Today's contemplation


21st April

Easter Day
On the Resurrection of Our Lord

Consider first, how the soul of our Saviour, immediately after his death, descends into the lower parts of the earth to visit and comfort the spirits of the just, to discharge them from their long confinement, and to change their prison by his presence into a paradise of delights. O how happy, how joyful a day was this to all the patriarchs and prophets when they were first blessed with the sight of him for whom they had longed for so many ages! How glorious was the sight of his triumph over all the powers of darkness - of his breaking down the strongholds of hell, and giving a plenary indulgence to as many souls as were capable of it, by their having died in the true faith and in the state of grace! In the mean time, whilst the soul of our Lord is exercising this charity, the blind malice of his enemies suggests to them to make fast his sepulchre and to guard it with soldiers, under pretence of preventing his disciples from stealing away his body and then publishing that he was risen from the dead. But O how vain are all the projects of men against the decrees of God! All this industry of theirs only serves to put the resurrection of our Lord out of all dispute, by rendering it absolutely impossible for his disciples (had their terrors and troubles allowed them so much as the first thought of such an unheard-of enterprise) to steal him away though they had ever so great a desire of it. So true is that of the wise man, Prov. xxi. 30, 'There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord.’

Consider 2ndly, how early in the morning on Easter Sunday, being the third day, the day appointed for our Lord’s resurrection, his soul returns in triumph from the regions below, and, entering into his sacred body, imparts to it a new and immortal life, and, instead of the winding-sheet in which it had been wrapt up, clothes it now with all the glorious qualities decreed for the bodies of the Saints in a supereminent degree; and so brings it forth without resistance through the monument, (though hewn out of a rock and close covered with a very great stone, fastened down with irons,) unperceived by the guards, who were not worthy to see him in this glorious state. Yet, that they and all the world might know that he was risen indeed, they felt a great earthquake, and an Angel visibly descending from heaven removed the stone that covered the entrance of the monument and sat down upon it. The sight of this bright messenger of heaven carried with it such a terror that the guards became like men dead, and as soon as they were able to recover themselves ran away into the city, publishing the wonders they had seen, till the chief priests and elders stop their mouths with a large sum of money. Rejoice thou, my soul, to see thy Saviour thus victorious over all his enemies, and learn from this great example to bear up with courage under all thou mayest have to suffer from the wickedness of men, trusting in God that he will one day turn all these thy sufferings to thy greater good.

Consider 3rdly, those words of the Psalmist, which are applied by the Church in the office of this day to the resurrection of our Lord ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad, and rejoice therein.’ Ps. cxvii. 24. Yes, Christian souls, if you have taken part in the sufferings of our Redeemer, by the affections of compassion and grief at the sight of all those outrages and torments he endured in the course of his passion, it is just you should rejoice, now the scene is changed, at the sight of his being risen from the dead, victorious over death and hell, and his having entered upon a new and everlasting life, so that he can die now no more nor suffer any more. Rejoice, then, with a holy joy in the Lord, and join with the Church on this day in her repeated Alleluias, because your best friend, your true lover, your dear father, your king, your Lord and God is risen again, and this is the day of his triumph; he is now out of all reach of his enemies, and shall live and reign glorious for evermore. But see, my soul, whether thou art in proper dispositions to celebrate with this holy joy the resurrection of thy Lord. Hast thou endeavoured to die with him in order to rise again with him? Hast thou put off the old man and his deeds? Hast thou crucified the flesh and its lusts? Or does not sin still live and reign in thee? if so, how melancholy a reflection must it be to think that this monster, for the destruction of which Christ died, should still keep thee under slavery, struggling with the worst of deaths, whilst thou art celebrating the festival of thy Saviour’s rising to a new and immortal life.

Conclude, if thou desirest to have a share in the triumphs of thy Redeemer, to imitate his death by dying to thy sins, that so thou mayest also imitate his resurrection, and walk henceforward in the newness of life, after the great model given to thee by Jesus Christ.

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22nd April


Easter Monday
On the lessons we are to learn from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Consider first, that according to the doctrine of the Apostle, Rom. iv. 25, 'Christ was delivered up to death for our sins, and rose again for our justification,' inasmuch as his rising again from the dead was designed to be the model of our resurrection from the death of sin to the life of grace. But in what must our resurrection imitate that of Jesus Christ? First, we must imitate him by rising verily and indeed, that is, truly and really, and not in appearance only. Alas! how many at this time of Easter pretend to rise again with Christ by going to confession and communion, according to the custom of Christians at this season, and yet, after all, only deceive themselves and impose upon others with false appearances of life, and never rise in effect? Because they do this great work but by halves their heart is not changed, they do not effectually renounce their sins; their pretended resurrection is but an empty, airy phantom; they are still dead in their sins. See, my soul, that this be never thy case. Ah! what will it avail thee to deceive thyself and thy confessor with these treacherous appearances of a false life, which can only serve to plunge thee deeper into the worst of deaths!

Consider 2ndly, that when Christ rose again from the dead he presently quitted his monument; he left his winding-sheet behind him, and retained nothing at all of death, and from that time he had little conversation with mortals, but only with his heavenly Father - to teach us that if we would rise with him to the purpose we must also quit our winding-sheets and monuments, and all the appurtenances of death, by renouncing bad company and the dangerous occasions of sin: by keeping our passions under, and by breaking the force of all former bad habits, till no symptoms of death remain in us. But then, in order to walk in this newness of life, we must aim as much as we can to walk with God, by an inward solitude and a recollection of spirit, and to have our conversation in heaven by frequent and fervent prayer. Give ear to the Apostle, Colos. iii., ‘If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then shall you also appear with him in glory.’ O that we were always possessed with these sentiments! O that we could die to all things else that we might truly live in God, with Christ, and through Christ!

Consider 3rdly, that ‘Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more: death shall have no more dominion over him.’ - Rom vi. 9. So that if we imitate his Resurrection, we must also rise in such a manner from the death of sin as to die no more by returning again any more to our sins; but to 'reckon ourselves henceforward to be dead to sin, but alive to God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ - v. 11. This, then, is the great lesson we must learn from the resurrection of Christ - we must rise with him so as to continue for ever to live with him, and to return no more to the dominion of death.

Ah! Christians, if you be now risen indeed from the death of sin to the life of grace, dread a second death by relapsing into mortal sin above all other evils that can possibly befall you. O! remember that if the devil who has now been cast out of your soul, should take possession of you once more by a relapse, he would 'bring with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and your last state would be worse than the first,’ Matt. xii. 45.

Conclude with a hearty resolution of imitating in all these particulars the resurrection of our Lord. But especially take your precautions against returning any more to the death of sin after rising with Christ to a new life. To prevent so great an evil, be diligent in all your religious duties, be constant and fervent in prayer, fly all dangerous occasions, and keep up in your soul a perpetual horror of that hellish monster, sin. O! beg of God daily and hourly that you may rather die a thousand deaths, than once consent to deadly sin.



23rd April

Easter Tuesday
On Our Lord's showing himself to His disciples
after His Resurrection

Consider first, the haste that our Lord made to comfort his blessed mother and his afflicted disciples by manifesting himself to them immediately after his resurrection. As to his blessed mother, though the gospel is silent, we cannot doubt but she was favoured with an early visit; that as she loved him most, and partook more than any other in the sorrows of his passion, so she might also in the joy of his resurrection. Learn, my soul, from hence that the way for thee also to experience something of the visits and comforts of heaven is to suffer and to love. The good women that went early in the morning to the monument with their sweet spices and ointments, to perfume the body of our Lord, were likewise favoured first with a vision of angels, and then with a sight of Christ himself, to teach us that the true way to find Christ is to rise early to seek him; to go in quest of him with the aromatical perfumes of ardent desires and devout affections; and to persevere in the search without being discouraged with apprehensions of difficulties and oppositions. These holy women are concerned who should roll away the stone for them from the monument, that they might come at the body of our Lord, for it was exceeding great; but lo, when they came to the place they found the stone was rolled away to their hands: to teach us that if we continue constant in our good resolutions, God will remove those difficulties we apprehend, or enable us by his grace to overcome them.

Consider 2ndly, the favour our Lord was pleased to show to penitent sinners at his resurrection, by honouring Magdalene amongst women, and Peter amongst men, with his first visits. Magdalene, from the time of her conversion, had constantly adhered to the Lord; she followed him even to the cross; she attended on him there till he gave up the ghost; she saw his body laid in the monument, and after the repose of the Sabbath day, she was up before light, and was the first at the monument with her perfumes. When she found him not, she ran to the apostles to tell them the body was taken away. Peter and John ran to the monument, and finding there the linen cloths without the body, went their way home again: but Magdalene stayed and continued her search, weeping and lamenting that she could not find him whom her soul loved, - till at length she saw his heavenly messenger, and shortly after himself in person, and was sent by him as an apostle to carry themselves the joyful tidings of his resurrection. O happy tears of love! O happy perseverance! O see, my soul, thou seek thy Lord in the like manner, and thou wilt infallibly find him.

Consider 3rdly, that Peter, who from the time of his fall had been continually weeping and bitterly bewailing his sins, was the first of the apostles that was favoured with the sight of our Lord, 1 Cor. xv. 5, and Luke xxiv. 34. At the first news brought by Magdalene of our Saviour’s body being missing, he took the alarm and ran to the monument, and not finding the body there went home, believing it had been taken away. But our Lord was pleased to remove this error by manifesting himself to him, and showing him that body alive which he sought among the dead. O what sentiments of confusion and repentance for his having denied the Lord of glory, mixed with a holy joy at the sight of his being now risen from the dead, filled the soul of the apostle upon this occasion! O how did he cast himself at the feet of his Lord, and there confess his crime, and how lovingly was he received to mercy, and favoured upon the spot with a plenary indulgence and absolution! And not only that, but to show the unspeakable bounty of our Lord to repenting sinners, a little while after, when our Lord manifested himself to him again, John xxi., he was pleased to advance him to the supreme pastoral charge over all his flock, by committing to him all his lambs and all his sheep, and to promise him the glory of following him, even to the dying upon a cross, for him: all in consequence of that most ardent love of which he three times required a profession of him, 'Lovest thou me more than these?' as it were in opposition to his three denials.

Conclude, whatever thy case may be, and however thou mayest have denied thy Saviour by word or deed, to return now to him by repentance and love, and 'if thy sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow,’ Isaias i. 18. Love is the shortest way to the remission of sins, and to all other good.



24th April

Easter Wednesday
On Our Lord Showing Himself to the Disciples
going to Emmaus. Luke xxiv.

Consider first, how two of the disciples going from Jerusalem to a neighbouring town called Emmaus, on the very day of our Lord’s resurrection, while they were discoursing together on the way and making him the subject of their conversation, were also favoured with his presence, yet in such a manner as not to know him. He overtook them on the way and joined their company, and after upbraiding them with their slowness of belief, explained to them the Scriptures that related to his passion and resurrection, and enkindled in their hearts the fire of devotion. See, Christians, the great advantage of pious conversation, such especially as has Christ for its subject - it even draws him down from heaven into our company. We may in some measure apply to it what our Lord says, Matt. xviii. 20, 'When there are two or three gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.’ Luke vi. 45. What a pity then there should be generally so little of God in the conversation of Christians! Alas, how can this forgetfulness of God be reconciled with our loving him? We naturally delight to speak of what we love - 'for from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh:’ how then can we flatter ourselves that the love of God is the master of our hearts, when we seldom care to speak of him? Surely this is not the way to engage Christ to be in our company.

Consider 2ndly, that our Lord was not known at first by these disciples, because their faith in him was weak and imperfect. See, my soul, if the weakness of thy faith be not also the reason why he does not manifest himself to thee, so as to let thee know him indeed, as the Saints have done. St. Gregory takes notice that these disciples were not enlightened so as to know Christ whilst they only heard his words, but were quickly enlightened in the fulfilling of his commandments, by the exercise of hospitality and charity, to teach us that the way to come at the knowledge of God and of those truths which as yet we are ignorant of is to practise, to the best of our power, what we know already of his heavenly will. These disciples ‘knew our Lord in the breaking of bread:’ to teach us that there is no better way to come at the perfection of the knowledge and love of God, than a worthy participation of the bread of life in the blessed Eucharist.

Consider 3rdly, how these disciples took notice that their hearts were burning within them whilst they were in the company of our Lord and enjoyed his heavenly conversation, Luke xxiv. 32. My soul, dost thou desire to experience something of these sacred flames? Seek them in the company and conversation of Christ. Alas! the reason why thou art so lukewarm, or rather downright cold in thy devotions, is the continual dissipation of thy thoughts at other times, and a habit of indulging vain amusements, which fill thy inward house with such disagreeable company as keep Christ away from thee and rob thee of his sweet conversation. O how happy mightest thou be if by banishing all these impertinences by a spirit of recollection, thou wouldst endeavour to keep thyself always close to thy Saviour, and like the ancient Saints to walk with him! A diligence in this would make thee begin to enjoy a heaven upon earth.

Conclude to study well these lessons, which our Lord desires we should learn from his manifestations of himself after his resurrection. But especially learn to seek always the happiness of his company and conversation, in thy own interior: there is the school of divine love.