began the Novena to the Virgin of Pompeii according to the method of the booklet in use at this Shrine.

The first triduum was completed. It was the night before Sunday, the first day of December, when Bortone distinctly saw the Most Holy Virgin who is venerated at Pompeii, who said to him:

“Confess and be reconciled with God, for you are still in time to do it.”

He awoke with a certain impression which at first made him think, but then gave no more importance to the vision than that which a dream deserves; and so, he did not speak of it, nor take it into account.

The following night, behold, once again the same Holy Virgin with words more pressing urged him to be completely reconciled with God, and assured him that he would triumph.

“Make haste,” Our Lady continued, “call the Confessor, confess yourself, and you shall experience triumph. On the day of my feast you must receive communion.”

Bortone woke up completely transformed into another person. Moreover, because the blessed Queen not only wishes to grant spiritual favours but temporal gifts too, that lost souls be summoned to the Heart of her Son, he was healed in body as well as in his soul.

The paralysis suddenly disappeared from this exhausted and worn-out person. This sick man who had become tired of his very self, to the point of desiring to commit suicide, rose from bed healed!...

He could barely await the first rays of light. As soon as day broke he sent for the parish priest of Santa Maria della Porta, Rev. Fr. Giuseppe Caprioli, in tears narrated all that the Virgin had done for him, and asked for a piece of paper. And Bortone himself, till then unable to sign his own name, as can be seen on a notary act, now wrote his confession with a firm hand and sent it to his Bishop.

Here is his declaration:

“I the undersigned Father Pasquale Bortone, seized by the grace of God, and through the patronage of Most Holy Mary of Pompeii, take back everything I may have said, or done, against God, the Church and the obligations of my condition. I pray God and Blessed Mary to always assist me, that by living a good life I may make amends for the scandal I have provoked, and may die within the bosom of the Catholic Church.”

“Lecce, 3 December 1889.

BORTONE PASQUALE, Priest

That night he slept peacefully. It was the first time, after thirty years of remorse, that he tasted the sweetness of a rest granted by a conscience at peace with itself, through divine grace. A few days later, in his own hand, he wrote a report of the miraculous favour received from the Virgin.

His conversion was complete. At first, out of respect for others, he did not wish to make a public retraction, and furthermore pleaded with Father Caprioli, that he, Fr. Caprioli, not be seen entering his home when visiting him. However, as soon as his retraction was published in the Leccese magazine, the VESSILLO DELLA VERITA (Banner of Truth), he bought several copies to send to those places in which he had caused scandal by living as a layman while being a priest.

Having accomplished those things prescribed by the Church in such circumstances, H.E. the Bishop of Lecce, Msgr. Zola, was able to reinstate him to the priestly ministry. First of all, he made him withdraw to follow a course of spiritual exercises for several days. Then he admitted him to the celebration of the divine Sacrifice. This took place on a holiday, the First of the Year of 1890. The church chosen for this special service was the large one of SS. Rosary of Lecce.

The novelty of this fact and the celebration about to take place drew a large crowd, not only of artists and workers who made up the Leccese population, but the aristocracy, the most famous lawyers and the students as well.

On that most solemn day the Priest, Fr. Pasquale Bortone, reconciled with God and with the Church, after almost thirty years of interruption, celebrated the Holy Sacrifice.

On the following Tuesday morning, December 3rd, caught up in the fervour of his recent conversation, Bortone stated his determination to atone for the public scandal he had caused by confessing in a public square.

The prudent Bishop approved the wish of this will transformed by the almighty hand of God, however, offered the Church instead of the square.

Thus, the Sacred Mystery completed, Fr. Bortone wanted to narrate the miracles of Mary of the Rosary of Pompeii to the large crowd before him, in his own words, asking everyone’s forgiveness for the scandal he had caused. Those present in the church could not hold back their tears, so moved were they. They recognized in this man a sign of Mary’s great Compassion.

Afterwards they left the temple praising and blessing the power of Our Lady, who on that day had opened a new fountain of grace from her Throne of Pompeii, on behalf of sinners.

The convert withdrew from the world into the Shrine of Lecce, and began making amends for the scandal provoked by living a truly penitent life.

Today, through the marvelous and extraordinary fact, a piece of the arcane curtain which covers the divine mystery enveloping the Shrine of Pompeii has been drawn back. Today the plans of God for this new Ark of Well-Being begin manifesting themselves to people of good will, through a shining light, which almost goes beyond faith.

Why, therefore, has God privileged humankind, and especially sinners, with such special love here in Pompeii?

Today, O brothers and sisters, having read about this most recent triumph of the Queen of victory, may you yourselves respond: - That God, in his temple of Pompeii, has chosen people, has chosen sinners, to convert and save them by means of his Mother. Moreover, through them a great number of other sinners are to be converted, into new servants faithful to the Queen of Heaven, and into new preachers of her unprecedented compassion.

Behold therefore, a piece of the mystery has been revealed: the temple of Pompeii, made up of sinners, has been destined by God to the confessions of sinners.

* * * * *

IN PALERMO: Sister Silvia Manzella is miraculously freed of consumption owing to the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays.

“On January 3rd of 1906 I came down with a fever accompanied by sweating, a cough, and shoulder and chest pains, which foretold something very serious, especially for a constitution as fragile as mine.

The doctors wanted to test my spittle, from which analysis there resulted many Koch bacilli.

Meanwhile the illness continued its course, and the other sisters exhorted me to pray to the Virgin of Pompeii to regain my health.  Therefore I began the Fifteen Saturdays: my students also prayed with great faith and fervour. We were seeking an extraordinary grace, a true miracle; on the other hand, does Mary’s powerful compassion have limits?

In that period the fever slowly subsided, the cough grew weaker little by little and the expectoration disappeared completely.

At the end of the Fifteen Saturdays spittle was once again sent to a chemical lab; the result was better for few bacilli were found this time.

We began the Fifteen Saturdays again, after the completion of which my kind Superior wanted to have the spittle analyzed a third time.

And Oh, what a consoling surprise! This time the certificate was completely negative. For greater assurance a testing was requested at the hospital lab as well, and the response was negative here too.

On the first Sunday of October, the feast of the Most Holy Rosary, completely healed, I was able to join my sisters and students in thanking the blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii in our chapel.

And now I am no longer suffering; I have survived a very cold winter in perfect health, and so refreshed that all those who see me remain stupefied. May the most fervent and infinite thanks be rendered to the glorious Mother of Mercy and Queen of Victory!”

Palermo, 23 January 1909.

SISTER SILVIA MANZELLA
Servant of the poor

(From IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, Year XXVII).

* * * * *

IN SIENA: Sister Maria Caterina Prunetti, a Benedictine, regains her health through the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays and the reciting of the Holy Rosary.

“To the greater glory of God and of the heavenly Queen, I am sending you the story of the miraculous healing I obtained, and am including the medical report which will reveal the gravity of the ailment that struck me.

Having lost all hope of recovering, and having been abandoned by the doctors and left to divine will, at the tender age of twenty-eight I had already prepared myself for the sacrifice of my life.

Nevertheless I began the Fifteen Saturdays to the Most Holy Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii.

On August 6th I felt a greater impulse to turn to this powerful Queen.

“Dear Mother,” I said to her, “on the occasion of your glorious Assumption St. Stanislao begged to go to heaven to celebrate this feast day, and was heard by you. I dare not seek so much from you, being unworthy; however, if it be in conformity with your and Jesus’ holy will, I seek from you the grace of my health so that I may serve my Religious Community.”

In that same moment, I cannot explain what took place in me. A heavenly voice spoke to my poor heart and I heard it saying: “I want to heal you! For your part, correspond to this grace!”

The miracle had already taken place! My eyes shed tears of joy…

On that very day I was able to assist at the Canonical Hours and take part in the community meal. After a few days I once again began the community activities which I had left off five years earlier.

In a word, thanks to our heavenly Benefactress I have completely recovered. All of my sisters never cease applauding this miracle.

For me there only remains to correspond for the favour received.”

Siena – Monastery of Our Lady by the Refuge N. 2, December 4th, 1904.

SISTER MARIA CATERINA PRUNETTI
Benedictine

* * * * *

IN LAUREANA: A favour received by Avv. Francesco Carlizzi on the last of the Fifteen Saturdays preceding the feast of May 8th.

“With a soul full of joy and deep sentiment I wish to communicate a great favour granted to my daughter Maria by the Most Holy Virgin of Pompeii in May of last year, 1903.

My little girl Maria, six years in age, had been very pale for some time, and was daily losing weight. We in the family, as well as her doctor, could not explain to ourselves the reason for her wasting away. There had to be some hidden disease, but which?... We simply could not understand it.

Then one day the child felt pain in her left knee, which prevented her walking. We immediately called the doctor who, after visiting her, gave us the most painful, indeed excruciating news: it was a malignant tumour!...

She began undergoing all the cures available, but in vain!... Before our terrified eyes the swelling grew, and the child could no longer move in bed!...

We then turned to our Holy Mother of Pompeii!... It was the Friday evening which preceded the last of the Fifteen Saturdays, in preparation for the feast of the Virgin of Pompeii of May 8th.

Having lost hope in science, I could only see glimmering in my soul and the most holy name of the Virgin of Pompeii, and in a burst of faith, while applying the last medication of the day to the child, I placed a note on the sick knee where there was written – V. R. Pompei o. p. n. – I then bandaged the knee again and, recommending myself to the powerful Queen in order to obtain the longed-for favour on the following day, the last of her Saturdays, I exclaimed with burning faith:

“You alone, my dear Mother, can heal my daughter, my little, unfortunate child!”

Exalted by my faith and by an inner presentiment of grace, I could barely wait for Saturday morning and the moment to apply medication to the little girl. A miracle! In removing the bandage I immediately noticed that the swelling had gone down. I began shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!”

The entire family came running, and shortly afterward the doctor arrived, who could no longer find swelling, hardness, or any trace of the ailment suffered.

In fact, the child, who had been lying in bed for about two months and had been unable to stand on her feet, got up and began walking, running and jumping with her sisters, without feeling any pain…”

Laureana, 14 August 1904.

AVV. FRANCESCO CARLIZZI

(From IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, Year XXIII).

January 18, 2019

The Sixth Saturday: The First Sorrowful Mystery - The Agony in the Garden (Jesus sweats blood as He takes on our sin)

Gospel Readings

MEDITATION

1. Consider, my soul, how our divine Saviour, after washing his disciples’ feet, after instituting in their presence the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, and after speaking most tender and sublime words to them, went with them into the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, to be more easily found by his enemies.

And He said to them: “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray… Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:36 and 41).

Spontaneously He offered himself to the fulfilment of the Eternal Father’s command, for He himself desired it; and He fulfilled it in such a way that his Passion might both satisfy divine justice and inspire us to love him. Here then is the reason for his sorrow: love.

Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled” (Mt 26:37).

This loving Son wanted not only to sacrifice his whole body, but his entire soul too, with its powers; indeed, he wanted to begin the sacrifice of Redemption with this nobler part of his Humanity. Consequently, before his enemies appeared, He deprived his holy Humanity of the support it was receiving from the Divinity. And so, at the very moment that He disclosed all that it had to undergo, He reduced it to suffer the agony of a mortal man.

All the torments He was about to undergo in his body were then presented to his soul: the scourging, the thorns, the nails, the cross, the bile and vinegar; the soul’s torments, Judas’ betrayal, the disciples’ shameful flight, Peter’s apostasy, the slander of the priests, the injustice of the judges, the soldiers’ cruelty, the ignominies of his person, contempt for his teachings and miracles, the triumph of his enemies, the blasphemies of the rogues, the abandonment of God on the Cross and the anguishing sight of his sorrowful Mother! Immediately, therefore, fear and fatigue, disgust and bitterness, dejection and sorrow took possession of his soul, to such a degree as to threaten his life. He then said to them: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mt 26:38).

O troubled Heart of my beloved Redeemer, how is it that You have come to such desolation? Who has prematurely forced upon you death’s horrors and fears? This torment, the first of your Passion, was without doubt the most violent, for it wrung from you a prayer beseeching your Father to remove such a cup from you. “He fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’”. However, You immediately added: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39).

Observe, my soul: your Jesus turns to his disciples for comfort and finds them dejected because of his distress.

“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.’” (Mt 26:40-42).

And He did so for a third time. And his sorrow increased greatly, till seeming more the agony of a dying man than the ordinary pain of a man suffering. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly” (Lk 22:44).

The contrast that then appeared between the lower part of his soul full of repugnance, and the upper part full of submission, caused him to sweat blood so abundantly that He not only wet his clothing but also the ground where He was praying.

In this way He who defends everyone gave way to despair: in this way He who comforts everyone was distressed. And in this way the royal Prophet’s words were fulfilled: “I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 68:20).

O my most suffering Saviour, shall you thus gain my love? By taking on the same weakness and misery of man? In order to become the true comforter and faithful companion of the afflicted?

Oh how many splendid teachings You offer me in this Mystery!

2. My soul, four were the causes of your Jesus’ mortal sorrow, as He himself revealed to Blessed Battista Varani.

1st. The damnation of so many souls, notwithstanding his most bitter death. “Consider, my daughter,” Jesus said to Blessed Battista, “what sorrow and martyrdom were mine in seeing that so many members were being cut off from me, and so many souls that were to be damned! And each time a soul sins mortally, it is cut off from me.”

The innumerable and almost infinite multitude of the world’s sins were therefore distinctly present to his spirit, as well as a clear vision of divine Majesty being offended by so many crimes, rendered even graver by contempt of his love. Very few people would have profited by that remedy prepared from his love for all.

His only consolation was perfect compliance with his Father’s immutable decrees, who wanted him to suffer even for those who would not profit in the least from such suffering.

2nd. The sins and the sorrows of all the elect. “All the members of the elect who would have mortally sinned” said most benign Jesus “afflicted and crucified me by their separation from me.”

“Yet again, I felt and experienced all their bitterness, torments, repentance, temptations, the shame of their lives and even the sufferings of their Purgatory, as the very members of my body.”

3rd. The Most Holy Virgin, his Mother, whom He loved with an infinite love; his dear and beloved disciples and apostles, whom He loved more than a father loves his children; and the disciple Magdalene who, though she knew less about Jesus than John, nevertheless suffered his Passion and Death more than all the rest.

4th. The ingratitude both of the Jewish people, so blessed and favoured by God with a thousand miracles, as well as that of his dear disciple, Judas the betrayer. Jesus had knelt before this betrayer and washed his feet, and had embraced and kissed them as well with the greatest tenderness, speaking the warmest words of ineffable love. Finally, the ingratitude of all his creatures who, worse than Judas, would have betrayed him with their vile pleasures and even viler interests.

O Lord, how great a share I have had in causing your sorrow! How deeply my sins and transgressions, my infidelity and cowardice, were to pierce your purest and innocent heart! Unhappy creature that I am! Shall I never be the cause of joy and consolation to you? How different are the causes of my suffering in the world than those causing you this mortal sorrow!

O grieving Heart of my God, with this sorrow and sweat of blood you longed to expiate the foolish confidence of the wicked, and the senseless tranquility with which so many sinners slumber in sin, fearing not the least the surprise of sudden and eternal death. You longed to expiate the merriment, relish, pleasures and desires of life, those hopes to which I abandon myself even when they are contrary to your law.

You longed to repair the false contradictions of my heart and those confessions lacking inner sorrow.

You longed to sanctify in me and in everyone these same passions of sadness, fear, boredom, disgust and melancholy, which I experience along my spiritual path. You longed to comfort me whenever I suffer, and offer me the grace to bear my sorrow with patience, submission and joy.

You longed to fortify me, as You have fortified so many Martyrs in their struggle with death, and inspire me to repent, just as you have inspired so many other faithful souls to exercise themselves in harsh penance. How sweet, good and compassionate is your love! O sweetest Heart of Jesus, how I thank you for having so greatly suffered!...

3. My soul, your Saviour wanted to undergo this extreme suffering that you may come to learn the value of repentance regarding the senses, and the humiliations and contradictions of self-love; moreover, to teach you that no one shall ever be judged by the weakness of the flesh formed from mud, but according to the obedience of the will, a thing so pleasing to God.

In truth, He suffered mortal sorrow; however, it was in proportion to his strength in order to convince you that God, who distributes the sorrows of this life as He pleases, will never allow that your afflictions be beyond your strength.

In his very self He wanted to show you two opposing wills: one, human weakness, which flees suffering and seeks pleasure; the other, compliance with God’s will. This He wanted so that the Christian may not believe himself to be God’s enemy, though the flesh rebels against the spirit and yearns after its delights; and may be persuaded that nature is not at all harmful to the inner man, as long as he remains faithful to God’s law with all his will.

The Angel came down from heaven to comfort Jesus Christ, not because He lacked the strength necessary to combat the weakness of human nature, but to teach all those who suffer that their only comfort and strength come from heaven, and that God does not forsake us in our afflictions; indeed, where there are tribulations, there God is.

Finally, the Son prayed to his Father, though He knew that He was not to be exempted from suffering, in order to teach us, my soul, this most essential truth: that divine help does not consist in freeing you from the tribulations He visits upon you, but in helping you to bear them with humble submission and full conformity to his designs, forever united with him through love.

***

VIRTUE – Submission.

REFLECTION – From the break of day prepare to join your will to that of God in all things, both favourable as well as contrary. Throughout the day often repeat the short prayer of the Imitation of Christ: “O Lord, deal with me as thou wilt, for thy servant is ready to obey thee”. The practice of this prayer is a most efficacious way to reach the most sublime levels of perfection.

EJACULATION – O Mary, mirror of patience, You alone are my help in my temptations.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

IN CAPRIA favour obtained through the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays.

The following report of a favour, confirmed by the doctor’s certificate, was published in IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, in the issue of September, 1887, on page 556.

In July of 1886 Mrs. Cherubina Licorio of Capri, after various ailments, found out that she had a tumour in her abdomen. The doctors Masotina, Rispoli and Fischetti, declared that a very daring and extremely difficult operation was necessary in order to avoid certain death. Upon hearing this sentence the poor woman fell into a most pitiful state of mind; together with her dear sister whom she tenderly loved, she did nothing but cry and pray from morning till evening.

Meanwhile Mrs. Annunziata Fischetti, when she came to know about the case of her friend Mrs. Licorio, hastened to carry the book of the Fifteen Saturdays of the Rosary to her, printed in the Valley of Pompeii and mailed out by the same Shrine.

Mrs. Licorio, heartened and comforted in her faith by reading the book, immediately began this pious practice, which was to end in the month of November. She prayed with faith, and waited. However, considering herself unworthy of a miracle, she did not wish to renounce all the human means and the efficacy that God, the author of science, had given to human science.

Consequently, as soon as she heard that a specialist in such ailments was living in Florence, she set out for this city to be operated by this same specialist. But she wished to be operated only on a Saturday so that the Virgin of Pompeii would support her in this very difficult operation, and grant her a successful outcome.

The compassionate Queen of Pompeii, who does not allow herself to be outdone in generosity by her children, and most abundantly rewards those who honour her with the practice of the Fifteen Saturdays of her Rosary, wanted to distinguish that day with a stupendous miracle.

It was the morning of November 22nd, 1886, and Mrs. Cherubina Licorio was doing the last of the Fifteen Saturdays in Florence; on the same morning she presented herself to the doctor to be operated.

Oh miraculous grace! The tumour had completely disappeared!...

Mrs. Licorio desired that this favour be published for the greater glory and honour of the Most Blessed Virgin of Pompeii.

Dr. Fischetti was most willing to add his certificate and testimonial, which reported the nature of the illness and the recovery which took place without the foreseen operation.

* * * * *

IN PERUGIA: Mrs. Ester Boccioli

Mrs. Ester Boccioli of Perugia, owing to a fall, suffered a dislocated arm which was not immediately put back in place by the doctors; consequently the bone remained outside its socket and the malaise of the poor woman was deemed incurable.

After six months of pain and the impossibility to do work of any kind, she thought of turning to the Virgin of Pompeii through the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays.

She began this pious practice on August 24th of 1889. Four days later, knowing not how, she found that her arm had returned to place, and was completely free in its movements!

Mrs. Aldina Brugnali, Mrs. Teresa Boccioli and Mrs. Anna Bagnolini and Luigia Bagnolini were witnesses of the extraordinary event.

(From IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, Year V, 1889).