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Full text of "Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas"

MEDITATIONS FOR LENT 



FR 
IOH BAFT REEVES 

ORD PRAED 

QUI ET LOQUENS ET AGENS 
DOCTRINAE ANGELICI EVULGANDAE 

DEDITISSIMUS 

HUIUS VERSIONIS AUCTOR 

OPUSCULUM DEDICAT QUAM PIE 

MONITORUM HAUD IMMEMOR 

AMICI 



MEDITATIONS FOR LENT 

FROM 

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



Translated by 

FATHER PHILIP HUGHES 



London 

SHEED AND WARD 
J 937 



Nil HI, OBSTAT : 

ERNESTUS MESSENGER, PH.D. 

CENSOR DEPUTATUS 

IMPRIMATUR : 

*%4 JOSEPH BUTT, VIC. GEN. 
\VESTMON-VSTERH, DIE VIII A EEBRUARII MCMXXXVII 



PRINTED IN GRJ..VP BRITAIN BY THE BURLEIGH PRESS, BRISTOL 
FOR SHEED AND WARD, 3! PATERNOSTER ROW, E.G. 4 



The selection of passages here translated 
was made by the late Fr. Mezard, O.P., 
and forms a small part of his Medulla S. 
Thomae Aquinatis . . . sen Meditatioms ex 
Operibus S. Thomae Depromptae, published 
by Lethielleux in 1906 (2 vols.). 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

FROM 

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

Septuagesima Sunday 

THE WORK OF THE VINEYARD 

Going out about the third hour, he saw others standing 

in the market-place idle. And he said to them : Go 

you also into my vineyard^ and I will give you what shall 

be just. Matt. xx. 3. 

In these words we may notice four things : 
i. The goodness of the Lord, going out, that 
is, for his people s salvation. For that Christ 
should go out to lead men into the vineyard of 
justice was indeed an act of infinite goodness. 

Our Lord is five times said to have gone out. 
He went out in the beginning of the world, as a 
sower, to sow his creatures, The sower ivent out to 
sow his seed. Then in his nativity to enlighten the 
world, Until her just one come forth as brightness (Isa. 
Ixii. i). In his Passion to save his own from the 
power of the devil and from all evil, My just one is 
near at hand, my saviour is gone forth (Isa. li. 5). He 
goes out like the father of a family, caring for his 
children and his goods. The kingdom of heaven is like 
to an householder \ who went out early in the morning 

1 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

to hire labourers into his vineyard (Matt. xx. i.). 
Finally he goes out to judgment, to make most 
strict enquiry after the wicked, like some overseer, 
to beat down rebels, like some mighty fighter, and, 
like a judge, to punish as they merit, criminals 
and malefactors. 

2. The foolishness of men. For nothing is 
more foolish than that in this present life, where men 
ought so to work that they may live eternally, men 
should live in idleness. He found them in the market 
place idle. That market-place is this our present 
life. For it is in the market-place 1 that men 
quarrel and buy and sell and so the market-place 
s rands for our life of every day, full of affairs, of 
buying and selling and in which also the prospects 
of grace and heavenly glory are sold in exchange 
for good works. 

These labourers were called idle because they 
had aheady let slip a part of their life. And not 
evil-doers alone are called idle but also those who 
do not do good. And as the idle never attain 
their end, so will it be with these. The end of man 
is life eternal. He therefore who works in the 
proper way will possess that life if he is not an 
idler. 

It is great folly to live in idleness in this life; 
because from idleness, as from an evil teacher, we 
learn evil knowledge; because through idleness 
we come to lose the good that lasts for ever; 
because through the short idleness of this life we 
incur a labour that is eternal. 

1 forum in the Latin text. 



MONDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

3 . The necessity of working in the vineyard of 
the Lord. Go you also into my vineyard. 

The vineyard into which the men are sent to 
work is the life of goodness, in which there are 
as many trees as there are virtues. We are to 
work in this vineyard in five ways : Planting in it 
good works and virtues ; rooting up and destroying 
the thorns, that is, our vices ; cutting down the 
superfluous branches, Every branch in me, that 
beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring jorth 
more fruit (John xv. 2) ; keeping off the little foxes, 
that is, the devils ; and guarding it from the thieves, 
that is, keeping ourselves indifferent to the praise 
and the blame of mankind. 

4. The usefulness of labour. The wage of 
those who labour in the vineyard is a penny that 
outvalues thousands of silver crowns. And this 
is what we are told in Holy Scripture, The peaceable 
had a vineyard, every man bringeth for the fruit thereof a 
thousand pieces of silver (Cant. viii. 1 1). The thousand 
crowns are the thousand joys of eternity, and these 
are signified by the penny. 

(Sermon for Septuagesima Sunday.) 



Monday after Septuagesima 

ON DOING GOOD 

In doing good let us not fail. For in due time we shall 
reap, not failing. Gal. xi. 9. 

In these words .St. Paul does three things : 
i. He warns us that we must do good. For 

9 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

to do good is a duty seeing that all things, by 
their nature, teach us to do good. 

(i) They so teach us because they are them 
selves good. And God san> all the things that he had 
made, and they were very good (Gen. i. 31). Sinners 
have ample cause to make them blush in the 
multitude of created things all of them good, 
while sinners themselves are evil. 

(ii) Because all things, by their nature, do 
good. For every creature gives itself, and this 
is a sign of their own goodness and of the goodness 
of their Creator. Denis says " God is goodness, 
something which must diffuse itself." St. Augus 
tine says, " It is a great sign of the divine good 
ness, that every creature is compelled to give 
itself." 

(iii) Because all things by their nature desire 
what is good and tend to the good. The good is, 
in fact, that for which everything longs. 

2. St. Paul warns us, that in doing good we 
fail not. There are three things which most of 
all cause a man to persevere in doing good : 

(i) Assiduous and wholehearted prayer for 
help from God lest we yield when we are tempted, 
Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation 
(Matt, xx vi. 41). 

(ii) Unceasing fearfulness. As soon as a man 
feels confident he is safe, he begins to fail in doing 
good, Unless thou hold thyself diligently in the fear of 
the Lord, thy house shall quickly be overthrown (Ecclus. 
xxvii. 4). Fear of the Lord is the guardian of 
Life ; without it speedily indeed and suddenly 

10 



MONDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

is the house thrown down, that is to say, a dwelling 
place that is of this world. 

(iii) Avoidance of venial sins, for venial sins 
are tne occasion of mortal sin and often under 
mine the achievement of good works. St. Augus 
tine says, " Thou hast avoided dangers that are 
great, beware lest thou fall victim to the sand." 

3. St. Paul offers a reward that is fitting, is 
generous and is everlasting. For in due time we 
shall reap not failing. 

Fitting : in due time, that is, at a fitting time, at the 
day of judgment when each shall receive what he 
has accomplished. So the farmer receives the 
fruit of his sowing, not immediately but in due 
time, The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit 
of the earth ; patiently bearing till he receive the early 
and the latter rain (James v. 7). 

Generous: We shall reap ; here it is the copious 
ness of the reward that is indicated. With the 
harvest and reaping we associate abundance, He 
who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings (2 Cor. 
ix. 6). Your reward is very great in heaven (Matt, 
v. 12) (Sermon for the i5th Sunday after Pente 
cost). 

Everlasting : We shall reap, not failing. We 
ought then to do good not for an hour merely, but 
always and continually. In doing good let us not 
fail, that is to say, let us not fail in working, for 
we shall not fail in reaping. Whatsoever thy hand 
is able to do, do it earnestly (Eccles. ix. 10). And 
right it is not to fail in working, for the reward to 
which we are looking is everlasting and unfailing. 

ii 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Whence St. Augustine says : " If man will set no 
limit to his labour, God will set no limit to the 
reward." 

(In Galatians vi. 9.) 



Tuesday after Septuagesima 

THE PRAYER OF OUR LORD IN THE GARDEN 

i . And going a little further ^ Pie fell upon his face,, 
praying^ and saying : My Father. (Matt. xxvi. 39.) 

Our Lord here recommends to us three conditions 
to be observed when we pray. 

(i) Solitude : because going a little further he 
separated himself even from those whom he had 
chosen. When thou sh alt pray enter into thy chamber^ 
and having shut the door pray to thy Father in secret 
(Matt. vi. 6). But notice he went not far away 
but a little , that He might show that he is not far 
from those who call upon Him, and also that they 
might sec him praying and learn to pray in like 
fashion. 

(ii) Humility : He fell upon his face , giving there 
by an example of humility. This because humility 
is necessary for prayer and because Peter had 
said : Yea, though I should die with thee, I mil not 
deny thee (Matt. xxvi. 35). Therefore did Our 
Lord fall, to show us we should not trust in our 
own strength. 

(iii) Devotion, when He said My Father. It 
is essential that when we pray we pray from 
devotion. He says My Father because He is uniquely 

12 



TUESDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

God s Son; we are God s children by adoption 
only. (In Matt, xxvi.) 

2. If it be possible let this chalice pass from me. 
Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt (Matt. 
xxvi. 39). 

Here we consider the tenor of prayer. Christ 
was praying according to the prompting of his 
sense nature, in so far, that is, as his prayer, as 
advocate for his senses, was expressing the 
inclinations of his senses, proposing to God, by 
prayer, what the desire of his senses suggested. 
And He did this that He might teach us three 
things : 

(i) That he had taken a true human nature with 
all its natural inclinations. 

(ii) That it is lawful for man to will, according 
to his natural inclination, a thing which God does 
not will. 

(iii) That man ought to subject his own inclina 
tion to the divine will. Whence St. Augustine 
says : Christ, living as a man, showed a certain 
private human willingness when he said, Let this 
chalice pass from me. This was human willingness, 
a man s own will and, so to say, his private desire. 
But Christ, since He wills to be a man of right 
heart, a man directed to God, adds, Nevertheless 
not as I will but as thou wilt (3-12-11). * 

And in this he teaches by example how we should 
arrange our inclinations so that they do not come 
into conflict with the divine rule. Whence we 

1 i.e., Summa Theologiae, Part 3, Question 12, Article n, and similarly 
for similar references. 

13 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

learn that there is nothing wrong in our shrinking 
from what is naturally grievous, so long as we bring 
our emotion into line with the divine will. 

Christ had tw r o wills, one from his Father in so 
far as he was God and the other in so far as he was 
man. This human will he submitted in all things 
to his Father, giving us in this an example to do 
likewise, " I came down from heaven, not to do my will, 
fort the mil of him that sent me " (John vi. 38). 

(In Matt, xxvi.) 

Wednesday after Septuagesima 
GOOD WORKS 

If any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, 

precious stoves, wood, hay, stubble, every man s work 

shall be manifest. i Cor. iii. 12, 13. 

i. The works that man relies on in matters 
spiritual and divine are compared to gold, silver 
and precious stones, things substantial, brilliant 
and precious, yet they are compared in such a way 
that gold symbolises those things by which 
man tends to God Himself by contemplation and 
love. " I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire-tried " 
(Apoc. iii. 1 8), that is, wisdom with charity. By 
silver are meant those acts by which man clings 
to the spiritual realities he must believe, love and 
contemplate. Whence in the Glossa silver is 
interpreted as referring to love of one s neigh 
bour. By precious stones is to be understood 
the work of the different virtues with which man s 
soul is decked. 

14 



WEDNESDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

Those human activities, on the other hand, by 
means of which man acquires material goods, 
are compared to stubble, or chafT, worthless rubbish, 
glittering and easily burnt. There are however 
grades in this rubbish, some things being more 
stable than others, some things more easily con 
sumed than the rest. Men themselves, for example, 
are more worthy than other carnal things, and, 
by succession, humanity escapes destruction. Men 
are hence compared to wood. Man s flesh how 
ever is easily corrupted, by sickness and by death, 
whence it is compared to hay. All things which 
make for the glory of such a being speedily come to 
naught, whence they are compared to chaff or 
stubble. 

To build with gold, silver and precious stones 
is therefore to build, upon the foundation of faith, 
something related to the contemplation of the 
wisdom of divine things, to trie love of God, to 
a following of the saints, to the service of one s 
neighbour and to the exercise of virtues. To 
build with wood, hay and chaff is to build according 
to plans that are no more than human, for the 
convenience of the body, and for outward show. 

2. That men occupy themselves with purely 
human things may come about in three ways : 

(i) They may place the whole ultimate purpose 
of their life in the satisfaction of bodily needs. 
Now to do this is a mortal sin, and therefore in 
this way a man does not so much build as destroy 
the foundation, and lay another of a different kind. 
For the end or ultimate purpose is the foundation 
in all that relates to desires. 

15 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

(ii) They may in using purely corporal things 
have nothing else in view but the glory of God. 
In this case they are not building with wood, hay 
and chaff, but with gold, silver and precious stones. 

(iii) Although they do not place in purely 
corporal things the ultimate purpose of life, nor 
because of them will to act against God, they are 
more influenced by these things than they ought 
to be. The result is that they are thereby held 
back somewhat from a care for the things that 
are God s, and thus they sin venially. And it is 
this which is really meant by the phrase about 
building with wood, hay, and chaff, because 
activities that relate merely to the care of earthly 
goods have about them something of a venial 
fault, since they provoke a love of earthly things 
that is greater than it should be. It is in fact 
this love which, according to the degree of its 
tenacity, is compared to wood, to hay and to 
chaff. 

(In i Cor. iii.) 



Thursday after Septuagesima 

THE REWARD 

Every man shall receive his own reward, according to 
his own labour. i Cor. iii. 8. 

i. This re\\ard is at once common to all men 
and particular to each. 

(i) It is common to all because that which 
all shall see and all enjoy is the same, that is to say 

16 



THURSDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESI M A 

God, Then shalt thou abound in delights in the 
almighty (job xxii. 26). In that day the Lord of hosts 
shall be a crown of glory, and a garland of joy to the 
residue of his people (Is a. xxviii. 5). And therefore 
St. Matthew says (xx. 9) that to every labourer in 
the vineyard there is given one penny. 

(ii) The reward is yet special for each individual. 
One man shall see more clearly than another, and 
shall enjoy more fully, according to the measure 
allotted him. Hence the words in St. John 
(xiv. 2), In my father s house there are many mansions^ 
for which reason too, it was said, "Everyone shall 
receive his oivn reward. 

St. Paul shows how the extent of each one s re 
ward will be measured when he says, according to 
his own labour. Not that by this is meant an 
equality as between the amount of labour and the 
amount of the reward, for as it is said in 2 Cor. 
iv. 17, That which is at present Momentary and light 
of our tribulation, workcth for us above measure ex 
ceedingly an eternal weight of glory. The equality 
promised is the equality of proportion, an equality 
such that where there has been greater labour 
there will be greater reward. 

2. The labour can be considered as greater 
in three ways : 

(i) According to the degree of love that in 
spires it. It is to this indeed that the essence 
of the reward the vision and enjoyment of God- 
makes a return. St. John (xiv. 21) says, He that 
loveth me, shall be loved of my Father : and I will love 
him, and will manifest myself to him. Whence it 

17 B 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

follows that he who labours with greater love, 
even though the labour entailed is less, will receive 
more of the essential reward. 

(ii) According to the kind of work it is. As 
in human enterprises the greater rewards go to those 
whose labour is itself of a more noble character 
(for example, the architect, though he labours less 
with his body, receives more than the manual 
worker), so it is in spiritual matters. He who is 
engaged in a work itself more noble, even though 
it be that he has laboured less with his body, will 
receive a greater reward at any rate as far as 
some accidental privilege of glory. Thus there 
is a special splendour reserved for those who 
teach, for the virgins and for the martyrs. 

(iii) According to the amount of work done, 
and this can be understood in two ways. Some 
times it is the actual larger amount of work which 
merits the larger reward. This is especially true 
in what concerns remission of punishment ; the 
longer one fasts, for example, or the more distant 
the place of one s pilgrimage, the greater the 
remission merited. So too, there is a greater 
joy from the greater amount of work done. 

Sometimes however, the labour is greater from 
lack of will to do the work, for the things we do 
willingly are less laborious in the doing. And in 
such cases the amount of the labour does not in 
crease the reward. Rather does it reduce the 
reward. As Isaias says (xl. 31), They shall take 
wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they 
shall walk and not faint, and in the preceding verse 

18 



FRIDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

warning us, Youths shall faint -, and labour, and young 
men shall fall by infirmity. 

(In i Cor. iii.) 



Friday after Septuagesima 

THE NEED FOR CAUTION 

Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him 
take heed lest he fall. i Cor. x. 12. 

i. The case of the Jews who, in punishment, 
were overthrown in the desert (ibid. v. 5 ) is a warning 
for us. These words of the Scripture contain 
four things which should attract the wise man s 
attention, namely the multitude ot those who fell, 
for it says Wherefore ; then the uncertainty of those 
who still stand, for it adds he that thinketh himself to 
stand \ thirdly, the need for caution, for it adds 
let him take heed \ and finally the ease with which 
disaster comes, for it says lest he fall. 

St. Paul says wherefore as if to say these men, 
for all that they have had the advantage of God s 
gifts, nevertheless, because of their sins, perished, 
wherefore, bearing this in mind, he that thinketh 
himself, by whatever kind of subtle reasoning, to 
stand, that is, to be in a state of grace and charity, 
let him take heed, diligently attending to it, lest he 
fall, whether by sinning himself or by inducing 
others to sin. How art thou fallen from heaven, O 
Lucifer says Isaias (xiv. 12), and the Psalmist, A 
thousand shall fall at thy side (Ps. xc. 7), and St. Paul 
himself, in another place, says therefore, See how 
you walk, circumspectly (Eph. v. 15). 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

2. We must note that the things which drive 
us to a fall are numerous. 

(i) Weakness, lack of strength ; as children, 
the aged and the sick fall in the natural life. As 
Isaias says, They shall fall through infirmity (Isa. xl. 30). 
This happens to us through lukewarmness in well 
doing and through too frequent changing. 

(ii) We fall under the weight of our sins, as 
asses fall under a load that is too heavy. The 
workers of iniquity have fallen (Ps. xxxv. 13). And 
this happens through our neglect to repent. 

(iii) Through a multitude of things drawing us, 
as a tree or a house falls over on the crowd that 
tugs at it. We fall in this way by the onrush of 
enemies. 

(iv) The slipperiness of the road, and so we 
fall as travellers fall into the mud. Take heed lest 
thou slip with thy tongue and fall (Ecclus. xxviii. 30). 
We fall thus through carelessness in guarding our 
senses. 

(v) A variety of traps and we fall like the bird 
taken in the nets. A just man shall fall seven times 
(Prov. xxiv. 1 6). And this happens through the 
corruption of created things. 

(vi) Ignorance of what one ought to do, and 
we fall easily as do the blind. If the blind lead the 
blind, both fall into the pit (Matt. xv. 14). This 
comes about through our not learning things 
necessary to us. 

(vii) The example of others who fall, as the 
angels fell by the example of Lucifer. A just 
man falling down before the wicked, is as a fountain 
troubled by the foot, a spring that has suffered defilement 

20 



SATURDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

(Prov. xxv. 26). And this happens when we imitate 
the wicked. 

(viii) The heaviness of the flesh : for the body 
when corrupted weighs down the soul, as does a 
stone that hangs at the neck of a swimmer. A 
mountain in falling cometh to naught (Job xiv. 18). 

And this is what comes of pampering the body. 

(In i Cor. x.) 



Saturday after Septuagesima 

ON REFORMING OURSELVES 

Be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the 

newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the 

good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. 

Romans xii. 2. 

1. What is forbidden is the forming of one 
self after the pattern of the world. Be not conformed 
to this world, that is, to the things which pass away 
with time. For this present world is a kind of 
measure of those tilings which pass away with 
time. A man forms himself after the pattern of 
things transitory when, willingly and lovingly, he 
gives himself to serve them. Those also form 
themselves after that pattern who imitate the 
lives of the worldly, This then I say and testify in 
the Lord : That henceforward you walk not as also 
the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind (Eph. 
iv. 17). 

2. We are bidden to undertake a reformation 
of the interior man when it is said, But be reformed 



21 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

in the newness of your mind. By mind is here meant 
the reason, considered as the faculty by which man 
makes judgments about what he ought to do. In 
man, as God first created him, this faculty existed 
in all the completeness and vigour it could need. 
Holy Scripture tells us of our first parents that 
God filled their hearts n ith wisdom^ and shewed them 
both good and evil (Ecclus. xvii. 6). But through sin 
this faculty declined in power and, as it were, 
grew old, losing its beauty and its brilliance. 

The Apostle warns us to form ourselves again, 
that is, to recover that completeness and distinction 
of mind that once \vas ours. This can indeed be 
regained by the grace of the Holy Ghost, and we 
should therefore use every endeavour to share 
in that grace those who lack that grace that they 
may obtain it, and those who already have gained it 
faithfully to progress and persevere. Be renewed 
in the spirit of your mind, says St. Paul (Eph. iv. 23). 
Or again, in another sense, be renewed in your 
external actions, that is to say, in the newness oj your 
mindy i.e., according to the new thing, grace, 
which you have internally received. 

3. The reason for this warning is that you may 
prove what is the will of God. We know what befalls 
a man whose sense of taste suffers in an illness, 
how he ceases to have a true judgment of flavours 
and begins to loathe pleasantly-tasting things and 
to crave for what is loathsome. So it is with the 
man whose inclinations are corrupted from his 
conforming himself to the things of this world. 
He has no longer a true judgment where what 

22 



SATURDAY AFTER SEPTUAGESIMA 

is good for him is concerned. It is only the man 
whose inclinations are healthy and well directed, 
whose mind is made new again by grace, who can 
truly judge what is good and what is not. There 
fore on this account is it written, Be not conformed 
to this world, but be reformed in the newness of jour 
mind that you may prove, that is, that you may know 
by experience/ As again it says in the _ psalm, 
Taste and see that the Lord is siveet (Ps. xxxiii. 9). 

What is the will of God: that is, to say the will by 
which he wills us to be saved. This is the mil of 
God jour sanctification (i Thess. iv. 3). 

The will of God is good, because God wills that 
we should will to do what is good, and He leads 
us to this through His commandments. I will 
shew thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord 
requireth of thee (Micheas vi. 8). 

The will of God is agreeable in as much as to him 
who is rightly ordered it is a pleasure to do what 
God wills us to do. 

Nor is the will of God merely useful as a means 
to achieve our destiny, it is a link joining us with 
our destiny and in that respect it is perfect. 

Such then is the will of God as those experience 
it who are not formed after the pattern of this 
world, but are formed over again in the^ newness 
of their minds. As to those who remain in the 
old staleness, fashioned after the world, they 
judge the will of God not to be a good but a burden 

and useless. 

(In Rom. xii.) 



M E D ITATIONS AND READINGS FOR L E N T 

Sexagesima Sunday 

THE SEED 

The Sower went out to sow bis seed. Luke viii. 4. 

1. The keenness of the sower. It is Christ 
who goes forth, and in three ways. He goes 
from the bosom of the Father, and yet without a 
change of place; from Jewry to the Gentiles ; from 
the private depths of wisdom to the public life of 
teaching. It is Christ who sows. Now the seed 
is the source ot fruit. Whence every good action 
is clue to God. What is it that He sows ? His 
own seed, says the gospel. That seed is the Word of 
God. And what docs it produce ? It produces 
others, like unto Him from whom itself proceeds, 
for it makes them sons of God. 

2. The obstacle in the way of the seed. The 
obstacle is threefold, because for the growth of 
the seed three conditions are necessary, namely 
it must be remembered, it must take roct in love, 
it must have loving care. The growth is therefore 
hindered if in place of the first condition there is 
flightiness of mind, instead of the second there is 
hardness of heait, and if, in place of the loving 
care, there is a development of vices. 

(i) Some fell by the wayside. As the way is free 
for all who care to walk, so does the heart lie open to 
every chance thought. So it is that when the word 
of God falls upon a heart that is careless and vain, 
it falls by the wayside and is doubly imperilled. 
St. Matthew speaks of one danger only, that the 

2-4 



SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY 

birds of the air came and ate it tip. St. Luke speaks of 
two, for the seed is trampled into the ground as 
well as carried off by the birds. So when the 
careless receive the word of God it is crushed 
by their worthless thoughts or their evil company. 
Whence great joy for the devil if only he can 
steal away this seed and trample upon it. 

(ii) Hardness of heart. This is contrary to 
charity, for it is in the nature of love to melt things. 
Hardness means "locked up in itself" or "nar 
rowed within its own limits," and love, since it 
causes the lover to be moved to what he loves, 
is a thing that liberates, widens, pours itself out. 
St. Matthew says therefore, some fell upon stony 
ground, and Ezechiel, I will take away the stony heart 
out of your flesh, and I IP ill give you a heart of flesh 
(Ezech. xxxvi. 26). For there are some men whose 
hearts are so deprived of love of any kind that they 
are scarcely flesh and blood at all. 

There are others who have indeed a natural 
affection but it is slight and has no deepness. To 
have deepness is to have a power of loving deeply. 
The man may be said to love deeply who loves all 
things and whatever he loves for the love of God, 
and who puts the love of God before all else. There 
is another type of man that does indeed delight in 
God, but delights more in things. Men of this 
sort do not pour themselves out, nor have they 
much deepness of earth. 

The gospel continues, And they spring up im 
mediately ^ for they who think deeply, think long, 
but they whose thought is shallow plunge into 
action at once, and inevitably pass away quickly. 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

So these men hear quickly, but take no root in 
what they hear, for they have no deepness of earth, 
that is in the earth of loving charity. 

(iii) Destruction of the fruit. The fruit is 
lost because when there ariseth tribulation each man 
snatches for what he most loves, and the man 
who loves wealth looks only to his riches. And 
when the sun was up they were scorched, that is, 
because they lacked strength. And because they had 
not root, they withered away, for God was not their 
root. Others fell among thorns, anxieties, quarrels and 
such like things. And the thorns grew up and choked 
them. 

(In Matt, xiii.) 



Monday after Sexagesima 

THE GOODNESS OF GOD 

He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him 
up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given 
us all things? Romans viii. 32. 

i. Since the Apostle makes mention of many 
sons when he says (ibid. v. 15), You have received 
the spirit of adoption of sons, he now separates this 
Son from all these by saying his own Son, that is to 
say, not an adoptive son, but a son of his own 
nature, co-eternal with him, that son of whom the 
Father says, in St. Matthew (iii. 17), This is my 
beloved Son. 

The words he spared not mean only that God did 
not exempt Him from the penalty, for there was 

26 



MONDAY AFTER SEXAGESIMA 

not in Him any fault to be matter for sparing. 
God the Father did not withhold from his Son an 
exemption from the penalty as a way of adding 
anything to himself. God is perfect. But he so 
acted, subjecting his Son to the Passion, because this 
was useful for us. 

This is why St. Paul adds, but delivered him up for 
us all y meaning that God exposed Christ to the 
Passion for the expiation of all our sins. He was 
delivered for our sins, says Isaias, and the Lord laid 
on him the iniquity of us all (liii. 5,6). God the Father 
delivered him over to death, decreeing him to 
take flesh and to suffer, inspiring his human will 
with a burning love by which, eagerly, he would 
undergo his Passion. He delivered himself for us, 
St. Paul says of Our Lord (Eph. v. 2). Judas, too, 
and the Jews delivered him, but by an activity 
external to His. 

There is something else to notice in the words, 
He that spared not his own Son. It is as though it said : 
Not only has God given other saints over to suffer 
ing for the benefit of mankind, but even his own, 
proper Son. 

2. God s own Son, then, being made over for 
us, all things have been given us, for St. Paul 
adds, How hath he not also with him, that is, in giving 
Him to us, given us all things. In other words, all 
things thereby are turned to our profit. We are 
given the highest things of all, namely the Divine 
Persons, for our ultimate joy. We are given 
reasoning minds in order to live together with them 
now. We are given the lower things of creation 



M E DITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

for our use, not only the things which appeal to 
us but the things which are hostile. All things 
are yours, says St. Paul to us, and you are Christ s 
and Christ is Cod s (i Cor. iii. 22, 23). Whence we 
may see how evidently true are the words of the 
Psalm (Ps. xxxiii. 10), There is no want to them that 
fear him. 

(In Rom. viii.) 



Tuesday after Sexagesima 

THE REMEMBRANCE OF OUR LORD S PASSION 

Think diligently upon him that endured such opposition 

from sinners against himself ; that you be not wearied, 

fainting in your minds. Hebrews xii. 3. 

i. We are advised to think diligently^ that is, to 
think upon Him over and over again. In all thy 
ways, says Holy Scripture, think upon him (Prov. 
iii. 6). The reason for which is that no matter 
what anxiety may befall us, we have a remedv in 
the cross. 

For there we find obedience to God. He humbled 
himself ^ becoming obedient, says St. Paul (Phil. ii. 8). 
Likewise, we find a loving forethought for those 
akin to him, shown in the care he had, when upon 
the very cross, for his mother. We find, too, 
charity for his fellows, for on the cross he prayed 
for sinners, Father, forgive them, for they know not 
what they do (Luke xxiii. 34). He showed, also, 
patience in suffering, I was dumb and was humbled, 
and kept silence from good things : and my sorrow 

28 



TUESDAY AFTER SEXAGESIMA 

was renewed (Ps. xxxviii. 3). Finally he showed, in 
all things, a perseverance to the end, for he perse 
vered until death itself. Father, into thy bands I 
commend my spirit (Luke xxiii. 46). 

So on the cross we find an example of all the 
virtues. As St. Augustine says, the cross was not 
only the gallows where Our Lord suffered in 
patience, it was a pulpit from which he taught 
mankind. 

2. But what is it that we are to think, over 
and over again ? Three things : 

(i) The kind of Passion it was. He endured 
opposition, 1 that is, suffering from spoken words. 
For instance they said, Vah, thoit that destroyest the 
temple of God (Matt, xxvii. 40). It is said in the 
Psalms (Ps. xvii. 44), Thou wilt deliver me from the 
contradictions of the people, and it was foretold that 
Our Lord should be, A. sign which shall be contra 
dicted (Luke ii. 34). St. Paul, in the text, says 
such opposition, meaning so grievous and so humiliat 
ing an opposition. all ye that pass by the way, 
attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my 
sorrow (Lamentations i. 12). 

(ii) From whom He suffered the Passion. 
It was from sinners, from those for whom He was 
suffering. Christ died once for our sins, the just for 
the unjust (i Pet. iii. 18). 

(iii) Who it was that suffered. Before the 
Passion, from the beginning of the world he had 
suffered in his members, but in the Passion He 

1 The word in the Latin text which St. Thomas has before him is 
contradictio . 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

suffered in his own person. Whence the words 
against himself. Who his own se/f, says St. Peter 
(i Pet. ii. 24), bore our sins in his body upon the tree. 

3. To think diligently upon Our Lord s Passion 
is a very profitable employment, which is why St. 
Paul adds that you be not wearied^ fainting in jour minds. 
The Passion of Christ keeps us from fainting. 
St. Gregory says, " If we recall the Passion of Christ, 
nothing seems so hard that it cannot be borne with 
equanimity." You will not then fail, worn out in 
spirit, in loyalty to the true faith, nor in the prosecu 
tion of good works. 

St. Paul again gives a reason for our courageous 
perseverance when he says, in the following verse, 
You have not yet resisted unto blood (Heb. xii. 4). 
As though he said, " You must not faint at these 
anxieties your own troubles cause you. You have 
not yet borne as much as Christ. For He indeed 
shed his blood for us." 

(In Heb. xii.) 



Wednesday after Sexagesima 

THE NEED TO BE WATCHFUL 

Watch ye therefore because you know not what hour your 
Lord will come. Matt. xxiv. 42. 

i. Our Lord warns us to be watchful, placing 
before us our uncertainty as to when we shall die. 
He says to us, " The day is not certain. Of two 
that are working one shall be taken and the other 
left and no man can be certain which of the two 

3 



WEDNESDAY AFTER SEXAGESIMA 

shall be his lot. Therefore you should be careful 
and watchful. Watch ye therefore" 

Then, too, as St. Jerome says, Our Lord left 
the moment of life s ending uncertain to help us 
ever to be watchful. For there are three ways 
in which man may sin ; his senses are idle, or he 
ceases to move, or he sleeps. Hence, Watch ye, 
that your senses may be lifted up in contemplation. 
I sleep, says Holy Scripture, but my heart watcheth 
(Cant. v. 2). Likewise, Watch ye, lest you sleep 
in death. Whoever occupies himself with good 
works may be said to watch. Be sober and watch : 
because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth 
about seeking whom he may devour (i Pet. v. 8). Again 
watch, lest you carelessly fall asleep. How long 
wilt thou sleep sluggard (Prov. vi. 9). 

2. Because you know not what hour jour Lord will 
come. St. Augustine says this is written for the 
Ape sties, for those who lived before us, and for 
ourselves and it is necessary for all of us because 
Our Lord comes to all and comes in two ways. 
He comes at the end of the world to all men gener 
ally, and he comes to each man at his own end, 
that is, at his death. There is thus a double coming 
and in each case God has willed that its hour 
should be uncertain. Moreover these two comings 
answer each to the other, for the second will find 
us as we were found at the first. As St. Augustine 
says, e The World s last day finds unprepared 
all those whom their own last day found in like 
condition." 

Our Lord s words, Watch ye therefore and the 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

rest may also be understood with reference to the 
unseen coming of the Lord into our souls. If he 
come to me, it is written in Sacred Scripture, I shall 
not see him (lob ix. n). And so it is that He 
comes to many and they do not see Him. There 
fore should we watch with much carefulness, so 
that when He knocks we may open to Him. Behold 
I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear 
my voice and open to me the door, I will come in to him, 
and will sup with him and he with me (Apoc. iii. 20). 

(In Matt, xxiv.) 



Thursday after Sexagesima 

OUR WATCH MUST BE CEASELESS 

But this know ye, that if the goodman of the house 
knew at what hour the thief would come, he would cer 
tainly watch, and not suffer his house to be broken open. 
Mat. xxiv. 43. 

Since we are uncertain which hour it will be, 
we must watch the whole night long. 

The house is the soul. Therein man should be 
at rest. When I go into my house, that is, into my 
conscience, I shall repose myself with her (Wisdom 
viii. 1 6). The goodman of the house is as that 
king, that sitteth on the throne of judgment, who 
scattereth away all evil with his look (Prov. xx. 8). 

Sometimes a thief breaks into the house. The 
thief is any plausible false theory, or indeed any 
temptation. It is said to be a thief in the sense 
of the gospel, He that entereth not by the door into the 

32 



THURSDAY AFTER SEXAGESIMA 

sheep/old, but climbeth up another way, the same is a 
thief and a robber (John x. i). The door is an 
excellent name for natural knowledge or natural 
rights. Whoever enters through his reason, enters 
through the door. But whoever comes in through 
desires, or through wrath or the like, is a thief. 

Thieves work by night. We have no fear of 
what comes to us in the day. So it is that tempta 
tions never come to the man whose mind is given 
to contemplation of divine things. Let him 
however slacken in that service and presently 
comes temptation. Hence the timely prayer of 
Holy Scripture, When my strength shall jail , do not 
Thou forsake me (Ps. Ixx. 9). 

We must then watch, since we know not when 
the Lord shall come, shall come that is, to judg 
ment. Or perhaps we may refer it to the day we 
shall die. For yourselves know perfectly, that the 
day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night, 
for when they shall say peace and security, then shall 
sudden destruction come upon them (i Thess. v. 23). 
Wherefore, says Our Lord, be you also ready, because 
at what hour you know not the Son of Man shall come 
(Matt. xxiv. 44). 

St. John Chrysostom notes that men attached 
to their property will sit up all the night to watch 
over it. If they can be so watchful for the things 
that pass away, how much more should they not 
be watchful over spiritual treasures. 

We may notice also a parable of St. Augustine s. 
There are three servants and they look forward 
affectionately to the return of their master. The 
first says, " My lord will come quickly, therefore 

33 c 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

I shall watch for him." The second says, " My 
lord will be late, but I will watch none the less." 
The third says, " At what hour my lord will come 
I know not, and for this reason I will take care to 
watch." Which servant spoke best ? St. Augus 
tine says the third. The first risks a sad deception, 
for if he thinks the lord will soon arrive, and in 
fact the lord is delayed, the servant runs the danger 
of sleeping through weariness. The second, too, 
may find he has made a mistake, but he runs no 
danger. But it is the third who does well, for 
being uncertain he is continually on the alert. 
It is therefore a misfortune to fix in our minds 
any special time. 

(In Matt, xxiv.) 



Friday after Sexagesima 

THE WORSHIP DUE TO GOD 
Thou shalt not have strange Gods before me. Exod. xx. 3 . 

We are forbidden to worship any but the one 
God, and there are five things which show the 
prohibition to be reasonable. 

i. God s dignity. If this is disregarded we 
insult God. To all dignity is due proper reverence. 
And we call a man a traitor who refuses to do the 
King due reverence. This is what some men do 
with respect to God. They changed the glory of the 
incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a 

34 



FRIDAY AFTER SEXAGESIMA 

corruptible man, and of birds , and of fourfooted beasts, 
and of creeping things, says St. Paul (Romans i. 23). 
And this is the most serious of all offences against 
God. 

2. God s bountiful ness. Every good thing 
we possess comes from God. It is in fact part 
of God s dignity that he is the maker and giver 
of all good things. When thou opemst thy hand, 
all things shall be filled with good (Ps. ciii. 28). You 
are therefore ungrateful beyond measure if you 
do not recognise that the good you have is his gift. 
Nay, you make to yourself another god as truly 
as the children of Israel, delivered from Egypt, 
made themselves an idol. This is to be like the 
harlot of whom the prophet writes, I will go after 
my lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool 
and my flax, my oil and my drink (Osee ii. 5). 

This sin is also committed by those who place 
their hope in another than God, that is, when they 
seek help from another in preference to asking it 
from God. Blessed is the man whose trust is in the 
name of the Lord (Ps. xxxix. 5), and St. Paul marvels 
at the Galatians, But now, after that you have known 
God, or are rather known by God, how turn you again 
to the weak and needy elements, which you desire to serve 
again ? (Gal. iv. 9). 

3. Our promises. We have renounced the 
devil and pledged our fidelity to God alone. This 
pledge we must keep unbroken. A man making 
void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy, under 
two or three witnesses. How much more do you think 
he deserveth worse punishment, who hath trodden under- 

35 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

foot the Son of God, and bath esteemed the blood of the 
testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath 
offered an affront "to the Spirit of Grace ? (Heb. x. 
28, 29). 

The woman that hath an husband, whilst her husband 
liveth she shall be called an adulteress, if she be with 
another man (Rom. vii. 3), and such deserves to be 
burned. Woe to the sinner, to whoever enters the 
land by a double way, to those who limp one foot 
on each side of the division. 

4. The weight of the devil s yoke. You shall 
serve strange gods day and night, says the Prophet, 
which shall not give you any rest (Jer. xvi. 13). For the 
devil does not rest content with one sin, but, the 
first sin committed, strives all the more to induce 
us to another. Whoever commits sin is the slave 
of sin. Hence it is not an easy thing to find one s 
way out from sin. St. Gregory says, " The sin 
which is not lightened by penance, soon, by its 
very weight, drags us to further sin." 

It is the very contrary that is characteristic of 
God s dominion over us. For God s commands 
are not burdensome. My yoke is sweet and my 
burden is light (Matt. xi. 30). A man is accounted 
as doing enough if he does for God as much as 
he has done for sin. St. Paul, for example, says, 
A.S you have yielded your ?n embers to serve uncle an ness 
and iniquity, unto iniquity ; so now yield your members 
to serve justice, unto sanctification (Rom. vi. 19). 
But of the slaves of the devil the Scripture says, 
We ivearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and des 
truction, and have walked through hard ways (Wis. 

36 



SATURDAY AFTER. SEXAGESIMA 

v. 7), and also, They have laboured to commit iniquity 
(Jer. ix. 5). 

5. The immensity of our reward. No law 
promises so great a recompense as that which 
we are promised in the law of Christ. To the 
Saracens are offered rivers of milk, and honey, to 
the Jews the promised land. But to Christians 
angelic glory. They shall be as the angels of God in 
heaven (Matt. xxii. 30). Thinking on this St. 
Peter says, in the Gospel, Lord to whom shall we go ? 
Thou hast the words of eternal life (John vi. 69). 

(In Decalog. xii.) 



Saturday after Sexagesima 

HOW ARE WE TO SERVE GOD ? 

i. We must serve God both by external acts 
and by internal acts. We are possessed of a double 
nature, we are intellectual beings and sentient 
beings also. We should therefore offer to God 
a double adoration a spiritual adoration, con 
sisting in the interior devotion of the mind, and a 
bodily adoration made up of the external humilia 
tion of the bcdy. And since in all acts done in 
acknowledgment that God is God the external 
act depends on the internal for the internal 
act is the more important so the external acts of 
adoration are done for the sake of the internal 
adoration. That is to say, that it is by our gestures 

37 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

of humility that we are moved to subject ourselves 
to God in our inclinations and our will. This is 
due to our nature being what it is, for it is natural 
to man to proceed to things that can only be known 
through the intelligence from the starting point of 
things seen, felt, heard and known by the senses. 
So, just as prayer has its origin as something in 
the mind, and is only in the second place expressed 
in words, adoration also consists, primarily and 
in its origin, in an internal reverence of God and 
only secondarily in certain bodily signs that we 
are humbling ourselves : such bodily signs, for 
example, as genuflections to show our weakness by 
comparison with God, or prostrations to show 
that we are nothing of ourselves. 

(2-2 84 n.) 

2. In doing external acts we must use a certain 
measure of discretion. The attitude of a religious 
man towards the acts by which he acknowledges 
God to be God, is quite different according as 
those acts are internal or external. It is principally 
in the internal acts, the acts by which he believes, 
hopes and loves, that man s good consists and 
what makes man good in God s sight. Whence 
it is written, The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 
xvii. 21). Man s good and what makes man good 
in God s sight does not, principally, consist in 
external acts. The kingdom of God is not meat and 
drink, says St. Paul (Rom. xv. 17). 

Whence the internal acts are as the end, the thing 
that is to say, which is sought for its own sake : 
the external acts, through which the body is shown 

38 



QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY 

as God s creature, are but as means, i.e., things 
directed to and existing for the sake of the end. 

Now when it is a question of seeking the end 
we do not measure our energy or resource, but 
the greater the end the better our endeavour. 

When, on the other hand, it is a question of 
things we only seek because of the end, we measure 
our energy according to the relation of the things 
to the end. Thus a physician restores health as 
much as he possibly can. He does not give as 
much medicine as he possibly can, but only just 
so much as he sees to be necessary for the attain 
ment of health. 

In a similar way man puts no measure to his 
faith, his hope, and his charity, but the more he 
believes, hopes and loves, so much the better man 
he is. That is why it is said, Thou shalt love the 
Ijord thy God, with thy whole heart \ and with thy whole 
soul, and with thy whole strength (Deut. vi. 5). 

But in the external actions we must use dis 
cretion and make charity the measure of our use 
of them. 

(In Rom. xii.) 



Quinquagesima Sunday 

HOW WE SHOULD SERVE GOD ON THE LORD S 

DAY 

Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day - 
Exod. xx. 8. 

Man is bound to keep feast days holy. Now a 

39 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

thing is said to be holy in one of two ways, either 
because the thing is itself unspotted or because 
it is consecrated to God. We must say something 
then of the kind of works from which we should 
abstain on such days and also of the kind with 
which we should occupy ourselves. 

i. Sacrifices. In Sacred Scripture (Num. xxviii. 
3) it is related how God commanded that every 
day, in the morning and again in the evening, a 
lamb should be offered up, but that on the sabbath 
this offering should be doubled. This teaches 
us that we too ought on the sabbath to offer a 
sacrifice, a sacrifice taken from all that \ve possess. 

(i) We ought to make an offering of our soul, 
lamenting our sins and giving thanks for the bene 
fits we have received. Let my prayer, Lord, be 
directed as incense in thy sight (Ps. cxl. 2). Feast 
days are instituted to give us spiritual joy, and the 
means to this is prayer. Whence on such days 
we should multiply our prayers. 

(ii) We should offer our body. I beseech you 
therefore brethren, says St. Paul, by the mercy of God, 
that you offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing 
unto God (Rom. xii. i). And we should give 
praise to God. The psalm says, The sacrifice of 
praise shall glorify me (Ps. clix. 23). Wherefore on 
feast days hymns should be numerous. 

^ (iii) We should offer our goods, and this by 
giving alms by giving on feast days a double 
amount, for these are times of universal rejoicing. 

40 



QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY 

2. Study of the word of God. This indeed 
was the practice of the Jews, as we read in the 
Acts of the Apostles (xfii. 27). The voices of ^ the 
prophets, which are read every sabbath. Christians 
therefore, whose spiritual state should be more 
perfect than that of the Jews, ought on such 
days to meet together for sermons and for the 
Church s office. And likewise for profitable 
conversation. Here are two things truly 
profitable for the soul of the sinner, sure means 
to his amendment. For the word of God 
instructs the ignorant and stirs up those that are 
lukewarm. 

3. Direct occupation with the things of God. 
This do those who are perfect. In the psalms 
(xxxiii. 9) we read, Taste and see that the Lord is 
sweet, and this because He gives rest to the soul. 
For just as the body worn out with toil craves 
for rest, so too does the soul. Now the soul s 
place is God. Be thou unto me a God, a protector 
and a place of refuge, is written in the Psalms (xxx. 3). 
And St. Paul, too, says, There remaineth therefore 
a day of rest for the people of God; for he that is entered 
into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, 
as God aid from his (HeD. iv. 9, 10). Again in 
the book of Wisdom (viii. 16), When I go into my 
house, that is, my conscience, I shall repose with her, 
that is, with Wisdom. 

But before the soul can attain to this peace, 
it must already have found peace in three other 
ways. 

It must have peace from the uneasiness of sin. 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

The heart of the wicked man is like a raging sea, which 
cannot rest (Isa. Ivii. 20). 

It must have peace from the attractions of bodily 
desires. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and 
the spirit against the flesh (Gal. v. 17). 

It must have peace from the cares of everyday 
life. Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art 
troubled about many things (Luke x. 41). 

But after these are attained the soul shall truly 
rest in God. If thou call the sabbath delightful . 
then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord (Is. Iviii. 14). 
It is tor this that the saints have left all things, 
for this is that treasure ivhich a man having found, 
hid it, and for joy thereof goeth and selkth all that he 
hath, and buyeth (Matt. xiii. 44). For this is the 
peace of eternal life and of the joy that shall last 
for ever, This is my rest for ever and ever : here 
I dn ell, for I have chosen it (Ps. cxxxi. 4). 

(In Decalog. 17.) 



Monday after Quinquagesima 
HOLINESS 

_The gospel says (Luke i. 75) That we may serve 
him in holiness and justice. But to serve God is an 
act of religion. Therefore religion is the same 
thing as holiness. 

The word " holiness " seems to imply two 
things. 

^ (i) Cleanness, and in this it accords with the 
Greek word agios which means " free of earth/ 

42- 



MONDAY AFTER QUINQUAGESIMA 

(ii) Firmness, whence, of old, those things were 
called holy which were protected by the law and 
thereby rendered inviolable. Whence also things 
are said to be sanctioned, because they are defended 
by law. Things which belong to the worship of 
God may be said to be holy in both of the senses 
just described. Not only men, therefore, but the 
temple and the vessels and so forth are said to be 
made holy from the fact that they are used in the 
service of God. 

Cleanness is essential if the human mind is to 
be applied to God, because what stains the human 
mind is its being joined to lower things: as all 
kinds of things are cheapened by mixture with 
things less valuable, for example, silver when 
it is" mixed with lead. Now if the mind is to be 
united to the highest thing of all, i.e., to God, it 
must be altogether taken away from the things 
that are lower. And that is why a mind that is 
lacking in purity cannot be applied to God. Follow 
peace with all men and holiness 1 : without which no man 
shall see God (Heb. xii. 14). 

Firmness, too, is required in whoever would 
set his mind to God. The mind must be set to 
God as to one s last end and first beginning. But 
ends and beginnings are the kinds of things which 
above all others need to be immovable. Whence 
St. Paul says, I am sure that neither death nor life, 
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things 
present nor things to come, nor wight, nor height, nor 
depth, nor any other creatures, shall be able to separate 

* Sanctimoniam in the Latin text which St. Thomas is using. 
43 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, Our 
Lord (Romans xiii. 38, 39). 

Holiness is then the quality whereby men apply 
themselves and their actions to God. Hence it 
does not differ from religion as though it had a 
different essence, but only according to the way 
these two things exist. For religion gives God 
the service due to him in what particularly con 
cerns divine worship in sacrifices, for example, 
in offerings and in other things of that kind. 
Holiness, however, gives to God not only these 
things but the acts of the other virtues too, or 
again, it ensures that by good works a man makes 
himself fit for the service of God in worship. 

(2-2 81 8.) 



Tuesday after Quinquagesima 

OUR LORD is SCOURGED 

Having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to them to be 
crucified. Matt, xxvii. 26. 

Why did he scourge him before he delivered 
him to them ? St. Jerome says because it was a 
Roman custom that prisoners condemned to death 
should be scourged before execution. So it was 
that the prophecy was fulfilled, I was made ready 
by a scourging (Ps. xxxvii. 18). 

Some writers think that Pilate had Our Lord 
scourged that the Jews might be moved to pity 

44 



TUESDAY AFTER QUINQUAGESIMA 

and so, once He was scourged, they would let him 
go. 

Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him (John 
xix. i). He did not, that is, scourge him with 
his own hands but handed him over to the soldiers. 
And this that the Jews sated with his sufferings- 
might be softened somewhat, and cease to rage 
for his death. For it is the natural thing that a 
man s anger dies down when he sees the cause of 
his anger humiliated and punished. This is true 
of anger, for anger seeks to inflict harm only to a 
certain degree. But it is not true of hatred, for 
hatred seeks utterly to destroy the thing hated. 
Hence the words of Sacred Scripture, If an enemy 
findeih an opportunity^ he will not be satisfied with 
blood (Ecclus. xii. 16). 

Now it was hatred that moved the Jews against 
Christ, and therefore it did not satisfy them to 
see him scourged. I have been scourged all the day^ 
says the Psalm (kxii 14), and in Isaias (1. 6) we read, 
I have given my body to the strikers. 

Did Pilate s intention excuse him from the guilt 
of scourging Our Lord ? By no means, for no 
action which is bad in itself can be made wholly 
good by the good intention with which it is 
done. But to inflict injury on one who is inno 
cent, and especially on the Son of God, is of all 
things the one most evil in itself. No intention 
therefore could possibly excuse it. 

(In John, xix.) 



45 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Ash Wednesday 

DEATH 

By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death. 

Rom. v. 12. 

i. If for some wrongdoing a man is deprived 
of some benefit once given to him, that he should 
lack that benefit is the punishment of his sin. 

Now in man s first creation he was divinely 
endowed with this advantage that, so long as his 
mind remained subject to God, the lower powers 
of his soul were subjected to the reason and the 
body was subjected to the soul. 

But because by sin man s mind moved away 
from its subjection to God, it followed that the 
lower parts of his mind ceased to be wholly sub 
jected to the reason. From this there followed 
such a rebellion of the bodily inclination against 
the reason, that the body was no longer wholly 
subject to the soul. 

Whence followed death and all the bodily 
defects. For life and wholeness of body are bound 
up with this, that the body is wholly subject to 
the soul, as a thing which can be made peifect is 
subject to that which makes it perfect. So it 
comes about that, conversely, there are such things 
as death, sickness and every other bodily defect, 
for such misfortunes are bound up with an in 
complete subjection of body to soul. 

2. The rational soul is of its nature immortal, 
and therefore death is not natural to man in so far 

46 



ASH WEDNESDAY 

as man has a soul. It is natural to his body, for 
the body, since it is formed of things contrary 
to each other in nature, is necessarily liable to 
corruption, and it is in this respect that death 
is natural to man. 

But God who fashioned man is all powerful. 

And hence, by an advantage conferred on the 
first man, He took away that necessity of dying 
which was bound up with the matter of which 
man was made. This advantage was however 
withdrawn through the sin of our first parents. 

Death is then natural, if we consider the matter 
of which man is made and it is a penalty, inasmuch 
as it happens through the loss of the privilege 
whereby man was preserved from dying. 

(2-2 164 i.) 

3. Sin original sin and actual sin is taken 
away by Christ, that is to say, by Him who is also 
the remover of all bodily defects. He shall quicken 
also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that 
dwelleth in you (Rom. viii. n). 

But, according to the order appointed by a 
wisdom that is divine, it is at the time which best 
suits that Christ takes away both the one and the 
other, i.e., both sin and bodily defects. 

Now it is only right that, before we arrive at 
that glory of impassibility and immortality which 
began in Christ, and which was acquired for us 
through Christ, we should be shaped after the 
pattern of Christ s sufferings. It is then only 
right that Christ s liability to suffer should remain 
in us too for a time, as a means of our coming to the 

47 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

impassibility of glory in the way He himself came 
to it. 

(1-2 85 5 ad 2.) 



Thursday 

FASTING 
i. We fast for three reasons. 

(i) To check the desires of the flesh. So 
St. Paul says in fastings, in chastity (z Cor. vi. 5), 
meaning that fasting is a safeguard for chastity. 
As St. Jerome says, " Without Ceres, and Bacchus, 
Venus would freeze," as much as to say that lust 
loses its heat through spareness of food and drink. 

(ii) That the mind may more freely raise itself 
to contemplation of the heights. We read in the 
book of Daniel that it was after a fast of three 
weeks that he received the revelation from God 
(Dan. x. 2-4). 

(iii) To make satisfaction for sin. This is 
the reason given by the prophet Joel, Be converted 
to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and 
in mourning (Joel ii. 12). And here is what St. 
Augustine writes on the matter. " Fasting purifies 
the soul. It lifts up the mind, and it brings the 
body into subjection to the spirit. It makes the 
heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of 
desire, puts out the flames of lust and 
the true light of chastity." 

48 



THURSDAY 

2. There is commandment laid on us to fast. 
For fasting helps to destroy sin, and to raise the 
mind to thoughts of the spiritual world. Each 
man is then bound, by the natural law of the matter, 
to fast just as much as is necessary to help him in 
these matters. Which is to say that fasting in 
general is a matter of natural law. To determine, 
however, when we shall fast and how, according 
to what suits and is of use to the Catholic body, is 
a matter of positive law. To state the positive 
law is the business of the bishops, and what is thus 
stated by them is called ecclesiastical fasting, in 
contradistinction with the natural fasting previously 
mentioned. 

3 . The times fixed for fasting by the Church are 
well chosen. Fasting has two objects in view : 

(i) The destruction of sin, and 

(ii) the lifting of the mind to higher things. 

The times self-indicated for fasting are then 
those in which men are especially bound to free 
themselves from sin and to raise their minds to 
God in devotion. Such a time especially is that 
which precedes that solemnity of Easter in which 
baptism is administered and sin thereby destroyed, 
and when the burial of Our Eord is recalled, for 
we are buried together with Christ by baptism into 
death (Rom. vi. 4). Then, too, at Easter most of 
all, men s minds should be lifted, through devotion 
to the glory of that eternity which Christ in his 
resurrection inaugurated. 

Wherefore the Church has decreed that im 
mediately before the solemnity of Easter we must 

49 D 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

fast, and, for a similar reason, that we must fast 
on the eves of the principal feasts, setting apart 
those days as opportune to prepare ourselves for 
the devout celebration of the feasts themselves. 

( 2 ~ 2 97 i>3> 5-) 

Friday 

THE CROWN OF THORNS 

Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon 

in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him 

in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of 

his heart. Cant. iii. n. 

This is the voice of the Church inviting the 
souls of the faithful to behold the marvellous 
beauty of her spouse. For the daughters of Sion, 
who are they but the daughters of Jerusalem, 
holy souls, the citizens of that city which is above, 
who with the angels enjoy the peace that knows 
no end, and, in consequence, look upon the glory 
of the Lord ? 

i . Go forth , shake off the disturbing commerce 
of this world so that, with minds set free, you 
may be able to contemplate him whom you love. 
And see king Solomon, the true peacemaker, that is 
to say, Christ Our Lord. 

In the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him, 
as though the Church said, " Look on Christ garbed 
with flesh for us, the flesh He took from the flesh 
of his mother." For it is his flesh that is here called 

5 



FRIDAY 



a diadem, the flesh which Christ assumed for us, the 
flesh in which he died and destroyed the reign of 
death, the flesh in which, rising once again, he 
brought to us the hope of resurrection. 

This is the diadem of w^hich St. Paul speaks, 
We see Jesus for the suffering of death crowned with 
glory and honour (Heb. ii. 9). His mother is spoken 
of as crowning him because Mary the Virgin it 
was w r ho from her own flesh gave him flesh. 

In the day of his espousals, that is, in the hour of his 
Incarnation, when he took to himself the Church 
not having spot or wrinkle (Eph. v. 27), the hour again 
when God was joined with man. And in the day 
of the joy of his heart. For the joy and the gaiety 
of Christ is for the human race salvation and 
redemption. And coming home, he calls together 
his friends and neighbours saying to them, Rejoice 
with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost 
(Luke xv. 6). 

2. We can however refer the whole of this 
text simply and literally to the Passion of Christ. 
For Solomon, foreseeing through the centuries 
the Passion of Christ, was uttering a warning for 
the daughters of Sion, that is, for the Jewish 
people. 

Go forth and see king Solomon, that is, Christ, in his 
diadem, that is to say, the crown of thorns with 
which his mother the Synagogue has crowned him ; 
in the day of his espousals, the day when he joined to 
himself the Church ; and in the day of the joy of his 
heart, the day in which he rejoiced that by his 
Passion he was delivering the world from the 

5 1 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

power of the devil. Go forth, therefore, and leave 
behind the darkness of unbelief, and see, under 
stand with your minds that he who suffers as man 
is really God. 

Go forth, beyond the gates of your city, that 
you may see him, on Mount Calvary, crucified. 

(In Cant. 3 .) 



Saturday 

THE GRAIN OF WHEAT 

Unless the gram of wheat falling into the ground die, 
itself remaineth alone. John xii. 24. 

We use the grain of wheat in two ways, for bread 
and for seed. Here the word is to be taken in 
the second sense, grain of wheat meaning seed 
and not the matter out of which we make bread. 
For in this sense it never increases so as to bear 
fruit. When it is said that the grain must die, 
this does not mean that it loses its value as seed, 
but that it is changed into another kind of thing. 
So St. Paul (i Cor. xv. 36) says, That which then 
thou sowest is not quickened, except it die first. 

The Word of God is a seed in the soul of man, 
in so far as it is a thing introduced into man s 
soul, by words spoken and heard, in order to 
produce the fruit of good works, The seed is the 
Word of God (Luke viii. n). So also the Word of 
God garbed in flesh is a seed placed in the world, a 
seed from which great crops should grow, whence 

52 



SATURDAY 



it is compared in St. Matthew s Gospel (xiii. 31, 32) 
to a grain of mustard seed. 

Our Lord therefore says to us, " I came as 
seed, something meant to bear fruit and therefore 
I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falling into 
the ground die, itself remaimth alone" which is as 
much as to say, " Unless 1 die the fruit of the con 
version of the Gentiles will not follow." He 
compares himself to a grain of wheat, because he 
came to nourish and to sustain the minds of men, 
and to nourish and sustain are precisely what 
wheaten bread does for men. In the Psalms it is 
written, That bread may strengthen man s heart (Ps. 
ciii. 15), and in St. John, The bread that I will give 
is my flesh for the life of the world (John vi. 52). 

2. ~But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit (John 
xii. 25). What is here explained is the usefulness 
of the Passion. It is as though the gospel said, 
Unless the grain fall into the earth through the 
humiliations of the Passion, no useful result will 
follow, for the grain itself remaineth alone. But 
if it shall die, done to death and slain by the Jews, 
it bringeth forth much fruit, for example : 

(i) The remission of sin. This is the whole fruit, 
that the sin thereby should be taken away (Isaias xxvii. 9). 
And this is the fruit of the Passion of Christ as is 
declared by St. Peter, Christ died once for our sins, 
the just for the unjust that he might offer us to God 
(i Pet. iii. 1 8). 

(ii) The conversion of the Gentiles to God. 
I have appointed you that you shall go forth and bring 
forth fruit and that your fruit should remain (John 

53 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

xv. 1 6). This fruit the Passion of Christ bore, 
if I be lifted tip from the earth, I will draw all things to 
myself (John xii. 32). 

(iii) The fruit of Glory. The fruit of good 
labours is glorious (Wis. iii. 15). And this fruit 
also the Passion of Christ brought forth ; We 
have therefore a confidence in the entering into the Holies 
by the blood of Christ : a new and living way which he 
hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his 
flesh (Hebr. x. 19). 

(In John xii.) 



First Week in Lent Sunday 

IT WAS FITTING THAT CHRIST SHOULD BE 
TEMPTED 

Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted 
by the devil. Matt. iv. i. 

Christ willed to be tempted : 

1. That he might assist us against our own 
temptations. St. Gregory says, " That our Re 
deemer, who had come on earth to be killed, should 
will to be tempted was not unworthy of him. 
It was indeed but just that he should overcome our 
temptations by his own, in the same way that he 
had come to overcome our death by his death." 

2. To warn us that no man, however holy he 
be, should think himself safe and free from tempta 
tion. Whence again His choosing to be tempted 
after His baptism, about which St. Hilary says, 

54 



FIRST MONDAY 

" The devil s wiles are especially directed to trap 
us at times when we have recently been made 
holy, because the devil desires no victory so much 
as a victory over the world of grace." Whence 
too, the scripture warns us, Son, when thou comest 
to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and 
prepare thy soul for temptation (Ecclus. ii. i). 

3. To give us an example how we should over 
come the temptations of the devil, St. Augustine 
says, " Christ gave himself to the devil to be 
tempted, that in the matter of our overcoming 
those same temptations He might be of service 
not only by his help but by his example too." 

4. To fill and saturate our minds with confi 
dence in His mercy. For we have not a high-priest 
who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one 
tempted in all things, like as we are, without sin (Heb. 
iv. 15). 

(3 4i i.) 



First Monday 

CHRIST HAD TO BE TEMPTED IN THE DESERT 

He was in the desert forty days and forty nights : and 
was tempted by Satan. Mark i. 13. 

i. It was by Christ s own will that he was 
exposed to the temptation by the devil, as it was 
also by his own will that he was exposed to be 
slain by the limbs of the devil. Had He not so 
willed, the devil would never have dared to approach 
him. 

55 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

The devil is always more disposed to attack those 
who are alone, because, as is said in Sacred Scrip 
ture, If a man shall prevail against one, two shall with 
stand him easily (Eccles. iv. 12). That is why 
Christ went out into the desert, as one going out 
to a battle-ground, that there he might be tempted 
by the devil. Whereupon St. Ambrose says that 
Christ went into the desert for the express purpose 
of provoking the devil. For unless the devil had 
fought, Christ would never have overcome him 
for me. 

St. Ambrose gives other reasons too. He says 
that Christ chose the desert as the place to be 
tempted for a hidden reason, namely that he might 
free from his exile Adam who, from Paradise, was 
driven into the desert ; and again that he did it 
for a reason in which there is no mystery, namely 
to show us that the devil envies those who are 
tending towards a better life. 

2. We say with St. Chrysostom that Christ 
exposed himself to the temptation because the 
devil most of all tempts those whom he sees alone. 
So in the very beginning of things he tempted the 
woman, when he found her away from her husband. 
It docs not however follow from this that a man 
ought to throw himself into any occasion of 
temptation that presents itself. 

Occasions of temptation are of two kinds. 
One kind arises from man s own action, when, 
for example, man himself goes near to sin, not 
avoiding the occasion of sin. That such occasions 
are to be avoided we know, and Holy Scripture 

56 



FIRST TUESDAY 

reminds us of it. Stay not in any part of the country 
round about Sodom (Gen. xix. 17). The second 
kind of occasion arises from the devil s constant 
envy of those who are tending to better things, 
as St. Ambrose says, and this occasion of temptation 
is not one we must avoid. So, according to Si.. 
John Chrysostom, not only Christ was led into 
the desert by the Holy Ghost, but all the children 
of God wiio possess the Holy Ghost are led in 
like manner. For God s children are never con 
tent to sit down with idle hands, but the Holy Ghost 
ever urges them to undertake for God some great 
work. And this, as far as the devil is concerned, 
is to go into the desert, for in the desert there is 
none of that wickedness which is the devil s delight. 
Every good work is as it were a desert to the eye 
of the world and of our flesh, for good works are 
contrary to the desire of the world and of our 
flesh. 

To give the devil such an opportunity of tempta 
tion as this is not dangerous, for it is much more 
the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who is the 
promoter of every perfect work, that prompts us 
than the working of the devil who hates them 
all. 

(3 4i 2.) 



First Tuesday 

CHRIST UNDERWENT EVERY KIND OF SUFFERING 

" Every kind of suffering." The things men 
suffer may be understood in two ways. By " kind " 

57 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

we may mean a particular, individual suffering, 
and in this sense there was no reason why Christ 
should suffer every kind of suffering, for many 
kinds of suffering are contrary the one to the other, 
as for example, to be burnt and to be drowned. 
We are of course speaking of Our Lord as suffering 
from causes outside himself, for to suffer the 
suffering effected by internal causes, such as bodily 
sickness, would not have become him. But if 
bv " kind " we mean the class, then Our Lord did 
suffer by every kind of suffering, as we can show 
in three ways : 

1. By considering the men through whom he 
suffered. For he suffered something at the hands 
of Gentiles and of Jews, of men and even of women 
as the story of the servant girl who accused 
St. Peter goes to show. He suffered, again, at 
the hands of rulers, of their ministers, and of the 
people, as was prophesied, Why have the Gentiles 
raged ; and the people devised vain things ? The 
kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together 
against the Lord and against his Christ (Ps. ii. i, 2). 

He suffered, too, from his friends, the men 
he knew best, for Peter denied him and Judas 
betrayed him. 

2. If we consider the things through which 
suffering is possible. Christ suffered in the friends 
who deserted him, and in his good name through 
the blasphemies uttered against him. Lie suffered 
in the respect, in the glory, due to him through 
the derision and contempt bestowed upon him. 

58 



FIRST TUESDAY 



He suffered in things, for he was stripped even of 
his clothing ; in his soul, through sadness, through 
weariness and through fear ; in his body through 
wounds and the scourging. 

3. If we consider what he underwent in his 
various parts. His head suffered through the 
crown of piercing thorns, his hands and feet through 
the nails driven through them, his face from the 
blows and the defiling spittle, and his whole body 
through the scourging. 

He suffered in every sense of his body. Touch 
was afflicted by the scourging and the nailing, 
taste by the vinegar and gall, smell by the stench 
of corpses as he hung on the cross in that place of 
the dead which is called Calvary. His hearing was 
torn with the voices of mockers and blasphemers, 
and he saw the tears of his mother and of the 
disciple whom he loved. If we only consider the 
amount of suffering required, it is true that one 
suffering alone, the least indeed of all, would have 
sufficed to redeem the human race from all its 
sins. But if we look at the fitness of the matter, 
it had to be that Christ should suffer in all the 
kinds of sufferings. 

(3 46 5-) 



59 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

First Wednesday 

HOW GREAT WAS THE SORROW OF OUR LORD IN 

His PASSION ? 

Attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my 
sorrow. Lam. i. 12. 

Our Lord as He suffered felt really, and in his 
senses, that pain which is caused by some harmful 
bodily thing. Lie also felt that interior pain which 
is caused by the fear of something harmful and 
which we call sadness. In both these respects 
the pain suffered by Our Lord was the greatest 
pain possible in this present life. There are four 
reasons why this was so. 

i. The causes of the pain. 

The cause of the pain in the senses was the break 
ing up of the body, a pain whose bitterness derived 
partly from the fact that the sufferings attacked every 
part of His body, and partly from the fact that of 
all species of torture death by crucifixion is un 
doubtedly the most bitter. The nails are driven 
through the most sensitive of all places, the hands 
and the feet, the weight of the body itself increases 
the pain every moment. Add to this the long 
drawn-out agony, for the crucified do not die 
immediately as do those who are beheaded. 

The cause of the internal pain was : 

(i) All the sins of all mankind for which, by 
suffering, he was making satisfaction, so that, in a 
sense, he took them to him as though they were 
his own. The words of my sins, it says in the Psalms 
(Ps. xxi. 2). 

60 



FIRST WEDNESDAY 

(ii) The special case of the Jews and the others 
who had had a share in the sin of his death, and 
especially the case of his disciples for whom his 
death had been a thing to be ashamed of. 

(iii) The loss of his bodily life, which, by the 
nature of things, is something from which human 
nature turns away in horror. 

2. We may consider the greatness of the pain 
according to the capacity, bodily and spiritual, for 
suffering of Him who suffered. In his body He 
was most admirably formed, for it was formed 
by the miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost, 
and therefore its sense of touch that sense through 
which we experience pain \vas of the keenest. 
His soul likewise, from its interior powers, had a 
knowledge as from experience of all the causes of 
sorrow. 

3. The greatness of Our Lord s suffering can 
be considered in regard to this that the pain and 
sadness were without any alleviation. For in 
the case of no matter what other sufferer the sad 
ness of mind, and even the bodily pain, is lessened 
through a certain kind of reasoning, by means of 
which there is brought about a distraction of the 
sorrow from the higher powers to the lower. 
But when Our Lord suffered this did not happen, 
for he allowed each of his powers to act and suffer 
to the fullness of its special capacity. 

4. We may consider the greatness of the suffer 
ing of Christ in the Passion in relation to this fact 

61 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

that the Passion and the pain it brought with it 
were deliberately undertaken by Christ with the 
object of freeing man from sin. And therefore 
he undertook to suffer an amount of pain pro 
portionately equal to the extent of the fruit that 
was to follow from the Passion. 

From all these causes, if we consider them 
together, it will be evident that the pain suffered 
by Christ was the greatest pain ever suffered. 

(3 46 6.) 



First Thursday 

IT WAS FITTING THAT CHRIST SHOULD BE 
CRUCIFIED WITH THE THIEVES 

Christ was crucified between the thieves because 
such was the will of the Jews, and also because 
this was part of God s design. But the reasons 
why this was appointed were not the same in 
each of these cases. 

i. As far as the Jews were concerned Our 
Lord was crucified with the thieves on either side 
to encourage the suspicion that he too was a 
criminal. But it fell out otherwise. The thieves 
themselves have left not a trace in the remembrance 
of man, while His cross is everywhere held in 
honour. Kings laying aside their crowns have 
broidered the cross on their royal robes. They have 
placed it on their crowns ; on their arms. It 
has its place on the very altars. Everywhere, 

62 



FIRST THURSDAY 



throughout the world, we behold the splendour 
of the cross. 

In God s plan Christ was crucified with the 
thieves in order that, as for our sakes he became 
accursed of the cross, so, for our salvation, he is 
crucified like an evil thing among evil things. 

2. The Pope, St. Leo the Great, says that the 
thieves were crucified, one on either side of him, 
so that in the very appearance of the scene of his 
suffering there might be set forth that distinction 
which should be made in the judgment of each 
one of us. St. Augustine has the same thought. 
" The cross itself," he says, " was a tribunal. 
In the centre was the judge. To the one side a man 
who believed and was set free, to the other side 
a scoffer and he was condemned." Already there 
was made clear the final fate of the living and the 
dead, the one class placed at his right, the other 
on his left. 

3. According to St. Hilary the two thieves, 
placed to right and to left, typify that the whole 
of mankind is called to the mystery of Our Lord s 
Passion. And since division of things according 
to right and left is made with reference to believers 
and those who will not believe, one of the two, 
placed on the right, is saved by justifying faith. 

4. As St. Bede says, the thieves who were 
crucified with Our Lord, represent those who for 
the faith and to confess Christ undergo the agony 
of martyrdom or the severe discipline of a more 
perfect life. Those who do this for the sake of 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

eternal glory are typified by the thief on the right 
hand. Those whose motive is the admiration of 
whoever beholds them imitate the spirit and the 
act of the thief on the left-hand side. 

As Christ owed no debt in payment for which 
a man must die, but submitted to death of his own 
will, in order to overcome death, so also he had 
not done anything on account of which he deserved 
to be put with the thieves. But of his own will 
he chose to be reckoned among the wicked, that 
by his power he might destroy wickedness itself. 
Which is why St. John Chrysostom says that to 
convert the thief on the cross and to turn him to 
Paradise was as great a miracle as the earthquake. 

(3 4<$ ii.) 



First Friday 

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY LANCE AND THE 
NAILS OF OUR LORD 

One of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and 
immediately there came out blood and water. 

John xix. 34. 

1. The gospel deliberately says opened and not 
wounded, because through Our Lord s side there 
was opened to us the gate of eternal life. After 
these things I looked, and behold a gate was opened in 
heaven (Apoc. iv. i). This is the door opened 
in the ark, through which enter the animals who 
will not perish in the flood. 

2. But this door is the cause of our salvation. 



FIRST FRIDAY 

Immediately there came forth blood and water ^ a thing 
truly miraculous, that, from a dead body, in which 
the blood congeals, blood should come forth. 

This was done to show that by the Passion of 
Christ we receive a full absolution, an absolution 
from every sin and every stain. We receive 
this absolution from sin through that blood which 
is the price of our redemption. You were not 
redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver^ from 
your vain conversation with the tradition of your fathers ; 
but with the precious blood of Christ^ as of a lamb 
unspotted and unde filed (i Pet. i. 18). 

We were absolved from every stain by the water, 
which is the laver of our redemption. In the 
prophet Ezechiel it is said, I iv ill pour upon you clean 
water \ and you shall be cleaned from all your filthiness 
(Ezech. xxxvi. 28), and in Zacharias, There shall 
be a fountain open to the house of David and to the in 
habitants of Jerusalem for the washing of the sinner 
and the unclean woman (Zach. xiii. i). 

And so these two things may be thought of in 
relation to two of the sacraments, the water to 
baptism and the blood to the Holy Eucharist. 
Or both may be referred to the Holy Eucharist 
since, in the Mass, water is mixed with the wine. 
Although the water is not of the substance of the 
sacrament. 

Again, as from the side of Christ asleep in death 
on the cross there flowed that blood and water 
in which the Church is consecrated, so from the 
side of the sleeping Adam was formed the first 
woman, who herself foreshadowed the Church. 

(In John xix.) 
65 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

First Saturday 

THE LOVE OF GOD SHOWN IN THE PASSION OF 
CHRIST 

God commendeth his charity towards us : because when 

as yet we were sinners, according to the time, Christ 

died for us. Rom. v. 8, 9. 

1. Christ died for the ungodly (ibid. 6) This is 
a great thing if we consider who it is that died, 
a great thing also if we consider on whose behalf 
he died. For scarce for a just man, will one die 
(ibid. 6), that is to say, that you will hardly find 
anyone who will die even to set free a man who 
is innocent, nay even it is said, The just perisheth, 
and no man layeth it to heart (Isaias Ivii). 

Rightly therefore does St. Paul say scarce will 
one die. There might perhaps be found one, some 
one rare person who out of superabundance of 
courage would be so bold as to die for a good man. 
But this is rare, for the simple reason that so to 
act is the greatest of all things. Greater love than 
this no man hath, says Our Lord himself, that a man 
lay down his life for his friends (John xv. 13). 

But the like of what Christ did himself, to die 
for evildoers and the wicked, has never been seen. 
Wherefore rightly do we ask in wonderment why 
Christ did it. 

2. If in fact it be asked why Christ died for the 
wicked, the answer is that God in this way com 
mendeth his charity towards us. He shows us in this 
way that He loves us with a love that knows no 

66 



FIRST SATURDAY 

limits, for while we were as yet sinners Christ died for 
us. 

The very death of Christ for us shows the love 
of God, for it was His son whom He gave to die 
that satisfaction might be made for us. God so 
loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son (John 
iii. 1 6). And thus as the love of God the Father 
for us is shown in his giving us His Holy Spirit, so 
also is it shown in this way, by his gift of his only 
Son. 

The Apostle says God commendeth^ signifying 
thereby that the love of God is a thing which 
cannot be measured. This is shown by the very 
fact of the matter, namely the fact that he gave 
His Son to die for us, and it is shown also by reason 
of the kind of people we are for whom He died. 
Christ was not stirred up to die for us by any merits 
of ours, when as yet we were sinners. God (who is rich 
in mercy) for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, 
even when ive were dead in sins, hath quickened us together 
in Christ (Eph. ii. 4). 

(In Rom. v.) 

3. All these things are almost too much to be 
believed. A. work is done in jour days, which no 
man will believe when it shall be told (Habac. i. 5). 
This truth that Christ died for us is so hard a truth 
that scarcely can our intelligence take hold of it. 
Nay it is a truth that our intelligence could in no 
way discover, And St. Paul, preaching, makes 
echo to Habacuc, I work a work in your days, a work 
which you will not believe, if any man shall tell it to 
you (Acts xiii 14). 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

So great is God s love for us and his grace towards 
us, that he does more for us than we can believe 
or understand. 

(In Symbolum.) 



Second Week in Lent Sunday 

GOD THE FATHER DELIVERED CHRIST TO His 
PASSION 

God spared not even His own Son, but delivered Him up 
for us all. Rom. viii. 32. 

Christ suffered willingly, moved by obedience 
to His Father. Wherefore, God the Father de 
livered Christ to his Passion, and this in three 
ways : 

1. Because the Father, of His eternal will, pre 
ordained the Passion of Christ as the means whereby 
to free the human race. So it is said in Isaias, 
The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 
liii. 6), and again, The Lord was pleased to bruise him 
in infirmity (ibid. liii. 10). 

2. Because He inspired Our Lord with the 
willingness to suffer for us, pouring into his soul 
the love which produced the will to suffer. Whence 
the prophet goes on to say, He was offered because it 
was his own will (Isa. liii. 7). 

3. Because He did not protect Our Lord from 
the Passion, but exposed him to his persecutors. 
Whence we read in St. Matthew s Gospel, that as 

68 



SECOND WEEK IN LENT SUNDAY 

he hung on the cross Christ said, My God, my God, 
why hast thou forsaken met (Matt, xxvii. 46). For 
God the Father, that is to say, had left him at the 
mercy of his torturers. 

To hand over an innocent man to suffering and 
to death, against his will, compelling him to die 
as it were, would indeed be cruel and wicked. 
But it was not in this way that God the Father 
handed over Christ. He handed over Christ by 
inspiring Film with the will to suffer for us. By 
so doing the severity of God is made clear to us, 
that no sin is forgiven without punishment under 
gone, which St. Paul again teaches when he says, 
God spared not his own Son. 

At the same time God s goodhearteclness is 
shown in the fact that whereas man could not, 
no matter what his punishment, sufficiently make 
satisfaction, God has given man someone who can 
make that satisfaction for him. Which is what 
St. Paul means by, He delivered him up for us all, 
and again when he says, God hath proposed Christ 
to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood (Rom. 
iii. 25). 

The same activity in a good man and in a bad 
man is differently judged inasmuch as the root 
from which it proceeds is different. The Father, 
for example, delivered over Christ and Christ 
delivered himself, and this from love, and therefore 
They are praised. Judas delivered Him from love 
of gain, the Jews from hatred, Pilate from the 
worldly fear with which he feared Gesar, and these 
are rightly regarded with horror. 

(3 47 3-) 
69 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Christ therefore did not owe to death the debt 
of necessity, but of charity the charity to men by 
which he willed their salvation, and the charity 
to God by which he willed to fulfil God s will, 
as it says in the gospel, Not as I mil but as Thou 
wilt (Matt, xx vi. 39). 

(2 Dist. xx. i 5.) 



Second Monday 

IT WAS FITTING THAT OUR LORD SHOULD SUFFER 
AT THE HANDS OF THE GENTILES 

They shall deliver him to the Gentiles^ to be mocked., 
and scourged^ and crucified. Matt. xx. 19. 

In the very manner of the Passion of Our Lord 
its effects are foreshadowed. In the first place, 
the Passion of Our Lord had for its effect the 
salvation of Jews, many of w T hom were baptised 
in his death. 

Secondly, by the preaching of these Jews, the 
effects of the Passion passed to the Gentiles also. 
There was thus a certain fitness in Our Lord s 
Passion beginning with the Jews and then, the 
Jews handing him on, that it should be com 
pleted at the hands of the Gentiles. 

To show the abundance of the love which moved 
him to suffer, Christ, on the very cross, asked 
mercy for his tormentors. And since He wished 
that Jew and Gentile alike should realise this 
truth about His love, so he wished that both should 
have a share in making him suffer. 

70 



SECOND TUESDAY 

It was the Jews and not the Gentiles who offered 
the figurative sacrifices of the Old Law. The 
Passion of Christ was an offering through sacrifice, 
inasmuch as Christ underwent death by his own 
will moved by charity. But in so far as those 
who put him to death were concerned, they were 
not offering a sacrifice but committing a sin. 

When the Jews declared, // is not lawful for us to 
put atiy man to death (John xix. 31), they may have 
had many things in mind. It was not lawful for 
them to put anyone to death on account of the 
holiness of the feast they had begun to keep. Per 
haps they wished Christ to be killed not as a trans 
gressor of their own law but as an enemy of the 
state, because he had made himself a king, a 
charge concerning which they had no jurisdiction. 
Or again, they may have meant that they had no 
power to crucify which was what they longed 
for but only to stone, as they later stoned St. 
Stephen. Or, the most likely thing of all, that 
their Roman conquerors had taken away their 
power of life and death. 

(3 47 40 



Second Tuesday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST BROUGHT ABOUT OUR 
SALVATION BECAUSE IT WAS A MERITORIOUS ACT 

i. Grace was given to Christ not only as to a 
particular person, but also as far as he is the head 
of the Church, in order that the grace might pass 
over from him to his members. 

7* 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

And the good works Christ performed, therefore, 
stand in this same way in relation to him and to his 
members, as the good works of any other man in 
a state of grace stand to himself. 

Now it is evident that any man who, in a state 
of grace, suffers for justice sake, merits for himself, 
by this very fact alone, salvation. As is said in 
the gospel, Blessed are they that suffer persecution for 
justice sake (Matt. v. 10). 

Whence Christ by his Passion merited salvation 
not only for himself but for all his members. 

Christ, indeed, from the very instant of his 
conception, merited eternal salvation for us. But 
there still remained certain obstacles on our part, 
obstacles which kept us from possessing our 
selves of the effect of what Christ had merited. 
Wherefore, in order to remove these obstacles, 
// behoved Christ to suffer (Luke xxiv. 46). 

Now although the love of Christ for us was not 
increased in the Passion, and was not greater in 
the Passion than before it, the Passion of Christ 
had a certain effect which His previous meritorious 
activity did not have. The Passion produced 
this effect not on account of any greater love shown 
thereby, but because it was a kind of action fitted 
to produce that effect, as is evident from w r hat 
has been said already on the fitness of the Passion 
of Christ. 

(3 48 i.) 

Head and members belong to one and the same 
person. Now Christ is our head, according to 
his divinity and to the fullness of his grace which 



SECOND TUESDAY 

overflows upon others also. We are his members. 
What Christ then meritoriously acquires is not 
something external and foreign to us, but, by 
virtue of the unity of the mystical body, it over 
flows upon us too (3 Dist. xviii. 6). 

2. We should know, too, that although Christ 
by his death acquired merit sufficient for the whole 
human race, there are special things needed for 
the particular salvation of each individual soul, 
and these each soul must itself seek out. The 
death of Christ is, as it were, the cause of all sal 
vation, as the sin of the first man was the cause of 
all condemnation. But if each individual man is 
to share in the effect of a universal cause, the uni 
versal cause needs to be specially applied to each 
individual man. 

Now the effect of the sin of the first parents is 
transmitted to each individual through his bodily 
origin (i.e., through his being a bodily descendant 
of the first man). The effect of the death of Christ 
is transmitted to each man through a spiritual re 
birth, a re-birth in which man is, as it were, con 
joined with Christ and incorporated with him. 

Therefore it is that each individual must seek 
to be born again through Christ, and to receive 
those other things in which works the power of 
the death of Christ. 

(Contra Gen. iv. 55.) 



73 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Second Wednesday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST BROUGHT ABOUT OUR 
SALVATION BECAUSE IT WAS AN ACT OF SATISFACTION 

Pie is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours 
only but also for those oj the whole world. i John ii. 2. 

i. Satisfaction for offences committed is truly 
made when there is offered to the person offended 
a thing which he loves as much as, or more than, 
he hates the offences committed. 

Christ, however, by suffering out of love and 
out of obedience, offered to God something 
greater by far than the satisfaction called for by all 
the sins of all mankind, and this for three reasons. 
In the first place, there was the greatness of the 
love which moved him to suffer. Then there 
was the worth of the life which he laid down in 
satisfaction, the life of God and man. Finally, 
on account of the way in which his Passion involved 
every part of his being, and of the greatness of 
the suffering he undertook. 

So it is that the Passion of Christ was not merely 
sufficient but superabundant as a satisfaction for 
men s sins. It would seem indeed to be the 
case that satisfaction should be made by the person 
who committed the offence. But head and mem 
bers are as it were one mystical person, and there 
fore the satisfaction made by Christ avails all the 
faithful as they are the members of Christ. One 
man can always make satisfaction for another, 
so long as the two are one in charity. 

(3 48 2.) 
74 



SECOND WEDNESDAY 

2. Although Christ, by his death, made sufficient 
satisfaction for original sin, it is not unfitting that 
the penal consequences of original sin should 
still lemain even in those who are made sharers 
in Christ s redemption. This has been done 
fittingly and usefully, so that the penalties remain 
even though the guilt has been removed. 

(i) It has been done so that there might be 
conformity between the faithful and Christ, as 
there is conformity between members and head. 
Just as Christ first of all suffered many pains and 
came in this way to his glory, so it is only right 
that his faithful should also first be subjected to 
sufferings and thence enter into immortality, 
themselves bearing as it were the livery of the 
Passion of Christ so as to enjoy a glory somewhat 
like to his. 

(ii) A second reason is that if men coming to 
Christ were straightway freed from suffering and 
the necessity of death, only too many would come 
to him attracted rather by these temporal advan 
tages than by spiritual things. And this w r ould be 
altogether contrary to the intention of Christ, 
who came into this world that he might convert 
men from a love of temporal advantages and win 
them to spiritual things. 

(iii) Finally, if those who came to Christ were 
straightway rendered immortal and impassible, 
this would in a kind of way compel men to receive 
the faith of Christ, and so the merit of believing 
would be lessened. 

(Contra Gen. iv. 55.) 
75 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Second Thursday 

THAT THE PASSION OF CHRIST BROUGHT ABOUT 
ITS EFFECT BECAUSE IT WAS A SACRIFICE 

i. A sacrifice properly so called is something 
done to render God the honour specially due to 
Him, in order to appease Him. St. Augustine 
teaches this, saying, " Every work done in order 
that we may, in a holy union, cleave to God is a true 
sacrifice every work, that is to say, related to that 
final good whose possession alone can make us 
truly happy." Christ in the Passion offered himself 
for us, and it was just this circumstance that he 
offered himself willingly which w T as to God the 
most precious thing of all, since the willingness 
came from the greatest possible love. Whence it is 
evident that the Passion of Christ was a real sacri 
fice. 

And as he himself adds later. The former sacri 
fices of the saints were so many signs, of different 
kinds, of this one true sacrifice. This one thing 
w^as signified through many things, as one thing 
is said through many words, so that it may be 
repeated often without beginning to weary people. 

St. Augustine speaks of four things being found 
in every sacrifice, namely a person to whom the 
offering is made, one by whom it is made, the thing 
offered and those on whose behalf it is offered. 
These are all found in the Passion of Our Lord. 
It is the same person, the only, true mediator 
himself, \vho through the sacrifice of peace recon 
ciles us to God, yet remains one with him to whom 

76 



SECOND THURSDAY 

he offers, who makes one with him those for whom 
he offers, and is himself one who both offers and 
is offered. 

2. It is true that in those sacrifices of the old 
law which were types of Christ, human flesh was 
never offered, but it does not follow from this that 
the Passion of Christ was not a sacrifice. For 
although the reality and the thing that typifies it 
must coincide in one point, it is not necessary that 
they coincide in every point, for the reality must 
go beyond the thing that typifies it. It was then 
very fitting that the sacrifice in which the flesh of 
Christ is offered for us was typified by a sacrifice 
not of the flesh of man but of other animals, to 
foreshadow the flesh of Christ which is the most 
perfect sacrifice of all. It is the most perfect 
sacrifice of all. 

(i) Because since it is the flesh of human nature 
that is offered, it is a thing fittingly offered for 
men and fittingly received by men in a sacra 
ment. 

(ii) Because, since the flesh of Christ was 
able to suffer and to die it was suitable for immola 
tion. 

(iii) Because since that flesh was itself without 
sin, it had a power to cleanse from sin. 

(iv) Because being the flesh of the very offerer, 
it was acceptable to God by reason of the un 
speakable love of the one who was offering his 
own flesh. 

Whence St. Augustine says, " What is there more 

77 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

suitably received by men, of offerings made on 
their behalf, than human flesh, and what is so 
suitable for immolation as mortal flesh ? And 
what is so clean for cleansing mortal viciousness 
as that flesh born, without stain of carnal desire, 
in the womb and of the womb of a virgin ? And 
what can be so graciously offered and received 
as the flesh of our sacrifice, the body so produced 
of our priest ?" 

(3 48 30 



Second Friday 

FEAST OF THE HOLY WINDING SHEET 

Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen 

cloth and laid it in his own new monument. 

Matt, xxvii. 59. 

1. By this clean linen cloth three things are 
signified in a hidden way, namely : 

(i) The pure body of Christ. For the cloth 
was made of linen which by much pressing is made 
white and in like manner it was after much pressure 
that the body of Christ came to the brightness of the 
resurrection. Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and 
to rise again from the dead the third day (Luke xxiv. 46). 

(ii) The Church, which without spot or wrinkle 
(Eph. v. 27), is signified by this linen woven out of 
many threads. 

(iii) A clear conscience, where Christ reposes. 

2. And laid him in his own new monument. 

78 



SECOND SATURDAY 

// was Joseph s own grave ^ and certainly it was some 
how appropriate that he who had died for the sins 
of others should be buried in another man s grave. 

Notice that it was a new grave. Had other 
bodies already been laid in it, there might have 
been a doubt which had arisen. There is another 
fitness in this circumstance, namely that he who 
was buried in this new grave, was he who was 
born of a virgin mother. 

As Mary s womb knew no child before him nor 
after him, so was it with this grave. Again we 
may understand that it is in a soul renewed that 
Christ is buried by faith, that Christ may dwell by 
faith in our hearts (Eph. iii. 17). 

St. John s Gospel adds, Now there was in the 
place where he was crucified^ a garden ; and in the 
garden a new sepulchre (John xix. 41). Which recalls 
to us that as Christ was taken in a garden and 
suffered his agony in a garden, so in a garden 
was he buried, and thereby we are reminded that 
it was from the sin committed by Adam in the 
garden of delightfulness that, by the power of his 
Passion, Christ set us free, and also that through 
the Passion the Church was consecrated, the 
Church which again is as a garden closed. 

(In Matt. 26.) 

Second Saturday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST WROUGHT OUR SALVATION 
BY REDEEMING US 

St. Peter says, You were not redeemed with cor- 

79 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

ruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain con 
versation of the tradition of your fathers : but with the 
precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and 
unde filed (i Pet. i. 18). 

St. Paul says, Christ hath redeemed us from the 
curse of the laiv, being made a curse for us (Gal. iii. 13). 
He is said to be accursed in our place inasmuch as 
it was for us that he suffered on the cross. There 
fore by his Passion he redeemed us. 

Sin, in fact, had bound man with a double 
obligation. 

(i) An obligation that made him sin s slave. 
For Jesus said, whosoever committeth sin is the servant 
of sin (John viii. 34). A man is enslaved to whoever 
overcomes him. Therefore since the devil, in 
inducing man to sin, had overcome man, man was 
bound in servitude to the devil. 

(ii) A further obligation existed, namely be 
tween man and the penalty due for the sin com 
mitted, and man was bound in this way in accord 
with the justice of God. This too was a kind of 
servitude, for to servitude or slavery it belongs 
that a man must suffer otherwise than he chooses, 
since the free man is the man who uses himself 
as he wills. 

Since then the Passion of Christ made sufficient, 
and more than sufficient, satisfaction for the sins 
of all mankind and for the penalty due to them, 
the Passion was a kind of price through which 
we were free from both these obligations. For 
the satisfaction itself that by means of which one 
makes satisfaction, whether for oneself or for 

80 



SECOND SATURDAY 

another is spoken of as a kind of price by which 
one redeems or buys back oneself or another from 
sin and from merited penalties. So in Holy 
Scripture it is said, Redeem thou thy sins with alms 
(Dan. iv. 24). 

Christ made satisfaction not indeed by a gift of 
money or anything of that sort, but by a gift that 
was the greatest of all, by giving for us Himself. 
And thus it is that the Passion of Christ is called 
our redemption. 

By sinning man bound himself not to God but 
to the devil. As far as concerns the guilt of what 
he did, he had offended God and had made him 
self subject to the devil, assenting to his will. 

Hence he did not, by reason of the sin com 
mitted, bind himself to God, but rather, deserting 
God s service, he had fallen under the yoke of the 
devil. And God, with justice if we remember 
the offence committed against Him, had not pre 
vented this. 

But, if we consider the matter of the punishment 
earned, it was chiefly and in the first place to God 
that man was bound, as to the supreme judge. 
Man was, in respect of punishment, bound to the 
devil only in a lesser sense, as to the torturer, as it 
says in the gospel, Lest the adversary deliver thee 
to the judge^ and the judge deliver thee to the officer 
(Matt. v. 25), that is, to the cruel minister of punish 
ments . 

Therefore, although the devil unjustly, as far as 
was in his power, held man whom by his lies 
he had deceived bound in slavery, held him 
bound both on account of the guilt and of the 

81 F 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

punishment due for it, it was nevertheless just that 
man should suffer in this way. The slavery which 
he suffered on account of the thing done God 
did not prevent, and the slavery he suffered as 
punishment God decreed. 

Therefore it was in regard to God s claims that 
justice called for man to be redeemed, and not in 
regard to the devil s hold on us. And it was to 
God the price was paid and not to the devil. 

(3 48 4-) 



Third Week in Lent Sunday 

IT is THE PASSION OF CHRIST THAT HAS FREED 
us FROM SIN 

He hath loved us^ and washed us from our sins in his 
own blood. Apoc. i. 5. 

The Passion of Christ is the proper cause of the 
remission of our sins, and that in three ways. 

1. Because it provokes us to love God. St. 
Paul says, God commendeth his charity towards us ; 
because when as yet ive ivere sinners^ Christ died for us 
(Rom. v. 8). 

Through charity we obtain forgiveness for sin, 
as it says in the gospel, Many sins are forgiven her^ 
because she hath loved -much (Luke vii. 47). 

2. The Passion of Christ is the cause of the 
forgiveness of sins because it is an act of redemp 
tion. Since Christ is himself our head, he has, 

82 



THIRD WEEK IN LENT SUNDAY 

by his own Passion undertaken from love and 
obedience delivered us his members from our 
sins, as it were at the price of his Passion. Just 
as a man might by some act of goodness done with 
his hands buy himself off for a wrong thing he 
had done with his feet. For as man s natural 
body is a unity, made up of different limbs, so the 
whole Church, which is the mystical body of Christ, 
is reckoned as a single person with its own head, 
and this head is Christ. 

3. The Passion of Christ was a thing equal 
to its task. For the human nature through which 
Christ suffered his Passion is the instrument of 
His divine nature. Whence all the actions and 
all the sufferings of that human nature wrought 
to drive out sin, are wrought by a power that 
is divine. 

Christ, in His Passion, delivered us from our 
sins in a causal way, that is to say, he set up for 
us a thing which would be a cause of our emanci 
pation, a thing whereby any sin might at any time 
be remitted, whether committed now, or in times 
gone by, or in time to come : much as a physician 
might make a medicine from which all who are 
sick may be healed, even those sick in the years 
yet to come. 

But since what gives the Passion of Christ its 
excellence is the fact that it is the universal cause 
of the forgiveness of sins, it is necessary that we 
each of us ourselves make use of it for the for 
giveness of our own particular sins. This is done 
through Baptism, Penance and the other sacra- 

83 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

ments, whose power derives from the Passion 
of Christ. 

By faith also we make use of the Passion of 
Christ, in order to receive its fruits, as St. Paul says, 
Christ Jesus, whom God hath proposed to be a propitia 
tion, through faith in his blood (Rom. iii 25). But the 
faith by which we are cleansed from sin is not that 
faith which can exist side by side with sin the 
faith called formless but faith formed, that is 
to say, faith made alive by charity. So that the 
Passion of Christ is not through faith applied merely 
to our understanding but also to our will. Again, 
it is from the power of the Passion of Christ that 
the sins are forgiven which are forgiven by faith in 
this way. 

(3 49 x )- 



Third Monday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST HAS DELIVERED us FROM 
THE DEVIL 

Our Lord said, as His Passion drew near, Noiv 
shall the princes of this world be cast out. And I, 
if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to 
myself (John xii. 31, 32). 

He was lifted up from the earth by His Passion 
on the cross. Therefore by that Passion the devil 
was driven out from his dominion over men. 

With reference to that power, which, before the 
Passion of Christ, the devil used to exercise over 
mankind, three things are to be borne in mind. 



THIRD MONDAY 

1. Man had by his sin earned for himself 
enslavement to the devil, for it was by the devil s 
temptation that he had been overcome. 

2. God, whom man in sinning had offended, 
had, by his justice, abandoned man to the enslave 
ment of the devil. 

3. The devil by his own most wicked will 
stood in the way of man s achieving his salvation. 

With regard to the first point the Passion of Christ 
set man free from the devil s power because the 
Passion of Christ brought about the forgiveness of 
sin. As to the second point the Passion delivered 
man from the devil, because it brought about a 
reconciliation between God and man. As to the 
third point, the Passion of Christ freed us from the 
devil s power because in his action during the 
Passion the devil over-reached himself. He went 
beyond the limits of the power over men allowed 
to him by God, when he plotted the death of 
Christ, upon whom, since he was without sin, 
there lay no debt payable by death. Whence St. 
Augustine s words, " The devil was overcome by 
the justice of Christ. In Him the devil found 
nothing that deserved death, but, none the less, he 
slew him. And it was but just that those debtors 
that the devil detained should go free since they 
believed in Him whom, though he was under 
no bond to him, the devil had slain." 

The devil still continues to exercise a power 
over men. He can, God permitting it, tempt them 
in soul and in body. There is, however, made 
available for man a remedy in the Passion of Christ, 

85 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

by means of which he can defend himself against 
these attacks, so that they do not lead him into 
the destruction of eternal death. Likewise all 
those who before the Passion of Christ resisted the 
devil had derived their power to resist from the 
Passion, although the Passion had not yet been 
accomplished. But in one point none of those 
who lived before the Passion had been able to 
escape the hand of the devil, namely, they all had 
to go down into hell, a thing from which, since the 
Passion, all men can, by his power, defend them 
selves. 

God also allows the devil to deceive men in 
certain persons, times and places, according to the 
hidden character of His designs. Such, for 
example, will be anti-Christ. But there always 
remains, and for the age of anti-Christ too, a 
remedy prepared for man through the Passion of 
Christ, a power of protecting himself against the 
wickedness of the devils. The fact that there are 
some who neglect to make use of this remedy does 
not lessen the efficacy of the Passion of Christ. 

(3 49 2 



Third Tuesday 

CHRIST is TRULY OUR REDEEMER 

You were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, 
as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled. i Pet. i. 19. 

By the sin of our first parents, the whole human 
race was alienated from God, as is taught in the 

86 



THIRD TUESDAY 



second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians. 
It was not from God s power that we were thereby 
cut off, but from that sight of God s face to which 
His children and His servants are admitted. 

Then again we descended beneath the usurped 
power of the devil. Man had consented to the 
devil s will and, thereby, had made himself subject 
to the devil ; subject, that is to say, as far as lay 
in man s power, for since he was not his own 
property, but the property of another, he could 
not really give himself away to the devil. 

By His Passion, then, Christ did two things. 
He freed us from the power of the enemy, con 
quering him by virtues which were the very con 
traries to the vices by which he had conquered man 
by humility, namely, by obedience and by an 
austerity of suffering that was in direct opposition 
to the enjoyment of forbidden food. 

Furthermore, by making satisfaction for the sin 
committed, Christ joined man with God and made 
him the child and servant of God. 

This emancipation had about it two things that 
make it a kind of buying. Christ is said to have 
bought us back or to have redeemed us inasmuch 
as he snatched us from the power of the devil, 
as a king is said, by hard-fought battles, to re 
deem his kingdom that the enemy has occupied. 
Christ is again said to have redeemed us inasmuch 
as He placated God for us, paying as it were the 
price of His satisfaction on our behalf, that we 
might be freed both from the penalty and from the 
sin. 

This price, His precious blood, he paid that 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

he might make satisfaction for us not to the 
devil but to God. Again, by the victory that 
His Passion was, he took us away from the devil. 

The devil had indeed had dominion over us, 
but unjustly, since what power he had was usurped. 
Nevertheless, it was but just that we should fall 
under his yoke, seeing that it was by him we were 
overcome. This is why it was necessary that the 
devil should be overcome by the very contrary of 
the forces by which he had himself overcome. 
For he had not overcome by violence, but by a 
lying persuasion to sin. 

(3 Dist. 19 91, a 4.) 



Third Wednesday 

THE PRICE OF OUR REDEMPTION 
You are bought with a great price. i Cor. vi. 20. 

The indignities and sufferings anyone suffers 
are measured according to the dignity of the person 
concerned. If a king is struck in the face he 
suffers a greater indignity than does a private 
person. But the dignity of Christ is infinite, for 
He is a divine person. Therefore, any suffering 
undergone by him, even the least conceivable 
suffering, is infinite. Any suffering at all, then, 
undergone by Him, without His death, would 
have sufficed to redeem the human race. 

St. Bernard says that the least drop of the blood 
of Christ would have sufficed for the redemption 
of us all. And Christ could have shed that one 



THIRD WEDNESDAY 



drop without dying. Therefore, even without 
dying he could, by some kind of suffering, have 
redeemed, that is, bought back, all mankind. 

Now in buying two things are required, an 
amount equal to the price demanded and the 
assigning of that amount to the purpose of buying. 
For if a man gives a price that is not equal in 
value to the thing to be bought, we do not say 
that he has bought it, but only that he has partly 
bought it, and partly been given it. For example, 
if a man buys for ten shillings a book that is worth 
twenty shillings, he has partly bought the book and 
it has, partly, been given to him. Or again, if he 
puts together a greater price but does not assign 
it to the buying, he is not said to buy the book. 

If therefore when we speak of the redemption 
and buying back of the human race we have in 
view the amount of the price, we must say that 
any suffering undergone by Christ, even without 
His death, would have sufficed, because of the 
infinite worth of His person. If, however, we 
speak of the redemption with reference to the 
setting of the price to the purpose in hand, we 
have then to say that no other suffering of Christ 
less than His death, was set by God and by Christ 
as the price to be paid for the redemption of man 
kind. And this was so for three reasons : 

1. That the price of our redemption should 
not only be infinite in value, but be of the same kind 
as what it bought, i.e., that it should be with a 
death that He bought us back from death. 

2. That the death of Christ would be not only 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

the price of our redemption but also an example of 
courage, so that men would not be afraid to die 
for the truth. St. Paul makes mention of this 
and the preceding cause when he says, That, through 
death, he might destroy him who had the empire of death 
(this is the first cause), and might deliver them, who 
throng the fear of death rvere all their lifetime subject 
to servitude (this for the second cause) (Heb. ii. 



3. That the death of Christ might be a sacra 
ment to work our salvation ; we, that is, dying 
to sin, to bodily desires and to our own will through 
the power of the death of Christ. These reasons 
are given by St. Peter when he says, Christ who 
died once for our sins, the just for the unjust ; that he 
might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the 
flesh, but enlivened in the spirit (i Pet. iii. 18). 

And so it is that mankind has not been re 
deemed by any other suffering of Christ without 
his death. 

But, as a matter of fact, Christ would have paid 
sufficiently for the redemption of mankind not only 
by giving His own life but by suffering any suffering 
no matter how slight, if this slight suffering had 
been the thing divinely appointed, and Christ would 
thereby have paid sufficiently because of the 
infinite worth of His person. 

(Quodlib. 2 q i, a 2.) 



90 



THIRD THURSDAY 



Third Thursday 

THE PREACHING OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN 

The woman therefore left her water-pot, and went her 
way into the city. John iv. 28. 

This woman, once Christ had instructed her, 
became an apostle. There are three things which 
we can gather from what she said and what she 
did. 

i. The entirety of her surrender to Our Lord. 
This is shown : 

(i) From the fact that she left lying there, almost 
as if forgotten, that for which she had come to the 
well, the water and the water-pot. So great was 
her absorption. Hence it is said, The woman left her 
water-pot and went away into the city, went away to 
announce the wonderful works of Christ. She 
cared no longer for the bodily comforts in view 
of the usefulness of better things, following in this 
the example of the Apostles of whom it is said that, 
Leaving their nets they followed the ~Lord (Mark i. 18). 

The water-pot stands for fashionable desire, by 
means of which men draw up pleasures from those 
depths of darkness signified by the well, that is, 
from practices which are of the earth earthy. 
Those who abandon such desires for the sake of 
God are like the woman who left her water-pot. 

(ii) From the multitude of people to whom she 
tells the news, not to one nor to two or three but 
to a whole city. This is why she went away into 
the city. 

9 1 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

2. A method of preaching. 

She salth to the men there : Come, and see a man who 
has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not 
he the Christ? John iv. 29. 

(i) She invites them to look upon Christ : 
Come, and see a man she did not straightway say 
that they should give themselves to Christ, for 
that might have been for them an occasion for 
blasphemy, but, to begin with, she told them 
things about Christ which were believable and 
open to observation. She told them he w r as a man. 
Nor did she say, Believe, but come and see, for she 
knew that if they, too, tasted of that well, looking 
that is upon Our Lord, they, too, would feel 
all she had felt. And she follows the example of 
a true preacher in that she attracts the men not 
to herself but to Christ. 

(ii) She gives them a hint that Christ is God 
when she says, A man who has told me all things 
whatsoever I have done, that is to say, how many 
husbands she had had. She is not ashamed to 
bring up things that make for her own confusion, 
because the soul, once it is lighted up with the divine 
fire, in no way looks to earthly values and standards, 
cares neither for its own glory nor its shame, but 
only for that flame which holds and consumes it. 

(iii) She suggests that this proves the majesty 
of Christ, saying, Is not he the Christ? She does 
not dare to assert that he is the Christ, lest she have 
the appearance of wishing to teach others, and 
the others, irritated thereat, refuse to go out to 
Him. Nor, on the other hand, does she leave 

92 



THIRD FRIDAY 

the matter in silence, but she puts it before them 
questioningly, as though she left it to their own 
judgment. For this is the easiest of all ways of 
persuasion. 

3. The Fruit of Preaching. 

They therefore went out of the city^ and came unto 
Christ. John iv. 30. 

Hereby it is made clear to us that if we would 
come to Christ, we too must go out of the city, 
which is to say, we must lay aside all love of 
bodily delights. 

Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp 
(Heb. xiii. 13). 

(In John iv.) 



Third Friday 

IT is BY THE PASSION OF CHRIST THAT WE HAVE 

BEEN FREED FROM THE PUNISHMENT DUE TO SlN 

Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our 
sorrows. Isaias liii. 4. 

By the Passion of Christ we are freed from the 
liability to be punished for sin with the punish 
ment that sin calls for, in two ways, directly and 
indirectly. 

We are freed directly inasmuch as the Passion of 
Christ made sufficient and more than sufficient 
satisfaction for the sins of the whole human race. 
Now once sufficient satisfaction has been made, 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

the liability to the punishment mentioned is 
destroyed. 

We are freed indirectly inasmuch as the Passion 
of Christ causes the sin to be remitted, and it is 
from the sin that the liability to the punishment 
mentioned derives. 

Souls in hell, however, are not freed by the 
Passion of Christ, because the Passion of Christ 
shares its effect with those to whom it is applied 
by faith and by charity and by the sacraments of 
faith. Therefore the souls in hell, who are not 
linked up with the Passion of Christ in the way just 
mentioned, cannot receive its effects. 

Now although we are freed from liability to the 
precise penalty that sin deserves, there is, never 
theless, enjoined on the repentant sinner a penalty 
or penance of satisfaction. For in order that the 
effect of the Passion of Christ be fully worked out 
in us, it is necessary for us to be made of like form 
with Christ. Now we are made of like form with 
Christ in baptism by the sacrament, as is said by 
St. Paul, We are buried together with him by baptism 
into death (Rom. vi. 4). Whence it is that no 
penalty of satisfaction is imposed on those who 
are baptised. Through the satisfaction made by 
Christ they are wholly set free. But since Christ 
died once for our sins (i Pet. iii. 18), once only, man 
cannot a second time be made of like form with 
the death of Christ through the sacrament of 
baptism. Therefore those who, after baptism, 
sin again, must be made like to Christ in his 
suffering, through some kind of penalty or suffering 
which they endure in their own persons. 

94 



THIRD SATURDAY 



If death, which is a penalty due to sin, continues 
to subsist, the reason is this : The satisfaction made 
by Christ produces its effect in us in so far as we 
are made of one body with him, in the way limbs 
are one body with the head. Now it is necessary 
that the limbs be made to conform to the head. 
Wherefore since Christ at first had, together with 
the grace in his soul, a liability to suffer in his body, 
and came to His glorious immortality through the 
Passion, so also should it be with us, who are his 
limbs. By the Passion we are indeed delivered 
from any punishment as a thing fixed on us, but 
we are delivered in such a way that it is in the soul 
we first receive the spirit of the adoption of sons, 
by which we are put on the list for the inheritance 
of eternal glory, while we still retain a body that 
can suffer and die. It is only afterwards, when 
we have been fashioned to the likeness of Christ 
in his sufferings and death, that we are brought 
into the glory of immortality. St. Paul teaches 
this when he says, If sons, heirs also ; heirs indeed of 
God, and joint heirs with Christ : jet so, if ire suffer 
n ith him, that n>e may be also glorified with him (Rom. 
viii. 17). 

(3 49 30 



Third Saturday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST RECONCILES us TO GOD 

We wen reconciled to God through the death of his son. 

Rom. v. 10. 

95 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

1. The Passion of Christ brought about our 
reconciliation to God in two ways. 

It removed the sin that had made the human 
race God s enemy, as it says in Holy Scripture, 
To God the wicked and his wickedness are alike hateful 
(Wis. xiv. 9), and again, Thou hatest all the workers 
of iniquity (Ps. v. 7). 

Secondly, the Passion was a sacrifice most 
acceptable to God. It is in fact the peculiar effect 
of sacrifice to be itself a thing by which God is 
placated : just as a man remits offences done against 
him for the sake of some acknowledgment, pleasing 
to him, which is made. Whence it is said, If the 
Lord stir thee up against me, let him accept of sacrifice 
(i Kings xxvi. 19). Likewise, the voluntary suffer 
ing of Christ was so good a thing in itself, that for 
the sake of this good thing found in human nature, 
God was pleased beyond the totality of offences 
committed by all mankind, as far as concerns all 
those who are linked to Christ in his suffering by 
faith and by charity. 

When we say that the Passion of Christ recon 
ciled us to God we do not mean that God began to 
love us all over again, for it is written, I have loved 
thee with an everlasting love (Jer. xxxi. 3). We mean 
that by the Passion the cause of the hatred was 
taken away, on the one hand by the removal of 
the sin, on the other hand by the compensation 
of a good that was more than acceptable. 

(3 49 4-) 

2. As far as those who slew Our Lord were 
concerned the Passion was indeed a cause of wrath. 



THIRD SATURDAY 

But the love of Christ suffering was greater than 
the wickedness of those who caused Him to suffer. 
And therefore the Passion of Christ w r as more 
powerful in reconciling to God the whole human 
race, than in moving God to anger. 

God s love for us is shown by what it does for 
us. God is said to love some men because he 
gives them a share in His own goodness, in that 
vision of His very essence from which there follows 
this that we live with Him, in His company, as 
His friends, for it is in that delightful condition of 
things that happiness (beatitude) consists. 

God is then said to love those whom He admits 
to that vision, either by giving them the vision 
directly or by giving them what will bring them 
to the vision as when he gives the Holy Spirit 
as a pledge of the vision. 

It was from this sharing in the divine goodness, 
from this vision of God s very essence, that man, 
by sin, had been removed, and it is in this sense 
that we speak of man as deprived of God s love. 

And inasmuch as Christ, making satisfaction 
for us by His Passion, brought it about that men 
were admitted to the vision of God, therefore 
it is that Christ is said to have reconciled us to 
God. 

(2 Dist. 19 q i, a 5.) 



97 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Fourth Week in Lent Sunday 

CHRIST BY His PASSION OPENED TO us THE GATES 
OF HEAVEN 

We have a confidence in the entering into the holies by 
the blood of Christ. Heb. x. 19. 

The closing of a gate is an obstacle hindering 
men s entrance. Now men are hindered from 
entrance to the heavenly kingdom by sin, for Isaias 
says, // shall be called the holy way : the unclean shall 
not pass over it (Is. xxxv. 8). 

Now the sin that hinders man s entrance into 
heaven is of two kinds. There is, first of all, 
the sin of our first parents. By this sin access 
to the kingdom of heaven was barred to man. 
\X- e read in Genesis (iii. 24) that after the sin of 
our first parents God placed before the paradise of 
pleasure Cherubim s and a flaming sword, turning every 
ivay^ to fceep the way of the tree of life. The other 
kind of hindrance arises from the sins special to 
each individual, the sins each man commits by his 
ow r n particular action. 

By the Passion of Christ we are freed not only 
from the sin common to all human nature, and 
this both as to the sin and as to its appointed 
penalty, since Christ pays the price on our behalf, 
but also we are delivered from our personal sins 
if we are numbered among those who are linked 
to the Passion by faith, by charity and by the 
sacraments of the Faith. Thus it is that through the 
Passion of Christ the gates of heaven are thrown 
open to us. And hence St. Paul says that Christ, 



FOURTH WEEK IN LENT SUNDAY 

being come an high priest of the good things to come, 
by his onm blood entered once into the holies , having ob 
tained a redemption that is eternal (Heb. ix. n). 

And this was foreshadowed in the Old Testa 
ment, where we read (Num. xxxv. 25, 28), the man- 
slayer shall abide there, that is, in the city of refuge, 
until the death of the high priest, that is anointed with 
holy oil. And after he is dead, then shall the man- 
slayer return to his onm country. 

The holy fathers who (before the coming of 
Christ) wrought works of justice earned their 
entrance into heaven through faith in the Passion 
of Christ, as is written, The saints by faith conquered 
kingdoms, wrought justice (Heb. xi. 33). By faith, 
too, it was that individuals w r ere cleansed from the 
sins they had individually committed. But faith 
or goodness, no matter who the person was that 
possessed it, was not enough to be able to move 
the hindrance created by the guilty state of the 
whole human creation. This hindrance was only 
removed at the price of the blood of Christ. And 
therefore before the Passion of Christ no one could 
enter the heavenly kingdom, to obtain that eternal 
happiness that consists in the full enjoyment of 
God. 

Christ by his Passion merited for us an entrance 
into heaven, and removed what stood in our way. 
By His Ascension, however, he, as it were, put 
mankind in possession of heaven. And therefore 
it is that He ascended opening the way before 
them. 

(3 49 5-) 
99 



M EDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Fourth Monday 

CHRIST BY His PASSION MERITED TO BE EXALTED 

He became obedient unto death^ even to the death of the 
cross : for which cause God hath exalted him. 

Phil. ii. 8. 

Merit is a thing which implies a certain equality 
of justice. Thus St. Paul says, To him that worketh^ 
the reward is reckoned according to debt (Rom. iv. 4). 

Now since a man who commits an injustice 
takes for himself more than is due to himself, it 
is just that he suffer loss even in what is actually 
due to him. If a man steals one sheep, he shall 
give back four as it says in Holy Scripture (Exod. 
xxii. i). And this is said to be merited inasmuch 
as in this way the man s evil will is punished. 
In the same way the man who acts with such 
justice that he take less than what is due to him, 
merits that more shall be generously superadded 
to what he has, as a kind of reward for his just 
will. So, for instance, the gospel tells us, He 
that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke xiv. 1 1). 

Now in His Passion Christ humbled himself 
below His dignity in four respects : 

(i) In respect of His Passion and His death, 
things which He did not owe to undergo. 

(ii) In respect to places, for His body was 
placed in a grave and his soul in hell. 

(iii) In respect to the confusion and shame that 
He endured. 

(iv) In respect to His being delivered over to 

100 



FOURTH MONDAY 

human authority, as He said Himself to Pilate, 
Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it 
were given thee from above (John xix. n). 

Therefore, on account of His Passion, He 
merited a fourfold exaltation. 

(i) A glorious resurrection. It is said in the 
Psalm (Ps. cxxxviii. i), Thou hast known my sitting 
down, that is, the humiliation of my Passion, and 

my rising up. 

(ii) An ascension into heaven. Whence it is 
said, He descended first into the lower parts of the earth : 
He that descended is the same also that ascended above 
all the heavens (Eph. iv. 9, 10). 

(iii) To be seated at the right hand of the Father, 
with His divinity made manifest. Isaias says, He 
shall be exalted, and extolled, and shall be exceeding 
high. As many have been astonished at thee, so shall 
his visage be inglorious among men, and St. Paul says, 
He became obedient unto death, even to the death of the 
cross. For which cause God hath exalted him and hath 
given him a name which is above all names (Phil. ii. 8, 9), 
that is to say, He shall be named God by all, and 
all shall pay Him reverence as God. And this is 
why St. Paul adds, That in the name of Jesus every 
knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, 
and under the earth (ibid. x). 

(iv) A power of judgment. For it is said, Thy 

cause hath been judged as that of the wicked. Cause and 
judgment thou shalt recover (Job xxxvi. 17). 

(3 49 6 



101 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Fourth Tuesday 

THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED 

Christ assumed human nature in order to restore 
fallen humanity. He had therefore to suffer and 
to do, according to human nature, the things which 
could serve as a remedy against the sin of the fall. 

Man s sin consists in this that he so cleaves to 
bodily goods that he neglects what is good spiri 
tually. It was therefore necessary for the Son of 
God to show this in the humanity he had taken, 
through all he did and suffered, so that men should 
repute temporal things, whether good or evil, as 
nothing, for otherwise, hindered by an exaggerated 
affection for them, they would be less devoted to 
spiritual things. 

Christ therefore chose poor people for his 
parents, people nevertheless perfect in virtue, so 
that none of us should glory in the mere rank or 
wealth of our parents. 

He led the life of a poor man, to teach us to 
set no store by wealth. 

He lived the life of an ordinary man, without 
any rank, to wean men from an undue desire for 
honours. 

Toil, thirst, hunger, the aches of the body, 
all these he endured, to encourage men, whom 
pleasures and delights attract, not to be deterred 
from virtue by the austerity a good life entails. 

He went so far as to endure even death, lest 
the fear of death might at any time tempt man 
to abandon the truth. And lest any of us might 

102 



FOURTH TUESDAY 

dread to die even a shameful death for the truth, 
he chose to die by the most accursed death of all, 
by crucifixion. 

That the Son of God, made man, should suffer 
death was also fitting for this reason, that by his 
example he stimulates our courage, and so makes 
true what St. Peter said, Christ suffered for us, leaving 
you an example that you should jollow his steps (i 
Pet. ii. 21). 

(Contra Armen. Sarac. 7) 

Christ truly suffered for us, leaving us an example 
in anxieties, contempts, scourgings, the cross, 
death itself, that we might follow in his steps. 
If we endure for Christ our own anxieties and suffer 
ings, we shall also reign together with Christ in 
the happiness that is everlasting. St. Bernard 
says, " How few are they, O Lord, who yearn to 
go after Thee, and yet there is no one that desireth 
not to come to Thee, for all men know that in Thy 
right hand are delights that will never fail. All 
desire to enjoy Thee, but not all to imitate Thee. 
They would willingly reign with Thee, but spare 
themselves from suffering with Thee. They have 
no desire to look for Thee, whom yet they desire 
to find." 

(De humanitate Chris ti, cap. 47.) 



103 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Fourth Wednesday 

THE DIVINE FRIEND 

His sisters sent to bun saying : Lord, behold, he whom 
tbou lovest is sick. John xi. 3. 

Three things here call for thought. 

1. God s friends are from time to time afflicted 
in the body. It is not, therefore, in any way a 
proof that a man is not a friend of God that he is 
from time to time sick and ailing. Eliphaz argued 
falsely against Job when he said, Remember, I 
pray the?, who ever perished being innocent ? or when 
iv ere the just destroyed? (Job iv. 7). 

The gospel corrects this when it says, Lord, behold, 
he whom tbou loves t is sick, and the Book of Proverbs, 
too, where we read, For whom tie Lord lovetb, be 
chastiseth : and as a father in the son he pleasetb him 
self (Prov. iii. 12). 

2. The sisters do not say, " Lord, come and 
heal him." They merely explain that Lazarus 
is ill, they say, He is sick. This is to remind us 
that, when we are dealing with a friend, it is enough 
to make known our necessity, w r e do not need to 
add a request. For a friend, since he wills the 
welfare of his friend as he wills his own, is as 
anxious to ward off evil from his friend as he is to 
ward it off from himself. This is true most of 
all in the case of Him who, of all friends, loves 
most truly. The Lord keepeth all them that love him 
(Ps. cxliv. 20). 

104 



FOURTH THURSDAY 

3. These two sisters, who so greatly desire the 
cure of their sick brother, do not come to Christ 
personally, as did the centurion and the man sick 
of the palsy. From the special love and familiarity 
which Christ had shown them, they had a special 
confidence in Him. And, possibly, their grief 
kept them at home, as St. Chrysostom thinks. 
A friend if he continue steadfast, shall be to thee as 
thyself, and shall act with confidence among them of 
thy household (Ecclus. vi. n). 

(In John xi.) 

Fourth Thursday 

THE DEATH OF LAZARUS 
i. Lazarus our friend skepeth (John xi. n). 

Our friend for the many benefits and services 
he rendered us, and therefore we owe it not to fail 
in his necessity. Slcepeth, therefore we must come 
to his assistance : a brother is proved in distress 
(Prov. xvii. 17). 

He skepeth -, I say, as St. Augustine says, to the 
Lord. But to men he was dead, nor had they 
power to raise him. 

Sleep is a word we use with various meanings. 
We use it to mean natural sleep, negligence, 
blameworthy inattention, the peace of contem 
plation, the peace of future glory, and we use it 
also to mean death. We will not have you ignorant, 
concerning the last sleep, that jou be not sorrowful, even 
as others that have no hope, says St. Paul (i Thess. 
iv. 12). 

105 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Death is called sleep because of the hope of 
resurrection, and so it has been customary to 
give death this name since the time when Christ 
died and was raised again, I have slept and have taken 
my rest (Ps. iii. 6). 

2. I go that I may awake him out of sleep (John 
xi. n). 

In these words Jesus gives us to understand 
that he could raise Lazarus from the tomb as 
easily as we raise a sleeper from his bed. Nor is 
this to be wondered at, for He is none other than 
the Lord who raiseth up the dead and giveth life 
(John v. 21). And hence He is able to say, The 
hour ccmeth when all that are in the graves shall hear 
the voice of the Son of God (ibid. v. 28). 

3. Let us go to him (John xi. 15). 

Here it is the mercifulness of God that we are 
shown. Men, living in sin and as it were dead, 
unable to any power of their own to come to 
him, He mercifully draws, anticipating their 
desire and need. Jeremias speaks of this when he 
says, Thus saith the Lord I have loved thee mtb an 
everlasting love., therefore have I drawn tbee, taking pity 
on thee (Jer. xxxi. 3). 

4. Jesus therefore came and found that he had been 
four days already in the grave (John xi. 17). 

St. Augustine sees in the four-days dead Lazarus 
a figure of the fourfold spiritual death of the 
sinner. He dies in tact through original sin, 
through actual sin, against the natural law, through 

1 06 



FOURTH FRIDAY 



actual sin against the written law, through actual 
sin against the law of the gospel and of grace. 

Another interpretation is that the first day repre 
sents the sin of the heart, Take away the evil of jour 
thoughts, says Isaias (i. 16) ; the second day repre 
sents sins of the tongue ; Let no evil speech proceed 
from your mouth , says St. Paul (Eph. iv. 29) ; the 
third day represents the sins of evil action, Cease 
to do perversely (Isaias i. 16) ; the fourth day stands 
for the sins of wicked habit. 

Whatever explanation we give, Our Lord at 
times does heal those who are four days dead, that 
is, those who have broken the law of the gospel 
and are bound fast by habits of sin. 

(In John xi.) 



Fourth Friday 

THE PRECIOUS BLOOD 

i. Through the blood of Christ the New 
Testament was confirmed. This chalice is the neiv 
testament in my blood (i Cor. xi. 25). Testament 
has a double meaning. 

(i) It may mean any kind of agreement or pact. 

Now God has twice made an agreement with 
mankind. In one pact God promised man temporal 
prosperity and deliverance from temporal losses, 
and this pact is called the Old Testament. In 
another pact God promised man spiritual blessings 
and deliverance from spiritual losses, and this is 
called the New Testament, I mil make a nen> covenant , 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

saith the Lord, with the house of Israel and with the 
hoi^e of ]uda : not according to the covenant which I 
made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by 
the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt : but 
this shall be the covenant : I will give my law in their 
bosoms and I will write it in their hearts and I will be 
their God and they shall be my people (]er. xxxi. 31-3 3). 

Among the ancients it was customary to pour 
out the blood of some victim in confirmation of a 
pact. This Moses did when, taking the blood, 
he sprinkled it upon the people and he said, This is the 
blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with 
you (Rxod. xxiv. 8). As the Old Testament or 
pact was thus confirmed in the figurative blood 
of oxen, so the New T Testament or pact was con 
firmed in the blood of Christ, shed during his 
Passion. 

(ii) Testament has another more restricted 
meaning when it signifies the arrangement of an 
inheritance among the different heirs, i.e., a will. 
Testaments, in this sense, are only confirmed by 
the death of the testator. As St. Paul says, For a 
testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise 
it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth 
(Keb. ix. 17). God, in the beginning, made an 
arrangement of the eternal inheritance we were to 
receive, but under the figure of temporal goods. 
This is the Old Testament. But afterwards He 
made the New Testament, explicitly promising the 
eternal inheritance, which indeed was confirmed 
by the blood of the death of Christ. And there 
fore, Our Lord, speaking of this, says, This chalice 
is the new testa went in my blood (i Cor. xi. 25), as 

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FOURTH FRIDAY 

though to say, " By that which is contained in 
this chalice, the new testament, confirmed in the 
blood of Christ, is commemorated." 

(In i Cor. xii.) 

2. There are other things which make the 
blood of Christ precious. It is : 

(i) A cleansing of our sins and uncleanness. 
Jesus Christ hath "loved us and washed us from our 
sins in his own blood (Apoc. i. 5). 

(ii) Our redemption, Thou hast redeemed us in 
Thy blood (ibid. v. 9). 

(iii) The peacemaker between us and God 
and his angels, making peace through the blood of his 
cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the 
things that are in the heavens (Coloss. i. 20). 

(iv) A draught of life to all who receive it. 
Drink ye all of this (Matt. xxvi. 27). That they might 
drink the purest blood of the grape (Deut. xxxii. 14). 

(v) The opening of the gate of heaven. Hairing 
therefore brethren, a confidence in the entering into the 
holies bj the blood of Christ (Heb. x. 19), that is to say, 
a continuous prayer for us to God. For His 
blood daily cries for us to the Father, as again we 
are told, You are come to the sprinkling of blood which 
speaketh better than that of Abel (ibid. xii. 22-24). 
The blood of Abel called for punishment. The 
blood of Christ calls for pardon. 

(vi) Deliverance of the saints from hell. Thou 
also bj the blood of thy testament hast sent forth thy 
prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water (Zach. 
ix. n). 

(Sermon for Passion Sunday.) 
109 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Fourth Saturday 

THERE WAS NOT ANY MORE FITTING WAY TO FREE 

THE HUMAN RACE THAN THROUGH THE PASSION 

OF CHRIST 

The suitability of any particular way for the 
attainment of a given end is reckoned according 
to the greater or less number of things useful to 
that end which the way in question brings about. 
The more things helpful to the end the method 
chosen brings about, the better and more suitable 
is that method or way. Now owing to the fact 
that it was through the Passion of Christ that 
man was delivered, many things, helpful to man s 
salvation, came together in addition to his being 
freed from sin. 

(i) Thanks to the fact that it was through the 
Passion that man was delivered, man learns how 
much God loves him, and is thereby stimulated 
to that love of God, in which is to be found 
the perfection of man s salvation. God commendeth 
his chanty towards us : because when as yet we were 
sinners^ Christ died for us (Rom. v. 8). 

(ii) In the Passion He gave us an example of 
obedience, humility, constancy, justice and of other 
virtues also, all of which we must practise if we 
are to be saved. Christ suffered for us^ leaving you 
an example that you should follow His steps (i Pet. ii. 
21). 

(iii) Christ by His Passion not only delivered 
man from sin, but also merited for man the grace 

no 



PASSION WEEK SUNDAY 

which makes him acceptable to God, and the 
glory of life with God for eternity. 

(iv) The fact that it is through the Passion 
that man has been saved, brings home to man the 
need of keeping himself clear from sin. Man 
has only to realise that it was at the price of the 
blood of Christ that he was bought back from sin. 
You are bought with a great price. Glorify God and 
bear him in your body (i Cor. vi. 20). 

(v) The fact that the Passion was the way chosen 
heightens the dignity of human nature. As it 
was man that was deceived and conquered by the 
devil, so now it is man by whom the devil in turn 
is conquered. As it was man who once earned 
death, so it is man who, by dying, has overcome 
death. Thanks be to God^ who hath given us the 
victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ (i Cor. xv. 57). 

(3 46 3.) 



Passion Week Sunday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST 

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert^ so must 
the Son of Man be lifted up : that whosoever believeth 
in him may not perish ; but may have life everlasting. 

John iii. 14, 15. 

We may note here three things. 

^i. The Figure of the Passion. As Moses 
lifted up the serpent in the desert. When the Jews 
said, Our soul now loathe th this very light food (Num. 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

xxi. 5), the Lord sent serpents in punishment, 
and afterwards, for a remedy, He commanded the 
brazen serpent to be made as a remedy against 
the serpents and also as a figure of the Passion. 
It is the nature of a serpent to be poisonous, but 
the brazen serpent had no poison. It was but the 
figure of a poisonous serpent. So also Christ had 
no sin, which is the poison, but He had the likeness 
of sin. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful 
flesh and of sin (Rom. viii. 3). Therefore Christ 
had the effect of the serpent against the move 
ments of our blazing desires. 

2. The Mode of the Passion. So must the Son 
of Man be lifted up. This refers to His being raised 
upon the cross. He willed to die lifted up, (i) 
To purify the air : already He had purified the 
earth by the holiness of His living there, it still 
remained for Him to purify, by His dying there, 
the air ; (ii) To triumph over the devils, who in 
the air, make their preparations to war on us ; 
(iii) To draw our hearts to His heart, I, if I be lifted 
up from the earth ^ will draw all things to myself (John 
xii. 32). Since in the death of the cross he was 
exalted, and since it was there that He overcame 
his enemies, we say that he was exalted rather than 
that he died. He shall drink of the torrent by the 
iv ay side ; therefore shall lie lift up His head (Ps. 
cix. 7). 

The cross was the cause of His exaltation. 
He became obedient unto death ^ even to the death of the 
cross, wherefore God hath exalted Him (Phil. ii. 8). 

3. The Fruit of the Passion. The fruit is 

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PASSION MONDAY 



eternal life. Whence Our Lord says Himself, 
Whosoever belicvetb in Him, doing good works, may 
not perish, but may have life everlasting (John iii. 16). 

And this fruit corresponds to the fruit of the 
serpent that foreshadowed Him. For whoever 
looked upon the brazen serpent was delivered from 
the poison and his life was preserved. Now the 
man who looks upon the Son of Man lifted up is 
the man who believes in Christ crucified, and it is 
in this way that he is delivered from the poison 
that is sin and preserved for the life that is eternal. 

(In John iii.) 



Passion Monday 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST is A REMEDY AGAINST SIN 

We find in the Passion of Christ a remedy against 
all the evils that we incur through sin. Now these 
evils are five in number. 

(i) We ourselves become unclean. When a 
man commits any sin he soils his soul, for just as 
virtue is the beauty of the soul, so sin is a stain upon 
it. How happeneih it, O Israel, that thou art in thy 
enemies land? Thou art grown old in a strange 
country , thou art defiled with the dead (Baruch iii. 10, 1 1). 

The Passion of Christ takes away this stain. 
For Christ, by His Passion, made of His blood a 
bath wherein He might wash sinners. The soul 
is washed with the blood of Christ in Baptism, for 
it is from the blood of Christ that the sacra 
ment draws its power of giving new life. When 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

therefore one who is baptised soils himself again 
by sin, he insults Christ and sins more deeply 
than before. 

(ii) W r e offend God. As the man who is fleshly- 
minded loves what is beautiful to the flesh, so God 
loves spiritual beauty, the beauty of the soul. 
When the soul s beauty is defiled by sin God is 
offended, and holds the offender in hatred. But 
the Passion of Christ takes away this hatred, 
for it does what man himself could not possibly 
do, namely it makes full satisfaction to God for the 
sin. The love and obedience of Christ was greater 
than the sin and rebellion of Adam. 

(iii) We ourselves are weakened. Man believes 
that, once he has committed the sin, he \\ill be able 
to keep from sin for the future. Experience shows 
that what really happens is quite otherwise. The 
effect of the first sin is to weaken the sinner and 
make him still more inclined to sin. Sin dominates 
man more and more, and man left to himself, 
whatever his powers, places himself in such a 
state that he cannot rise from it. Like a man who 
has thrown himself into a well, there he must lie, 
unless he is drawn up by some divine power. 
After the sin of Adam, then, our human nature 
was weaker, it had lost its perfection and men 
were more prone to sinning. 

But Christ, although He did not utterly make an 
end of this weakness, nevertheless greatly lessened 
it. Man is so strengthened by the Passion of Christ 
and the effect of Adam s sin is so weakened 
that he is no longer dominated by it. Helped by 

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PASSION MONDAY 



the grace of God, given him in the sacraments, 
which derive their power from the Passion of 
Christ, man is now able to make an effort and 
so rise up from his sins. Before the Passion 
of Christ there were few who lived without mortal 
sin, but since the Passion many have lived and do 
live without it. 

(iv) Liability to the punishment earned by 
sin. This the justice of God demanded, namely, 
that for each sin the sinner should be punished, 
the penalty to be measured according to the sin. 
Whence, since mortal sin is infinitely wicked, seeing 
that it is a sin against what is infinitely good, that 
is to say, God whose commands the sin despises, 
the punishment due to mortal sin is infinite too. 

But by His Passion Christ took away from us 
this penalty, for He endured it Himself. Who his 
own self bore our sins, that is the punishment due to 
us for our sins, in his body upon the tree (i Pet. 
ii. 24). 

So great was the power and value of the Passion 
of Christ that it was sufficient to expiate all the sins 
of all the world, reckoned by millions though they 
be. This is the reason why baptism frees the 
baptised from all their sins, and why the priest 
can forgive sin. This is why the man who more 
and more fashions his life in conformity with the 
Passion of Christ, and makes himself like to Christ 
in His Passion, attains an ever fuller pardon and 
ever greater graces. 

(v) Banishment from the kingdom. Subjects 
who offend the king are sent into exile. So, too, man 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

was expelled from Paradise. Adam, having sinned, 
was straightway thrown out and the gates barred 
against him. 

But, by His Passion, Christ opened those gates, 
and called back the exiles from banishment. As 
the side of Christ opened to the soldier s lance, 
the gates of heaven opened to man, and as Christ s 
blood flowed, the stain was washed out, God was 
appeased, our weakness taken away, amends made 
for our sins, and the exiles were recalled. Thus 
it was that Our Lord said immediately to the repent 
ant thief, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise 
(Luke xxiii. 43). Such a thing was never before 
said to any man, not to Adam nor to Abraham, nor 
even to David. But This day, the day on which the 
gate is opened, the thief does but ask and he finds. 
Having confidence in the entering into the holies by the 
blood of Christ (Heb. x. 19). 

(In Symb.) 



Passion Tuesday 

THE BURIAL OF CHRIST 

She hath nr ought a good work upon me. She in pouring 
this ointment upon me hath done it for my burial. 

Matt. xxvi. 10-12. 

It was right that Christ should be buried. 

i. It proved that He had really died. No one 
is placed in the grave unless he is undeniably 
dead. And, as we read in St. Mark (ch. xv), 
Pilate, before he gave leave for Christ to be buried, 

116 



PASSION TUESDAY 

made careful enquiry to assure himself that Christ 
was dead. 

2. The very fact that Christ rose again from the 
grave gives a hope of rising again through Him 
to all others who lie in their graves. As it says in 
the gospel, All that are in the grave shall hear the 
voice of the Son of God. And they that hear shall live 
(John v. 28, 25). 

3. It was an example for those who by the 
death of Christ are spiritually dead to sin, for those, 
that is, who are hidden aw r ay from the turmoil of 
human affairs. So St. Paul says, You are dead ; 
and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. iii. 3). 
So, too, those who are baptised, since by the death 
of Christ they die to sin, are as it were buried with 
Christ in their immersion, as St. Paul again says, 
We are buried together with Christ by baptism unto 
death (Rom. vi. 4). 

As the death of Christ efficiently wrought our 
salvation, so too is his burial effective for us. 
St. Jerome, for example, says, " By the burial of 
Christ we all rise again," and explaining the words 
of Isaias (liii. 9), He shall give the ungodly for his 
burial, the Gloss says, " This means He shall give 
to God and the Father the nations lacking in filial 
devotion : for through his death and burial he 
has obtained possession of them." 

The Psalm (Ps. Ixxxvii. 6) says, I am become as 
a man without help, free among the dead. Christ by 
being buried showed himself free among the dead 
indeed, for His being enclosed in the tomb was 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

not allowed to hinder His coining forth in the 
Resurrection. 

(3 5i I-) 



Passion Wednesday 

ON BEING BURIED SPIRITUALLY 

The sepulchre is a figure by which is signified 
the contemplation of heavenly things. So, St. 
Gregory, commenting on the words of Job (iii. 22), 
They rejoice exceedingly when they have found the grave ^ 
says, " As in the grave the body is hidden away 
when dead, so in divine contemplation there lies 
concealed the soul, dead to the world. There, 
at rest from the world s clamour, it lies, in a three 
days burial through, as it were, its triple immersion 
in baptism. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of 
thy face^ from the disturbance of men (Ps. xxx. 21). 
Those in great trouble, tormented with the hates 
of men, enter in spirit the presence of God and 
they are at rest." 

Three things are required for this spiritual 
burial in God, namely, that the mind be perfected 
by the virtues, that the mind be all bright and 
shining with purity, and that it be wholly dead 
to this world. All these things are shown figura 
tively in the burial of Christ. 

The first is shown in St. Mark s Gospel where 
we read how Alary Magdalen anointed Our Lord 
for His burial by anticipation, as it were. She 
hath done what she could : she is come beforehand to 
anoint my body for the burial (Mark xiv. 8). The 

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PASSION WEDNESDAY 

ointment of precious spikenard (ibid, iii) stands 
for the virtues, for it is a thing very precious, 
and in this life nothing is more precious than the 
virtues. The soul that wishes to be holy and to be 
buried in divine contemplation, must first, then, 
anoint itself by the exercise of the virtues. Job 
(v. 26) says, Thou shalt enter into the grave in abundance 
and the Gloss explains the grave as meaning 
here, " divine contemplation as a heap of 
wheat is brought in its season, and the explanation 
given in the Gloss is that eternal contemplation 
is the prize of a life of action, and therefore it 
must be that the perfect, first of all, exercise their 
souls in the virtues and then, afterwards, bury 
them in the barn where all quiet is gathered. 

The second of the three things required is also 
noted in St. Mark, where we read (xv. 46) that 
Joseph bought a winding sheet, that is, a sheet of 
fine linen, which is only brought to its dazzling 
whiteness with great labour. Hence it signifies 
that brightness of the soul, which also is not per 
fectly attained except with great labour. He that 
is just let him be justified still (Apoc. xxii. n). Let 
us walk in newness of life (Rom. vi. 4), going from 
good to better, through the justice inaugurated 
by faith to the glory for which we hope. There 
fore it is that men, bright with a spotless interior 
life, should be buried in the sepulchre of divine 
contemplation. St. Jerome, commenting on the 
words, Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see 
God (Matt. v. 8), says, " The clean Lord is seen by 
the clean of heart." 

The third point for consideration is given by 
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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

St. John where, in his gospel (xix. 30), he writes, 
Nicodemus also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh 
and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. This 
hundred pounds weight of myrrh and aloes, 
brought to preserve the dead body, symbolises 
that perfect mortification of the external senses, 
the means by which the spirit, dead to the world, 
is preserved from the vices that would corrupt it. 
Though our outward wan is corrupted, jet the inward 
man is renewed day by day (2 Cor. iv. 16), which is as 
much as to say the inward man is most thoroughly 
purified from vices by the fire of tribulation. 

Therefore man s soul must first, with Christ, 
become dead to this world, and then, afterwards, 
be buried with him in the hiding place of divine 
contemplation. St. Paul says, You are dead with 
Christ, to the things that, are vain and fleeting, 
and jour life is hid with Christ in God (Col. iii. 3). 

(De humanitate Chris ti, cap. 42.) 



Passion Thursday 

WHICH IS THE GREATEST SIGN OF HlS LOVE OUR 

LORD HAS GIVEN us ? 

It would seem that Christ gave us a greater 
sign of His love by giving us His body as our 
food than by suffering for us. For the love that 
will be in the life to come is a more perfect thing 
than the love that is in this life. And the benefit 
that Christ bestows on us by giving us His body 
as food is more like to the love of the life to come 

1 20 



PASSION THURSDAY 

in which we shall fully enjoy God. The Passion 
that Christ underwent for us is, on the other hand, 
more like to the love that is of this life, in which 
\ve, too, are to suffer for Christ. Therefore it is 
a greater sign of Christ s love for us that he de 
livered His body to us as our food, than that He 
suffered for us. 

Nevertheless, it is an argument against this that 
in St. John s gospel Our Lord himself says, Greater 
love than this no man hath^ that a man lay down bis 
life for his friends (John xv. 13). 

The strongest of human loves is the love with 
which a man loves himself. Therefore this love 
must be the measure, by comparison with which 
we estimate the love by which a man loves others 
than himself. Now the extent of a man s love 
for another is shown by the extent of good desired 
for himself that he forgoes for his friend. As Holy 
Scripture says, He that neglectetb a loss for the sake 
of a friend^ is just (Prov. xii. 26). Now a man 
wishes well to himself as to three things, namely, 
his soul, his body, and things outside himself. 

It is then already a sign of love that, for another, 
a man is willing to suffer loss of things outside 
himself. 

It is a greater sign if he is also willing to suffer 
loss in his body for another, that is, by bearing the 
burden of work or undergoing punishment. 

It is the greatest of all signs of love if a man 
is willing, by dying for his friend, to lay do\vn his 
very life. 

Therefore, that Christ, in suffering for us, laid 
down Ins life was the greatest of all signs that He 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

loved us. That He has given us His body for our 
food in the sacrament does not entail for Him any 
loss. It follows then that the first is the greater 
sign. Also this sacrament is a kind of memorial 
and figure of the Passion of Christ. But the truth 
is always greater than that which figures it, the 
thing is always greater than the memorial that 
recalls it. 

The showing forth of the body of Christ in the 
sacrament has about it, it is true, a certain figure 
of the love with which God loves us in the life 
to come. But Christ s Passion is associated with 
that love itself, by which God calls us from per 
dition to the life to come. The love of God, 
however, is not greater in the life to come than it 
is in this present life. 

(Quodlibeta 5 q 3 a 2.) 



Passion Friday 

OUR LADY S SUFFERING IN THE PASSION 
Thy own soul a sword shall pierce. Luke ii. 35. 

In these words there is noted for us the close 
association of Our Lady with the Passion of Christ. 
Four things especially made the Passion most 
bitter for her. 

Firstly, the goodness of her son, Who did no sin 
(i Pet. ii. 22). 

Secondly, the cruelty of those who crucified Him, 
shown, for example, in this that as He lay dying 

122 



PASSION FRIDAY 



they refused Him even water, nor would they allow 
His mother, who would most lovingly have given 
it, to help Him. 

Thirdly, the disgrace of the punishment, Let us 
condemn him to a most shameful death (Wis. ii. 20). 

Fourthly, the cruelty of the torment. O ye 
that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any 
sorrow like to my sorroiv (Lam. i. 12). 

(Serm.) 

The words of Simeon, Thy own soul a sword shall 
pierce^ Origen, and other doctors with him, ex 
plain with reference to the pain felt by Our Lady 
in the Passion of Christ. St. Ambrose, however, 
says that by the sword is signified Our Lady s 
prudence, thanks to which she was not without 
knowledge of the heavenly mystery. For the word 
of God is a living thing, strong and keener than the 
keenest sword (cf. Heb. iv. 12). 

Other writers again, St. Augustine for example, 
understand by the sword the stupefaction that 
overcame Our Lady at the death of her Son, not 
the doubt that goes with lack of faith but a certain 
fluctuation of bewilderment, a staggering of the 
mind. St. Basil, too, says that as Our Lady 
stood by the cross with all the detail of the Passion 
before her, and in her mind the testimony of Gabriel, 
the message that words cannot tell of her divine 
conception, and all the vast array of miracles, her 
mind swayed, for she saw Him the victim of such 
vileness, and yet knew Him for the author of 
such wonders. 

(3 27 4 ad 2.) 
123 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Although Our Lady knew by faith that it was 
God s will that Christ should suffer, and although 
she brought her will into unity with God s will 
in this matter, as the saints do, nevertheless, sad 
ness filled her soul at the death of Christ. This 
was because her lower will revolted at the particular 
thing she had willed and this is not contrary to 
perfection. 

(i Dist. 48 q unica a 3.) 



Passion Saturday 

HOW WE, EACH OF US, SHOULD WASH ONE ANOTHER S 

FEET 

If I then being your Lord and Master, have iv a shed your 
feet ; you also ought to n ash one another s feet 

(John xiii. 14). 

Our Lord wishes that His disciples shall imitate 
His example. He says therefore, If I, who am the 
greater, being your master and the Lord, have 
washed jour feet, you also, all the more who are the 
less, who are disciples, slaves even, ought to ivash 
one another s feet. Whosoever will be the greater among 
you.; let him be your minister. . . . P.ven as the Son of 
Man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister 
(Matt. xx. 26-28). 

St. Augustine says every man ought to wash the 
feet of his fellows, either actually or in spirit. And 
it is by far the best, and true beyond all contro 
versy, that we should do it actually, lest Christians 
scorn to do what Christ did. For when a man 

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PASSION SATURDAY 

bends his body to the feet of a brother, human 
feeling is stirred up in his very heart, or, if it be 
there already, it is strengthened. If we cannot 
actually wash his feet, at least we can do it in spirit. 
The washing of the feet signifies the washing 
away of stains. You therefore w r ash the feet of 
your brother when, as far as lies in your power, 
you wash away his stains. And this you may do 
in three wavs : 

(i) By forgiving the offences he has done to 
you. Forgiving one another, if any have a complaint 
against another : even as the Lord hath forgiven jo/t, 
so do you also (Coloss. iii. 13). 

(ii) By praying for the forgiveness of his sin, 
as St. James bids us, Pray for one another^ that you 
may be saved (James v. 16). This way of washing, 
like the first, is open to all the faithful. 

(iii) The third way is for prelates, who should 
wash by forgiving sins through the authority of 
the keys, according to the gospel, deceive ye the 
Holy Ghost ; whose sins you shall forgive , they are 
forgiven them (John xx. 23). 

We can also say that in this one act Our Lord 
showed all the works of mercy. He who gives 
bread to the hungry, washes his feet, as also does 
the man w T ho harbours the harbourless or he who 
clothes the naked. 

Communicating to the necessities of the saints (Rom. 
xii. 13). 

(In John xiii.) 



125 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Holy Week Palm Sunday 

CHRIST S PASSION SERVES us AS AN EXAMPLE 

The Passion of Christ is by itself sufficient to 
form us in every virtue. For whoever wishes to 
live perfectly, need do no more than scorn what 
Christ scorned on the cross, and desire what He 
there desired. There is no virtue of which, from 
the cross, Christ does not give us an example. 

If you seek an example of charity, Greater love 
than this no man hath, than that a man lay down His 
life for his friends (John xv. 13), and this Christ 
did on the cross. And since it was for us that He 
gave his life, it should not be burdensome to bear 
for Him whatever evils come our way. What 
shall I render to the Lord, for all the things that He 
hath rendered to me (Ps. cxv. 12). 

If you seek an example of patience, in the cross 
you find the best of all. Great patience shows 
itself in two ways. Either when a man suffers 
great evils patiently, or when he suffers what he 
could avoid and forbears to avoid. Now Christ 
on the cross suffered great evils. O all ye that 
pass by the way, attend and see, if there be any sorrow 
like to my sorrow (Lam. i. 12). And He suffered 
them patiently, for, when he suffered he threatened not 
(i Pet. ii. 23) but led as a sheep to the slaughter, he 
was dumb as a lamb before his shearer (Isaias liii. 7). 

Also it was in His power to avoid the suffering 
and He did not avoid it. Thinkest thou that I 
cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more 
than twelve legions of angels? (Matt. xxvi. 53). The 

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patience of Christ, then, on the cross was the 
greatest patience ever shown. Let us run by 
patience to the fight proposed to us : looking on Jesus, 
the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before 
Him, endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 
xii. i, 2). 

If you seek an example of humility, look at the 
crucified. For it is God who wills to be judged and 
to die at the will of Pontius Pilate. Thy cause hath 
been judged as that of the wicked (job xxxvi. 17). 
Truly as that of the wicked, for Let us condemn him 
to a most shameful death (Wis. ii. 20). The Lord 
willed to die for the slave, the life of the angels 
for man. 

If you seek an example of obedience, follow Him 
who became obedient unto death (Phil. ii. 8), for as by 
the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners ; 
so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just 
(Rom. v. 19). 

If you seek an example in the scorning of the 
things of this world, follow Him who is the King 
of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, in whom are all 
the treasures of wisdom. Lo ! on the cross He 
hangs naked, fooled, spit upon, beaten, crowned 
with thorns, sated with gall and vinegar, and dead. 
My garments they parted among them ; and upon my 
vesture they cast lots (Ps. xxi. 19). 

Error to crave for honours, for He was exposed to 
blows and to mockery. Error to seek titles and 
decorations for platting a crown of thorns, they 
put it upon His head, and a reed in his right hand. 
And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, 
saying Hail, king of the jews (Matt, xxvii. 29). 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

Error to cling to pleasures and comfort for 
they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they 
gave me vinegar to drink (Ps. Ixviii. 22). 

(In Symb.) 



Monday in Holy Week 

IT IS NECESSARY THAT WE BE WHOLLY CLEAN 

1. If I wash thee not, thou shaft have no part with 
me (John xiii. 8). No one can be made a sharer 
in the inheritance of eternity, a co-heir with Christ, 
unless he is spiritually cleansed, for in the Apocalypse 
it is so stated. There shall not enter info it anything 
defiled (Apoc. xxi. 27), and in the Psalms we read, 
Lord who shall dwell in thy tabernacle ? (Ps. xiv.) 
Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord ; 
or who shall stand in his holy place ? The inno 
cent in hands, and clean of heart (Ps. xxiii. 3, 4). 

It is therefore as though Our Lord said, If I 
wash thee not, thou shalt not be cleansed, and if 
thou art not cleansed, thou shalt have no part with 
me. 

2. Simon Peter saith to him : Lord, not only my 
feet but also my hands and my head (John xiii. 9). 

Peter, utterly stricken, offers his whole self to be 
washed, so confounded is he with love and with 
fear. We read, in fact, in the book called The 
journeying of Clement, that Peter used to be so over 
come by the bodily presence of Our Lord, which 
he had most fervently loved, that whenever, after 

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MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK 

Our Lord s Ascension, the memory of that dearest 
presence and most holy company came to him, 
he used so to melt into tears, that his cheeks seemed 
all worn out with them. 

We can consider three parts in man s body, 
the head, which is the highest, the feet, which are 
the lowest part, and the hands which lie in between. 
In the interior man, that is to say, in the soul, there 
are likewise three parts. Corresponding to the 
head there is the higher reason, the power by means 
of which the soul clings to God. For the hands 
there is the lower reason by which the soul operates 
in good works. For the feet there are the senses 
and the feelings and desires arising from them. 
Now Our Lord knew the disciples to be clean as 
far as the head was concerned, for He knew they 
were joined to God by faith and by charity. He 
knew their hands also were clean, for He knew their 
good works. But as to their feet, Fie knew that 
the disciples were still somewhat entangled in 
those inclinations to earthly things that derive 
out of the life of the senses. 

Peter, alarmed by Our Lord s warning (v. 8), 
not onlv consented that his feet should be washed, 
but begged that his hands and his head should be 
washed too. 

Lord, he said, not only my feet, but also my hands 
and my head. As though to say, " I know not 
whether hands and head need to be washed. 
For I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I 
not hereby justified (i Cor. iv. 4). Therefore I am 
ready not only for my feet to be washed, that is, 
those inclinations that arise out of the life of my 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

senses, but also my hands, that is, my works, and 
my head, too, that is, my higher reason." 

3. Jesus saith to him : He that is washed^ needeth 
not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you 
are dean (John xiii. 10). Origen, commenting 
on this text, says that the Apostles were clean, 
but needed to be yet cleaner. For reason should 
ever desire gifts that are better still, should ever 
set itself to achieve the very heights of virtue, should 
aspire to shine with the brightness of justice itself. 
He that is holy, let him be sanctified still (Apoc. 
xxii. n). 

(In John xiii.) 



Tuesday in Holy Week 

CHRIST PREPARING TO WASH THE APOSTLE S FEET 

Pie riseth from supper , and layeth aside his garments^ 
and having taken a towel, girded himself. John xiii. 4. 

i. Christ, in his lowly office, shows Himself 
truly to be a servant, in keeping with His own 
words, The Son of Man is not come to be ministered 
/#, but to minister., and to give His life a redemption for 
many (Matt. xx. 28). 

Three things are looked for in a good servant or 
minister : 

(i) That he should be careful to keep before 
him the numerous details in which his serving 
may so easily fall short. Now for a servant to sit 
or to lie down during his service is to make this 

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necessary supervision impossible. Hence it is 
that servants stand. And therefore the gospel 
says of Our Lord, He riseth from supper. Our 
Lord himself also asks us, For which is^ greater, he 
that sitteth at table or he that serve th ? (Luke xxii. 27). 

(ii) That he should show dexterity in doing 
at the right time all the things his particular office 
calls for. Now elaborate dress is a hindrance to 
this. Therefore Our Lord layeth aside his gar 
ments. And this was foreshadowed in the Old 
Testament when Abraham chose servants who 
were well appointed (Gen. xiv. 14). 

(iii) That he should be prompt, having ready 
to hand all the things he needs. St. Luke (x. 40) 
says of Martha that she was busy about much serving. 
This is why Our Lord, having taken a towel, girded 
himself. Thus he was ready not only to wash the 
feet, but also to dry them. So He (who came from 
God and goeth to God John xiii. 3), as He washes 
their feet, crushes down for ever our swollen, 
human self-importance. 

2. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and 
to wash (John xiii. 5). 

We arc given for our consideration this service 
of Christ ; and in three ways his humility is set 
for our example. 

(i) The kind of service this was, for it was the 
lowest kind of service of all ! The Lord of all 
majesty bending to wash the feet of his slaves. 

(ii) The number of services it contained, for, 
we are told, he put water into a basin, he washed 
their feet, he dried them and so forth. 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

(iii) The method of doing the service, for He 
did not do it through others, nor even with others 
helping him. He did the service Himself. The 
greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things 
(Ecclus. iii. 20). 

(In John xiii.) 



Holy Wednesday 

THREE THINGS ARE SYMBOLISED BY THE WASHING 
OF THE FEET 

He putteth "water into a basin, and began to wash the 
feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel 
wherewith he was girded (John xiii. 5). 

There are three things which this can be taken 
to symbolise. 

1. The pouring of the water into the basin is a 
symbol of the pouring out of His blood upon the 
earth. Since the blood of Jesus has a power of 
cleansing it may in a sense be called water. The 
reason why water, as well as blood, came out of 
His side, was to show that this blood could wash 
away sin. 

Again we might take the water as a figure of 
Christ s Passion. He putteth water into a basin, 
that is, by faith and devotion He stamped into the 
minds of faithful followers the memory of His 
Passion. Remember my poverty, and transgression, 
the wormwood and the gall (Lam. iii. 19). 

2. By the words and began to ivash it is human 

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HOLY WEDNESDAY 



imperfection that is symbolised. For the Apostles, 
after their living with Christ, were certainly more 
perfect, and yet they needed to be washed, there 
were still stains upon them. We are here made to 
understand that no matter what is the degree of any 
man s perfection he still needs to be made more 
perfect still ; He is still contracting uncleanness of 
some kind to some extent. So in the Book of 
Proverbs we read, Who can say My heart is clean^ I am 
pure from sin (Prov. xx. 9). 

Nevertheless the Apostles and the just have this 
kind of uncleanness only in their feet. 

There are however others who are infected, not 
only in their feet, but wholly and entirely. Those 
who make their bed upon the soiling attractions 
of the world are made wholly unclean thereby. 
Those who wholly, that is to say, with their senses 
and with their wills, cleave to their desire of earthly 
things, these are wholly unclean. 

But they who do not thus lie down, they who 
stand, that is, they who, in mind and in desire, are 
tending towards heavenly things, contract this 
uncleanness in their feet. Whoever stands must, 
necessarily, touch the earth at least with his feet. 
And we, too, in this life, where we must, to main 
tain life, make use of earthly things, cannot but 
contract a certain uncleanness, at least as far as those 
desires and inclinations are concerned which begin 
in our senses. 

Therefore Our Lord commanded His disciples 
to shake off the dust from their feet. The text 
says, " He began to w^ash," because this washing 
away on earth of the affection for earthly things is 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

only a beginning. It is only in the life to come 
that it will be really complete. 

Thus by putting water into the basin, the pouring 
out of His blood is signified, and by His beginning 
to wash the feet of His disciples the washing away 
of our sins. 

3. There is symbolised finally Our Lord s 
taking upon Him the punishment due to our sins. 
Not only did He wash away our sins but He also 
took upon Himself the punishment that they had 
earned. For our pains and our penances would 
not suffice were they not founded in the merit 
and the power of the Passion of Christ. And 
this is shown in His wiping the feet of the disciples 
with the linen towel, that is the towel which is 
His body. 

(In John xiii.) 



Maundy Thursday 

THE LAST SUPPER 

It was most fitting that the sacrament of the 
body of the Lord should have been instituted at 
the Last Supper. 

i. Because of what that sacrament contains. 
For that which is contained in it is Christ Himself. 
When Christ in Flis natural appearance was about 
to depart from His disciples, Fie left Flimself to 
them in a sacramental appearance, just as in the 
absence of the emperor there is exhibited the 

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MAUNDY THURSDAY 

emperor s image. Whence St. Eusebius says, 
" Since the body he had assumed was about to be 
taken away from their bodily sight, and was about 
to be carried to the stars, it was necessary that, on 
the day of His last supper, He should consecrate 
for us the sacrament of His body and blood, so 
that what, as a price, was offered once should, 
through a mystery, be worshipped unceasingly." 

2. Because without faith in the Passion there 
can never be salvation. Therefore it is necessary 
that there should be, for ever, among men some- 
tiling that would represent the Lord s Passion 
and the chief of such representative things in the 
Old Testament was the Paschal Lamb. To this 
there succeeded in the New Testament the sacrament 
of the Eucharist, which is commemorative of the 
past Passion of the Lord as the Paschal Lamb was a 
foreshadowing of the Passion to come.* 

And therefore was it most fitting that, on the very 
eve of the Passion, the old sacrament of the Paschal 
Lamb having been celebrated, Our Lord should 
institute the new sacrament. 

3. Because the last w r ords of departing friends 
remain longest in the memory, our love being at 
such moments most tenderly alert. Nothing can 
be greater in the realm of sacrifice than that of the 
body and blood of Christ, no offering can be more 
effective. And hence, in order that the sacrament 
might be held in all the more veneration, it was in 

* Quod est rernemorativum praeteritae Dominicas Passionis, sicut et 
illud fuit future praefigurativum. 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

His last leave-taking of the Apostles that Our Lord 
instituted it. 

Hence St. Augustine says, " Our Saviour, to 
bring before our minds with all His power the 
heights and the depths of this sacrament, willed, 
ere He left the disciples to go forth to His Passion, 
to fix it in their hearts and their memories as His 
last act." 



Let us note that this sacrament has a threefold 
meaning : 

(i) In regard to the past, it is commemorative 
of the Lord s Passion, which was a true sacrifice, 
and because of this the sacrament is called a sacri 
fice. 

(ii) In regard to a fact of our own time, that is, 
to the unity of the church and that through this 
sacrament mankind should be gathered together. 
Because of this the sacrament is called communion. 

St. John Damascene says the sacrament is called 
communion because by means of it we com 
municate with Christ, and this because we hereby 
share in His body and in His divinity, and because 
by it we are communicated to and united with one 
another. 

(iii) In regard to the future, the sacrament 
foreshadows that enjoyment of God which shall 
be ours in our fatherland. On this account the 
sacrament is called viaticum, since it provides us 
with the means of journeying to that fatherland. 



GOOD FRIDAY 

And on this account, too, the sacrament is also called 
Eucharist, that is to say, the good grace, either 
because the grace of God is life eternal^ or because it 
really contains Christ who is the fullness of grace. 
In Greek the sacrament is also called Metalipsis, 
that is, Assumption, for through the sacrament we 
assume the divinity of the Son of God. 

(De Humanitate Christi.) 



Good Friday 

THE DEATH OF CHRIST 
That Christ should die was expedient. 

1. To make our redemption complete. For, 
although any suffering of Christ had an infinite 
value, because of its union with His divinity, it 
was not by no matter which of His sufferings that 
the redemption of mankind was made complete, 
but only by His death. So the Holy Spirit declared 
speaking through the mouth of Caiaphas, It is 
expedient for you that one man shall die for the people 
(John xi. 50). Whence St. Augustine says, "Let 
us stand in wonder, rejoice, be glad, love, praise, 
and adore since it is by the death of our Redeemer, 
that we have been called from death to life, from 
exile to our own land, from mourning to joy." 

2. To increase our faith, our hope and our 
charity. With regard to faith the Psalm says (Ps. 
cxl. 10), I am alone until J pass from this world, that 

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MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

is, to the Father. When I shall have passed to 
the Father, then shall I be multiplied. Unless 
the grain of wheat falling into the ground die y itself 
remaineth alone (John xii. 24). 

As to the increase of hope St, Paul writes, He 
that spared not evm his own Son, but delivered him up 
for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all 
things? (Rom. viii. 32). God cannot deny us this, 
for to give us all things is less than to give His 
own Son to death for us. St. Bernard says, " Who 
is not carried away to hope and confidence in prayer, 
when he looks on the crucifix and sees how Our 
Lord hangs there, the head bent as though to kiss, 
the arms outstretched in an embrace, the hands 
pierced to give, the side opened to love, the feet 
nailed to remain with us." 

Come, my dove, in the clefts of the rock (Cant. ii. 14). 
It is in the wounds of Christ the Church builds 
its nest and waits, for it is in the Passion of Our 
Lord that she places her hope of salvation, and 
thereby trusts to be protected from the craft of the 
falcon, that is, of the devil. 

With regard to the increase of charity, Holy 
Scripture says, At noon he burneth the earth (Ecclus. 
xliii. 3), that is to say, in the fervour of His Passion 
He burns up all mankind with His love. So St. 
Bernard says, " The chalice thou didst drink, O 
good Jesus, maketh thee lovable above all things." 
The work of our redemption easily, brushing 
aside all hindrances, calls out in return the whole of 
our love. This it is which more gently draws out 
our devotion, builds it up more straightly, guards 
it more closely, and fires it with greater ardour. 

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HOLY SATURDAY 



3. Because our salvation is wrought in the 
manner of a sacrament, we dying to this world in 
a likeness to His death, So that my soul chooseth 
hanging, and my bones death (Job vii. 15). St. Gregory 
says, " The soul is the mind s aspiration, the bones 
are the strength of the body s desires. Things 
hanged are raised thereby from the depths. The 
soul, then, is hanged to things eternal that the 
bones may die, for it is with the love of eternal 
life that the soul slays the strong attraction earthly 
things possess for it." 

It is a sign that a soul is dead to the uorld when 
a soul is despised by the world. Again, to quote 
St. Gregory, "The sea keeps the bodies that are 
alive in it. Once they are dead it quickly casts 
them up." 

(De Humanitate Christi, cap. 47.) 



Holy Saturday 

WHY OUR LORD WENT DOWN TO LIMBO 

From the descent of Christ to hell we may learn, 
for our instruction, four things : 

i. Firm hope in God. No matter what the 
trouble in which a man finds himself, he should 
always put trust in God s help and rely on it. There 
is no trouble greater than to find oneself in hell. 
If then Christ freed those who were in hell, any 
man who is a friend of God cannot but have great 
confidence that he too shall be freed from what- 



MEDITATIONS AND READINGS FOR LENT 

ever anxiety holds him. Wisdom forsook not the 
just when he was sold, but delivered him from sinners ; 
she went down with him into the pit and in bands she 
left him not (Wis. x. 13-14). And since to His 
servants God gives a special assistance, he who 
serves God should have still greater confidence. 
He that fear eth the Lord shall tremble at nothing^ and 
shall not be afraid : for he is his hope (Ecclus. xxxiv. 
16). 

2. We ought to conceive fear and to rid our 
selves of presumption. For although Christ 
suffered for sinners, and went down into hell to 
set them free, he did not set all sinners free, but 
only those who were free of mortal sin. Those 
who had died in mortal sin He left there. Where 
fore for those who have gone down to hell in 
mortal sin there remains no hope of pardon. They 
shall be in hell as the holy Fathers are in heaven, 
that is for ever. 

3. We ought to be full of care. Christ went 
down into hell for our salvation, and we should 
be careful frequently to go down there too, turning 
over in our minds hell s pain and penalties, as 
did the holy king Ezechias as we read in the 
prophecy of Isaias, I said : In the midst of my dajs 
I shall go to the gates of hell (Isaias xxxviii. 10). 

Those who in their meditation often go down 
to hell during life, will not easily go down there 
at death. Such meditations are a powerful arm 
against sin, and a useful aid to bring a man back 
from sin. Daily we see men kept from evildoing 

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HOLY SATURDAY 

by the fear of the law s punishments. How much 
greater care should they not take on account of 
the punishment of hell, greater in its duration, in 
its bitterness and in its variety. Kemember thy 
last end and thou shalt neve? sin (Ecclus. vii. 40). 

4. The fact is for us an example of love. Christ 
went down into hell to set free those that were his 
own. We, too, therefore, should go down there 
to help our own. For those who are in purgatory 
are themselves unable to do anything, and there 
fore we ought to help them. Truly he would 
be a harsh man indeed who failed to come to the 
aid of a kinsman who lay in prison, here on earth. 
How much more harsh, then, the man who will 
not aid the friend who is in purgatory, for there 
is no comparison between the pains there and the 
pains of this world. Have pity on me, have pity on 
me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord 
hath touched me (Job xix. 21). 

We help the souls in purgatory chiefly by these 
three means, by masses, by prayers, and by alms 
giving. Nor is it wonderful that we can do so, 
for even in this world a friend can make satisfaction 
for a friend. 

(In Symb.) 



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