Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lenten Reflections on The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Composition of Place – Picture to yourself the Risen Christ – beautiful, glorious, triumphant – and consider that you hear St. Paul’s voice saying, “We suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.” (Rom. 8:17)

Prayer of Petition – Grant me, O Lord, the joy and gladness of keeping Thee company, and the strength to imitate Thee in the patient with which Thou suffered Thy pains and hardships, so that I will share in Thy Glory.

First Point

As great and horrifying was the bitterness of Christ’s Passion, likewise great was the gladness and glory of the victory of His Resurrection. Four principal things that Jesus experienced in His Passion were bitter. They are: terrible bodily pain, extreme affliction in His Soul, unheard of abuse to His Honor, and the unbelievable ill will of His enemies. Now we will consider, my soul, the blessings into which these bitter elements turned.

(1) Jesus arose with wonderful bodily beauty. In order to form an idea of this beauty, my soul, consider first that if the glorified body of any one of the saints were to replace the sun in the sky, it would give such light that all the world would be illuminated with a brightness greater beyond comparison than that of the present sun, bright as it is.

Second, consider that if God gathered into one body the combined beauty of all the saints, this beauty would fade away to a pin point beside the beauty of the single Body of Jesus Christ. Yet this is that Body which, three days previously, was the target of cruelty and barbarity, and appeared as the body of a leper, made into one wound.

(2) The Risen Jesus had immense joy in His Soul. To understand this joy, reflect, my soul, that just as the bitter pain which Jesus’ Soul experienced in the garden of Gethsemane was such that, were it distributed among all human hearts, it would be enough to cause their death, likewise the joy which He experienced in His Resurrection was such that, if it were parceled out to everyone in the world, it would be enough to take their lives away, so powerfully delightful would be the sweetness with which these hearts would be flooded. Such was the joy that penetrated the Soul of Christ.

(3) Jesus Christ arose infinitely exalted in dignity. Ah! What a difference now, my soul! Jesus is the Glory of the angels who came down from Heaven to take delight in the Glory of His Resurrection. He is the joy of the ancient Fathers, who all kneel to honor and praise Him as their Redeemer. He is Judge of the living and dead, and so the saints and the damned alike will reverently adore Him on that day of General Judgment.

He is the crown of those who will reach Heaven. Everyone among them will ceaselessly bless Him for all eternity. Yes, this is the glorious sight that Jesus presents for those who see Him on that day – that Jesus who three days previously was treated like a fool by Herod, ridiculed as a mock king by soldiers, nailed to a cross like a criminal by the Hebrews.

(4) As He rose again, Jesus achieved the happy status of Someone universally loved. I am not speaking of that love with which all the blessed angels burned for Jesus on that day; nor do I speak of the love of the Fathers in limbo, who had access to His most Sacred Heart and took their delight in it. I speak only of the love with which everyone in Heaven was penetrated.

There, for all eternity, there will not be a single moment in which they fail to consider Jesus, nor an instant in which they fail to praise and bless Him, nor will they ever cease to tenderly love Him.

Affective Acts

(1) The joy of the glory of Jesus – Now Thy Suffering has ended, O my Jesus! At last, the day of Thy Glory has dawned and Thy Most Holy Body, now the jewel of all paradise, shines forth more than all heavenly bodies. Thy Soul has been plunged into joy, Thy Most Sacred Heart is a sea of delight. We see Thy Name adored by Heaven and earth. Thou art the joy of all the saints, are fondly desired by all of us pilgrims on earth and by those beholding the glory of Heaven.

I rejoice at Thy Glory and Blessedness and take my delight in it more than if it were my own. I am glad for Thee with all my heart. Let gladness and joy crown Thee forever. It is Thy due to be rewarded with such great glory, Thou Who, with great long suffering, chose to die for the glory of Thy Eternal Father.

(2) Desire for similar blessedness – Oh, what happiness would be mine if I should have the fortune some day to also rise again gloriously! Who could ever express my joy at seeing the beauty of Jesus’ Face with my own eyes, of hearing His kind voice, of loving Him and being loved by Him, of embracing Him and being embraced, of being forever in His company, and of never being separated from it for all eternity! Oh, what good fortune! It is Thou that shall be the object of all my desires and the goal of all the affections of my heart!

Second Point

After having reflected well on Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, turn your gaze, O my soul, on yourself and apply yourself to making these considerations:

First Consideration – Just as it is certain that Jesus Christ rose glorious from the grave, it is also certain that one day you will rise glorious if you imitate His example. After Jesus suffered so much in the flesh, it is your place, says the Apostle, to arm yourself with like sentiments, realizing that He Who raised up Jesus Christ will also raise you up with Jesus Christ.

Oh how full of consolation is this doctrine! How well able it is to banish all sadness from the heart! The eyes with which you see on earth, you will open one day in paradise! With those hands of yours you will one day embrace Jesus! With those ears of yours you will one day hear the melodies of the angels! With that mouth you now have you will one day taste the heavenly sweetness! With those feet of yours you will one day walk above the stars!

Second Consideration – As it is certain that by His Cross and Passion Jesus obtained the glory of His Resurrection, it is likewise certain that there is no better way to reach the same glory than by the Cross and by tribulation. This is what the Apostle teaches us also. These are his words: “If we be dead with Him…if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him…” (2 Tim. 2:11-12)

O my God, what then will I think of my past afflictions and reverses? “O blessed sorrows!” I will say: “O blessed afflictions! Which have earned for me such great glory!”

Third Consideration – The more we resemble Jesus in His Sufferings, the more we will be like Him in the glory of His Resurrection. Listen again to the Apostle to the Gentiles when he says, “If we be dead with Him…if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”

Note carefully, my soul, these two words, if…also; for they mean that the more one suffers with Jesus on earth, the more he will rejoice with Him in Heaven in the Resurrection; the heavier are the hardships borne in company with Jesus on earth, the more splendid will be the glory one reaches in the Resurrection. (cf. Rom. 8:17)

In view of this truth, in what way, my soul, do our troubles, our humiliations under contempt, our desolations and pains, appear to us? Are they not some of the most loving designs of God, the most effective means for reaching holiness, the most beautiful inheritance of Jesus Christ, the surest pledge of our resurrection and of our eternal and immortal glory?

Yes, it is truly so; for Jesus Christ has taught this to us. And you will afflict yourself and call yourself unfortunate if these things come upon you? Oh, how blind you would be! You should rather raise your hands to Heaven and bless the Divine Mercy if God is so generous with you. If men rose up against you and heaped insult and injury upon you and mistreated you in other more outrageous ways, then know, O my soul, that these are just the means whereby God would fulfill in you His loving designs.

They would be putting in your hands the most beautiful means for your sanctification. They would be the means that would make you like your crucified Lord, would increase your glory in Heaven, and would fashion for you the crown that you would wear forever on your head.

Yes, without the slightest doubt that is what they would be. Jesus Christ teaches us so. And – I have regarded them as loathsome? Alas! O evil self-love! How many beautiful and excellent truths you have hidden from me until now! How far you have pushed me aside and have taken me off the road of holiness, the road that follows Jesus Christ!

Affective Acts

(1) Faith – It is true, Jesus is alive. He has risen from the dead. He has entered into His Glory, and now, in His Body and His Soul He is enjoying a sea of delight. Indeed there can be no doubt, and I believe it, O my Jesus. I believe it because Thou hast told it, Who are the Truth by Thy very nature. Furthermore, I will also live forever if I follow Jesus. I will be victorious over death and will enter into the heavenly Jerusalem, and these eyes of mine will see Jesus my Redeemer.

Yes I am sure of it and I believe it. O my Jesus, for Thou, Who art the eternal Truth, hast revealed it. Furthermore, I will then receive the reward for all the pains I will have suffered. For a momentary grief I will have eternal blessings. For having borne insult, I will receive an eternal glory. For a brief bit of sorrow, I will gain eternal joy. Indeed there is no doubt, and I believe this because Thou, the Infallible Truth, have declared it. O Holy Faith, what stupendous truths you show me and what consolation you give to my heart!

(2) Repentance – O brilliant light of Faith, how I must reproach myself in what I see! If it is true that God grants a special reward for every mortification, hardship, and pain that we suffer, how many of these rewards have I not forfeited by my impatience and self-love? If it is true that all the humiliations, injuries and insults which we have patiently borne for love of Him, God will reward in the Resurrection with a crown of special glory, how many crowns have I not forfeited by my pride and vanity?

If it is true that for every act of resignation during trials and interior desolations, God will grant a special blessedness, of how many such blessings have I not deprived myself by my faintheartedness and laziness? Yes, I have forfeited all these benefits! And why? Oh! How this loss should fill me with bitterness! What abundant, bitter tears I ought to shed! But console yourself, O my soul, because, knowing how Jesus entered into His Glory, you too can enter with Him by following, and you can repair this loss. Kneeling at Thy feet, O my Jesus, I resolve to do this.

Now pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary

(Source: The Golden Key to Heaven, An Explanation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius by St. Anthony Mary Claret)

Happy Easter!

No comments:

Post a Comment