Hours of the Passion
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church
From 7 P.M. to 8 P.M.
The Legal Supper.
O Jesus, you have arrived at the upper room together with your beloved disciples and sit down to supper with them. What tenderness, what kindliness you show in all your person, as you humble yourself to eat material food for the last time! Here, now, everything in you is love. On this occasion also, You not only atone for sins of gluttony, but You also pray for the sanctification of food, for it to become the body’s strength. We are mindful of how you desire our holiness in our humble, ordinary, everyday acts.
Jesus, my Life, your sweet and penetrating gaze seems to search all of the Apostles; and while eating with them your Heart remains pierced in seeing your dear Apostles still weak and feeble, especially the untrue Judas, who has already put a foot in hell. And from the depths of your heart you cry bitterly, What good is to come from shedding my blood? Here is a soul so favored by Me —lost! Your eyes, burnished with loving light, burn into him, to make him understand the great evil he is about to commit.
Your Supreme Charity makes You bear this pain, and You do not share it even with your beloved Apostles. As you grieve over Judas, your heart is filled with joy to see the beloved disciple, John, on your left. And unable to contain your love any longer, you gently draw him to you, rest his head on your heart, letting him know what only you foresee: paradise!
It is in this solemn hour that the two peoples, the reprobate and the elect, are portrayed by the two disciples: the reprobate in Judas, who already feels hell in his heart; the elect in John, who rests and delights in You. O my sweet Lord, I also draw near to You, who are all tenderness toward the sinners who want to love You. Make me worthy, unworthy creature though I am, of resting my tired head on your adorable Heart. I pray you to make me feel the delights of heaven now, so that, enraptured by the sweet harmonies of your heart, the earth may no longer be earth for me, but heaven. But in these sweet and divine harmonies, I sense that painful heartbeats escape from your heart. They are for the lost souls! O Jesus, I beg You, do not allow more souls to be lost. Let your heart beat in theirs, and make them feel the heartbeats of the life of heaven, just as your beloved disciple, John, felt them. Attracted by the gentleness and sweetness of your Love, may they all surrender to You!
O Jesus, while I remain here in your heart, feed me as you fed your apostles, with, the food of love, the food of your holy word the food of the divine will. O my Jesus, do not deny me this food, which You so yearn for me to have, so that your very Life may be formed in me. My dear, good Jesus, while I am here beside you, I see that the food you are eating together with your dear disciples is nothing other than a lamb. This is the figurative lamb. And, as no more vital life fluid remains in this lamb by force of the fire, so it is with you, the mystical lamb, who must consume yourself completely for creatures by force of love. You will not keep even a single drop of your blood for yourself, having to shed it all, for love of us.
O Jesus, there is nothing You do which does not portray vividly your most sorrowful Passion, which You keep always present in your mind, in your Heart —in everything. This teaches me that if I too would always have the thought of your Passion in my mind and in my heart, You would never deny me the food of your Love.
How grateful I am to you! O my Jesus, you have me with you in your every act, intending something special for me. I beg you for the grace to have your Passion always before me in my mind, in my heart, in my glances, in my footsteps and in whatever I do, so that no matter where I turn, interiorly or before others, you will always be present to me. Give me the grace never to forget what you have suffered and endured for me. Let this be my magnet which attracts my entire being to you and keeps me from going away from you.
Reflections and Practices.
Before eating, let us join our intentions to those of our lovable and good Jesus, imagining that our mouth and Jesus’ are one, and that we are moving our tongue and our jaws together with his. In this way, not only will we draw into ourselves the life of Jesus Christ, but since He is present with his Will in the mouths of all creatures, we will unite ourselves with Him to give our Father the glory, praise, love, thanksgiving, and complete reparation that creatures owe Him, just as Jesus did while eating.
Let us also imagine being at the table near Jesus, now looking at Him, now praying Him to share a bite with us, now kissing the hem of His red mantle, now contemplating the movements of His lips and of His celestial eyes, now noticing the sudden clouding of His most lovable Face in foreseeing so much human ingratitude! Just as loving Jesus spoke of his Passion during supper, so will we, whenever we take food, reflect on how we have done the Hours of the Passion.
The Angels, just as they did when our Jesus was on earth, wait to collect our prayers and reparations and to present the divine disposition before the Father to mitigate, in some way, his just indignation for the many offences He receives from creatures. And when we pray, can we say we are recollected and reverent? Can we say that the Angels are happy to carry our prayers joyfully to Heaven, just as they carried those of Jesus, or are they saddened by our prayers? As sorrowful Jesus was eating, his Heart was pierced at the thought of the loss of Judas. In him, He saw all the souls who would be lost. And the loss of souls being the greatest of his sorrows, unable to contain it, he drew John to himself for relief.
In the same way, we will remain always close to Him like John, compassionating Him in His pains, relieving Him, and giving Him rest in our hearts. We will make His pain our own, we will identify ourselves with Him, to feel the heartbeats of that Divine Heart, pierced by the loss of souls. We will give Him our own heartbeats in order to remove those wounds; and in the place of those wounds we will put the souls who willingly free Him, so that they may convert and be saved. Every beat of Jesus' heart is an I love you that echoes in all the heartbeats of creatures; His desire is to be reciprocated by all created hearts in a continuous exchange of love. But loving Jesus is deprived of this response on the part of many, and his heartbeats are left, as it were, stifled and embittered.
Let us ask Jesus to seal our heartbeat with his I love you, so that our heart can also live the life of his heart. Then, echoing in the heartbeat of creatures it will compel them to say, “I love you, Jesus.” We will even fuse ourselves in Him, we will take on the divine disposition so that every time we do so, loving Jesus will tell us “I love you.” This “I love you” is so immense that it fills Heaven and earth, flows in the Saints, and descends into Purgatory. The hearts of all creatures are touched by this “I love you.” The elements themselves experience new life in such a way that they all feel the effects of this “I love you,” which issues forth from Jesus.
Even in his breathing, Jesus feels suffocated for the loss of souls. We will give him our breath of love to relieve him. And taking his breath, we will touch the souls that flee from his arms, to give them the life of the divine breath so that instead of running away they can return to him and cling to him more than before. Especially when we experience pain and find it difficult to breathe, let us think of Jesus who contains the breath of creatures in his own breath.
He also feels his breath being taken when souls are lost. Let us unite our painful and labored breaths with those of Jesus to relieve Him. In our sorrows, let us run after the sinner, compelling him to seek refuge in the Heart of Jesus. My beloved Good, may my breath be a continuous cry at every creature’s breath, forcing her to enclose herself in your breath. The first word that loving Jesus said on the Cross was a word of forgiveness to pardon all souls before the Father. Jesus so loves the souls who stand around his Heart asking forgiveness, that He feels as if his arms were breaking and so replaces Justice with Mercy.
We will give Him our acts to excuse the sinner, so that moved by our excuses no soul can go to hell. We will join with him to keep guard over the hearts of creatures so that no one will offend him. We will let Him pour out His love, willingly accepting all that He may dispose for us —coldness, hardness, darkness, oppressions, temptations, distractions, slanders, illnesses and other things, so as to relieve Him from all that He receives from creatures.
Jesus pours more than his Love on souls. He often goes to a soul when He feels the coldness of creatures and lets the soul experience this coldness. If the soul is receptive, Jesus will feel relieved from all the coldness of creatures, and this cold will then serve to guard other hearts so that loving Jesus is loved. At other times, Jesus feels the hardness of hearts in his own. Unable to contain it, He seeks to expel it by drawing closer to us. He touches his Heart to ours so that we may partake of that hardness. When we embrace his pain as our own, we put it around the heart of the sinner to melt his hardness and bring him back to Jesus.
My beloved Jesus is beset by the carelessness of creatures and wants to give vent to his grief by sharing it with us. As we suffer with resignation, let us place these heedless acts around Him, as a breath of wind to ease his pains. And we shall shield Him from these willful acts of carelessness.
My beloved Good, You suffer greatly because of the loss of souls; and out of compassion I place my being at your disposal. I will take your pains and the pains of the sinners upon myself, leaving You relieved, and the sinner clinging to You. O my Jesus, melt my entire being into love so that I may continually comfort You and sweeten all your bitterness.
(Personal Offering and Thanksgiving)