A Year with the Saints – 21 September


We should set a high value on meditation upon the Passion of our Redeemer. For a simple remembrance or meditation upon this is worth more than if for a whole year one should take the discipline to blood, or fast on bread and water every week, or recite the whole psalter every day. Blessed Albertus Magnus

This was an ordinary subject of meditation with Saint Francis Xavier, and a continual one with Saint Casimir, even when hearing Mass, and he applied himself to it with so much intensity that he frequently became insensible. Saint Bridget, too, made it almost always, and never without tears. The Empress Leonora, from long meditations on the Passion, conceived so tender a love for Jesus Crucified that if she had been equally sure, as she said, of being saved in the midst of ease and honors, she would have chosen in preference the way of the Cross, that she might in some degree resemble her Lord. Thence she drew that generosity which enabled her to conceal her illness and bodily pains, and refrain from complaint or lamentation. And if anyone, in such cases, seemed to sympathize with her, the humble servant of God would say: “This cross is very light and very dear to me; without it I could not be contented. I have very great need of it – I should otherwise be too presumptuous.”

The venerable Monseigneur de Palafox often practiced the same exercise. Sometimes he represented his soul under the figure of a bird flying, and then becoming weary, and resting upon the nail which fastened Our Lord’s feet to the Cross; then contemplating Him, and drinking with the greatest consolation the Blood that flowed from His Wounds. Again, he would take the figure of a bee, going as, from flower to flower, to one or another wound of Our Lord – to those of the head, the hands, the feet and especially to that of the side, into which he would enter and bathe himself. Sometimes, when weary of temporal things, such as writing or study, he would turn to the feet of Jesus, saying, “My Jesus, let me rest here!”

This devotion rose to a singular height in Saint Philip Neri, who could not meditate, nor read, nor speak, nor hear of the Passion of our Saviour, without becoming pale as ashes and shedding a flood of tears. This was especially the case in Holy Week, and still more, if any mention was made of the love with which He suffered for us. One day, when he was preaching on this topic, he was overcome by extraordinary fervor and began to weep and sob so violently that he could not recover his breath, and was obliged to descend from the pulpit and leave the church. As this occurred many times, and could not be prevented, he was obliged for some years before his death to give up preaching on this subject; and he could not speak of it even in private. He even became so sensitive that at times, if he only heard the words Passion of Christ, he would weep so as to be unable to utter a word.

A similar thing is said to have happened, on a Good Friday, to the venerable Father Louis de Grenada, when he went into the pulpit to preach on the Passion. Scarcely had he uttered the words, “Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi,” when he burst into a torrent of tears. After he had recovered his breath a little, he repeated the same words, but with the words the tears came back, and more abundantly than at first. Finally he made a vigorous effort to begin the sacred words for a third time; but a third time the fit of weeping returned, with such force and violence that it excited universal commotion through the audience, so that for a long time nothing was to be heard in the church but sobs and cries. And so the sermon ended without having begun.

MLA Citation