Today's contemplation


1st April

Monday, fourth week in Lent

On the treason of Judas

Consider first, what pangs, what anguish, what floods of sorrow overwhelmed the soul of our dear Redeemer during his prayer in this his last night. Alas! no tongue can sufficiently express, nor heart conceive them! However, that thou mayest make some sort of judgment of them from their effects, consider how they cast him into a mortal agony; how they forced from his body a wonderful sweat of blood, which not only imbrued all his garments, but also trickled down from his body upon the ground, on which he lay prostrate in prayer. O how inconceivable a torture must he have endured in his interior, when the pangs of his soul had such a strong operation exteriorly, and produced such strange effects in the body! But why all this agony, dear Lord? Why these pangs? Why this prodigious sweat of blood? Was not the death of the cross sufficient for our redemption? Why then these anticipated sorrows? Thy love alone can account for them. O blessed be thy infinite charity!

Consider 2ndly, how bitter were the ingredients of this chalice which our Saviour so much dreaded to drink. Ah! my soul, they were bitter indeed. He had at this time before his eyes a most lively apprehension, a most clear and express representation of all and every particular injury and indignity, stripe and torment, that he was afterward successively to endure in the whole course of his passion, now all at once assaulting his soul, and making him feel beforehand all the sorrows which afterwards only came one by one. But what was more terrible to our Saviour was the clear sight and lively sense he had then of all the sins and abominations of the whole world, from the first to the last, with all their filthiness and horror, all now laid upon him as if they were his own; and himself, like the 'emissary goat,' Levit. xvi. 21, charged with all the maledictions due to them, and with the wrath of his Father justly enkindled by them. Sweet Jesus, any one of these monsters is more odious to thee than hell. And how then must thou be affected, when thou not only hast before thy eyes this infinite number of millions of millions of these odious monsters, mortal enemies of thy Father, mustered up all against thee, but also feelest their enormous weight laid upon thy shoulders? O what a share had my sins in this tragical scene; how did they depress the soul of my Redeemer! How did they force from him this shower of blood, as if all the pores of his body were turned into eyes to weep for my sins. O let thy agony and bloody sweat teach me effectually how heinous my sins are in thy eyes, and in what manner I ought to bewail them.

Consider 3rdly, another bitter ingredient of that cup of thy Redeemer, which was the foresight he then had of the little sense the greatest part even of Christians would have of all his sufferings, of their ingratitude for his infinite charity, of their abuse of all those graces he was going to purchase for them with the last drop of his blood, of their perverseness in taking occasion from his very passion to sin more freely, and to draw down the more dreadful judgments upon their own heads; and in fine, of the eternal loss of innumerable souls, who, notwithstanding all his sufferings, through their obstinacy in sin, and final impenitence, would incur the second and everlasting death. Consider that every one of those poor souls was more dear to Christ than his own life, since he parted with his life to save them. What a cruel anguish then must it have been to his tender and charitable heart to see so many of them blindly and wilfully running into the bottomless pit of endless and irremediable evils, and plunging themselves for ever into the flames of hell! No wonder after this that so many lamentable objects presenting themselves at once before the eyes of his soul, and joined with all those mentioned in the foregoing consideration, should cast him into a mortal agony and bloody sweat.

Conclude to admire and adore the wondrous ways of God in bringing about the redemption of man. Embrace with all the affections of thy heart the infinite charity of thy Redeemer, which shines forth so bright in this mystery. And see thou be no longer one of that unhappy number who repay all his mercy and love with sin and ingratitude.



2nd April

Tuesday, fourth week in Lent
On the treason of Judas

Consider first, how sensible an affliction it was to our Lord, to be betrayed and sold by one of his own Apostles into the hands of those that sought his life. Inasmuch that he, who bore in silence all the insolences of the Jewish rabble and the pagan soldiers; he who suffered the whips, thorns, and nails without complaint: could not but complain of this treachery, ingratitude, and perfidiousness of a false friend, both in his words to his disciples the night before his passion, and to the traitor himself when he offered him the treacherous kiss; and long before by the Royal Prophet. Hear how he expresses himself in the Psalms.'Even the man of my peace,' (the friend whom I had taken into my bosom,) 'in whom I trusted, who eat my bread,' (even the bread of life,) 'hath greatly supplanted me,' xl. 10. And again, 'If my enemy hath reviled me, I would willingly have borne with it; and if he that hated me hath spoken great things against me, I would perhaps have hid myself from him. But thou a man of one mind, my guide and my familiar, who did’st take sweet meats together with me,' (even the sacred body and blood of thy Redeemer,) 'in the house of God we walked with consent,' Ps. liv. 13, 14. Yes, I had associated thee to the communion of all my goods and graces in my church; I had admitted thee to be one of my individual companions, a witness of all my doctrine and miracles, and even one of my twelve Apostles. And that thou, so highly favoured without any merit of thine, should be thus ungrateful, thus false and perfidious, as without any injury or provocation, for a petty trifling interest, to betray me into the hands of my enemies, and to join thyself with them to persecute me unto death - O, this it is that afflicts my soul; and the more insupportably because in betraying and selling me thou betrayest and sellest thy own soul (which is so dear to me) to be an eternal prey to devils. O take care, my soul, thou never imitate the traitor! O dear Jesus, be thou my keeper, or else I shall also betray both myself and thee! Alas, how often have I betrayed thee already by wilful sin! O never suffer me to be so miserable any more.

Consider 2ndly, what an aggravation it was to the injury which the traitor offered to our Redeemer, that he should set no greater value on him, but sell him at so low a rate as thirty pieces of silver, the price it is likely of the meanest slave; and that he should prefer such a trifling consideration before his Lord and his God, who made both him and all things, and who set such a value upon his soul, as to employ his whole life, and give his most precious blood to redeem it. My soul, dost thou not loudly condemn and detest this monstrous treason? But hast thou never been guilty of the like or worse? Hast thou never sold for a more trifling consideration that grace and friendship of thy Redeemer? hast thou never preferred before him a petty interest, a filthy pleasure, a punctilio of honour, or the gratifying of some unreasonable passion? And what was all this, but selling both thy God and thy own soul for something of less value than the traitor’s thirty pieces of silver? Alas it is what thou hast been guilty of as often as thou hast committed mortal sin. Be confounded, repent, and amend.

Consider 3rdly, and see in this example of Judas that no state of life or calling, how holy soever, can secure us from danger, since an Apostle, called by Christ and trained up in his school, so well instructed by his heavenly doctrine and great example, and empowered by him to cast out devils and work wonderful miracles, is fallen, nevertheless, and fallen so as to rise no more, even into the bottomless pit. O! let him that stands be sensible upon what slippery ground he stands, and by whose grace he is supported and kept from falling; that so, by entirely distrusting himself and placing his whole confidence in God, he may work out his salvation with fear and trembling. But what was it that brought Judas to this enormity? It was the love of money. This was his predominant passion. This he indulged at first in lesser injustices, by the opportunity of carrying the common purse and thus, whilst he took no care to mortify his evil inclinations, by degrees they gained ground upon him, till they introduced Satan into the full possession of his soul, and so prevailed upon him to betray and to sell his Master, and then to hang himself in despair. Christians, beware of your passions, stifle them betimes, lest they grow headstrong by being neglected in the beginning; especially take care of that cheating vice of the love of money, the source of innumerable evils; and yet the poison works so insensibly, that few or none are willing to think themselves infected by it. Alas! how many pretexts and pretences are made use of to cover the evil; how many ways of palliating even frauds, injustices, usuries, and what not! And how ingenious are men, where their interest is concerned, to persuade themselves that their way is right, the latter end of which (as they will find to their cost, when it is too late,) leads to the second death.

to mistrust thyself and thy own judgment, in all cases where thy worldly honour, interest, or pleasure is concerned because it is natural on these occasions to be biassed to that side of the question that is most agreeable to self-love. O how hard it is to be an impartial judge in one’s own case! But O, how happy then are they who in simplicity of heart seek God and his holy will and law on all occasions, and do not desire to bend down the law of God to their will, but their will to the law of God.



3rd April

Wednesday, fourth week in Lent
On the apprehension of Our Lord

Consider first, how our Saviour, rising up from the ground where he had lain prostrate in prayer, all imbrued in his own blood, which he shed during his anguish and agony, goes for the third time to his disciples, whom he had desired to pray and to watch with him, but alas he finds them still asleep. So little comfort did they afford their Lord in his distress! O my soul, has not this been often thy case, to be unconcernedly sleeping when it behoved thee to be watching and praying with thy Saviour? And what has been the consequence of this? Why thou hast run away and hast abandoned him in the time of trial and temptation. But now by this time, the traitor, who was not asleep, has conducted to the place a multitude, headed by some of the priests and Pharisees, and armed with swords and clubs, to apprehend our Lord. See, my soul, how thy Saviour goes forth to meet them, how ready he is to suffer, how willing to deliver himself up for the love of thee; see in what manner he receives the traitor’s kiss; 'My friend,' says he, 'to what end art thou come hither?' Reflect what thou art about, and repent whilst thou hast time, and I will show thee mercy: 'Judas, wilt thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?' O the meekness and charity of our Redeemer, who is ready to receive with open arms even Judas himself; if his hardened heart had not been proof against all the charms of his mercy! Sinners, see what an encouragement we have to run to him for mercy, since he was desirous to show it even to the traitor himself.

Consider 2ndly, how our Lord was pleased on this occasion to manifest his power, by casting down to the ground all the armed multitude that were come to apprehend him, with only these words, 'I am he,' to show the world that no power of man could apprehend him but by his own will and consent, in consequence of his own free love; O blessed be that free love for evermore! On the same occasion, when Malchus, a servant of the high priest, more busy than the rest in apprehending our Saviour, had his ear cut off by the sword of Peter, our Lord not only restrained this Apostle from using any further violence in his defence, but instantly showed both his power and his goodness, in healing the wretch, and restoring his ear upon the spot by his one word, to teach us by his example to overcome evil with good. Then after having meekly expostulated with the priests and the Pharisees, for their coming out in this manner in the night, with an armed mob, to take him, as if he had been some highway robber, he gave them leave to use their pleasure with him; but this upon conditions that they should not meddle with any of his disciples. So solicitous was our dear Redeemer that none of his little ones should suffer any thing upon this occasion, whilst he was going to offer up himself in sacrifice for the love of them.

Consider 3rdly, that our Lord had no sooner delivered himself up with these words, 'This is your hour and the power of darkness,' but they immediately rush in upon him, and, as we may presume from the rest of their carriage, and from their hatred to him, load him with injuries and blasphemies. Then they bind him fast, as if he were some notorious criminal, and drag him violently along with them in the dark into the city. See, my soul, and contemplate the meekness, patience, and silence of the Lamb of God under all these outrages; accompany him in spirit upon this occasion, for his Apostles have all left him (in the hands of his enemies), and strive to enter into his interior, and to learn from the secret conversation he has all the while with his Father, from the prayer he is there making for his enemies, and from the charity with which he offers up both his present and future sufferings for thy sins, and for the sins of the whole world, what ought to be thy dispositions under all the sufferings thou meetest with - what thy interior exercises of devotion - and what thy spirit of charity for them that afflict thee and persecute thee?

Conclude to follow thy Saviour in spirit, through all the different stages of his passion, with a sincere desire to study and learn the great lessons he teaches thee in his sufferings, and withal to make the best return of love thou art able, for the infinite love he has shown thee, in suffering so much for the love of thee.

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4th April

Thursday, fourth week in Lent

On Our Lord's being brought before Annas and Caiphas

Consider first, how the rabble that had apprehended our Saviour, having dragged him into the city with loud shouts and cries, brought him first before Annas, one of the chief priests, to give him the pleasure of seeing the prisoner, and of exulting over him. Go in, my soul, with him, and see the Son of God, the Judge of the living and the dead, standing with his hands tied behind him before this insolent Jewish priest. Hear the impertinent questions he puts to him concerning his disciples and his doctrine, and admire the courage, meekness, and evenness of soul which thy Saviour shows in his whole comportment on this occasion. See how he suffers even a vile servant not only to rebuke him in words, for his modest and just answer, but also to strike him on the face before all the company; an affront which, if offered to the meanest of men, would be thought insupportable by the children of this world; but our great Master has taught us, both by word and example, that true courage consists in bearing and not in revenging injuries. And surely nothing can be more honourable to a Christian than to walk in the footsteps of his King, and keep his laws.

Consider 2ndly, how our Saviour, bound as he was, is hurried away with the like shouts and insolences from Annas to the house of Caiphas, the high priest, where the senate or council was assembled, determined to destroy him, right or wrong; and therefore, notwithstanding it was now late at night, they immediately proceeded to his trial, and to the examining the witnesses, of whom they had provided a good store, to depose against this innocent Lamb of God. Christians, what shall we most admire on this occasion - the malice of the enemies of our Saviour and the gross falsehoods they impose upon him, or the force of truth and the wonderful innocence of our Lord, which would not suffer their testimonies to be of any weight against him, even in the judgment of so partial and so wicked a court? But what is the most admirable of all is that invincible meekness and patience, that perfect peace and tranquillity of soul, with which our Lord suffered in silence to hear himself charged by these wicked impostors with so many false crimes, tending to rob him both of his honour and his life! O surely one must be more than man to be silent on such occasions! Learn at least, thou my soul, from this silence of thy Saviour not to be so excessively nice with regard to thy honour; and if thou must speak in defence of thy own innocence, see thou do it with that calmness and modesty that becomes a disciple of such a Master. A noisy and passionate defence will only make thy cause worse, and will rob thee of thy peace, which is a more valuable good than any thing the world can either give or take away.

Consider 3rdly, how the high priest, finding his evidences did not agree in their story, stood up and adjured our Saviour by the living God, to tell them if he was indeed the Christ, the Son of God? Our Lord, in reverence to his Father’s name, and to give testimony to that capital truth, the great foundation of the Christian religion, which he came to seal with his blood, immediately answered that he was, and that hereafter they should see him sitting on the right hand of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Christians, give thanks to your Saviour for this solemn profession of what he was, though standing now in the midst of enemies determined not to believe him. They rejected and condemned the grand truth to their own condemnation; do you embrace and adore it for your salvation. Upon this open declaration of his divinity the high priest rends his garments and cries out ‘blasphemy!’ and they all with one voice condemn him to death. See, my soul, the Saint of Saints traduced now as a blasphemer, and the Author of Life judged worthy of death; and this by the whole council of the priests and ancients of his people; and learn thou henceforward not to be so much concerned about the judgment of the world: if it condemns thee wrongfully, what wonder, since it has condemned Christ himself; he was innocence itself; whereas thy sins deserve other kinds of punishment than the world can condemn thee to.

Conclude, in opposition to this unjust sentence given against the Lamb of God, to join with all the heavenly Spirits, and with all the Elect of God, in that solemn canticle, Apoc. v. 12. 'The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction.' But learn withal, from his great example, when thou art called to the trial never to be ashamed of him, nor his truth, though thou wert even to lay down thy life with him and for him.



5th April


Friday, fourth week in Lent
On Our Saviour's treatment in the House of Caiaphas

Consider first, how this sentence of condemnation was no sooner pronounced against our Lord than the whole multitude of them began to fall upon him, and to treat him with all kind of outrages and unheard of barbarity. 'They spit in his face, and buffet him,' Matt. xxvi. 67. 'They blindfold him, and smite his face, and ask him saying: Prophesy who is it that struck thee,' Luke xxii. 64. They pluck his hair and beard, whilst he with his hands tied behind him, makes no resistance, but as he tells us, Isaias l. 6, 'Gives up his body to them that strike him, and his cheeks to them that pluck them, and turns not away his face from them that rebuke him and spit upon him.' Not to speak of many other shameful abuses and injuries, so that here he is treated indeed 'as a worm and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people,' Ps. xxi. 7. Here, as the prophet foretold, Lament. iii. 30, 'he is filled with reproaches.' See, my soul, what the Son of God has willingly submitted to to save thee from sin and hell. O embrace that infinite charity of his which has made him stoop so low that he might take thee up from the dunghill and place thee with him on his throne; but O! detest thy sins which have so often buffeted him and spit in his face.

Consider 2ndly, what kind of a night our Saviour passed in the hands of the rabble after the council was broken up, and the priests and ancients had retired to rest. These brutish men, instigated by the example of their masters, and by those wicked spirits that possessed them, would not suffer our Lord to take any rest during that last night of his mortal life, but continued acting over and over again the same tragedy, by mocking, beating, and abusing the Lord of Glory, and discharging their filthy phlegm on his sacred face, whilst he has no hand at liberty nor friend to ward off any of their blows, nor any one to wipe their filthy spittle from off his face, all bruised and quite disfigured with their buffets. Ah! who shall be able to recount one half what our Saviour suffered that night from these wretches - besides all the reproaches, slanders, curses, and blasphemies with which they loaded him, more intolerable than their blows; 'Many other things (says St. Luke xxii. 65,) they said against him blaspheming:' while he all the while replied not a word: 'When he was reviled he did not revile; when he suffered he threatened not,' 1 Pet. ii. 23, 'but delivered himself, not only to him that judged him unjustly,' but also to these vile wretches that so shamefully abused him at their pleasure. Be astonished, O ye heavens, to see your Lord and Maker treated in this outrageous manner by the vilest of men! But alas! my soul, they were thy sins that were the chief actors in all this tragedy. O! repent and amend.

Consider 3rdly, and set before thy eyes the image of thy Saviour in the hands of these miscreants; take a view of his face all bruised, his eyes black and blue, his whole countenance disfigured so that not one of his heavenly features can now be distinguished; his forehead and cheeks defiled with their spittle; his beard plucked, his hair all rent and torn, and his whole person strangely metamorphosed. Then reflect who this is that suffers all this, and for whom; how freely he suffers all by his own choice, and what lessons he gives thee in his sufferings; and thou wilt find abundant matter for thy meditation. But carry the eyes of thy soul still further and look in to his interior, and see the peace and tranquillity that reign there in the midst of all these sufferings, from his perfect conformity to the will of his Father; see how he prays for his enemies; see the joy with which he suffers in consideration of the greater glory of his Father, and of our salvation which he is to purchase by all these his sufferings.

Conclude with admiration and love of the infinite charity of thy Redeemer, and a resolution of imitating his patience, his meekness, his humility, and his conformity in all things to his Father’s will.



6th April


Saturday, fourth week in Lent
On Peter's Denial

Consider first, that amongst all the sufferings of that last night of our Saviour’s life, nothing went so much to his heart as the behaviour of his own Apostles: one of them betrayed him, all of them abandoned him, and Peter, the very chief of them all, who had been the most favoured by his Master, and who upon all occasions had professed the greatest zeal and love for him, thrice denied that he knew him. O my soul, pity thy Saviour, thus forsaken by all his friends. Hear his complaints: 'I looked on my right hand, and beheld, and there was no one that would have me. Flight has perished from me, and there is no one that hath regard to my soul!' Ps. cxli. 5. And again, 'Friend and neighbour Thou hast put away far from me, and my acquaintance, because of my misery.' Ps. lxxxvii. 19. But what was it induced Peter to deny his Lord and Master, who a little while before had drawn his sword to defend him against an armed multitude, and had cut off the ear of the man that offered to lay hands on him, and who had boasted that very night, that though all the rest should forsake him, he would always cleave to him; that he was ready to go with him to prison and to death; and that though he were to die for it, he would never deny him? What was it? Alas! the voice of a poor maid, putting the question to him, if he were not one of his disciples, put him in such terror that he not only denied, but even swore and cursed himself if ever he knew the man! Good Jesus! what is man - what is he not capable of; if thou support him not by thy grace. O look well to me, Lord, and stand by me, or I shall also deny thee.

Consider 2ndly, how Peter came to fall so quickly after such strong resolutions and so much zeal for his Master. Alas! he depended too much upon his resolutions; he did not sufficiently know himself; he built too much upon his own strength; and this secret presumption was the chief cause of his fall. Ah! my soul, beware of any confidence in thyself; thou art never nearer falling than when thou seemest to have the strongest resolutions, if thy resolutions are built upon mere sand, and not upon the rock, which is Christ. Peter slept when he was admonished to watch and pray lest he should fall in the time of temptation; this neglect was another occasion of his sin, by depriving him of that grace which otherwise would have effectually preserved him. See, my soul, if thy frequent falls be not owing to thy neglect of watching and praying. In fine, Peter was too rash in exposing himself to the danger by going into the company of the enemies of our Saviour, and giving ear to their discourses, which so far influenced him as to make him ashamed of his Master. Beware lest the like causes should have the like effects in thee. Beware of bad company, and of all such conversations as may make thee ashamed of Christ or his maxims, or any way influence thee to the prejudice of thy soul.

Consider 3rdly, in Peter’s three denials, how easily one fall draws on another, and generally speaking a deeper; and learn from hence the necessity of a speedy repentance. Alas! Peter now fallen, as he passed over unregarded the crowing of the cock, so he might have continued in his sin, and died in his sin too, had not his loving Redeemer, in the midst of all the outrages he was suffering, cast an eye of pity upon him, and touching his heart at the same time with a strong and efficacious grace, sent him out from the wicked company he was in, to weep bitterly in private for his sins; a practice which he is said ever after to have retained, as often as he heard the cock crowing. Bless thy Lord, my soul, for the mercy he showed to this Apostle. Learn to imitate him by a ready correspondence with divine grace, when it invites thee to go out from Babylon, the society of the wicked, and to weep bitterly for thy sins. But O! content not thyself with short passing acts of repentance, but if thou wouldst be secure, bewail thy sins like St. Peter as long as thou livest.

Conclude to be always upon thy guard, and if thou seemest to thyself to stand, take heed lest thou fall. Thou hast not half the strength that Peter had; be not then high-minded, but fear. Humility is thy best security.



7th April


Passion Sunday
On Our Lord's being led away to Pilate

Consider first, how the high priest and his fellows in iniquity (notwithstanding their late sitting up at night), very early in the morning convene a more numerous assembly of the Sanhedrim or great council, to carry on and to bring to execution their wicked designs against the Son of God. Alas! how often are the children of this world more industrious in rising early to wickedness, than the servants of God to advance his glory and their own eternal salvation! Here our Lord is again brought before them, and the question is put to him again: ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of God?’ And upon his answering again in the affirmative, they all renew their former sentence, and declare him worthy of death. But see the depth of the malice of these unhappy men against the Lord of Life, which will not suffer them to be content with putting him to death privately, or with stoning him, as they afterwards did St. Stephen, or with any other ordinary death; but they must needs have him die upon a Cross, as being the most disgraceful and at the same time the most cruel of all deaths; and therefore, as they could not of their own authority inflict this kind of death, they determined to deliver him up to Pilate the governor, in order to his being crucified by him. See what envy and malice is capable of when once they have taken possession of the soul; and remember withal that their envy and malice could not make the Son of God suffer any thing more than what his infinite charity had freely made choice of to suffer for the love of thee. Blessed be that infinite charity for evermore, which has freely chosen so disgraceful and so cruel a death for our redemption from sin and hell!

Consider 2ndly, the manner of their conducting our Lord to Pilate, through the streets, lined with an immense multitude of people, assembled at Jerusalem upon occasion of the paschal solemnity. Hear how they publish all the way as they go that now they had found him to be a cheat and a hypocrite, had discovered all his impostures, and convicted him, by his own confession, of blasphemy, and therefore had condemned him to die. See how the people, who a little while before reverenced him as a Prophet, are now all changed in his regard and join with his enemies. O see what a wretched figure he makes in their hands, after the treatment he had received in the night: see how his enemies take occasion from thence to triumph and to insult over him, and how his friends grow cold and are ashamed of him. O, my soul, do thou at least follow thy Lord with compassion and love in the way that he walks for thy redemption; a painful and humble way indeed, and quite opposite to the ways the world is fond of, and distasteful to flesh and blood; but O! how wholesome to all such souls as willingly embrace them and follow them in the company of Jesus Christ!

Consider 3rdly, how the high priest and the rest of the council being come to Pilate’s house, made a scruple of going in for fear of contracting a legal uncleanness that might disqualify them from partaking of the sacrifices that were offered on that day - it being the very day of the feast of the Passover, celebrated in memory of their redemption from the bondage of Egypt. And yet, unhappy men, whilst they scruple going into the house of a Gentile, for fear of an uncleanness that could only reach the body, they are not afraid of polluting their souls with the most heinous of all crimes, and profaning thereby the greatest of all their solemnities. But what are men not capable of when they suffer themselves to be hurried away by their passions! But see the wonderful providence of God! whilst they, on their part, are so bent upon their wickedness that no other day will serve their turn but the very day of their sacrificing the paschal lamb, without thinking or designing it they are concurring as instruments to bring about the merciful designs of God for the redemption of the whole world, by the sacrifice of the true Paschal Lamb on that same day, of which their yearly Passover was an illustrious figure.

Conclude to beware of thy passions, which, if indulged, are capable of blinding thee to that degree as to pervert the greatest good into evil. And on the other side, embrace and love the wonderful ways of Divine Providence, which so often draws the greatest good out of the greatest evils.



8th April

Monday in Passion Week
Our Lord is sent from Pilate to Herod

Consider first, how Pilate going out to inquire what accusation they brought against our Saviour, these children of iniquity made no scruple of laying many notorious untruths to his charge; such as raising seditions, stirring up the people to rebellion, forbidding tribute to be paid to the emperor, and treasonably giving himself out for the king of the Jews. Under all these wicked slanders, that tended to nothing less than procuring his condemnation to the worst of deaths, our Lord still showed the same peace and tranquillity of soul, and still kept silence to the great astonishment of the governor. Admirable lessons for Christians! to learn to possess their souls at least in patience, if they cannot be wholly silent, under calumnies and detractions, and to learn that calmness and meekness will be a better proof and defence of their innocence than passion and rage, or returning injury for injury. We see here that Pilate himself, though otherwise a wicked man, was so far from interpreting our Saviour’s silence joined with that tranquillity of soul for an acknowledgment of his guilt, that he concluded it to be an argument of his innocence, and clearly perceived in the Jews’ way of acting that they were carried on by envy and passion, and not by zeal for justice; and therefore, after inquiring of our Lord concerning his being King, and understanding from him that his kingdom was not of this world, and therefore no way prejudicial to Caesar’s authority, he declared himself fully satisfied, and sought to discharge him.

Consider 2ndly, how the Jews still urging to have our Lord condemned, Pilate, to get rid of their importunity, sends him away to Herod king of Galilee, as one of his subjects, and refers his cause to him. Follow thy Saviour, O my soul, in this new stage, and admire the serenity of his countenance and the peace of his soul whilst he is hurried through the streets in the midst of an insulting mob, and loaded with reproaches and injuries. See how he is brought in bonds before that prince attended by the whole council, who there renew all their false accusations against him, whilst Herod, who is overjoyed to see him, in hopes of being eyewitness of some miracle, puts a thousand idle questions to him. But our Lord is silent still, and neither takes any notice of the falsities laid to his charge by his accusers nor seeks to gratify the vain curiosity of Herod, or to do any thing that might incline him to set him at liberty. No, my soul, thy Saviour has too great a love for thee to work a miracle to deliver himself from that death which he so gladly embraces as the only means of giving thee life. Blessed by all creatures be his goodness for ever!

Consider 3rdly, how Herod, provoked by our Lord not consenting to gratifying his inclinations of seeing a miracle, revenges himself on him by treating him with mockery and scorn, exposes him to the scoffs of all his soldiers, orders him to be clothed in contempt with a white garment, as with a fool’s coat, or as a mock king; and in this garb sends him back to Pilate, attended as before by the priests and scribes and an insulting rabble, who take fresh occasion of abusing him on account of his disgraceful habit. See here, my soul, with astonishment, the eternal Wisdom of the Father treated by the world as a fool; see the great King of Heaven and earth abused as a mock king, and an idle pretender to royalty. And learn from hence not to be solicitous about the judgment of the world, nor to repine if they charge thee with folly; for why should’st thou expect better treatment than thy Lord? O remember that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; and that what the world censures as foolishness, is indeed true wisdom. Remember that ‘Whosover will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God,’ James iv. 4.

Conclude to adhere to thy Lord, in the midst of all his reproaches and sufferings; to embrace his wisdom hidden under the fool’s coat, which the world had flung over it, and ever to acknowledge him for the true king of thy heart. O beg that his kingdom may be established there, and the reign of sin be totally abolished.



9th April


Tuesday in Passion Week
Barabbas is preferred before Our Lord, He is scourged at the Pillar

Consider first, how Pilate, seeing our Lord brought back to his tribunal, and the high priest and council still bent upon destroying the innocent, thinks of another way to bring him off without giving them offence. It was the privilege of the people to have their choice of a prisoner to be set at liberty of that day of the paschal solemnity, in memory of their being delivered on that day from the bondage of Egypt. He proposes therefore to their choice our Saviour on the one hand, and Barabbas, a notorious malefactor, robber, and murderer, on the other; making sure that they would rather choose to have our Saviour released to them, in whom neither he nor they could find any crime, than Barabbas the worst of criminals. O eternal Son of God, how low dost thou here stoop for my sins, when thou sufferest thyself to he put in competition with the vilest and most wicked of men, and to have it put to the votes of the rabble which of the two is the more deserving of death! O the unparalleled humility of my Saviour! O the unparalleled injury here offered to him by Pilate, whilst he pretends to favour him! But O! the unparalleled blindness of this unhappy people who make choice of Barabbas before their Messias, and demand with loud cries that the former may be released, and the latter crucified! See, my soul, in this wonderful humiliation of thy Lord, how deep, how desperate was the wound of thy pride which could not be healed but by such and so great humility. Learn henceforward, at least from him, to be humble of heart and never think much if others how mean soever, be preferred before thee, since Barabbas was preferred before Christ! Alas! how often hast thou thyself preferred some thing worse than Barahbas, even that ugly monster sin, before this Lord of Glory.

Consider 2ndly, how the Jews still insisting in a tumultuous manner that our Lord should he crucified, Pilate in hopes of appeasing them by a kind of composition, and so making them relent, orders him to be cruelly scourged; a torment most grievous to our dear Redeemer, (who therefore on divers occasions, speaking of his Passion, takes special notice of it,) and at the same time most disgraceful and most ignominious. Look on now, my soul, in spirit, and see in what manner thy Saviour is treated for thee. See how the bloody executioners lay violent hands on the Lamb of God; see how they tear off his clothes, and expose him all naked before a great multitude, to cold and shame see how they bind him fast to a stony pillar; see how they discharge upon His sacred back, shoulders, and sides, innumerable stripes, lashes, and scourges; see how his body is all rent, torn, and mangled by their barbarity ; see how the blood comes spouting out on all sides. See in his gaping wounds, the handiwork of thy sins. O take pity on his mangled flesh, and let the sight of so much blood shed for thee mollify thy heart, and determine thee from this hour never any more to scourge him by sin. Run in now, and cast thyself at his feet, and bathe thyself in his precious blood; mingle, at least, some few tears with his sacred gore, and repent from thy heart for the share thou hast had in this scourging of thy Lord.

Consider 3rdly, in this scourging of our Saviour, who it is that is thus barbarously and ignominiously treated? And why he suffers all this? O my soul, ‘tis the God that made thee; ‘tis the Lord and Maker of heaven and earth who suffers all this, by his own free choice, for the love of thee; ‘tis to deliver thee by his sufferings, from the grievous and eternal torments thy sins have deserved, and to purchase for thee everlasting joys which thou never could’st deserve. O infinite love of my God ! O never suffer me, dearest Saviour, to forget what thou hast here endured for the love of me But see in what manner our Lord suffers all this barbarous usage - without resistance, without complaint, in silence, with a perfect resignation and conformity to the will of his Father, in perfect charity, praying for his enemies, whilst they stand by insulting over him and rejoicing at his torments. My soul, let us study well and learn these lessons of our suffering Redeemer.

Conclude to make the best acknowledgment thou art able of the love thy Saviour has shown thee in his sufferings, by a return of thanksgiving and love, and by a constant detestation of sin as his and thy mortal enemy, and the occasion of all his sufferings.



10th April


Wednesday in Passion Week
Our Lord is Crowned with Thorns

Consider first, how the barbarous ruffians, being wearied at last with scourging our Lord, untie him from the pillar, all covered with wounds, and with his strength quite exhausted by the loss of so much blood; and now, whilst they rest themselves they leave him to seek out and to pick up his clothes, which they had scattered about, and to put them on as well as he can; for he is so stiff and weak, so mangled by their barbarity as to be but little able to help himself; and he has no friend at hand to help him. But O! how ill do these rough woollen clothes suit with his green wounds! how does the rubbing of them at every step or motion increase the smart? But now behold, my soul, another scene of barbarity not to be paralleled in all history, acted by these bloody soldiers in crowning our Lord for a king, by a most cruel mockery, and sporting themselves in all his sufferings. To perform this tragical ceremony with more solemnity, they drag our Saviour into the court of the governor’s hall, and assemble the whole regiment about him; then they strip him again of all his garments, which now were beginning to stick to his wounds, which they rend and widen by this violence. See, my soul, how the Lord now stands as a lamb, in the midst of innumerable wolves; see how, from head to foot, he is imbrued in blood; see at how dear a rate he has purchased thy redemption.

Consider 2ndly, what a throne, what royal robes, what a crown, what a sceptre, these wretches have provided for the Lord of Glory! See, my soul, how they make him sit down on some dirty stool for a throne, and how they throw about him for his royal robes an old ragged purple garment, causing the greatest pain to his wounded back, shoulders, and arms. After this they press down on his sacred head a twisted wreath of long, hard, and sharp thorns for a royal diadem or crown; then they put into his hands for a sceptre a reed or cane; and having thus arrayed him, they come and kneel before him in mockery, to pay him their homage, saluting him scornfully with a ‘Hail! king of the Jews;’ and then, by turns they buffet him, spit in his face, and strike him over the head with the sceptre they had given him, and by that means drive the thorns deeper in, whilst the blood trickles down apace from the numberless wounds which he receives from their points! Ah! who shall be able to number the multitude and variety of sufferings which our Lord endured upon this occasion? In which it is hard to say whether the torment or the ignominy and disgrace was more intolerable. Yet our dear Lord bore all in patience and silence for the love of us.

Consider 3rdly, and take a view at leisure of our Saviour sitting on this stool of ignominy, in the midst of this whole regiment of insolent and barbarous pagan soldiers. Reflect on what he suffers in his sacred head and temples from those hard sharp thorns, which pierce his flesh with so many wounds. O! who can conceive the greatness of this torture. See, my soul, how the blood trickles down his face and neck; see the many bruises he receives from the violent blows they gave him with their hands; see his divine countenance covered with the filth they cast upon him; see through the ragged purple all the wounds of his mangled body, bleeding plentifully for thy sins; in fine, see how this lawless, insulting multitude strives which shall outdo each other in their scoffs, affronts, and injuries; whilst our Lord on his part still preserves the same serenity in his countenance, the same tranquillity in his soul, and the same charity in his heart. But, O my soul, whilst thou art contemplating him under all these barbarous mockeries and torments, cast thy eye upwards and see him sitting on his throne of glory, adored by all the legions of Angels; and do thou join with them in paying him the best homage thou art able; and ever remember that the more he has debased himself for thee, the more dear he ought to be to thee.

Conclude by acknowledging thy Saviour, in the midst of all these ignominies, for the true King of thy heart, and begging him to come and establish his throne there. Learn from him to bear and to submit to the thorns which are appointed for thee in this thy mortal pilgrimage. O pretend not to a crown of roses, to a life of worldly pleasures, whilst thy Lord makes choice of a crown of thorns for the love of thee.



11th April


Thursday in Passion Week
Our Lord is shown to the people with Our Lord shown to
the people with Ecce homo , 'Behold the Man'

Consider first, how Pilate hoping now that the malice of the Jews would be so far abated as to insist no longer on our Saviour’s death, after they should see in what a barbarous manner he had been created in compliance with their passions, leads him out just as he was, with his crown of thorns upon his head and his ragged purple on his shoulders, and from an eminence shows him to the people with these words ‘Ecce homo!’ Behold the man! as much as to say, take a view of him now from head to foot; see how he is all covered with wounds; how his whole body is rent, torn, and mangled with scourges; his head and temples pierced with bloody thorns; face all black and blue, and his person quite disfigured! See how cruelly he has been handled in complaisance to you, though neither I nor Herod could find any crime in him! Let then this outrageous treatment he has received from the soldiers, let all this blood he has shed satisfy you; take pity on him now, at least, and cease to seek his death. But O! how vain it is to expect that men’s passions should be abated by giving way to them! Pilate imagined the sight of so much innocent blood already shed would extinguish the thirst of the Jews, whereas it increased it and made them the more eager after our Lord’s death. See, my soul, thou never suffer thyself to be imposed upon in the like manner by thinking to rid thyself the easier, hereafter, of thy troublesome temptations or passions, by making a kind of composition, and giving them at present what they crave. The more thou givest them the more they will demand and the more they will tyrannize over thee. It is not by yielding but by fighting resolutely against them thou art to conquer.

Consider 2ndly, my soul, thy Saviour presenting himself to thee upon this occasion with all his wounds and all the disgraceful attire of his ragged robes and thorny crown, with an ‘Ecce homo!’ Behold the man! But see thou look upon him with other eyes than those unhappy miscreants did, who only took occasion from the sight of his sufferings to cry out more eagerly, ‘Away with, him, away with him; crucify him, crucify him!’ O! behold the man, even the eternal Word of the Father, made man for the love of thee. Behold his head crowned with a wreath of sharp thorns piercing and entering in on all sides with excessive pains; behold his face bruised beyond measure, and all covered with blood and spittle; behold, through his ragged purple, the innumerable stripes and wounds of his mangled body! Behold and see to what a condition thy sins, and his own infinite charity, have reduced the Lord of Glory! Then see and consider what return thou wilt make him for all his sufferings, and for all his love. He desires no other return but that of thy heart but then it must be an humble and contrite heart; it must be a loving and obedient heart.

Consider 3rdly, the Eternal Father presenting his Son to us in his passion, all covered with wounds and imbrued in his blood, with another ‘Ecce homo!’ Behold the man! Setting before our eyes all that he has suffered out of pure love for us, representing to us his infinite goodness and mercy, and the heinousness of our sins and ingratitude to him; encouraging us to hope in him, inviting us to love him, and to detest our sins for the love of him, and offering us all good things through him; only desiring that we would cease to persecute him by sin. O give attention, my soul, to this loving voice of thy God, and to all the sufferings of his Son; but in return do thou also present him to his Father, with the like ‘Ecce homo!’ Behold the man! laying before him all that his Son has endured for thee in the whole course of his passion; and putting in thy claim to all that mercy, grace, and salvation which he has purchased for thee by all these sufferings. In particular insist upon this one favour to be granted thee, through his passion and death, that thou mayest never more be disloyal to him.

Conclude by representing all thy miseries and sins to thy Redeemer, and through him to his Father with another ‘Ecce homo!’ Behold the man! and begging a redress from him, and through his precious blood of all thy miseries, and the remission of all thy sins.

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April 12th


Friday in Passion Week
On the part of the Blessed Virgin bore in Her Son's sufferings

Consider first, the foresight the Blessed Virgin had of the passion of her Son, from the time that she heard that prophetic prediction addressed to her by holy Simeon, Luke ii. 34, 35, that he should ‘be set for a sign which should be contradicted, and that a sword should pierce her own soul.’ Yes, blessed Lady, a sword indeed, far more sharp and penetrating than any earthly steel, which can only pierce the body and cannot reach the soul, whereas this sword, of more than mortal anguish, which thou sufferest by occasion of the passion of thy Son, inflicts a most bitter, deep, and deadly wound in the very midst of thy soul. A wound which began to be inflicted at the time of this prophecy, by the sense which the heavenly Father then gave thee of what thy Son was to suffer; a wound which was a most bitter alloy of all those consolations which thou receivedst from the sight, conversation, and embraces of thy Jesus; a wound which thou carriedst about with thee in thy soul all the time of his mortal life, still growing upon thee as the time of his Passion drew nearer, and not healed but by his glorious Resurrection. Christians, see how the greatest favourite of heaven by divine appointment meets with the greatest crosses in this mortal pilgrimage. But no wonder Christ himself was first to suffer, and so to enter into his glory; his blessed Mother and all the Saints were to walk in the same road in order to follow him and to partake us his glorious kingdom. O! think not much if your Lord chooses for you what he chose for himself, for his blessed Mother, and for all his elect.

Consider 2ndly, how much the affliction and anguish of this Virgin Lady was increased, when the news was brought her of her Son’s being betrayed by Judas, apprehended, bound, and dragged away in that inhuman manner before the council, and what treatment he had met with there, after being condemned by them. But as the sight usually affects us more than the hearing, so doubtless this blessed Mother was oppressed with a far more killing grief, when on the next morning she was an eye-witness of all the injuries, outrages, and torments which he suffered in the different stages of his passion. For as no love that any person upon earth has ever experienced could any ways approach to the love she bore our Lord, not only as her Son, but much more as her God; so, in proportion to her love her anguish and sorrow to see him treated in that cruel, and barbarous, and outrageous manner, was the greatest that any pure creature could ever sustain, and nothing less than a miracle could have supported her or kept her alive under so dreadful a torture. Ah, Christians the whips, thorns, and nails that pierced his flesh pierced her heart with inexpressible pain and sorrow, which none surely could ever exceed, but those of her Son, ‘the man of sorrows.’O take pity, my soul, on the sorrows of them both, and see thou never more concur to grieve them by sin.

Consider 3rdly, more in particular how the Blessed Virgin was affected when she first saw her Son in the morning in the hands of his enemies, all disfigured by their blows, with his hands tied behind him, his face covered with spittle, and his hair all rent and torn. O my soul, even so hard a heart as thine could scarce bear such a sight as this, much less her tender heart! But what was this in comparison with what she endured when he was so cruelly scourged at the pillar; when he was crowned with piercing thorns, and buffeted by a whole band of soldiers! O what pangs did she suffer when she saw him presented to the people with the ‘Ecce homo!’ Behold the man! How did she then feel in her soul all those wounds she there discovered in his head and body? Nor did she suffer less, but rather much more, when she followed him in his last journey to Mount Calvary, bearing his cross on his mangled shoulders, and marking the way with his sacred blood. But what was all this if compared with what she endured, when she heard the strokes of the hammer driving the nails into his hands and feet; when she saw him hoisted up into the air, and there hanging, extended as upon a rack, and supported by his wounds; when standing near the cross, she saw the extremity of the torture he there endured; contemplated the multitude and variety of his sufferings, heard his last dying words, and saw him give up the ghost? O how truly might she then cry out with the Prophet, ‘O all you that pass by the way, attend and see, if there be sorrow like to my sorrow!’ Lament. i. 12. Learn my soul, from this Queen of sorrows, with what eye thou oughtest to look upon the sufferings of the Son of God, and how to bewail those sins which have given cause to them.

Conclude to imitate the virtues of which this blessed Lady has given us an illustrious example in this martyrdom she endured under the cross of her Son - especially learn her courage and fortitude under such bitter suffering; her patience and perfect conformity to the will of God; her lively faith and hope. These must support thee also under all thy crosses.




13th April

Saturday in Passion Week

Our Lord is condemned to the Cross

Consider first, how the Jews perceiving that Pilate was bent upon releasing our Saviour, told him that if he released that man he could be no friend of Caesar, (the emperor,) for whosoever made himself a king opposed Caesar. (John xix. 12.) See here, my soul, what evils human respects are capable of producing, and how sad a thing it is, either to fear or to love any thing more than God. Pilate’s resolution in a moment falls to the ground, upon the apprehension of being accused before Caesar, and of losing his favour; rather than risk this, he is determined to make a sacrifice of his conscience in condemning the innocent. Alas! have we never had a share in the like guilt? Has not human fear, or the apprehension of what the world would say, too often influenced us to condemn, at least in fact, our Lord and his doctrine by mortal sin? Has not a much less consideration than the fear of losing the favour of an emperor, prevailed on these occasions over our best resolutions? O what hold do we give to the enemy by these human fears, and by our irregular affections to this cheating world! But see the vain excuses by which men seek to palliate the guilt of their sins, and to save their conscience. Pilate washes his hands and cries out, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man - look you to it,’ Matt. xxvii. 24; as if this ceremony and verbal declaration could clear him, in the sight of the just judge, from the guilt of concurring in the death of the innocent. But see also into what dismal extremities unhappy souls cast themselves when they are once obstinately bent upon sin, in that dreadful sentence which the Jews pronounced against themselves on that occasion: ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children!’

Consider 2ndly, how Pilate proceeds to give judgment of death against the Lord of life, and sentences our Saviour to the cross in compliance with the cry of the whole people, who still call out in a tumultuous manner, ‘Crucify him, crucify him.’ But O! my soul, reflect that it was the voice of thy crying sins that far more effectually called for the death of the Son of God than the cry of the Jews; for that tumult could have had no power to bring on his crucifixion, had not he been determined to suffer this kind of death for the expiation of thy sins. But see with what loud huzzas, with what triumph and joy, this sentence is received by the enemies of our Lord - and with what sighs and tears, with what grief and anguish by his friends, and most especially by his blessed mother. But how does this Lamb of God behave on this occasion? In what manner does he receive this sentence of death? He receives it in silence and peace, with perfect submission and conformity to the will of his Father: he receives it even with joy out of his infinite charity for us, as the only means of our redemption and salvation. See, my soul, whether thou submittest to thy crosses with the like dispositions. Dost thou embrace them as the means of divine appointment to bring thee to heaven?

Consider 3rdly, that this sentence of death pronounced against our Lord was an act of the highest injustice on the part of Pilate; but highly just on the part of God in consideration of our sins, which his Son had taken upon himself. And therefore our Saviour, who is infinitely holy, could not indeed but abhor the crime of Pilate, though he suffered it; but as the judgment and sentence of his Father he embraced it as being most holy and just; he bowed down and adored it with all the powers of his soul; to teach us and all that desire to be his disciples to distinguish, on the like occasions when we have any thing to suffer from others, between man’s injustice and God’s justice, and to receive our sufferings, from what hand soever they come, and how unjustly soever, as highly just on the part of God, punishing us by those instruments for our sins.

Conclude with thanksgiving to the infinite charity of the Father, who, for the love of us, spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, and sentenced him to die; and to the infinite charity of the Son, for embracing so cordially this sentence of death for the love of us. Make an oblation in return of thy whole self, both to the Father and to the Son, and desire henceforward to live only for him who has delivered himself up to death for the love of thee.



14th April


Palm Sunday
On Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem

N.B. Palm Sunday being kept in memory of our Saviour’s solemn entry into Jerusalem, five days before His passion,
we here insert, to correspond with the devotion of the day, a meditation upon that subject, and interrupt the
course of the considerations on the Passion.

Consider first, how the time now drawing near when our Saviour was to offer himself up a sacrifice for the sins of the world, he was pleased to come to the place where he was to complete this sacrifice; and as, in order to fulfil the ancient figures, he chose that very night for the institution of the Passover of the new law, which was set aside for the immolation of the paschal lamb, in the old Law, and that very day for the redemption of the world, in which God’s people had formerly been redeemed from their Egyptian bondage; so also he was pleased to make his entry into Jerusalem in order to his sacrifice, on the very day on which by the appointment of the law, (Exodus xii. 3), the lamb was to be brought to town, which was to be sacrificed for the Passover. Contemplate here, O Christian soul, the greatness of that love and charity for thee, which pushes thy Saviour forward on this occasion; see the joyful readiness with which he goes to offer up himself to death for the love of thee; admire and adore the dispositions of his providence, who was pleased that the glory of his birth should be hidden in the obscurity of a poor stable in little Bethlehem, whilst he chose for the ignominy of his passion, the great theatre of Jerusalem, and the paschal time, when the whole nation of the Jews was assembled thither.

Consider 2ndly, the manner in which our Lord was pleased to be received on this day by a solemn procession of the people, strewing their garments in the way, and bearing branches of palm-trees in their hands, to testify his victory over the prince of darkness, and accompanying him with loud acclamation and hosannas of joy, to honour him as their King and Messias. See, my soul, if thou art in proper dispositions to join in this triumphal procession, and with a palm branch in thy hand, to celebrate the victory of thy Lord over death, sin, and hell: alas! with what face canst thou attend him on this occasion if thou art still a slave to death, sin, and hell? Reflect also here on the inconstancy of the world, and how little account thou art to make of the esteem and applause of men, when thou seest how this same people, who on this day received our Lord with these loud hosannas, and acknowledged him for their King and their Saviour, five days after cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him!’

Consider 3rdly, the dispositions of the soul of our Redeemer in the midst of these honours and acclamations, and how little he is affected with them. See how upon this occasion he weeps over the unhappy Jerusalem, and over every impenitent soul that, like Jerusalem, takes no notice, ‘in this her day, of the things that are for her peace; but lets slip the time of her visitation.’ - Luke xix. 42, 44. Learn from his very triumph his love of poverty and his meekness, in the manner of his riding into Jerusalem upon an ass’s colt. Give ear to the prophet, Zach. ix. 9, ‘Rejoice, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King will come to thee; the Just, and the Saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass,’ &c. O see thou imitate his humility whilst rejoicing in his victory.

Conclude to honour the triumph of thy Saviour, in the best manner thou art able, in the procession of this day. Acknowledge him for the King and Lord of thy heart, and invite him in thither. But see that sin and hell have no place there.





15th April

Monday in Holy Week
Our Saviour carries His Cross

Consider first, how upon Pilate’s pronouncing sentence against our Lord they immediately proceed to execution: and first they strip off his purple robe and clothe him again with his own garments; then they bring him the cross, which he was to carry on his shoulders to mount Calvary, as Isaac formerly did the wood upon which he was to be offered in sacrifice. But O who can express or conceive that affection of soul with which our Saviour embraces his cross, which he is now going to consecrate with his precious blood? this cross, designed to be the happy instrument of our redemption, the altar of his sacrifice, the throne of his mercy, the trophy of his victory, the eternal monument of his love, the refuge of sinners, the comfort of the afflicted, the glory of his elect, the school of all virtues, and the source of all our good. O my soul, what are thy sentiments with regard to the cross of Christ? Thou must embrace the cross with him if thou desirest to reign with him. Give ear to a great servant of God, expressing his affection to the cross in this pathetic manner: ‘I bow down to thee, O precious cross, consecrated by the embraces and by the blood of Jesus, my Lord and my King. I look upon thee as the standard of his armies, as the watch-tower showing forth its light to guide his elect in this stormy ocean, as the defence of his servants and as the mark and badge of his children. I adore thee, O hidden wisdom! O light unknown to the world! the honour of them that follow thee, the safety of them that carry thee, the crown of them that embrace thee, the reward of them that love thee, and the salvation of them that cast themselves into thy arms. To die on thee is to live and to live on thee is to reign. He that loves thee is content; he that desires thee is easy; he that possesses thee is rich. I bow down to thee, O tree of life, the fruit of which is the solid food of the children of God. O balance ever even, in which alone we discover the just value and the true price of all things: in thee is found health and life, the victory over hell, the sweets of Paradise, strength of heart, joy of spirit, perfection of virtue, and assurance of eternal goods, &c. I embrace thee, O holy cross, consecrated by the sweat and by the blood of my Saviour. Thou shalt be henceforward my refuge, my light, my knowledge, and all my wisdom. Forsake me not, keep not at a distance from me, though this flesh of mine dreads thee, and seeks to fly from thee. O fasten me to the cross with thee, my sweet Jesus, and enlighten me with thy admirable light; that my spirit may penetrate into the depth of the mysteries and of the wisdom of the cross.’ - Sufferings of Jesus, chap. xlii. My soul, are these thy sentiments?

Consider 2ndly, and take a view of the Lamb of God setting out upon this his last, most wearisome, and most painful journey of his mortal life; loaded with the enormous weight of the cross and with the far more intolerable weight of the sins of the world. See the length and whole size of the cross, proportioned to bear the weight of a human body suspended in the air; and reflect how little strength remains in his body after so many sufferings and fatigues and the loss of so much blood. Ah! how rough, how hard, how insupportable, then, is this load to his shoulders and back, all mangled, rent, and torn with whips and scourges! How does it press upon his green wounds and squeeze out his sacred blood all the way! O mark this last procession. A crier leads the way, publishing his pretended crimes and blasphemies; then follow the soldiers and executioners with ropes, hammers, nails, &c. And after them goeth, or rather creepeth along, our high priest and victim, all bruised and bloody, and staggering under the burden of his cross, attended with a thief on each hand and surrounded with a multitude of his enemies, insulting over him and loading him with scoffs, reproaches, and curses, whilst the cruel executioners at every turn are hastening him forward with their kicks and blows. Follow thy Lord, my soul, in this his last and most painful procession; offer him what service thou canst to ease him of some part of his burden; weep over him at least with the good women that followed him; but take notice of his admonishing them rather to weep for themselves and for their children; and see how, in the midst of his sufferings, he is much more concerned for our miseries and sins than for any thing he himself endures. O! blessed be his infinite charity for us poor sinners!

Consider 3rdly, how our Lord, having for some time with unspeakable labour and torment carried his cross through the streets, at last falleth down under the enormous weight of it, unable to carry it any longer. But with what a shock does he fall! with what an additional torture to his wounded body, now quite exhausted with pain and labour, and loss of blood! See how the bloody executioners employ their kicks and blows to oblige him to rise again with his burden, but all in vain: his strength is quite gone, he is not able to carry it any further. Therefore, lest his execution should be delayed, they lay hold on Simon of Cyrene, whom they met coming out of the country, and they oblige him to take up the cross, and to ease our Lord of part of the burden by carrying it after him. But O! who shall ease him of any part of that other load, infinitely more insupportable, which his heavenly Father has laid upon him, of the sins of the whole world! My soul, do thou give him what little ease thou canst by lamenting the share thy sins have in this tragedy, and by ceasing henceforward to afflict him by sin.

Conclude to run in and offer thy service to thy Redeemer on this occasion, to take up his cross for him and to help him, like Simon of Cyrene, in the carriage of it; or rather offer thyself to him, to take up thy own cross with perfect resignation and patience, and follow him. It is this he particularly calls for and expects at thy hands.



16th April


Tuesday in Holy Week
Our Saviour is nailed to the Cross

Consider first, how our Lord being at length arrived at mount Calvary, quite wearied and spent, the untired malice of his enemies pursuing him still, finds out a new torture for him by mingling gall with the wine that, according to custom, was presented as a strengthening draught to criminals that were to be executed. Our Lord, that he might suffer the more for us, was pleased by tasting it to embitter his palate parched up before with a violent thirst; but he would not admit of the comfort that the drinking of it might have afforded his stomach: ‘When he had tasted, he would not drink,’ Matt. xxvii. 34. And now they strip him violently of his clothes, which by this time began to cleave fast to his mangled body, being pressed into the wounds by the weight of the cross; so that all his wounds are now opened afresh, and this Lamb of God is in a manner flayed alive in order to be laid on the altar of the cross. O! my soul, see how he stands all covered with his blood, with his eyes lifted up to Heaven, with infinite charity praying for poor sinners, and even for his very executioners. O! run in now and cast thyself at his feet, and bathe thyself in that precious blood, which he so plentifully sheds for thee; but see thou mingle with it thy penitential tears, in consideration of the share thou hast had in bringing these sufferings upon him by thy sins.

Consider 2ndly, how all things being now ready, they order him to lie down upon the cross. He obeys without resistance or demur, and lays himself down upon this hard bed on which he is to die; the bed of sorrow on which he is to bring us forth to God. Here he lies with his eyes fixed on heaven as high priest of all mankind, offering himself a victim of propitiation for our sins to his eternal Father, and freely giving up his hands and feet to the executioners to be pierced with the nails. See now, my soul, how one of these ruffians comes with a large sharp nail, and fixing the point of it upon the sacred palm of one of our Saviour’s hands, violently drives it with his hammer into the tender flesh, forcing its way with inconceivable torment through the nerves, sinews, muscles, and bones of which the hand is composed, deep into the hard wood of the cross. The extremity of pain which was caused by the violent piercing of so many nerves and bones as meet in the hands made all the nerves and sinews shrink up, and draw the body towards that hand that was nailed; so that great violence was used by the executioners in dragging the other arm and hand to the opposite side, to the place prepared for it, where they served it in like manner. And then, with equal barbarity they drew down his sacred feet, and nailed them also to the cross, verifying the words of the prophet, Ps. xxi.17, ‘they have dug my hands and feet; they have numbered all my bones:’ inasmuch as by the violence of their pulling the bones of our Lord were so drawn from their places and disjointed that they might be numbered. Ah! sweet Saviour, who can conceive the least part of what thou hast here endured for the love of me.

Consider 3rdly, what shocks, what tortures, our Lord (being now nailed fast to the cross) must have suffered in his whole body, when they dragged the cross along the ground to the hole prepared for it; how much, when they began with ropes to raise him up in the air; how much, when they let the foot of the cross fill with a jolt into the hole; how much, when they fastened it in the ground with long stakes, which they drove in with their mallets. O! who can think without horror on the racking pains that every motion or shock of this nature must have caused to a body all disjointed, and supported only by the bones and sinews of the hands and feet pierced through with gross nails But though this torture which our Lord here endured was so great and insupportable that one would think it might have moved the hardest heart to compassion, to have seen even a brute beast undergo so much: yet such was the insatiable malice of the enemies of our Saviour that instead of showing him any pity, or relenting at the sight of his torments, they shout and triumph when they see him appear above the heads of the people; and drawing nigher they stand shaking their heads at him, rejoicing at all his sufferings, scoffing, and insulting over him. Christians, whilst you detest this Jewish malice see you have no share in it, by your obstinacy in sin; ‘crucifying again to yourselves the Son of God, and making a mockery of him.’ Heb. vi. 6.

Conclude by detesting the handiwork of your sins, which have nailed your Saviour to the cross; and by loving him who out of pure love for you has endured so much. O! that we could say here with the martyr Ignatius, and with the like affection, ‘My love is fastened to the cross.’

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17th April

Wednesday in Holy Week
On the sufferings of Our Saviour upon the Cross

Consider first, what our Lord suffers upon the cross for the whole time that he continues living upon it, till he consummates his sacrifice. Draw near, my soul, and sit down under the shadow of thy true lover, with a longing desire to be his scholar in this school of love. Contemplate at leisure the multitude and variety of his sufferings. And first, as to his sacred body; see how ‘from the sole of the foot to the top of the head there is no soundness therein;’ Isaias i.6, see how it is all covered with wounds and blood. O how rough is this hard bed of the cross to a body all torn and mangled! O how uneasy is this pillow of a thorny crown to his wounded head! See all the cruel bruises with which his divine face is disfigured, and reflect on the smart and the pain of them. See how the whole body is violently stretched and extended as upon a rack, with an inexpressible torture in all the joints and limbs. But above all, remark those four streams of blood, those fountains of Paradise, that flow from the four most painful wounds of his hands and feet; and consider how the whole weight of his body, hanging by these gross nails that pierce the nerves and bones, while it naturally sinks downwards, is continually rending and tearing his wounds and increasing his pains.

Consider 2ndly, what our Saviour suffers interiorly in his soul, and thou shalt find it to be much more insupportable than all he endures in his body. Witness the inexpressible horror he has for the sins of the world, all now lying upon him and oppressing his soul with their infinite weight; his deep sense of those blasphemies he hears uttered against the Deity, and the contempt they show for his person and his divine truths. Witness the anguish of his soul to see the hardness, blindness, and reprobation of his once chosen people, the Jews; together with the final impenitence of Judas, and the eternal damnation of so many millions of souls for whom he is now offering himself in sacrifice, every one of whom he loves more than his own life. Add to this his grief to see the unspeakable desolation of his blessed Mother, and of all his friends, and himself left without any manner of relief or comfort from any creatures whatsoever, and even forsaken by his heavenly Father, and given up to the will and pleasure of his enemies. Ah! Christians, no tortures can be comparable to those of the soul!

Consider 3rdly, that besides these sufferings both of body and soul, which our Lord endures on the cross for the love of us, he pleased moreover to suffer in all other ways which any mortal can be liable to in this life. He suffers in his honour, by the disgrace of being hanged between two thieves, and loaded with all kinds of reproaches and affronts; he suffers in his reputation, by outrages, calumnies, and impositions; he suffers in his goods, by being stript of his very clothes, (the all he had in this world,) and exposed naked to shame and cold; he suffers from all sorts of people, from Jews and Gentiles, great and small, priests and laity, all conspiring as much as they can to add to his afflictions. His enemies insult and triumph over him; his friends are ashamed of him; those whom he had favoured with his miracles declare against him; his disciples keep at a distance, and are afraid of being involved in his punishments. His eyes see nothing but what may add to his anguish; his ears are entertained with nothing but injuries and blasphemies; his palate is afflicted with a mortal thirst; and his own body, by its weight, is a continual and most grievous torment to him. O sweet Jesus, how dearly hast thou paid for my sins!

Conclude to station thyself at the foot of the cross, and there to contemplate in the sufferings of thy Saviour the enormity of thy sins, and the goodness of thy God, that thou mayest there learn how thou art to detest thy sins and to love thy God.




18th April


Holy Thursday
On Our Saviour's preaching from the Cross

Consider first, that the whole life and doctrine of Christ was a continual lesson to his followers to renounce self-love, with its three wretched branches, viz., the lust of the flesh, that is, the love of sensual pleasures; the lust of the eyes, that is, the love of the perishable goods of this world; and the pride of life. These are the unhappy sources of all our evils, which withdraw us from our allegiance to God, and make us exchange the fountain of life for poisonous puddles, that can never satisfy our thirst. These are the foundations of a worldly and sinful life, and the broad road to death and hell. Alas! we love ourselves and our own will more than God; we are ever full of ourselves, sensual, covetous, presumptuous, as if we were some thing, and we can bear with nothing that opposes or contradicts us. But mark in particular, my soul, the sermon which the Son of God preaches from the cross, and see how loudly he there condemns from that pulpit all the illusions of our self-love, with all the maxims and practices of the world, and the unhappy attachments of worldlings to their carnal and sensual affections. O! remember that what he suffers is all by his own choice, and this not only to the end that he may expiate our sins, but also in order to undeceive us in the preposterous judgment we make of things, and to teach us to embrace what he embraces, to despise what he despises, and to condemn what he condemns. Learn then, my soul, at the foot of the cross, to overcome thy pride, by the great example of the voluntary humiliations of the Son of God; thy love of the world, by his voluntary poverty, and by his being stript of all things, and abandoned by all; and thy love of pleasures, by his voluntary sufferings and inexpressible torments.

Consider 2ndly, that Jesus Christ, in offering himself upon the cross a sacrifice to his Father, without any manner of reserve, and in dying in pure obedience to his heavenly will, preaches another excellent sermon to us, containing the whole perfection of a spiritual life; which consists in giving our whole selves to God, and in being obedient unto death. Yes, Christians, if you desire to be perfect, you must learn of your dying Saviour to make this offering of yourselves without reserve, to his Father and to your Father; you must join your offering with his, and make it by his hands, that it may be acceptable. You must make it every day and oftentimes in the day. O! give him then daily your soul and body; give him your understanding, your memory, and your will; give him your whole being, with all that belongs to it, both for time and eternity: and he will give his whole self to you. O happy exchange! Offer yourself then daily to do for him whatsoever he pleases; to suffer for him whatsoever he pleases; dedicate yourselves eternally to his love, and resolve to die a thousand deaths rather than to forfeit in any thing the obedience you owe to this your Father, Maker, King, and God.

Consider 3rdly, the particular lessons that our Lord also gives in his seven last dying words upon the cross. 1. Of perfect charity to our enemies, by his praying for them and excusing them to his Father: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ 2. Of mercy and compassion for sinners, by the plenary indulgence he imparts to the penitent thief: ‘Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.’ 3. Of duty to our parents, in his recommending his Virgin Mother to the care of his beloved disciple, and of a filial devotion to her, as recommended for a mother to us all: ‘Woman, behold thy son. - Behold thy mother.’ 4. Of an earnest thirst for the conversion and salvation of all men, by that which he expresses in this word, ‘I thirst.’ 5. Of fervent prayer to God under anguish and desolation, by the fervour of his prayer, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ 6. Of perseverance to the end, till we have consummated, (that is, completely finished) the work for which he came into the world, by that word of his, ‘It is consummated.’ 7. Of committing ourselves both in life and death, by a perfect resignation, into the hands of God, by his great example: ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ O let us learn these last lessons of our dying Lord!

Conclude to frequent daily this school of the cross, if thou would learn to be wise indeed. But more especially take care to study well at the foot of the cross those two most essential lessons, the renouncing thy own will and embracing the will of God, by a resolute conformity and obedience, even unto death.




19th April

Good Friday
On Our Saviour's death upon the Cross

Consider first, how our Lord having with a loud and strong voice uttered those last words of his, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,’ leans down his head, in perfect submission to his Father’s will, and gives up the ghost, to consummate the great sacrifice of the redemption of the world. Stand astonished, my soul, in the contemplation of this incomprehensible mystery, that Life itself should die, to deliver thee from a second death, and to impart to thee eternal life. O! consider well who this is that hangs here dead before thy eyes? The Word, the Wisdom, the Son of the eternal God; the Lord of glory, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the great Creator of heaven and earth. But O how strangely has he here debased himself! how wonderfully is he here metamorphosed for the love of thee! Draw near, however, in spirit, and cast thyself down at the foot of the cross, and there exercise thyself in acts of faith, hope, love, and contrition for thy sins; there pour forth thyself in the sight of thy God in acts of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving; there make a total oblation of thyself to thy crucified Saviour, to be his both in life and death, time and eternity.

Consider 2ndly, how our Lord, in the midst of all the ignominies and torments of his passion and death, begins to reign from the cross, and is even there highly honoured and exalted by his heavenly Father. The title that hangs over his head declares him to be the ‘King of the Jews,’ even their Messias, of whom the Prophets had delivered such wonders. All nature loudly proclaims him her King and her God; the sun withdraws his light for the whole three hours that he hangs upon the cross; at his death the whole earth trembles, the rocks are split, the monuments are opened, the dead arise, the veil of the temple that hangs before the inward sanctuary is rent from top to bottom, to show that the law and its figures are now all accomplished, and the sanctuary of heaven laid open. See, my soul, how he already begins from the cross to verify what he had said, St. John xii. 32, ‘If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself.’ One of the thieves that were crucified with him is the first that experiences this miraculous attraction, and in an instant is changed into a saint; the centurion or captain of the soldiers that assisted at if the execution is the next, and loudly declares him to be the Son of God: ‘And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that done, return striking their breasts,’ St. Luke xxiii. 48. O dear Jesus, let my poor heart share also in this mercy; look down upon it from thy cross, which thou hast chosen for the throne of thy mercy and grace, and be pleased to draw it also to thyself; and to make it wholly thine from henceforth and for ever.

Consider 3rdly, how our Lord by his death triumphs over all his enemies. He casts out Satan, the ruler of this wicked world, from his usurped dominions, and binds him up in chains, by greatly abridging all the power of death, sin, and hell; he judges and condemns the world with all its favourite maxims; he exposes and pulls down human pride; he shows forth the folly of worldly wisdom, and the vanity and deceitfulness of earthly honours, riches, and carnal pleasures, and of all that is not agreeable to the cross; and he sets up this victorious standard for all nations, as the royal ensign of his kingdom, under which his true soldiers shall ever fight and triumph over the world, the flesh, and the devil, till they arrive at the crown of life, which he has purchased for them by his death. But see, my soul, how in the midst of all his triumphs he invites in a particular manner all poor sinners to his mercy. See how, with his head bowed down towards them, he offers them the kiss of peace; see how his arms are open to receive them; see how all his gaping wounds invite them to come and shelter themselves there from the divine wrath. O let us embrace these his offers of mercy, on this day of mercy!

Conclude to celebrate on this day, in the best manner thou art able, thy Saviour’s victory over sin and hell. Adore him most profoundly under all the ignominy of his cross; acknowledge him for thy king, for the true king of thy heart, and beg that he would henceforward abolish the reign of sin in thee. Embrace with all thy affection the sacred wounds of his passion, and choose them for the place of thy habitation for ever.



20th April


Holy Saturday
On Our Saviour's Burial

Consider first, how after our Lord had expired upon the cross one of the soldiers opened his side with a spear, making a wide and deep wound, out of which there presently issued blood and water, to wash and cleanse us from all our stains. See, my soul, how the heart of thy Saviour is now laid open for thee. O! enter into it in spirit, through this gate: O make it thy dwelling place for evermore. Consider in this mysterious blood and water issuing from the side of our Lord the heavenly sacraments, which issued from his wounds, (inasmuch as they have all their virtue from his sacred passion,) but especially the sacrament of his body and blood, and that of the sacred laver of baptism. See also here how our second Adam being now cast into the deep sleep of death, his side is opened to form from thence his Church, designed to be his everlasting bride.

Consider 2ndly, how Joseph of Arimathea, (who before durst not declare himself a disciple of Christ,) having obtained of Pilate leave to take away his body for decent burial, being accompanied by Nicodemus, and joined in this last duty by St. John and other disciples, unnailed the sacred body, and took it down from the cross. Run in, Christian soul, in spirit, and offer thy service upon this occasion; receive into thy arms the dead body of thy Redeemer, and lay it on the sacred lap of his Virgin Mother; and learn from her whole comportment at this melancholy ceremony the sentiments of a most affectionate devotion towards the passion and death of her Son. Join in embalming thy Saviour’s body and wrapping it up in clean linen, and laying it in a new monument, by learning the exercise of those virtues which are signified by those aromatical spices and perfumes, and by that clean linen and new monument. Especially whenever thou approachest to the body of our Lord in the blessed sacrament, see thou take along with thee the sweet odours of devotion, a pure conscience, and the cleanness of the new man.

Consider 3rdly, how our Lord lying now in his monument verifies that of the Psalmist, Ps. lxxxvii, ‘I am counted among them that go down to the pit; I am become as a man without help, free among the dead. Like the slain sleeping in the sepulchres, whom thou rememberest no more; and they are cast off from thy hand. They have laid me in the lower pit, in the dark, and in the shadow of death. Thou hast put away my acquaintance far from me,’ &c. Yes, my soul, thy Saviour lies now shut up in a lonesome monument in darkness, like one dead for ever! and as such is left and forsaken by his living friends and acquaintance. See thou leave him not, but stay with him, and watch at his sepulchre in prayer. Weep there over him with tears of compassion for his sufferings, of compunction for all thy sins, and of a tender love for his infinite goodness and his love for thee.

Conclude to keep thyself always near to thy Saviour, by daily meditating on his life and death; and thou mayest confidently hope that he will always be near to thee, both in life and death.