February 12, 2019

The Ninth Saturday: The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery - Jesus is Condemned to Death, Jesus Carries His Cross to Calvary

Gospel Readings

MEDITATION

1. Jesus is condemned to death. My soul, consider how Pilate, grown fearful, tried three times to free Jesus; and for three times the crowd demanded his death with loud cries.

“Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” (Jn 19:15). Pilate could have served justice; instead, though declaring Jesus innocent, he frees Barabbas and with a vile consideration for human respect abandons Jesus into the hands of his enemies, to be crucified.

A herald announces that upon the order of the Emperor and conforming with Roman Law, because He wished to make himself king of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth has been condemned to death on the cross between two thieves sentenced to undergo the same punishment for their crimes.

My Soul, the hour has arrived in which your Jesus, your God, your Creator, the Saviour of humanity, is condemned by man to be killed at the very hands of man on an infamous cross. Who is there who can bear to hear such a cruel sentence of death? And you, what are you doing? From the very start implore Mary, that she deign to receive you in her company along the sorrowful road she travels over today, all the way to Calvary with her Son.

O Mary, Mary of sorrows, were you not forced to hear the furious shouts of death against your Son? Who sustains you in the midst of this inhuman mob? How can you bear such ferocity? Your Jesus, the life of your life, the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of humanity, the only hope of sinners, has been condemned to death! His enemies receive this news rejoicing, his friends and disciples are dismayed. Yet this innocent Lamb, notwithstanding the repugnance of nature and the pain of so great an injustice, accepts even death with loving obedience!

Oh, the excruciating pains of your Heart, my Jesus! You perceive the extreme ingratitude of these people who are shouting: “We have no king but Caesar…” (Jn 19:15). “His blood be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:25). Ungrateful people!

What a terrible lesson this is for you, my soul! How many times you have blamed the devil and the weakness of your flesh for the sin you committed through your own free will! So the Jews, blinded by their hatred, deemed it a trifling thing for the blood of God’s Son to be upon their and their children’s heads. The confused shouts of the crowd were joined to the voice of your sins, my soul, which were from that moment before the Eternal Father, seeking from him the death of the Saviour laden down with the world’s sins. This made St. Paul state that those who sin crucify him yet again, for they renew the cause of his death.

Forgive me, my God, because I am more wicked even than these people. They do not wish to see you because they do not know you; but I, who believe in you, who adore you, who confess you for what you are, how many times have I turned away when You came before me to draw me to you? Remedy this fault, Lord, let me never lose sight of you again, and may You forever be the object of my vision, my yearning and my love.

Sinful soul, listen to the voice of the herald. Observe the diligence of the soldiers in carrying out the cruel sentence. In the midst of this uproar observe the silence, peace, meekness and charity of Jesus who hears, sees and suffers everything, yet without a complaint, without any sign of impatience.

O God of my soul, how can I see what I see, and hear what I hear? You, a false King? You, the faithful friend of our souls, a criminal? You, the author of life, worthy of death? Indeed, I am guilty of such faults: yet I though guilty live, while the innocent one dies? The master gives up his life to save that of his slave? O divine and pure love, why do You not consume me with your flames? Why do You not completely subject me to you, O almighty Heart who sacrifice yourself for me?

2. Jesus is loaded with the Cross. So that Jesus be recognized by everyone, they violently tore the old robe off him, thus re-opening his wounds, and dressed him in his own tunic once again. Being without seams and with no front opening, it was necessary to pass it over his head; this was not possible without causing him great pain, as it got entangled in the thorns. And so the crown was sharply shaken, the pain of the sharp pricks renewed, and blood began flowing once more.

When all was ready the Saviour came out of Pilate’s house, flanked by a double line of soldiers who kept the crowd at bay. On coming out He caught sight of the cross that had been prepared for him. This was the most shameful of all punishments, reserved to slaves or to those subject to a public curse; and in fact, no one approached it for fear of the shame. This long, heavy cross, therefore, was placed on the scourged and torn shoulders of Jesus! Yet Jesus did not in the least remain dismayed!

He had always considered the cross as a bride very dear to him, as the refuge of his friends, as the star that was to lead his chosen ones on amidst the stumbling blocks of this world, as the trophy of his glory and the eternal monument of his boundless love.

No sooner had the Saviour been led before the cross than He fixed his eyes and heart upon it and said, not in words but with his soul:

“O dear beloved cross, which I have been longing for all my life! You indeed are the promised bride, and to win you I have served thirty-three years. You are the dispenser of my possessions, the trophy of my victories, the glory and crown of my love. Behold, the day has finally arrived on which we are to be closely joined. You shall be the standard of my chosen ones, who cannot attain to glory but through you, the cross. You are the glory of my servants: those who glory in you shall be honoured; those who will be ashamed of you shall fall into disgrace. Today you shall draw me into your arms, and I will bath you in my Blood; you will then become the Mother of all the nations. Come therefore, my faithful companion, let us go together to Calvary, where I must undergo death which is to tear my body from your arms; however it cannot separate my heart from you. You shall be the terror of hell and the joy of heaven. Those who seek me and wish to follow after me shall accept you as their guide, and through you shall obtain everything they desire from me.”

With such feelings of esteem and love for the cross, He allowed it to be laid on him. He tenderly embraced it, and in this way went before us as the leader and model of the elect. And because there was no one superior to his Virgin Mother, He granted her the first place beneath this standard.

She followed him through the streets of Jerusalem, in the trace of blood she found along the way, as she herself revealed to St. Bridget. And while Jesus was carrying this heavy cross on his shoulders, she carried a cross in her heart no less sorrowful.

In this way He wished to teach us these three truths: first, that it is a great grace to carry the cross behind Jesus Christ; second, how far removed from these two models of perfection, Jesus and Mary, must they who do not bear the cross consider themselves; third, how great the blindness is of those unwilling to understand this grace.

Jesus himself wished to be seen laden down with his cross in full daylight, in his own robe, in the presence of all these people along Jerusalem’s most crowded streets, from Pilate’s house all the way to Calvary, to affirm by His example what he had taught with his doctrine, that those who do not carry their cross after Him are not worthy of being his disciples.

3. Jesus carries the Cross. My soul, observe your Saviour coming out of the Praetorium bowed down beneath so great a weight, worn out by the loss of blood, barely able to remain standing. In such a state He walks toward Calvary, preceded by a herald and the two thieves who are to be crucified with him, surrounded by soldiers who continue to injure him, and followed by the Priests, the Doctors of the Law, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, who themselves lead him on; and they will not leave him until they are sure that He is dead.

Meanwhile this most meek Redeemer, out of breath, begins to sweat; all of his wounds reopen because of his exertions. Finally, having left the city, no longer able to bear up, He sinks to the ground beneath the cross. The soldiers cover him in blows and a thousand insults to make him rise. The Jews however, fearing He may die before they have the barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, force Simon of Cyrene, whom they meet coming in from the country, to take his cross and carry it to Calvary. “And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus, more concerned about our sins than his pains, turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children… For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’” (Lk 23:27-28 and 31).

Now Mary, passing along a shorter street, as St. Bonaventure meditates, places herself where she is sure to meet her Son when He passes this way. He arrives, but alas!, the sores, the bruises, the blackened blood make him seem a leper. Overwhelmed by love and fear Mary looks at him, and Jesus, removing a clot of blood from his eyes (as he revealed to St. Bridget), looks at his Mother. Looks of pain that rent these most noble, loving and holy Hearts. “My Son!...” the afflicted Mother said, but said no more for the pain was so great that, were it divided among all creatures, it would kill them all by its sharpness, as St. Bernard says.

The Prophet had said: “All you who pass by, look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam 1:12). The Mother longs to embrace him, but they insolently push her aside and press the grieving Lord on. Mary follows behind.

One of the most painful wounds causing our Redeemer intense suffering along this journey was a wound on his shoulder, as Venerable Taulero and St. Bernard meditate: a heavy beam of the cross had been placed there and had caused a large sore, which alone became the sum of all his other wounds. The pain penetrated into his most compassionate Heart.

O holy cross, consecrated by the sweat and blood of my Saviour, I too embrace you.

You shall be my refuge, my light, my knowledge and all of my wisdom. Do not abandon me, never leave me, though my flesh fears you and flees you. In you there is health, life, victory over the evil Spirits, the joy of the heart, the perfection of virtues. You confirmed the Apostles, fortified the Martyrs, sustained the Virgins, and sanctified all the Just. You delight the Angels, defend the Church, fill Heaven and, on the great day of the last Judgement, will appear with Jesus for the glory of his elect and the eternal confusion of his enemies.

My miserable and sinful soul, what did you find when you fled from the cross?

No matter what you do to avoid it, you nevertheless meet it, for you inhabit a place of exile and a valley of tears. Dodging it on one side, it only meets you on the other in an infinity of sorrows which sadden you, which worry, agitate and depress you, leaving you no hope.

If you abandon yourself to seeking the delights of this world, you lose peace of mind, inner consolation and heavenly wisdom. The world divides you, causes you distress, drags you after itself. If you shun the cross to follow the inclinations of your flesh, you find you are caught between constant agitation and confusion. If you shun it to follow after vanities, you remain empty, hungry, always yearning yet never satisfied. Meanwhile the things you have so highly valued slowly fade away: first your health, afterwards your honour, then your riches and finally your friends.

What you desire never arrives; or if it should sometimes make an appearance, it never lasts. You cannot place your trust in life: death is accompanied by fears and torments, for what surrounds you contaminates your conscience. At every step you find a thousand displeasures; and from so many useless cares you are often left with only bitter tears, pain without comfort and useless losses.

O holy cross, because I fled when you presented yourself to me, because I did not embrace you with my whole heart, behold the danger which has surrounded me.

O holy cross, light of heaven and the sure refuge of the afflicted, receive me in your arms and by your help join me to him who has redeemed me on you. Amen.

***

VIRTUE – Loving one’s cross.

REFLECTION – With your whole heart embrace your cross, which consists in the sum of all the little crosses inherent to your state. And if you are suffering from a chronic ailment, keep it hidden from the eyes of others as a true treasure which daily enriches you for eternity.
Often repeat today the words of Jesus Christ:
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).

EJACULATION – O Mary, though I be a great sinner, you are always my Mother.

* * * * * * * * * *

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

IN S. BENEDETTO DEL TRONTOThe healing of Virgilio Ascolani.

The beneficial practice of the Fifteen Saturdays took root and grew in the city of S. Benedetto del Tronto after the miraculous healing of the child Virgilio Ascolani. It took place on the memorable day on which Cardinal Monaco La Valletta celebrated the solemn dedication of this world Shrine in the Valley of Pompeii, that is, on May 8th of the year 1891.

The testimonial of this extraordinary fact was written and sent to us by the most illustrious and rev. Parish Priest of San Benedetto del Tronto, Fr. Francesco Sciocchetti.

Most Illustrious Avv. Bartolo Longo,

“The Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary, beneath the title of Our Lady of Pompeii, venerated and loved on this coast of the sunny Adriatic just as in every other part of Italy, showers her graces here too.

In the beginning of May of 1891 Alessandro Notar Ascolani and his wife Costanza Marinelli were weeping over the approaching death of their sprightly and charming son Virgilio.

The child, who had been struck by a terrible case of pneumonia and given up by his doctors, forced to admit their helplessness after having tried all remedies, was close to death.

The father could not bear the sight of his dear angel’s suffering, so he went into the next room to await the sad news.

The grieving mother, gathering all her strength to overcome this most devastating pain, had a white suit prepared which was to cover the child’s poor innocent remains in the grave.

In the midst of such desolation there remained only one hope: the power of Our Lady of Pompeii.

The grieving parents, trusting in the intercession of this miraculous Mother, had turned to public and private prayer and had repeatedly telegraphed you, Avv. Longo, asking that their child be fervently recommended to the Queen of the Rosary by the little Orphan Girls.

On May 8th, 1891, a solemn and memorable day in the New Pompeii, while in this monumental Shrine the solemn Consecration of the Temple was taking place, dedicating it to the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, here in S. Benedetto del Tronto the devotees of the Virgin of Pompeii had gathered in the Church of S. Giuseppe, before the miraculous Image of your Valley.

The relatives of the sick child had also joined us and in tears were imploring the longed-for favour. May the Lord be a thousand times blessed!

In that moment the child began getting better. Hope quickened, trust in Mary’s powerful mediation grew and an indescribable sense of joy rushed into the souls of us all.

The doctor was immediately called and upon seeing the unexpected improvement, could not keep from exclaiming:

“Here it is a question of a miracle!...”

In fact, in few a days the dear child, perfectly healed, was once again the joy and consolation of his parents.

S. Benedetto del Tronto, October 1891.

Most Devoted Servant
PARISH PRIEST FRANCESCO SCIOCCHETTI

(From IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, Issue of November - December 1891, page 547 and following.)

* * * * *

SOUTH AMERICA, IN RAFAELA (ARGENTINA)Favour immediately obtained through the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays on the feast of the Rosary.

From the Rafaela Colony (Republic of Argentina), from Mrs. Pasqualina Alfredo, on February 20th, 1899 we received the following testimonial of a favour received thanks to the most efficacious practice of the Fifteen Saturdays of the Most Holy Rosary.

This favour is marvellous for the immediateness with which it was obtained, and wonderful for the simplicity with which it has been reported by a courageous mother.

Dear Sir Comm. and Adv. Bartolo Longo,

“This letter is to tell you about a singular favour which was received on October 2nd, 1898, the first Sunday of October, the feast of the great solemnity of the Virgin of Pompeii.

My son, born on April 8th, 1897 and baptized on the 22nd of the same month, was crippled in both feet.

A doctor was called in, who operated him but without results. I then sent for Dr. Gentile of the Sunchales Colony. He said he could do nothing for the child and suggested that I carry him to Buenos Aires, where I arrived after twenty-four hours by steamer. I went looking for the famous Doctor Francesco Garcia. He visited my poor son, but he too said that he could not heal him, and so sent me to the large Children’s Hospital.

After twenty-two days of useless tests and therapies done by the six doctors of the Hospital, I had to return to Rafaela disheartened, with my son still crippled.

On the 18th of July, 1898 I went to see my brother Clemente Marchisio, who had a book of the Fifteen Saturdays. He said to me:

“Trust in the Holy Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, fervently practice the Fifteen Saturdays with her Most Holy Rosary, and by imploring her divine help, you will see that your son will be healed.”

Immediately, as soon as I got the book, I began the pious practice of the Fifteen Saturdays.

The first Sunday of October arrived, the feast of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. I was commemorating the tenth Saturday when, behold, all of a sudden my son, crippled for so long a time, began walking.

You can imagine what consolation that was for me, a mother of eight children! It was an even greater wonder for the people who had known my child when he was crippled.

I shall conclude by thanking the Miracle-Working Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii for having healed my son.

Witnesses of the fact are Dr. Gentile of the Sunchales Colony, Guiseppe Marchisio and Antonio Marchisio.