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Meditations for Holy Week

Accompany Our Lord in His Passion as through these meditations from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s, The Road to Calvary. Readers will be stirred to repentance for the sins and love for the One who gave all for the salvation of souls. Walk with Jesus as he carries the cross to calvary, embraces the cross, is placed upon the cross, and mocked while upon it. 


Jesus Carries The Cross To Calvary

The sentence upon our Savior having been published, they straightway seize hold of Him in their fury: they strip Him anew of that purple rag, and put His own raiment upon Him, to lead Him away to be crucified on Calvary—the place appropriated for the execution of criminals: They took off the cloak from Him, and put on Him His own garments, and led Him away to crucify Him. They then lay hold of two rough beams and quickly make them into a cross and order Him to carry it on His shoulders to the place of His punishment. What cruelty to lay upon the criminal the gibbet on which he has to die! But this is Your lot, O my Jesus, because You have taken my sins upon Yourself. 

Jesus Embraces The Cross

Jesus refuses not the cross; with love, He embraces it, as being the altar whereon is destined to be completed the sacrifice of His life for the salvation of men: And bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary. The condemned criminals now come forth from Pilate’s residence, and in the midst of them there goes also our condemned Lord. O that sight, which filled both heaven and earth with amazement! To see the Son of God going to die for the sake of those very men from whose hands He is receiving His death! Behold the prophecy fulfilled: And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim. The appearance that Jesus made on this journey was so pitiable that the Jewish women, on beholding Him, followed Him in tears: They bewailed and lamented Him.

Behold, my soul, now that your condemned Savior is passing, behold how He moves along, dripping with blood that keeps flowing from His still fresh wounds, crowned with thorns, and laden with the cross. Alas, how at every motion is the pain of all His wounds renewed! The cross, from the first moment, begins its torture, pressing heavily upon His wounded shoulders and cruelly acting like a hammer upon the thorns of the crown. O God, at every step, how great are the sufferings! Let us meditate upon the sentiments of love wherewith Jesus, in this journey, is drawing nigh to Calvary, where death stands awaiting Him. 

Aspiration

Ah, my Jesus, You are going to die for us. In time past I have turned my back upon You, and would that I could die of grief on this account! But for the future I have not the heart any more to leave You, O my Redeemer, my God, my love, my all! O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me strength to bear my cross in peace.

Prayer For Strength In Carrying Our Own Crosses

O my Redeemer, by the merits of this sorrowful journey of Yours, give me strength to bear my cross with patience. I accept all the sufferings and contempts which You destine for me to undergo. You have rendered them lovely and sweet by embracing them for love of us: give me strength to endure them with calmness. 

Jesus Is Placed Upon The Cross

No sooner had the Redeemer arrived, all suffering and wearied out, at Calvary, than they strip Him of His clothes— that now stick to His wounded flesh—and then cast Him down upon the cross. Jesus stretches forth His holy hands and at the same time offers up the sacrifice of His life to the eternal Father and prays of Him to accept it for the salvation of mankind. In the next place, the executioners savagely lay hold of the nails and hammers, and nailing His hands and His feet, they fasten Him to the cross. O you sacred hands, which by a mere touch have so often healed the sick, wherefore are they now nailing you upon this cross? O holy feet, which have encountered so much fatigue in your search after us lost sheep, wherefore do they now transfix you with so much pain? When a nerve is wounded in the human body, so great is the suffering that it occasions convulsions and fits of fainting: what, then, must not the suffering of Jesus have been in having nails driven through His hands and feet, parts which are most full of nerves and muscles! 

O my sweet Savior, so much did the desire of seeing me saved and of gaining my love cost You! And I have so often ungratefully despised Your love for nothing, but now I prize it above every good. 

Jesus is Mocked Upon the Cross

The cross is now raised up, together with the Crucified, and they let it fall with a shock into the hole that had been made for it in the rock. It is then made firm by means of stones and pieces of wood, and Jesus remains hanging upon it, to leave His life thereon. The afflicted Savior, now about to die upon that bed of pain, and finding Himself in such desolation and misery, seeks for someone to console Him, but finds none. Surely, my Lord, those men will at least compassionate You now that You are dying! But no; I hear some outraging You, some ridiculing You, and others blaspheming You, saying to You, “Come down from the cross if You are the Son of God. . . He has saved others, and now He cannot save Himself.” Alas, you barbarians, He is now about to die, according as you desire; at least torment Him not with your revilings. 

See how much your dying Redeemer is suffering upon that gibbet! Each member suffers its own pain, and the one cannot come to the help of the other. Alas, how does He experience in every moment the pains of death! Well may it be said that in those three hours during which Jesus was suffering His agony upon the cross, He suffered as many deaths as were the moments that He remained there. He finds not there even the slightest relief or repose, whether He lean His weight upon His hands or upon His feet; wheresoever He leans the pain is increased, His most holy body hanging suspended, as it does, from His very wounds themselves. Go, my soul, and tenderly draw nigh to that cross and kiss that altar whereon your Lord is dying a victim of love for you. Place yourself beneath His feet, and let that divine blood trickle down upon you. 

Aspiration

Yes, my dear Jesus, let this blood wash me from all my sins, and set me all on fire with love towards You, my God, who have been willing to die for love of me. O suffering Mother, who stands at the foot of the cross, pray to Jesus for me.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Road to Calvary: Daily Meditations for Lent and Easter by St. Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books

Road To Calvary

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