or Our Offenses
IN A prophecy of the Passion of
Christ we get a description of what is meant by the present invocation.
"There is no beauty in Him nor comeliness; and we have seen Him, and
there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him . . . and we
have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and
afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for
our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His bruises
we are healed" (Isa. 53:2 f.). The body and its faculties are abused in
sin and this abuse is atoned by the bodily sufferings of our Lord. Let
us look up to Him hanging on the Cross and there behold the work of
The Body Lacerated
The scourging Jesus suffered was administered by a whip made of leather
thongs, to which small iron hooks or pieces of lead or wood were
attached. The effect of the punishment was so terrible that the victim
frequently died on the spot or remained broken in health for the rest
of His life. Now since Pilate ordered the scourging of Jesus to arouse
the pity of the Jews and to save Him from crucifixion, it was
particularly cruel. As the blows fell upon the body of Jesus, the skin
began to swell and break, blood oozed out, increasing in volume until
it actually streamed down to the ground. As the lashes were lifted for
a new stroke they showed red, dripping with the Saviour's blood; pieces
of skin and flesh adhered to them and were scattered about the place.
Indescribable pain raged through His body and forced tears into His
eyes and gentle moans from His lips. It is of this lacerated body that
we must think when we look upon the
Crucifix. Thus Jesus atoned for the abuse of the body in sinful
pleasure, particularly the sins of the flesh.
The Head Crowned
A special torture was devised for our Saviour's Sacred Head. Jesus was
crowned with thorns to ridicule His royal dignity. The crown was made
from a bush common in Palestine, which grows large and sharp thorns.
Branches of these were plaited together and then tied around the head
of Jesus in such a way that the thorns would turn inside. The procedure
must have caused Him the most intense pain, and the soldiers increased
it when they took the reed from His hands and struck Him on the head.
With each blow the thorns pierced deeper into His skin, some even
injuring the bones of His skull; blood streamed into His eyes and over
His face and matted His hair into stiff, unsightly strands. He wore the
crown of thorns as He carried the Cross; and the crown remained on His
head as He hung there for three hours. All the while these thorns
burned into His head, and the least movement racked His whole body with
excruciating pain. Thus the Saviour's loving Heart atoned for pride and
vainglory, for the sinful display of fashions and the abuse of physical
beauty in the seduction of numberless souls.
Nails in Hands and
The body of Jesus was fastened to the Cross by means of large nails.
Crucifixion was considered the most painful of all punishments and
modern medical science agrees with this opinion. The nailing itself
must have caused unbearable pain. First the arms were tied to the
transverse beam of the Cross and then the nails were driven through the
hand into the holes in the wood with blows of a heavy hammer. The blood
gushed forth profusely, the fingers bent and moved convulsively, and a
sensation of burning spread through the whole body. The cruel procedure
was repeated as the feet were nailed to the Cross. The Cross then was
dragged to the place where it was to be raised and set into the ground.
It went into place with a jerk that sent a quivering pain through every
fiber of the body.
The agony of three hours followed. Merely to be suspended by the hands
that long with ropes would be intolerable. Jesus was suspended, not
with ropes, but with nails in His hands and feet. The blood still left
in Him after the scourging could not circulate properly and a sensation
of unbearable pressure on the heart was the result; the lungs breathed
heavily, the face turned pale and blue, an intense thirst caused the
mouth to open and showed the tongue parched and dry. Long ago the
psalmist had foretold it all, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
My tongue cleaves to My jaws, . . . They have dug My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones" (Ps. 21:16 ff.).
Thus Jesus atoned for the sinful pleasure procured by the abuse of
hands and feet. The hands have been employed in deeds of violence and
lust, they have tom down the temple of God and built monuments to human
pride, they have amassed gold and silver to buy every pleasure the
world could offer, but they have left the works of salvation undone.
The feet have carried the sinner on paths of sin, but failed to walk on
the narrow road that leads to Heaven. Indeed, there is not a feature or
element in sin for which the Heart of Jesus has not atoned.
Saints have called the Crucifix their book. St.
on his deathbed asked for his book; he meant the Crucifix. Clasping it
to his heart he said, "This is my book, of all books the most precious
and most cherished. In this book I read throughout my life; with this
book I want to die." Jesus Himself directed St. Angela of Foligno to
read in this book; from it she would learn the depth of His humility,
the disgrace and bitterness of His Passion. In this book we too will
learn most precious lessons. It speaks to us of the malice of sin and
the greatness of our guilt; it teaches us to do penance and to love
Jesus in return. In this book we find consolation in all trials,
invincible strength in temptation, perseverance and life everlasting.
And so, "It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for in Him is our salvation, life, and resurrection; through Him we
have been saved and delivered" (Introit,
TAKEN FROM THE LITANY OF
THE SACRED HEART, Bruce Publishing