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Reflections on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Part 3

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Fifth Reflection

“Then Pilate took Jesus, and scourged Him.” (John 19:1)

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Pilate thought that, by scourging Jesus, he would satisfy the Jews and so be able to set Him free. This is how the weak always think: compromise, give in to evil so as to appease it. However, this only makes things worse.
The torturers bound His hands and brought Him to the pillar amidst blows, shoves, and laughter. His meekness, goodness, and willing unwillingness to defend Himself contrasted with the brutal, senseless, and cruel hatred. Oh foolish illusion that by tying His hands He would be immobilized! It would be enough for Him to say, “Cords, loosen,” and they would fall to the ground! Had He so wished, the cords could have also become serpents to attack His evildoers.

 

What is extraordinary is that He gave Himself up to be scourged. We can imagine His sweet groans. His Most Holy Body writhing in pain, His adorable flesh torn by the whip. This was the flesh of the God-Man! He stood, full of dignity, meek and without protest, conversing with the Eternal Father within Himself.

 

We can also imagine at that moment the Son of God, Supreme Governor of all events, thinking about the blessed civilization that would one day be built on the merits of His Passion. Alas, He also saw that at a certain moment the Christian nations would turn against Him and would be dominated by an anti-civilization. Because this world would deny a personal God, it would also deny man’s personhood and individuality.

 

In this flattened anti-civilization, mankind would affirm total equality, thus becoming enslaved to a rebellious communist utopia. This utopia would deny property, and therefore justice; would deny the family, and therefore purity; would deny religion, and therefore all that is sacred; would deny tradition, and therefore history. By inverting all values, this anti-civilization would produce a great chaos, a great vacuum in which the former-Christian peoples would drown. This anti-civilization is the tyranny of matter, of the machine, of anonymity, and of atheism — in a word, the reign of Satan.

 

Our Lord could have lamented like the prophet David: “What profit is there in my death . . . ?” (Psalm 30:9) What profit is there in my blood, which I shed so generously and so abundantly?
 


Sixth Reflection

“And the soldiers weaving a crown of thorns, put it upon His head; and they put on Him a purple garment.” (John 19:2)

 

Our God, crowned with thorns! Does this not prove that God’s royalty is the royalty of pain? Let us accept suffering: suffering from humiliations; suffering from injustice; suffering from the untiring effort to do good; suffering from self-denial. To take suffering out of Christianity is to insult Christ Who accepted a crown of thorns. To be Christian and to be afraid of suffering for God is to reduce God to a mere banker who satisfies our every whim, or to a simple servant who serves us at our bidding. To eliminate suffering from Christianity is to remove its backbone.

 

Are we only fair-weather friends? Indeed, it is not Christian to be afraid to sacrifice ourselves for Christ, our greatest Friend. Let us not commit the felony of abandoning Jesus on Calvary. Let us not strike a blow to His face, wounded for love of us, by sinning. Let us not be heartless hyenas, but rather “meek, and humble of heart” as He. (Matthew 11:29)

 


 

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Go to: Part IV

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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