The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are best suited for prayer during a silent retreat. However, Ignatius knew that they could also be effective when employed in a less isolated environment. It is the hope of the authors of this blog that you, the reader, find the meditations that we offer here useful in your own search to encounter Christ in prayer in your daily life. The meditations are intended to be prayed in order, from as close to the beginning as possible, perhaps over the course of a dedicated time such as the season of Lent. (more…)
Grace: To feel shame and confusion that the Lord enters into His humiliation for my sake.
Text for Prayer: Mt 27:27-31
Reflection: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy,” the Psalmist writes. Jesus mounts His throne on the Cross, revealing to us a new kind of king. There are indeed shouts, but these shouts from the crowd—those which had honored him when he arrived in Jerusalem—now become the shouts of jeering and humiliation from an angry mob. They want blood, and He gives them blood.
This one who is mocked is revealing in a most horrific way. The true source of his power and authority as king is the power of self-emptying love. His Heart—pierced on the Cross and enflamed for love of those who kill him—is the revelation of the depth of God’s love for us.
Grace: To stay with Jesus in his suffering and humiliation, borne on behalf of my sins and the sins of humanity.
Text for Prayer: John: 19: 1-5
Reflection: The image of the scourged Christ is often associated with Holy Week and the Passion. Such an image usually portrays Christ, bare from the waist up, a red cloak draped over his shoulders. On his head is a crown of thorns and emanating from the crown streams of blood run down the sides of his face. His torso is also covered with blood, the scars of the beating by the Roman soldiers. His mien reflects sadness, pain, and anguish, all at the same time.
The image of the scourged Christ depicts Christ after his questioning by Pontius Pilate and immediately before his sentencing to death. The Gospel of John recounts how Pilate asked Jesus whether or not he was a king and what is truth, Pilate asked the crowd if it wanted Jesus or Barabbas, a revolutionary, released to them. When the crowd asked for Barabbas, Pilate had Jesus scourged, thinking that this punishment would satisfy the crowd and keep it from rioting. He then brought Jesus out the people proclaiming “Behold the man!” or in Latin, “Ecce Homo!” As we know, the crowd kept clamoring for Barabbas and demanded that Jesus be crucified, so that Pilate acquiesced, and sentenced Jesus to death.
Grace: I ask for a real sense of sorrow, anguish, and even tears because of all that Christ has suffered for me.
Material for contemplation: review the whole Passion
Reflection: Today is a day for remembering, for reflecting on what has happened over these past few days. After the intense experience of Thursday night and Friday, we may be tempted to look ahead to the consolation of Easter Sunday just to get some relief. But we have to resist this temptation. Today, just like the first disciples, all we can see is the ugliness of sin and its wrenching effects: our Lord is dead.
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness.
– Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday
A friend of mine who converted from atheism to Catholicism several years ago said that the most shocking thing he experienced during his first Triduum was coming into the church on Good Friday and seeing the tabernacle empty, its door wide open. In that moment, it suddenly occurred to him: God is dead. The phrase that he had stood by all those years as an atheist was absolutely true. But now it had taken on a whole new depth of meaning that Nietzsche and the other atheist humanists never understood. Yes, today on Holy Saturday, God really is dead. But his death is not the expression of his impotence and irrelevance. Rather, it is the most glorious expression of his love. (more…)
Grace: A deep desire to have sorrow and compassion for Jesus, to suffer with Him because He is going to His Passion for me.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 27:27-50
Reflection: In today’s passage from Matthew’s Gospel, we are confronted by the scandal of a God who stoops so low as to allow Himself to be stripped naked before a crowd of soldiers, whipped and wounded without mercy, and then hung up on a tree to die.
Through all of this, what causes Jesus the most pain? Is it the physical suffering, which approaches the very limit of all that a human body can take before falling unconscious? Is it the shame of being completely naked before a host of one’s enemies, of feeling entirely vulnerable and helpless? Is it the pain of being abandoned by one’s closest friends, a group of men who all promised their unwavering fidelity only a few hours before?