Thursday, 9 September 2021

'The Summer of 2021, in Stronsay, Orkney'.


The Summer of 2021, in Stronsay, Orkney.

This year, the summer months in Stronsay, from late June until now, have been very pleasant. We have enjoyed periods of warm, dry, sunny weather, unlike past rather cool and wet summers, and thanks to my wife's hard work, the garden has been a real picture.                         

    Alstroemerias have been the stars of the show, backed up by lilies, agapanthus, poppies,  red-hot pokers, geraniums, a few roses- always difficult to grow here, except for the scented Rugosa hedging variety which flourish, particularly the strongly-scented double hybrids , all of which produce large colourful hips, particularly enjoyed by the blackbirds!  We have an assortment of other colourful flowers and one or two shrubs, mostly grown from seed by my wife over the years, spread loosely and effectively around the garden, and in containers,


 This striking and unusual giant yellow-flowered cornflower, see photo below, looks like a sunflower with slightly smaller flowers, and is about 8'0 feet tall,  with many spurs off each stem, all flowering individually. This is a one-off, also grown from seed by my wife.



We have a large area of grass encircling the house, and we use a battery-driven mower to keep this under control. My wife and I are no spring chickens, and my primary garden job is to keep the grass cut. For many years I used a petrol driven lawn mower, which was manageable and effective, but I have not used this for about three years due to a hip problem. Considering the area of grass, the battery mower does an excellent job, although the battery only lasts for about 40 minutes on each charge, and then has to be re-charged. It is surprising how much grass can be cut in that relatively short time, and I have bought a second battery which when charged-up, can be inter-changed, enabling a large part of the grass to be cut in one session. Whilst I think the batteries are exorbitantly expensive, our latest one cost  about £170.00, they seem to have a long life - third summer and still working well, and I do find the battery mower much safer and simpler to use than either petrol or electric cable mower. It is quite hard work to push, partly due to the uneven surface of the 'lawn', and the flagging energy of the 'driver', but overall I am pleased with it, with the intermittent short life of the battery allowing me to have a break, if I need one, every hour or so.                                                                                                  

We also have a medium-size pond in which we keep a few goldfish. We have had these for some years, and they have grown from 3” tiddlers, purchased from Glue's Garden Centre in Kirkwall, to chunky 'golden' specimens about 8” long. We also have a black 'goldfish', if that makes sense, about 6” long, and there may be others, but it is almost impossible to see them  in the water, due to their colour. What always surprises me, is that every year until about July, the fish decline the food I offer them, then  they start taking it until October/November, when the hibernation period starts again, lasting until  mid-summer the following year. A long sleep in my book, but I am not a fish, and they seem well, so I don't worry.

       We  own  an Old English Sheepdog, named Dartmoor, gifted to us 6 years ago as a puppy.  Some might remember this breed from an episode in 'Yes (Prime?) Minister', in which the dog in question became nationally famous for wandering into a radio-active nuclear base, from which he had to be rescued by the military, thanks to the initiative and 'kindness' of the Prime Minister. All done to boost the popularity of the Minister, rather than out of love for the dog! Sounds sort of familiar! Anyway, our dog developed a nasty form of pneumonia during the summer. We do not know the cause, but it necessitated  three visits to the vet in Kirkwall, a two hour trip on the ferry each way each trip, two X rays and scans, and a four week course of anti-biotics. He is very much better now, for which I thank Almighty God, for we are rather fond of Dartmoor. He weighs in at about 37 kg, has one brown eye and one blue eye, a very loud bark, a frequently imperious manner, an impressive 'leonine' ruff, and a fine bushy tale. In case you are wondering, Dartmoor is insured with 'Pet Plan', otherwise we could possibly now be living on the streets!

We are living in the age of the covid 19 pandemic, sometimes known as the 'Great Delusion'. We have been relatively fortunate on Stronsay, with to my knowledge, less than ten people infected, with perhaps two or three hospitalised, and thankfully no deaths. I do not question the existence of this virulent and horrible virus, but I do question the cause, what the virus actually is, the trustworthiness of the individuals and organisations orchestrating the tracking, identification, and containment of the virus, and the integrity and agenda of the 'experts' advising lock-downs, masking, people spacing, and particularly the planned vaccination of the peoples of  the entire world. In a nutshell, I do not believe the official line on this pandemic, and I do not trust those 'world experts' in charge and directing affairs.  There have been  countless discrepancies in the officially reported effects of the  vaccine; there is a clear failure in the efficacy of the vaccines, they do not do what we have been told they would  do, or what they were  supposed to do; the unbelievable number of deaths and seriously injured patients of all ages worldwide, confirms the real dangers in this vaccine, made worse by the blind culpability of certain doctors, scientists, politicians, and vaccine producers, to continue to force this dangerous vaccine on everybody, even children; the identity of those 'experts' behind the scenes, include Bill Gates, Dr Faucci, George Soros, Klaus Schwab, the Rothchild and Rockefeller dynasties, the multi billionaire media tycoons, the People's Republic of China, and others, all working actively towards the destruction of society as we know it, and the setting up of the 'Great Reset'.


                                          Head Gardener at work!

The virus exploded onto the world in late 2019 early 2020, allegedly emanating from a laboratory in China, and immediately whole nations were simultaneously affected, with thousands dying and tens of thousands struck down with severe sickness. The international theatre of world 'leaders' then took the floor, in strangely synchronized precision, almost as though the whole event had been rehearsed.   Prime Ministers and Leaders of Nations  addressed their citizens, the hymns identical almost word for word, and clearly  from the same Marxist, 'New World Government', hymn book. Regulations were imposed mandating the wearing of face masks; people contact and distancing; population lock-downs for sometimes months at a time; schools and business closures; and the world-wide use of untried and untested vaccines, ostensibly to protect people from the virus and to ensure that hospitals were not overwhelmed with sick and dying patients. Today we have an increasingly illogical, unscientific, and life-threatening programme of vaccinating, re-vaccinating, and booster vaccinations, using a vaccine which we now know does not prevent infection and does not stop the virus being passed on, and which in less than 2 years has caused tens of thousands of deaths world-wide, and hundreds of thousands of serious injuries (see ' Defender' - Children's Defence League):-  

link -     COVID Vaccine Injury Reports Jump by 27,000 in One Week, FDA Pulls ‘Bait and Switch’ With Pfizer Vaccine Approval • Children's Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org) 

 -  and this without even considering  the  possible unknown, long-term effects. To make matters worse, the 'Main-Stream Media' – active participants and supporters  of the 'Great Reset' , has assumed  control of most news and social media outlets,  ensuring  that any and all criticism concerning the vaccine  and related political and social matters,  including proven medical and scientific facts, is banned from publication, and thus hidden from public view.


Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Astra Zeneca, are now household names, recognised as  major pharmaceutical companies producing  covid 19 vaccines. A common denominator for  these companies, is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder, which understandably has a vested interest in the commercial success of the vaccine programme. It is timely to remind ourselves that there are proven effective, commonly available, and cheap, medical treatments for the covid 19 virus, such as the use of Ivervectin, Hydroxychloroquine, and other medicines. which for many decades, have been successfully and safely used world-wide in the treatment of various diseases. Since the arrival of covid 19, the WHO has inexplicably refused to authorise these tried and tested medications - on the  basis that they were not fully tested -  what hypocrisy,  making them virtually unobtainable except on doctor's prescription, with many doctors  under severe professional  pressure not to proscribe. 

The Gates Foundation funds the World Economic Forum (WEF) which in the person of its founder, Klaus Schwab, is primarily responsible for promoting the 'New World Agenda', through  the 'Great Reset' programme. 

You may find this short biography of Klaus Schwab, (link immediately below) both interesting and informative, I certainly did. NB. For some reason, the link originally shown on this post for this article,  did not function, and I had to remove it. However, a separate link on Joseph Farrell's 'Shift Frequency' site acknowledged the following :-   ERNST STAVRO BLOHFELD...ER... KLAUS SCHWAB: A FAMILY HISTORY (gizadeathstar.com)     --   and this seems to work. (thank you Joseph Farrell, 'Shift Frequency')

Tied in with the Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum (WEF), is the World Health Organisation (WHO), under the leadership of Dr Faucci,  who has a personal financial interest in Moderna, and is also close to Gates.  Add to these the World Bank, which operates with and alongside them, and which is surely influenced by  billionaire capitalists such as  Gates, who has a vested interest in many world-wide undertakings, such as  pharmaceuticals, GM farming, IT technology, and others, with the financial  capability to exert  influence on both government and international policies and regulations. Thus the 'Big Reset' rolls on, with Communist  China appearing to pull the political strings of the 'puppet' Biden government in the USA, weakening its already battered moral, military, and political image.  Worldwide, the proposed enforcement of vaccination for workers in a wide range of State and private occupations,  officially registered by vaccination ID cards, suggests that so far, the 'Big Reset' is on track with its diabolical agenda.  However, the good news is that private and public opposition is mounting; there is a saying that 'the truth will out', and more and more highly respected doctors, scientists, and academicians, are speaking out through politically  independent media sites, and writing in independent professional reviews, about the reality of current affairs, and the misinformation, lies, and unspoken agenda behind the 'Great Reset'. These valid and truthful criticisms are not reported by the main-line press and media, which is literally indebted to, and  controlled by the powerful and corrupt Pharmaceutical industry, effectively dominated by Bill Gates. This grotesquely wealthy, ambitious, and judging by his words and actions, power-obsessed man, must seemingly despise humanity, for his agenda includes deadly  scientific and medical experimentation on mankind (vaccines), and God's natural world (genetically modified crops and food), driven by  a self-proclaimed obsession  to vaccinate every person in the whole world, for their own good of course?  Is there perhaps an ulterior motive, an  unthinkably sinister one, involving the use of  technology and designer vaccine  to gain control over the minds and actions of men?  Sounds unreal, but such a scenario, once the plot in imaginative science fiction  and cinema, is now perhaps considered  achievable by the powerful, super rich, and ambitious, of the world. To make oneself like unto God, is of course, a deluded impossibility, but in today's world, where 'Satan prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour', the world has largely abandoned God and His Laws, and evil is seen as good, and good evil. For the sake of all mankind, which  includes promoters and supporters of the  'New World' agenda, we must work and pray for the world's return  to God and His Laws, perhaps a reminder  of Jesus'  parable of the 'prodigal son'. We must also  work and pray for the  demise of the 'Great Reset' plan, designed by the self-appointed elite, to enable on-going control over every human life.  Such evil, trying to usurp the Dominion of God,  driven by pride, mimics on a human scale, the sin of Lucifer, the fallen angel, banished by God for all eternity.  The wages of  sin is death, not just the natural death that we must all suffer, but the supernatural death of the soul, the indescribable and  unimaginable pain and suffering, and the loss of God our loving Creator, for all eternity.



The Catholic Faith, into which I was born and baptised, and in which I pray to die, is primarily concerned with man's spiritual destiny, rather than material success. Nevertheless, the world is God's creation, and is where we serve our spiritual apprenticeship, and the Church is our guide. The morality of the covid vaccines has been questioned regarding the use of cell lines from aborted foetuses, in their testing and manufacture. Some Bishops have stated that it is lawful for Catholics to receive these 'tainted' vaccines, and other Bishops have disagreed. As I understand it, the former base their argument on 1) the 'remote evil' i.e. the time interval between the  actual abortion and the manufacture of the vaccine, and the remote connectivity between the two; 2) the severity and threat of the virus to the world, and the necessity to use the vaccine when there is no alternative; 3) retaining as a matter of principle, a moral objection to the use of 'tainted' vaccine, accepting it only as an absolute necessity with no alternative choice, and to make known to others these views, including the pharmaceutical company involved. It is worth noting with regard to (2) above, that the Bishops apparently were led to believe, or were of the opinion, that there was no alternative, but in fact the medical remedies such as Ivernectin, Hydroxychloroquine, and other medications, are alternatives, providing they are available and can be obtained. The WHO have their own  ideas, effectively banning their sale as the virus spread, using  the spurious excuse that they were not fully tested, and therefore could not be approved! Some Catholic Bishops, including Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and Bishop Strickland, and many priests and lay-persons, do not agree with those in the hierarchy who support the use of the tainted vaccine, essentially on the grounds that the evil of abortion exists for ever, regardless of time scale and so-called remoteness.


Bishop Schneider has recently published a statement of great relevance to this question, in which he introduces the concept of a 'fetal industry', which he distinguishes from the 'abortion industry', with both equally evil and both condemned as such. Under the concept of 'fetal industry', the question of  'remote evil' in connection with  this vaccine does not apply, for the vaccine itself has been directly produced using the products and machinery embraced by the 'fetal industry'. (please see link immediately below for full explanation):-

(Interview with Bishop Schneider: COVID rules may be 'a kind of prefiguration' of the mark of the Beast - LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

I find in the above, a very powerful argument against any approval of existing and future vaccines in which fetal stem cells have been used. With an estimated 5.7 million members in England and Wales alone (Wikipedia for 2011), even if slightly less now, the Church could exert real pressure on certain social and public health policies in the UK, specifically to demand the replacement of the existing tainted vaccine with an untainted one. If a similar stance were taken by the Church in other countries, say the USA and in Europe, the combined commercial pressure to produce an acceptable vaccine, would be overwhelming. If nothing is said or done, why should the pharmaceutical companies discontinue manufacturing the tainted vaccines, for they will take the view that the Church is not really serious about this? The Church must be unequivocal, directing Catholics as a matter of conscience, not to accept the tainted vaccine. The manufacturers will feel the pinch where it hurts most, in a significant drop in sales and profits, and a similar drop in the value of company shares.


Short of a spiritual conversion, which we should certainly pray for, it is hard to see manufacturers and governments taking remedial action on this question, unless they are convinced of the benefits to themselves. Profitability is the top priority for manufacturers, and this would  drop dramatically if they lose  customers, which they  would in large numbers, if the existing vaccine was unequivocally condemned by the Church. When marketed, a new untainted vaccine, which possibly may  already be in the pipeline,  would quickly remedy this. 

  Politically, by demanding that manufacturers produce a clean, untainted vaccine, governments would  gain support from those of  the electorate for whom this  issue is of great moral importance, and this could be a very substantial number.  

The Church must act straight away, there must be no further delay. Now is the time to publicly condemn  the evil of  the 'fetal industry', and to raise people's awareness of its existence. The condemnation will be two-pronged, for in attacking the 'fetal industry' and the production of tainted vaccines, it will also be condemning abortion, the  driving force behind the 'fetal industry'. Finally it may succeed in breaking the curse of tainted vaccines, a curse which has survived for too long.

Please  pray for the Pope, Bishops and Priests of the Church 

                                                           ******************

             

                                           

                                        Our Lady of Perpetual Succour,  pray for us       

Saturday, 26 June 2021

'The Canticle of Mr. Wilkin'

 

The Choir practice was over. All the music had been collected, stands and singers had vanished, and even the choirmaster had at last finished fiddling with the hymn books and had departed, humming a hymn. The church was in darkness, save for the flickering lamp before the altar and a light beside the organ, for Mr.Wilkin, the organist, still sat before the instrument alone.

Mr.Wilkin was glad that the choir practice was over, for he was feeling very old and very tired that evening, and the practice had been a tedious affair. As he sat on his high perch, wiping the moisture from his glasses, a strange apathy and loneliness came upon him to make him feel so much older than his years. A widower is often lonely, an old man easily apathetic, and Mr Wilkin whose children had been drawn into distant, even dangerous places, now knew very well what it meant to be getting on in years. As he turned to the keys and played through one or two familiar hymns by way of practice, he felt the melancholy rising within the music to match his mood.

Mr. Wilkin was in no sense a master at the organ, indeed he was only acting as substitue for young Hickey, who had gone to the Middle East. Before him on the stand was a list of hymns and oddments needed for the coming Sundays, and through these he plodded with slow uninspired touch. Stumbling and faltering, he lurched through an O Salutaris, so that one would hardly have recognised it as a tune, still less as a prayer. Then back again he went to see if he could give it greater smoothness before passing on to next Sunday's hymns. His fingers crept along the keys, his eyes followed the notes, his lips counted one, two, three, round awkward corners, but his mind wandered off to other worries, and he thought of his wife, of the war, of the anxieties which the future held in store. Perhaps Paderewski could have played without attention, but Mr.Wilkin worked slowly to a standstill, his fingers finding the wrong notes more easily than the right ones, his eye quitting the music in the middle of an important bar.

Mr. Wilkin stopped and sat staring at the organ with forlorn heart and faltering hands. In his little mirror he could see the dim nave stretching out behind him with the sanctuary lamp twinkling in the gloom. He hoped that his Lord and Master in the tabernacle was getting some pleasure from the tedious repetition of the O Salutaris; for himself he would like to play some melody which carried with it the memories and the mood which pressed upon him, but it would never do to play some old-time favourite in church. So on again went the O Salutaris, but his mind wandered off as usual, this time to the tunes which he had strummed on the piano at home. For Mr Wilkin in the olden days, had often played choruses for his wife and children when the day's work was over, as he had also struck up tunes on crazy old pianos in the billets and barns of Flanders, when his battalion had come to rest from the front line.

And so it happened that almost before he knew what he was doing, he had abandoned the unprofitable O Salutaris, and had played the opening chords of the “Long, Long, Trail”. As the melody began he argued with himself to excuse his impropriety, for after all, there was nobody in the church to be offended, for the Lord would most certainly understand. Mr Wilkin began very softly, and fortunately he knew the tune from memory, for his eyes were dim with tears. As he slipped past the nightingale into the land of his dreams, he called back a million memories of those happy days.

For the long, long, trail, had once wound its way from the trenches in Flanders to his little shop and back sitting-room in the High Street, where his wife and children waited his return. The trail had once seemed over as the Cease Fire sounded in November, but now he saw that really his return to the High Street had been but a stage in a longer journey, and that the long, long, trail, still stretched out far into the gloom. So as the melody unfolded and the words spoke of dreams coming true, Mr. Wilkin thought of his wife who had gone on before him till the day when he'd be going 'down that long, long trail, with you'. It was only as he reached the final 'you' that he stopped hesitating and gazed at the sanctuary lamp in his mirror, for perhaps it was not to wife or children or earthly lover, that the long, long, trail really led.

Mr. Wilkin understood at last, and as the memory of the past faded into the radiance of present consolation and future divine companionship on the lonely journey, so with greater joy and greater confidence he began the chorus again. This time he looked more intensely at the little lamp in the mirror, and played each note with the new vigour born of a new hope. For the song had become a hymn, and the whole church was filled with love, and with all sorts of twiddles, for Mr. Wilkin pulled out one stop for the nightingale and another for the moon-beams: and as he played he prayed, and his prayer soared, the notes poured out more rapidly, and the long, long, trail, was lit up all the way from Flanders to the High Street and on upwards to eternal rest with God.

Now the Canon was sitting in his room in the presbytery saying his breviary, nor was he in the best of tempers as himself will gladly admit. He had had a tiring day. It was then, with less than his usual grace, that he received his housekeeper , who came to inform him that a strange man was playing the fool with the organ in the church.

“Rubbish,” said the Canon, curtly, “it can only be Mr Wilkin; he's probably stayed behind to practise a few hymns.”

The housekeeper was not prepared to contradict the Canon, but she held no fancy views on infallibility, so she replied with a mixture of reverence and firmness.

“Maybe you are right, your Reverence, but it is not like Mr.Wilkin to be playing them music-hall songs in church”

If the Canon was annoyed by this rejoinder, he was also impressed. Certainly Saint Aloysius would more likely play music-hall songs in church than would Mr.Wilkin, who on the scores of genuine piety and limited ability at the organ, might be counted as exempt from such a charge. Muttering under his breath and waving the housekeeper back into the kitchen, the Canon pulled himself out of his armchair and made for the sacristy door.

The housekeeper was right, for as he neared the church the Canon heard sounds more suited to the organ at a cinema, though at that distance and amidst so many twiddles, he found it difficult to disengage and identify the tune. Quietly, in his carpet slippers, he crossed the sacristy and opened the door into the church. There could be no doubt now that the long, long, trail was winding, and that the housekeeper's dreams had all come true. The Canon stood still for several seconds and then tip-toed into the church and peered upwards at the loft. Heavens, it was Mr.Wilkin after all. The organist could be plainly seen playing with tremendous gusto, his frail old body swaying youthfully from side to side.

Half kneeling, half sitting, the Canon propped himself against a pew. He thanked his lucky stars that no parishioners were present to witness the impropriety, and wondered what he had better do. Now as he sat there undecided, he began to catch some of the sentiments pouring from the organ, and almost unconsciously he ran over the well-worn words. For the Canon, too, had a long, long trail before him, and he too, as he looked towards the tabernacle, was aware that there was someone by his side as he trudged along. After all, in an odd way, the words did express the same ideas as had been voiced by King David many centuries ago. The Canon recalled his breviary and the psalms which he repeated day by day.

David might speak of the wings of a dove rather than of the voice of the nightingale, he might see life as a shadow rather than a dream, but he, too, had longed for escape and for the eternal rest of the divine companionship, and had set out with confidence that he would not walk alone. “Even if I should walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” The Canon remembered this and half a hundred other similar expressions in which the Saints of all the ages had voiced the theme of Christian hope. He even thought that Saint Paul had described the same desire, but the words would not come readily at the moment and he had to give it up. But he sat quietly in the dark and prayed with a renewed fervour and even sang under his breath, the words of Mr. Wilkin's tune.

Mr. Wilkin had finished, he was shutting up the organ before the Canon moved.

Silently the priest genuflected and slipped back into the sacristy unseen. He thought that he could remember Saint Paul's words, and that was how it was that he so baffled the housekeeper who put her head out of the kitchen door to see if everything was all right.

“Yes, it is quite all right, you'll find it in the Epistle to the Hebrews”, and leaving her to her astonishment, he hurried on upstairs.

For he had remembered how Paul had spoken of the patriarchs of the Old Testament - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - all those great men who had died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they had made it clear that they were seeking for their own fatherland, and that they longed for a better country, a heavenly one, where God had prepared for them a city. The Canon found his Bible, and rummaged for the place, humming as he hunted the tune of the “Long, Long, Trail”. Here it was, “Jesus, that He might sanctify the people by His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us, therefore, go forth to Him, bearing His reproach. For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come.”

Ack. 'The Seven Deadly Virtues' by Bernard Basset S.J.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Second Epistle of Saint Peter


Letters of Peter, also called Epistles of St. Peter the Apostle, abbreviation Peter, two New Testament writings attributed to St. Peter the Apostle but perhaps written during the early 2nd century. The Letters of Peter, together with the Letter of James, the three Letters of John, and the Letter of Jude, are part of the seven so-called Catholic Letters. As the history of the New Testament canon shows, the Catholic Letters were among the last of the biblical literature to be settled on as canonical before the agreement of East and West in 367 CE. During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, only 2 John and 2 Peter were universally recognized. The First Letter of Peter and the Second Letter of Peter generally are placed as the 21st and 22nd books of the New Testament.


 The Second Letter of Peter is principally concerned with the Second Coming of Christ. The author attributes the apparent delay to God’s patience in allowing time for universal redemption and notes that in the sight of God 1,000 years are like one day. The writer also warns against false teachers, whose conduct is as immoral as their words are deceptive. They, and those who follow them, says the writer, will be destroyed in a great conflagration that will precede “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (3:13). Though the author explicitly identifies himself as Peter, numerous textual difficulties created doubts as early as the 3rd century about the actual authorship, which have been reinforced by subsequent scholarship.

(ack The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica)             

Saint Peter - Paolo Emilia Besenzi (17th c.) (PD)


The Second Epistle of St Peter


Introduction

1. Symeon Peter, the servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have received an equal privilege of faith with ourselves through the justness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: may grace and peace be multiplied unto you, in the full knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Exhortation to Christian virtue.

For indeed His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that are unto life and godliness. In virtue of the full knowledge of him who has called us through his own glory and excellence, by means of which he has bestowed upon us the precious and very great promises, so that in consequence of these you may become partakers of the divine nature, and flee from the corruption which is in the world through lust. And for this very reason employ all care to furnish your faith with virtue, your virtue with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with patience, your patience with piety, your piety with brotherly love, your brotherly love with charity.

For if these things exist and increase in you, they will make you neither idle or unfruitful in the full knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he in whom these things are not present is near-sighted even to blindness, having become unmindful of the washing away of his former sins. Wherefore brethren, be ye the more solicitous to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do this ye shall never stumble; for in this wise shall the entry be furnished unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hence I purpose ever to keep you in mind of these things; although ye know them, and are established in the truth ye now hold. I deem it right, so long as I am in this dwelling-place, to rouse you to remembrance, knowing that the laying aside of this dwelling-place of mine, cometh speedily, as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I shall strive that ye may be able at all times to be mindful of these things after my departure.

For we were not following after fables cunningly devised, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but had been eye-witnesses of his grandeur. For he received honour and glory from God the Father, when these words came forth to him from the majestic glory, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased'. And this word we heard come forth from heaven, when we were together with him on the holy mountain. And we have the word of prophecy, firmer still, whereto ye do well to give heed, as to a lamp shining in a darksome place, till the day break and the morning star arise in your hearts. Yet this ye must first know, that no prophecy of scripture is matter for private interpretation. For never was prophecy uttered at any time by the will of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.


False teachers.

  1. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as among yourselves there will be false teachers, who will bring in destructive divisions, and deny the Lord who bought them, bringing upon themselves speedy destruction. And many will follow after their wantonness, by reason of whom the way of truth will be maligned, and in their covetousness they will make their profit of you with feigned words; from of old their judgment lieth not idle, and their destruction slumbereth not. For God spared not angels that sinned, but plunged them into hell's dark caves, delivering them to be kept there for judgment. And the olden world would be spared not, but preserved Noah, the preacher of justness, with seven others, when he brought a deluge upon the world of the impious. And he condemned to overthrow the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, turning them to ashes, and setting them as an example of the things to come upon the ungodly, whereas he rescued the just Lot when he was being troubled by the wanton ways of the lawless; for that just man, dwelling among them, was from day to day tortured in his just soul by seeing and hearing their unlawful works. The Lord then, knoweth how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unjust under chastisement unto the day of judgment, more especially those walking after the flesh in foul desires, and scorning authority. Audacious and self-willed, they revile dignities without trembling, where angels, greater in strength and in power, do not bring a railing accusation against them before the Lord.

    Thee men, on the contrary, like irrational beasts, fit by nature only for capture and destruction, railing at those things of which they are ignorant, shall also perish in their own destruction, being defrauded of the wages of iniquity. They deem it a delight to riot in the daytime, they are blots and stains, revelling in their deceits while they feast with you; their eyes are full of adultery and insatiable in sin; they lure away unstable souls; their hearts are trained to covetousness; they are children of a curse. They have forsaken the straight road and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness; but he received a rebuke for his transgression, when a dumb beast speaking with the voice of man, checked the prophet's madness.

    Yea, these men are springs without water, mists driven before a squall, for whom is reserved dark gloom. For by uttering high-flown vanity, in their fleshly lusts they lure away by wantonness those that are barely escaping from them that live in error. They promise them freedom, whereas themselves are the slaves of corruption; for by whatsoever thing a man is overcome, to that same is he made a slave.

    For if they that by the full knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ have fled from the pollutions of the world, entangle themselves anew therein and are overcome, their last state is become worse than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of justice, than having known it to have turned back from the holy commandment delivered to them. In these hath been realized that true saying, 'a dog gone back to his vomit', and a 'sow after a wash to her wallowing in the mire'.


Christ's Second Coming

I am now writing to you, beloved, this second epistle, wherein once more I arouse your sincere mind to remembrance, so that ye may be mindful of the words which were uttered aforetime by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of your apostles from the Lord and Saviour. And this first ye must know, that in the last days mockers shall come with their mocking, men that walk after their own lusts,, and shall say, 'Where is his promised coming? For since the Fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have done from the beginning of creation.' For this they wilfully overlook, that there were a heaven and an earth of old, brought into being out of water and between waters by the word of God, by which water the world that then was perished, overwhelmed in a deluge; whereas the present heaven and earth by that same word have been reserved for fire, and are being kept until the day of the judgment and destruction of the impious.

  1. Nevertheless let not this one thing escape you, beloved, that 'with the Lord' one day is as a thousand years, and 'a thousand years as one day'. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some count delay; but he is long-suffering towards you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance. But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, where-in the heavens shall pass away with a crash, and the heavenly bodies shall be burnt and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be disclosed.

    Now while all these things are thus in course of dissolution, what manner of men doth it behove you to be, holy and pious in your manner of life, expecting and speeding the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens shall be dissolved in fire, and the heavenly bodies shall be burnt and shall melt away? But we look for new heavens and a new earth, according to his promise, wherein justness is to abide.

    Wherefore, beloved, looking for those things, strive, that you may be found by him in peace without spot and without blemish, and deem the long-suffering of our Lord salvation, as our beloved brother Paul also has written to you, in virtue of the wisdom given him, even as he does in all his epistles, when he speaketh of these things; wherein are some things hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable wrest to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures.


Conclusion.

Do ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, be on your guard, lest being carried away by the error of the lawless, ye fall away from your own steadfastness, but grow ye in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, both now and unto the day of eternity. Amen.



   Christ Blessing by Giovanni Bellini (c1459) (ack. Artble)
Above text taken from the the Holy Bible, Caxton Publishing Company, Ltd., London, Melbourne, Wellington. The Old Testament in the Douai text, the New Testament in the Westminster text. Copyright (1947) in Westminster version vested in Philip Caraman SJ., other material specially designed and written with copyright by George Rainbird (1958)

Thursday, 1 April 2021

'Our Lord's Passion - the Scourging at the Pillar'


During Holy Week, the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded by the four evangelists, Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is each read during Holy Mass on four separate days. As we would expect, the accounts of Christ's Passion and Death, are virtually the same, although each evangelist approaches his task from a slightly different angle, with different emphases. In this short post, I have taken an extract from 'Treading the Winepress' - with Christ in His Passion, by Wm Stephenson S.J. in which the writer considers Our Lord's scourging at the pillar. He also raises the question of why we are perhaps rarely moved when considering Christ's Passion, and suggests that it is because we come to it as an intellectual exercise, not sufficiently allowing it to sink into the heart. He proposes that before commencing a contemplation, we should ask for the grace of compassion, that we may taste and see Jesus' sufferings, feel sorrow with Him, weep over His grief and the great pains He bore for us. Finally he suggests that we do well to ask the sorrowful Virgin Mother to obtain for us this precious grace.



             'Christ's Scourging at the Pillar'  by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) (Wikipedia)                                                                                                              

The punishment of 'scourging', the horror of which is almost beyond utterance or thought, though also a distinctive penalty, usually preceded the death sentence under Roman administration – which sentence itself was sometimes commuted to it. It was a cruel and shameful form of punishment, which at that time was in full use in the Roman provinces, whilst by law every Roman citizen was exempt. So terrible was the punishment that under the fury of the stripes, the unfortunate victim, amid screams and bodily torture, sometimes fell in a senseless heap, or was taken away a mass of bleeding flesh, only to find deliverance in death, if, indeed, he had not already died.

Is it any wonder, then, that at the pre-vision in Gethsemani of such an ordeal, Our Lord shrank back in fear, imploring His Father to remove the Chalice from Him? But through the excess of love He had for man – for each one of us-- He freely offered Himself to be scourged.

SS. Matthew and Mark dismiss Jesus' scourging with a phrase, saying no more because people of their time knew its nature well. St John in a single sentence records this dreadful punishment, which (it is said) in horror and suffering equalled crucifixion: “Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged Him.” The scourging was one of Christ's severest sufferings, one which He usually mentioned when foretelling His Passion. It was this torment, this baptism in his own blood, that all but killed Him. In picturing the scene it will help the memory, and help us also to stir up within us the affections, if we ask; Who? What? Why?

So terrible was the punishment of scourging, that in the criminal law of the Jews, the number of lashes was strictly limited to forty; but in Roman law no such limitation existed, all being left to the pleasure – to the ferocity-- of the lictors. What then, do the soldiers do? Seizing Jesus, they drag Him rudely into the public courtyard, where there is a short pillar with a chain attached, the sight of which must cause Him to shudder. They strip Him of His garments, and fasten Him to the pillar, hands and arms tightly bound, His bare back nearly horizontal. Then these strong men, only too eager to vent on any Jew the intense grudge they bear against the Jewish nation, gird themselves to do their savage work – to scourge Christ.

According to tradition, they have scourges of cord, or, probably, the flagellum, of which Roman writers speak with horror; scourges armed at the end with drops of lead or small sharp-pointed bones. At the given signal, each man begins to work with his scourge upon the virginal body of the Saviour, the purest, most perfect body ever made. Incited by the demons, each and all vent their rage in lashing Him till the skin is broken, the flesh torn, and the body from the sole of the foot to the top of the head is one sore, covered with blood. It makes small difference to these men if they draw blood. They strike away, one after another, till every member of that immaculate Body agonizes with pain, and keep on striking Our Lord standing in His own blood, till He falls on the pavement, His body a mass of bleeding flesh. “We have seen Him” exclaims the prophet, “there is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness, (no, not even) sightliness, that we should be desirous of Him” (Is..53)

(ack. 'Treading the Winepress' by Wm Stephenson S.J. - 'With Christ in His Passion.'

- fourth edition (1971) published by Cahill & Co Ltd., Dublin, for Irish Messenger Office.)

Saturday, 13 March 2021

'Meditation on the Passion' - the Washing of Feet

 

A third excerpt from 'Meditation on the Passion' compiled by Rev. Reginald Walsh O.P. published in 1922 by Burns, Oates, and Washbourne.  London.

Each post deals with a different aspect of our Lord's Passion, and are posted alternately and sequentially on this site and on 'whitesmokeahoy' (link on sidebar)


          'CHRIST WASHING THE DISCIPLE'S FEET' (1548/9) by Tintoretto

                                                        

                                                          1.

OUR LORD'S OBJECT IN WASHING HIS DISCIPLES' FEET


Jesus had a twofold aim in view in performing this unusual action at the Last Supper..

  1. He intended to give the Apostles a significant answer to their dispute about the order of their rank. Jesus wishes to teach them humility and charity --- that the aim of those in authority is not to be the gratification of selfishness and love of authority, but the welfare of those under them --- that the exercise of their office is a service --- rendered not as a mark of gracious condescension and kindness, but as a matter of duty: a service of loving humility and humble charity. This is the lesson our Lord wished to inculcate upon all His Apostles.

  2. The second aim or object of our Lord was undoubtedly a mystical one --- viz. to impart to His Apostles purity and conformity with Himself --- that they might perform their Apostolic work worthily and perseveringly; possibly too, the ceremony was to be their immediate preparation, by an increase of purity and faith, for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament, as Jesus Himself mysteriously hints. Our Lord prepares even the wretched Judas, in the way best suited to him. He warns him once more by predicting his evil deed plainly and positively, and points out the hideousness of the crime in all its blackness, ingratitude, and callousness, --- for Judas turns against the hand that gives him food, like a brute beast. Lastly, Jesus shows that it is an offence against God Himself, for whoever receives or ill-treats our Lord, receives or ill-treats Him that sent Him.

      Jesus seems to have been most anxious to impress this lesson deeply upon the minds of His Apostles. This is shown in the way in which He gives it. In the first place--- He does so more strikingly than on any previous occasion. He had already taught the Apostles this lesson twice before, but never in such an earnest and impressive manner. Secondly, He does this just before His death, and so that the lesson forms, so to speak, a part of His last will. Thirdly, Jesus uses every means to impress this lesson upon His Apostles, by word and deed, first, by washing their feet, and, then, explaining why He did so.

                                           

                                                  II

                       THE WASHING OF THE FEET


Let us see the persons --- listen to the words --- consider the

actions --- then reflect and draw fruit for our souls.

As Jesus looks round on those faithful friends who have remained with Him in all the troubles of His public life, He reads their hearts. They are honest, upright hearts, without guile or malice, all, except one. He longs to be more closely united with them. But He misses a virtue in them which of all others is dearest to Him --- one that is not always a very great favourite with us perhaps--- but is very dear to our Lord, and has a wonderful power over His Heart wheresoever He finds it--- that virtue is humility. Mary's humility drew Him down from Heaven --- we can never have too much for Him.

But the Apostles had little love for humility --- they liked outward show and honour, they liked working miracles, casting out devils, preaching to an admiring crowd. They turned against the mere mention or thought of shame, humiliation, suffering. Jesus had tried for the last three years to humble them, to keep them in their place. This very night even, they had been again disputing and aiming at the highest places. Now they must learn their lesson --- for He cannot give Himself to the proud. He exalts the humble, but the proud He sends empty away. Jesus will Himself give them an example of the spirit He looks for in His own.

Rising from table, He lays aside His upper garment, takes water in a basin, girds Himself with a towel, and kneels before Peter to wash his feet. Peter, with wide-open eyes, has watched our Lord make the preparation. He cannot believe his senses. Jesus! his Master and Lord --- the Son of the Living God! --- wash his feet!

Completely bewildered, Peter cries out: “Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?” “What I do thou knowest not now,” Jesus answered,but thou shalt know hereafter.” Jesus was so calm, so meek, so resolute. But Peter could not bring himself to obey, and answered in his rough, loyal-hearted way: “Thou shalt never wash my feet” --- Jesus knows Peter, one word will overcome him, one threatening word: “ If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with Me.”

Away went Peter's wilfulness --- bowing his head and stretching out his hands, he cried out: “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said: “He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.” Jesus knew their hearts; they were all true but Judas --- and He was using all means, every opportunity, to draw the unhappy man from the misery of his crime. Kneeling before each Apostle, Jesus washed his feet. Try to realise their feelings of humiliation, reverence , and love, as Jesus, their Blessed Master, occupied Himself with each. How He spoke to their hearts, purified them from defects, urged them to the practice of humility and charity --- those virtues so dear to His Sacred Heart, and so necessary, as without them there can be no close union with Himself. The more earnestly we endeavour to excel in humility and charity, the more pure we shall become. Our Lord will then be able to say to us, “Ye are clean.” We have always need of the purification that these virtues will effect, for as long as we dwell in these corruptible bodies we shall contract stains which may be instantly effaced by self-humiliation, contrition, and love.

The Saints of God were clean of heart, but still as they walked through life they contracted some little dust of this world, and this they carefully washed away by their daily acts of humiliation and love. And so pleasing to God, is the practice of these virtues, that He suffers these human frailties to remain in His faithful servants that their continual humility might gladden Him, for these proceed from love and win for them ever new graces and light.

“ A soul that truly loves its own abjection will never want God's pity.” “A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Let us strive to merit these words from the lips of Jesus, ye are clean. What a pain it must have been to the faithful Heart of Jesus to add, but not all. To have loved His own, and that even to the end, as St John tells us, and yet to be repulsed, despised, and betrayed by that one soul was an agony to the human Heart of Jesus that we shall never fathom in this life.

Judas' turn came. With exceeding great love our Lord bathed that poor sinner's feet and, tender as a mother, wiped them. How tenderly Jesus handles these feet that have wandered far from Him. How much Jesus longs to make him clean, but Judas hardens his heart still more. No sign of sorrow, no passing gleam of hope softened the traitor's heart --- he will not cooperate with the abundance of light and grace offered. Jesus turns sadly away! How many times and in how many ways Jesus tried to move this hardened heart. But He will never constrain the free will of His creatures. The Apostles were humble now; for nothing humbles us so much as seeing the humiliation of one we venerate and love. They had seen their Lord and Master kneel before them, loose the latchet of their shoes, and wash their dust-stained feet. A great remedy for a great evil. Oh, let us learn the great lesson here.

Colloquy. --- O Infinite Goodness, I love You, and I want to love You, with all my strength; I wish to do everything in my power to please you. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine. Help me, dear Lord, to understand the value of humiliations; strengthen my will to embrace them generously when the opportunity offers, and so in some little way, and through love, to imitate Thee. O infinite love, my God, I believe in Thee. I love Thee. O Mary, my Mother, intercede for me.

                                                         III

               THE GREAT AND “ IMPORTANT” LESSON JESUS                     GIVES US BY WASHING HIS DISCIPLES' FEET.

There was silence in the room. Having resumed His garments and re-seated Himself in their midst, Jesus again addressed them: “Know you what I have done for you?” Look at the rapt attention of the Apostles as they gather closer to their dear Master. Jesus looks with love on each and all, and asks so tenderly: “Know you what I have done to you? When I created you, when I died for you? When I forgave you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times, and much more? When I planned My Blessed Eucharist for you, and gave you my Blessed Mother to be a Mother to you? When I called you to follow me, to be my intimate companion, friend, apostle? Know you what I intend to do for you, when you have fought the good fight, and when your work here on earth is done?”

“You call Me Master and Lord: and you say well, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done, so you do also. Amen, amen, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his Lord, neither is the Apostle greater than He that sent him. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.”

This act of washing with His Sacred Hands the feet of His disciples is intended by our Lord to teach us the happiness of performing menial services for those around us. To wait on others, especially on our less fortunate brethren, for Christ's sake, is far more honourable than to be waited on by them; to make ourselves the servants of others is far more noble than to be served by them. Is this the principle on which I act? Again, this act combines the two virtues which are most prominent in our Lord's life on earth, charity and humility. Charity takes pleasure in everything that promotes the happiness or comfort of others and of all with whom we live, because they are the brothers and sisters of Christ. Humility takes pleasure in whatever puts us into an inferior position. Jesus gives us powerful motives to overcome selfishness and pride, and to acquire the virtues of charity and humility.

  1. His own example, which we learn to comprehend in some measure, when we reflect who He is. Great stress is laid upon this in the words of St John, that our Lord did this “ knowing that the Father had given Him all things into His hands, and that He came from God, and goeth to God,” that is, in the full possession and consciousness of His dignity as God-Man. Our Lord calls Himself a little later “Master and Lord”, and draws the special attention of his disciples to the position in which He stands to them: “You call Me Master and Lord: and you say well for so I am. If I then, being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so do you also.”--- adding that “ the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither is the Apostle greater than He that sent him”

      Who can compare himself to our Lord? And yet Jesus performs in person this office of love and humility. And upon whom? Upon His Apostles and servants. And in what does this service consist? In washing their feet --- that is, performing the lowest and most servile office that was usually done by slaves. What, then, ought we not be ready to do for our fellow men? What may we consider beneath our dignity?

    1. The second motive is our Lord's express wish. He says He has given us this example, in order that we might imitate it.

    2. The third motive is the reward that our Lord promises for this humility and charity: “If you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.” How happy the house in which this spirit prevails. On the other hand, our Lord, in His words to Peter, gives us to understand, that whoever will not accept this lesson will have no part with Him --- no part in His spirit, His character, or His life. Our Lord also points to the future reward in Heaven: “And there shall come from the east and the west, and the north and the south; and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God. And behold, they are last that shall be first, and they are first that shall be last.” In heaven service and sacrifice cease, and are replaced by rest, abundance, and dominion, even special power and glory. Even on earth the humble and charitable earn honour and respect.

        This is the great and important lesson that our Lord gives us all by washing His disciple's feet --- charity and humilityloving humility and humble charity. We must have both. Humility without charity is like the bright but cold light of the moon; charity without humility is but a transient flame that soon expires. It is the union of these two virtues that characterizes the Church and Christianity. The Church, the Saints, and all our Lord's true servants and Apostles have always borne this character of His Sacred Heart.

Have I the dispositions with which Jesus washed His disciple's feet? What progress have I made in these virtues? “Look and do according to the pattern” (Exod, xxv.) are words that our dear Master is always silently saying to us as we contemplate His sacred life and Passion. He says to each of us: “If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.” When therefore, we have an inward perception of a Gospel truth, then we must, with our will, labour earnestly to obtain grace to do what we have learned, remembering always that even when “ the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”

Christ's words are true: “The disciple is not greater than his Master.” If our Divine Master was glorious in the sight of the Angels as He stooped to wash the Apostle's feet, our road to glory must be by stooping, by ministering in all humility, to others. We never can be as great as our Master. We must take care lest our selfishness and pride place us in direct contrast with the Son of God. “ He that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger: and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. For who is the greater, he that sitteth at table or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you as he that serveth.” Jesus, looking at His dear disciples with an emotion of joy, added, with a thrill of tenderness and love: “And you are they who have continued with me in my temptations; and I will dispose to you, as My Father has disposed to Me, a kingdom.”


The courageous fidelity of His own will not be in vain. The Son of Man will not always be in the wine-press of tribulation; the days of triumph will come. “And I say to you that you shall eat and drink at My table in My kingdom; and shall sit upon thrones judging the tribes of Israel.” “Our God is a faithful God.”

Colloquy. --- With the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He says to me: If through Divine love thou exerciseth humility and charity towards all, whosoever they may be, thou, My child, wilt assuredly be the good odour of my Heart for all who shall see thy example. And, although others should not profit by thy example, thou shalt be no less dear to My Heart. Blessed is the soul who, by the example of a humble charity, shall so shine before others as to show that the goodness of My Heart is to be loved and imitated!


O meek and humble Jesus, my blessed Lord and Master, I need Thy powerful grace to do the things which Thou teachest me. I beseech Thee, dear Jesus, to help me with Thy efficacious aid. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Thy love for me. Dear Jesus, grant me to follow Thee faithfully and to imitate Thee closely --- make me a perfect disciple of Thy Heart. Free me, dear Lord, from the selfishness and bitterness of pride and self-love; render my heart like Thine, always kind, and ever animated with humble charity towards all. “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me."






                           'Sacred Heart of Jesus'   by Batoni









Tuesday, 2 March 2021

'Meditation on the Passion' - preliminaries


                                     

'The Saviour' by El Greco

We are now in Lent, and as part of my Lenten reading I have been reading a book entitled 'Meditation on the Passion', compiled from Various Sources, with an Introduction by Rev. Reginald Walsh, O.P. , and published by Burns, Oates, & Washbourne Ltd., London, in 1922.

In his introduction Father Walsh writes, 'It is hoped that they who love to contemplate and consider what the Word Incarnate suffered for their salvation will find this work useful. Here, in passing, we may say that the Meditation now presented to all, was in its first shape designed and destined for private circulation only.

A Member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as Mistress of Novices for about thirty years, had gained great experience in the formation of religious as well as in the varied requirements of conventual life, proposed by means of this book to impart to her Sisters the fruit of her own reflections on the Passion, which one so spiritual and enlightened was exceptionally fitted to compile.

As might have been anticipated, the excellence of the work, which she had intended for the use of her Sisters, in course of time became known to several persons in one or other way connected with the Institute of the Blessed Virgin. And among them, some are of opinion that this treasure should no longer be allowed to remain almost hidden in the cloister. They have represented that outside the convents of the Institute there are many devout souls to whom the Meditation would be most acceptable. In accordance with their suggestion, and in compliance with their wish, it is now reprinted.

But in order to increase its utility, so far as persons living in the world are concerned, many passages in the work, as it appeared at first, have been omitted----

those, namely, which were addressed to nuns as such; also some other incidental clauses have been either omitted or else slightly changed. …......

That the book may continue to be a help to advancement in the spiritual life, and become an abundant source of blessings to a still wider circle of readers, is the earnest desire of those who have had to do with its reissue.'

Reginald Walsh O.P.


**********


The book deals with the many different aspects of Our Lord's Passion, and this post covers that part dealing with the plotting of the \Chief Priests and Scribes to arrest Jesus, and the treachery of Judas Iscariot.


PRELIMINARIES OF THE PASSION

(Luke xxii. 1-6)


1st Prelude: History. --- The feast of the unleavened bread, the Pasch, was at hand. The chief priests and scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death; but they feared the people. And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot --- one of the twelve; and he went and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray Jesus to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And Judas promised. And he sought opportunity to betray Jesus in the absence of the world.

2nd Prelude: Composition of Place. ---Mark how Judas absents himself from our Lord's company and the Apostles. Note his frequent visits to the city to hold intercourse with the enemies of Jesus --- the world, and this to better himself for worldly gain.

3rd Prelude: Ask what I want .--- To know our Lord intimately --- best security for fidelity to Him. The soul that knows Him, loves Him ardently, and will face and conquer every difficulty to be true to Him. Light to know myself and fear myself, for I am capable of any treason. Grace to love, appreciate, and follow faithfully common life ----best safeguard against the spirit of the world .

Points: 1. The great Council decided on the arrest of Jesus --- “They sought how they might, by some wile, lay hold on Him” (Mark xiv. 1)

2. Judas sells our Lord ---” What will you give me, and I will deliver Him into you?” (Matt.xxvi.15)

3. The enemies of Jesus immediately decide to kill Him ---“And they consulted together how they might apprehend Jesus and put Him to death.” (Matt. xxvi. 4)


1.

THE GREAT COUNCIL DECIDES ON THE ARREST OF JESUS

“They sought how they might by some wile lay hold on Him”


See the persons-- hear the words --- study the actions, circumstances, etc.

Reflect. The circumstances under which the Council decided on the arrest of Jesus were as follows:-

As regards the time, it was probably on Wednesday that the Council assembled, and probably at the hour when our Lord assured His disciples that he would be crucified on the feast of the Pasch. You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified. The meeting place of the Council was not, it would appear, the assembly-room in the Temple, but the palace of Caiphas the High Priest, because the decision was kept secret, and all care taken to avoid attracting attention. Nevertheless the Sanhedrin seemed to have been represented in every essential point, for the three classes --- chief priests, ancients, and scribes --- of which it is composed, are mentioned. It was therefore an official session. The subject of the deliberations was no longer the putting to death of Jesus ----- that had been decided upon long ago, but the manner in which it was to be accomplished ---- whether openly by force, or secretly by crafty surprise. The occurrences of the last few days, the complete defeats by which our Lord had put his enemies to shame; His increasing influence --- all this urged them to sudden action.

The decision was ---- the arrest to be made secretly by craft. Our Lord to be surprised and taken, when and how they could best do it. His execution was not to take place on the feast-day, but after the Pasch was over. This was because they feared the people. At the Paschal season there were great multitudes of people in Jerusalem, and the crowds were much inclined to disturbances and tumult; our Lord had many adherents among them, especially among the excitable Galileans. So the Sanhedrin feared resistance and risk, as in that case the Romans would have been forced to interfere. For this reason the arrest must be made whenever it could be done best, but secretly, and the sentence was not to be passed until after the feast days, when the people had dispersed. Such was the decision of the Council --- and such their dispositions for the great feast. They feared ---- not God, but the people.

What a terrible thing for a Christian to be the slave of worldly principles, of a selfish spirit, of human respect! Our Lord declares expressly and positively that He will die on the feast, and by a violent death. He knows the counsels of God and the hearts of men. No one can work against God. His Providence guards His own. His faithful servants --- not a hair of their head can be touched without His permission. Nothing can happen without the permission of God. What a motive to live by faith and absolute confidence --- Jesus knows all. Let me be upright and sincere before God --- live under His eye and fear nothing. How far am I doing this?

Colloquy, ---Open my heart to Thee, my dear Master; give me courage to be fearless in Thy service. Thou art a Master worth serving! O good Jesus, how great is the love of Thy Heart for me! How unselfish Thy love! How great Thy solicitude for my happiness! Can I ever forget Thee? Can I ever love Thee enough, dear Jesus? Mother, I have need of thee! Help me to be like thee, always true to Jesus.


II

“JUDAS SELLS OUR LORD”

“What will you give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?”


        

What will you give me? What a terrible question! To put Jesus into competition with self! Judas entertained the thought of the betrayal of our Lord for a long time. No one falls away from nearness to Jesus on a sudden: neglect in little things gradually leads to a serious fall.

Let us consider how Judas came to take such a resolution. What were the causes?

      1. The fundamental cause was probably the shallowness, untrustworthiness, and superficiality of his character. He seems to have been a man of no depth or moral stamina.

      2. The second cause was his worldliness, ambition, and avarice. One can scarcely conceive of his ever having had any idea of the Kingdom of the Messiah other than that which the majority of the Jews entertained --- a temporal king and a temporal kingdom. Judas was wholly under the influence of the worldly spirit: that spirit which is so directly opposed to the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that St John declares, “If any man love the world the charity of the Father is not in him.” (1 John ii.15). The world is the enemy of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. It is composed of those who centre their happiness in earthly things, detest and shun poverty, suffering, and humiliation: while they love, nay, worship wealth, pleasure and dignity, esteeming these the only treasures worthy of man's ambition; pursuing them with unrelenting ardour and deliberately sacrificing their soul to attain them.

    Our Lord Himself formally excluded the world from His last solemn prayer for His disciples on the night of His Passion. He predicted too, that as it had hated and persecuted Him, so would it persecute and hate His followers. If we really desire a place near our Lord, we must, like our dear Master, engage in an unceasing conflict with His mortal foe. Jesus Christ is light, and the world is darkness; and as light and darkness cannot exist together --- one casts out the other --- so neither can our Lord and the world be one. When the spirit of the world gets entrance to our heart, our Lord is cast out, rejected; and in proportion as the Spirit of our Lord gains ground in the soul, the spirit of the world is cast out.

      Judas' downfall is a sad confirmation of this great principle ---- Jesus Christ and the world are mortal enemies. By generous, persevering efforts to rid myself of everything savouring of the worldly spirit, shall I make solid, genuine advance in sanctity. Perfectly to triumph over the world is not the work of a moment; therefore I must follow faithfully in the footsteps of God's servants --- the Saints, by generous fidelity in lesser trials, and so I shall merit divine help in more severe conflicts. Does not our dear Lord encourage and exhort us: “In the world you shall have distress; but have confidence, I have overcome the world .” “Let us,” says Pere Grou of the Society of Jesus, “beg of our Divine Lord and Master to overcome it with and in us, destroying its reign in our hearts, to establish His own dominion there for ever.”

      3. The third cause of Judas' fall was unbelief; gradually he lost the faith he had at first. Loss of faith is the usual result of worldliness.

      4. The fourth cause was the discomfort of the life led by our Lord and His disciples. Judas loved his own ease and comfort. He grew tired of the poverty of Jesus, the constant labour and journeying of Jesus, and also the disinterestedness of Jesus. Judas was absolutely selfish and acquired the habit of thieving from the purse that our Lord had entrusted to him; he tried to make use of his position for temporal ends. The private admonitions which our Lord gave Judas, our Lord's earnest, tender training of His Apostles, must have grown burdensome and intolerable to Judas. Indeed one can well imagine how the enthusiastic love and devotion of the other Apostles and friends of our Lord, must have annoyed him. How exaggerated and extravagant they must have appeared to him, until at last he took a positive dislike to the presence and Person of Jesus. This dislike to the Person of Jesus showed itself plainly, when Magdalene anointed His sacred feet at Bethany. The unbelief, irreverence, and callousness of Judas on this occasion almost stun us.

      A last cause---- which, however, was at work in all the other influences----- was the influence and seduction of the devil, which grew more and more powerful the more Judas gave way to unbelief and passion, and thus it was that his diabolical resolution matured. Under these circumstances Judas wished to see Jesus' plans thwarted and the company of the Apostles dissolved, that he might be freed from his trammels --- and he thought he might as well gain something by it too, if possible.

      How mean, cowardly, and disgraceful this act of Judas --- he, an apostle, a friend of Jesus, a member of His family. Judas' conduct meant no small slight shame, and no small pain to the tender loving heart of our Lord --- and Judas took this step quite of his own accord. He hastens to the Priests himself, and asks, in the most shameless and unblushing manner, what they will give him for his treachery. Judas knew well the men he had to deal with, and promised to deliver our Lord --- Jesus, his Master --- his Benefactor, Lord --- his God and greatest good--- into their hands. And for what? For thirty pieces of silver --- the price paid for killing a slave! And to whom does Judas sell his God? To His worst and most bitter enemies who lie in wait to devour Him. Judas delivers our Lord to all the tortures of His Passion and Death. Self-interest, avarice, ingratitude, cowardice, faithlessness, hard-heartedness, and cruelty are all included in this act of Judas. And oh, what pain, what deep humiliation, it brought to our dear Lord and Saviour!

      Here we have serious matter for reflection --- we must get to know ourselves. Self-knowledge is a most necessary step to the knowledge and love of Jesus --- no one is safe until well-grounded in self-knowledge. If Judas had known his own evil nature, he might have been saved. He would have distrusted and dreaded himself, and clung to Jesus who would have saved him, for He loved Judas and called him to be His disciple with the sole view of saving him. But Judas used his free -will to thwart the tender, merciful designs of Jesus--- and no one will be saved against his will. What a terrible lesson is here given!

      Like Judas, we too have our evil dispositions --- our weaknesses, which, unless known and fought against, will lead to very serious consequences.

What have I to say to my Divine Master? What grace to ask? What thanksgiving to make? What reparation, sympathy, and love to offer to the loving, patient Heart of Jesus? O most sweet Jesus, what is there for me outside Thee? Or what do I desire upon earth but Thee? God of my heart, Thou art my love. Thou art my blessedness. Thee alone shall I serve. I entreat Thee, O Lord, suffer nothing which is not Thine in my heart; if there be anything there in opposition to Thy most Holy Will, pluck it out even against my will. Keep Thy hand on me, dear Jesus my Lord and my God, lest I, too, like Thy faithless disciple, betray Thee. I wish Thee alone to possess my whole heart. 

Thou art my Father, my last End. O sweet Jesus, fountain of love and grace, rouse me, help me to understand how sinful and ungrateful I have been to Thee. Have pity on me, Lord Jesus, have pity on me according to the mercy of Thy loving Heart. The thought that I can yet be made holy, that I can yet become a true and loyal disciple of Thy Heart, encourages me. Help me, O Jesus most merciful, help me, give me courage; behold, dear Lord, now I begin! O Mother, I have need of thee!


III


THE ENEMIES OF JESUS IMMEDIATELY DECIDE TO KILL HIM


“And they consulted together how they might apprehend Jesus and put Him to death” (Matt.xxvi. 4)


Judas' proposal was just what the enemies of our Lord desired. They are very pleased to find a traitor amongst His chosen disciples; this circumstance lowered the opinion they had of our Lord. They decided at once to act and proceed to extreme measures. Judas was now bound to help them. He did so, and tried to find an opportunity to make our Lord fall into His enemies' hands quietly and without attracting attention. So he followed Jesus, like a thief, dogging His footsteps, spying out all He did, and informing His enemies of everything ----- all the time simulating fidelity, sympathy, readiness to oblige, and the most cordial friendship. Thus our Lord had in very truth, the devil at His side. Jesus read Judas' heart ---- knew everything ---- and endured all without complaint, in spite of His repugnance. He tried to warn Judas --- to win him --- and offers all He suffers in this particular suffering of heart, for those who will in future ages have to suffer ingratitude, faithlessness, and treachery on the part of friends and relatives.

The prophets have described to us the emotions of Jesus' Heart at this time:

If my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it. And if he that hated me had spoken great things against me, I would have perhaps hidden myself from him. But thou a man of one mind, my guide and my familiar, who didst take sweetmeats together with me: in the house of God we walked with consent. The threads of the cruel plot are spun, the tragedy is about to begin. The prophecies of Jesus and the counsels of God are fulfilled, and our Lord's enemies are the instruments to carry them out. The type foreshown in the Paschal Lamb must be fulfilled; with what calm majesty our Lord sees this terrible fulfilment approaching and becoming a reality! 

 Jesus, my Blessed Master, strengthen my will to embrace firmly and lovingly the cross in whatever shape Thy Providence provides and deems it necessary to make me Thy true and devoted servant and companion.

Who can understand Judas? Who does not look with horror on his crime, his base treachery? Can this accursed tool be an Apostle? The sight of this unhappy disciple a traitor, an apostate, at the side of Jesus is surely calculated to fill us with (1) the fear of God; and (2) with distrust of ourselves; (3) to strengthen us in the resolution to avoid all dangerous occasions of sin or unfaithfulness to a vocation; (4) to make us persevere in humble prayer, and in exact observance of our Catholic duties; (5) to urge us to overcome our evil passions and inordinate inclinations by generous self-conquest. If we neglect the mortification of our evil tendencies, we have much reason to fear --- for we are capable of anything --- no sin, no meanness, is beyond the range of possibility for us. Our safety lies in humble, close companionship with our Lord and our Immaculate Mother --- near her we shall be true to Jesus. At any cost we must root out inordinate inclinations --- “Blessed is he who understands what it is to love Jesus and to despise himself for the love of Jesus!”

Colloquy. --- With the suffering Heart of Jesus. Pray to be faithful under every circumstance --- “ to give and not to count the cost”. Love is proved by deeds, therefore let nothing come between me and my Divine Master. In difficulties, desolation, failures, temptations, stand by our Lord” --- cling to Him. O my dear Jesus, how wretchedly unfaithful I have been to Thee! Pardon me, I entreat Thee, ah, pardon all my ingratitude, all the evil I have done --- give me grace, O Jesus, Saviour, to redeem lost time and repair the past. 

 Enkindle my heart with that fire of love with which Thy Heart is burning. This most hallowed flame will utterly destroy my offences, and urge me to be prompt and diligent in Thy holy service. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Thy love for me. 

Take, Lord, take and receive my entire liberty, all that I have, all that I am, ---- everything. Give me Thy love and Thy grace and I am rich enough --- I have nothing more to ask. O my Mother, I have need of thee --- Mother, give me to Jesus ---O Mary, be propitious to me.

  (to be continued)


Ack. 'Meditation on the Passion' - Rev. Reginald Walsh O.P.

                                              

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