Hours of the Passion
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church
From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Jesus is crowned with thorns.
My Jesus, infinite love, the more I look at you the more I realize how much you suffer. You are lacerated all over; there is no sound part left in you. You torturers are enraged to see that despite all your pains you look at them with so much love. Your loving gaze forms a sweet enchantment, almost like so many voices that are praying and begging for more pains and new pains. So, these torturers—not only because they are inhuman, but forced as well by your love—get you to your feet. But, being unable to stand, you fall again in your own blood. Angered by this, with kicks and shoves, they make you reach the place where they will crown you with thorns. My love, if you don't sustain me with your look of love, I won't be able to continue to see you suffer.
I can already feel my bones shuddering. My heart is pounding. I feel I am dying. Jesus, Jesus, help me! My gentle Jesus says to me:
“My child, take courage. Do not lose anything of all that I have suffered. Be attentive to my teachings. I must completely make man over. Sin has taken away his crown, and has crowned him with such disgrace and confusion that he cannot come before my majesty. Sin has dishonored him, making him lose every right to honor and glory. So, in order to put the crown back on the forehead of man and give back to him all rights to every honor and glory, I want to be crowned with thorns. Before my Father, my thorns will be reparations and voices of forgiveness for so many sins of thought, especially those of pride, and voices of light to every created mind and of entreaty that they not offend me. So, join with me, and pray and make reparation together with me.”
Crowned Jesus, your pitiless enemies make you sit down, and they put a purple rag on you. They take the crown of thorns and with infernal fury put on your adorable head. Then, beating it with a stick they make it penetrate into your forehead; and part of the thorns go into your eyes, your ears, your head and even the back of your neck. My love, what agony! What unspeakable pains! How many cruel deaths you suffer! So much blood is already running down your face that nothing but blood can be seen. But under those thorns and blood I can see your most holy face radiant with gentleness, peace and love.
Wanting to complete the tragedy, your torturers blindfold you, put a reed in your hand as a scepter and begin their jests. They greet you, saying, “King of the Jews!” They hit the crown, they slap you and say, “Guess who struck you!” Your response is to remain silent, and to make reparation for the ambition of those who aspire to kingdoms, dignities and honors; for those who, finding themselves in such positions, by their wrongdoing cause the ruin of the peoples and of the souls entrusted to them; and for those whose bad example lead others into evil and cause the loss of souls.
With this reed you are holding in your hand, you make reparation for so many good works which are empty of interior spirit and are even done with evil intentions. In the insults you receive, you make reparation for those who ridicule the most sacred things, discrediting them and profaning them.
With the blindfold you have on, you make reparation for those who blindfold the eyes of their intelligence so they won't see the light of the truth. At the same time, you obtain for us the grace to remove the blindfolds of passions, riches and pleasures. My king, Jesus, your enemies continue to insult you. There is so much blood flowing from your most holy head that, entering even into your mouth, it keeps you from letting me hear your gentle voice clearly, and so I can't do what you are doing. Therefore, I come into your arms. I want to support your pierced and suffering head; and I want to put my head under those thorns to feel their punctures. As I am saying this, my Jesus calls me with his look of love—and I run. I cling to his heart, and do my best to support his head.
Oh! How wonderful it is to be with Jesus, even in the midst of a thousand torments! He says to me:
“My child, these thorns say that I want to be made king of every heart. All dominion is mine by right. Take these thorns, pierce your heart and make everything go out of it that does not belong to me. Leave a thorn in your heart as the seal to show I am your king and to keep anything else from entering into you. Then, go around to all hearts, piercing them to drive out all the smoke of pride and rottenness which they contain, and make me king of everyone.”
My love, it makes my heart ache to leave you. So, I pray you to deafen my ears with your thorns so that I may only hear your voice. Cover my eyes with your thorns so that I can look at you alone. Fill my mouth with your thorns so that my tongue may be mute to all that could offend you, and free to praise and bless you in everything. O my king, Jesus, surround me with thorns; and may these thorns keep me, defend me and make me all intent on you.
Now I want to dry the blood on you and kiss you, because I see that your enemies are taking you to Pilate who will condemn you to death. My love, help me to continue along your sorrowful way, and bless me. My crowned Jesus, my poor heart, wounded by your love and pierced by your pains, cannot live without you. So I search for you, and I find you again before Pilate. What a moving spectacle I see! The heavens are horrified and hell trembles with fear and rage! Life of my heart, I cannot bear to see you like this without feeling myself die, but the driving force of your love compels me to look at you, to make me thoroughly understand your pains. Among tears and sighs I contemplate you. My Jesus, you are nude. Instead of clothes, I see you dressed in blood. Your flesh is torn, your bones are laid bare, your most holy face is unrecognizable. The thorns are fixed in your most holy head, and even reach into your eyes and your face. I see nothing but blood which runs to the ground, forming a pool around your feet.
My Jesus, I can't recognize you anymore! Oh, how you are reduced! Your state has reached the most profound excesses of humiliations and torments! No, I can't bear such a painful sight any longer! I feel myself dying! I would like to snatch you away from Pilate's presence and enclose you in my heart to give you rest. I would like to heal your wounds with my love. With your blood I would like to flood the world to enclose all souls in it and bring them to you as the conquest of your pains.
O patient Jesus, it seems as though you are trying to look at me through the thorns; and you say to me:
“My child, come into these tied arms of mine. Rest your head on my breast and you will see more intense and bitter pains, because those you see on the outside of my humanity are but the overflowing of my interior pains. Pay attention to the heartbeats of my heart and you will hear that I am making reparation for the injustices of those who command; for the oppression of the poor; for the putting of the innocent after the guilty; for the pride of those who, to keep high offices, positions and riches, do not hesitate to break any law and to wrong their neighbor, closing their eyes to the light of the truth.”
“With these thorns I want to shatter the haughty spirit of their domination. With the openings they form in my head, I want to make my way into their minds to reorder all things in them according to the light of the truth. By being humiliated like this, before this unjust judge, I want to make everyone understand that virtue alone is what makes man king of himself. And I teach those who are in command that virtue, together with right knowledge, is alone worthy and capable of governing and ruling others, while all other dignities, without virtue, are dangerous and should be rejected. My child, repeat my reparations, and continue to pay attention to my pains.”
My love, I see that Pilate shudders to see you so pitifully reduced; and deeply impressed, he exclaims:
“Is such cruelty possible in human hearts? No, this was not my intention when I condemned him to the scourging.”
Overwhelmed, Pilate turns his eyes away because he can't bear to see such a painful sight. Then, wanting to free you from the hands of your enemies, in order to find more solid grounds he questions you again:
“Tell me: What have you done? Your people have turned you over to me. Tell me: Are you king? What is your kingdom?”
O my Jesus, you give no answer to Pilate's storm of questions; and, enclosed in yourself, you turn your thoughts to saving my poor soul at the cost of so many pains. Seeing that you don't answer him, Pilate adds:
“Don't you realize that it is in my power to free you or to condemn you?”
O my love, wanting to make the light of the truth shine in Pilate's mind, you answer:
“You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. But those who have turned me over to you have committed a sin graver than yours .”
Then, moved by the gentleness of your voice, irresolute as he is, with his heart in a turmoil, Pilate decides to show you from the terrace, thinking that the hearts of the Jews are more compassionate, hoping that they will be moved to compassion to see you so lacerated. My suffering Jesus, my heart aches as I watch you following Pilate. You can hardly walk, curved under that horrible crown of thorns. Blood marks your steps. As you go outside you hear the riotous crown that is anxiously waiting for you to be condemned. Pilate imposes silence to get everyone's attention so he can be heard. With repugnance he takes the two edges of the purple rag that is covering your chest and your back, lifts them up to show everyone how you are reduced, and in a loud voice, says:
“Ecce homo!” Look at him: he no longer has the appearance of a man. Observe his wounds: he is unrecognizable. If he has done wrong, he has already suffered enough, even too much. I already regret having made him suffer like this. So, let us free him!”
Jesus, my love, let me hold you up, because I see that you are wavering, unable to stand under the weight of so many pains.
Now, in this solemn moment, your fate is decided. At Pilate's words a profound silence is heard in heaven, on earth and in hell. And then, as if they had a single voice, I hear everyone shout:
“Crucify him! Crucify him! At any cost we want him dead!”
Jesus, my life, I see you tremble. The cry of death descends into your heart. And in these voices you perceive the voice of your dear Father, who says:
“My Son, I want you dead, and dead by crucifixion!”
Yes, you hear the voice of your dear mother as well, who, though transfixed and desolate, echoes the voice of your dear Father:
“Son, I want you dead!”
The angels, the saints, hell, everyone in a unanimous voice shouts:
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”
So, there is no one who wants you alive. And oh, oh, to my greatest shame, pain and horror, I too feel compelled by a supreme force to cry:
My Jesus, forgive me if I too, a miserable sinful soul, want you dead. But I pray you to make me die together with you. Meanwhile, O my anguished Jesus, moved by my pain, you seem to say to me:
“My child, press yourself to my heart and share in my pains and reparations. The moment is solemn. It must be decided: either my death, or the death of all creatures. In this moment two currents are poured into my heart. In one there are the souls, who, if they want me dead, it is because they want to find life in me. And so, by accepting death for them, they are absolved from eternal condemnation; and the gates of heaven are opened to receive them.
In the other current are those who want me dead out of hatred, and in confirmation of their condemnation. My heart is lacerated and feels the death of each of them, and the very pains of hell! My heart cannot bear these bitter pains. I feel death at every heartbeat and at every breath. And I repeat: Why will so much blood be shed in vain? Why will my pains be useless for many? Please help me, my child, because I can't take it any longer. Share my pains, and let your life be a continuous offering to save souls, to make such excruciating pains less painful for me.”
My heart, Jesus, your pains are mine, and I repeat your reparations. I see that Pilate is astonished, and he hurries to say:
“What? Must I crucify your king? I don't find any fault in him to condemn him!”
But the Jews shout, deafening the air:
“We have no king but Caesar; and if you don't condemn him you are no friend of Caesar. Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Not knowing what else to do, for fear of being removed from power, Pilate has a wash basin brought to him, washes his hands, and says:
“I am innocent of the blood of this just man.”
And he condemns you to death.
But the Jews cry out:
“His blood be upon us and upon our children!”
Then, seeing you condemned to death, they make merry, clap their hands, whistle and shout. Meanwhile, O Jesus, you make reparation for those who, finding themselves in high positions, for vain fear and to avoid losing their positions, break the most sacred laws, not caring about the ruin of entire peoples, favoring the wrongdoer and condemning the innocent. You also make reparation for those who, after sinning, instigate the divine wrath to punish them.
But as you are making reparation for these things, your heart bleeds for the pain of seeing the people chosen by you struck by the curse of heaven, which they themselves with full will have wanted, sealing it with your blood which they have called down upon themselves. Yes, your heart is fainting! Let me sustain it in my hands by making your reparations and pains mine. Now your love drives you still higher, and you are already impatiently seeking the cross!
My Life, I will follow You, but for now rest in my arms; then, we will reach Mount Calvary together. Therefore, remain in me, and bless me.
Reflections and Practices.
Crowning Him with thorns, they treat Jesus like a buffoon king, hurling insults and inflicting untold pains upon Him. He makes reparation especially for sins of pride. Do I allow feelings of pride to seep into me? Do I take credit for the good that I do? Do I believe that I am better than others? Is my mind always empty of other thoughts, so that grace may form in me? Often we do not allow grace to form because our mind is chock¬full of other thoughts, and when our mind is not wholly filled with God, we are ourselves the cause of the devil’s harassment, as if indeed we encouraged his temptations. But a mind filled with God he leaves befuddled, because holy thoughts form a strong bulwark against the devil. When he makes his approach, it’s as if many swords wounded him, and so the devil is afraid of drawing near, wanting to avoid sharp pains.
I am wrong, therefore, to complain when my mind is troubled and tempted by the enemy, for it is my weak guard (because I am not occupied with Jesus) that drives the enemy to attack me, as if he spied on my mind to find small empty spaces where he could attack me. And yet, instead of succoring Jesus with holy thoughts and almost wanting to break his thorns, I, ungrateful that I am, drive them even further into his head and make him feel their sharp stings even more, so that grace is frustrated because it cannot accomplish in my mind the work of holy inspiration. Sometimes, I do even worse: when I feel the weight of temptations, instead of bringing them to Jesus, making a bundle out of them and burning them at the feet of his love, I grow worried, I become sad, and even calculate my temptations.
Therefore, not only is my poor mind filled with bad thoughts, but all my wretched being is as it were, soaked in them, and I almost need a miracle from Jesus to extricate myself. And Jesus, looking through those thorns, glances at me and, calling to me, says: Ah, my daughter, you yourself refuse to stay close to Me. Had you come to Me right away, I would have helped you free yourself from the troubles that the enemy brought into your mind. Instead, you left Me pining for your return; and since I wanted your help to free Me from these sharp thorns, in vain did I wait, while you were busy in the work that your enemy had prepared for you.
O you would have been tempted much less had you come right away into my arms, so that fearing Me, not you, the enemy would have left immediately! My Jesus, may your thorns be like a seal to my thoughts, which, sealing them in your mind, prevent anything to enter unless it breaks up your thorns. When Jesus makes Himself felt in my mind and my heart, do I answer his inspiration, or do I let it fall into oblivion? Jesus is treated like a buffoon king: do I respect all that is holy? Do I use all the reverence that is appropriate, as if I were touching Jesus Christ Himself?
My crowned Jesus, may I feel your thorns so that from your wounds I may understand how much You suffer, and may You become king of all of me. Displayed on the terrace, Jesus is sentenced to death by the people that He most loved and assisted.
To give me my life, my loving Jesus accepted death on my behalf; am I ready to accept any pain to keep pain and insults away from my Jesus? For Jesus not to suffer, we must accept our sentence; and because Jesus in his Humanity suffered sufficiently, we ought to continue his life on earth, and compensate with our suffering for the Humanity of Jesus Christ.
What compassion do I have for the affliction Jesus suffered on seeing so many souls torn from his Heart? Do I make his pains my own to refresh Him in all that He suffers? The Jews want Jesus crucified so that He will die disgracefully and so as to erase his Name from the face of the earth. Do I strive to make Jesus live on earth? With my acts, with my example, with my steps, I ought to leave a divine impression on the world to make Jesus recognized by everyone. With my works, I ought to produce a divine echo of his life from one end of the earth to the other. Am I ready to give up my life so that beloved Jesus may be refreshed from all the offenses He receives? Or do I imitate the Jews—the people so favored by God who almost resemble my poor soul so loved by God—who cried out, “Let Him be crucified!”?
My condemned Jesus, may your condemnation, which I accept for love of You, be mine. I do through my soul what I cannot do through nature: I continually pour myself into You, to carry You into the hearts of all creatures, to make You known to everyone, and to give your Life to all.