Incentives to Devotion toward the Five
Adorable Wounds of Our Savior
Source: THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED, Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, TAN BOOKS,
with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1895
1. The Wounds of Jesus Christ bear eternal testimony to His infinite love for us, and are fountains of Charity, according to the expression of St. Bernard. And, in fact, what stronger proofs could we have of the infinite love of Jesus than those five Wounds, which He permitted to be made in His hands, feet, and side, that in them, as in so many written words, we might read the immensity of His love? One single drop of His most precious Blood would have been sufficient, and a thousand times more than sufficient, for our Redemption, but not for His love. It was His Will that His Blood should flow from five copious fountains, that so He might shed every drop of it for our salvation. Yet more; no sooner had our loving Redeemer breathed His last, than, in order to make us understand that His love was stronger than death, He permitted His side to be opened with a spear, and His sacred Heart pierced with a deep wound, that so He might bestow upon us the few remaining drops of Blood which the scourges and nails had failed to draw forth from His veins. "It was not so much the lance," says St. Cyprian, "which inflicted the Wound upon the side of Jesus, as His love for us." The lance was but the instrument of His love, which was desirous of thus bestowing His Heart upon us. Oh, how loudly do these Wounds proclaim to us that great, or rather, infinite, has been the love of Jesus for us! How strongly do they remind us of all He has suffered for our salvation! It has been the will of Jesus to preserve in His glorified Body the marks of His Wounds as a perpetual remembrance of the great love He has borne us, and of all He has done for our sakes, and as incentives to urge Him to do yet more, and preserve and increase in us the gifts of His grace. Now, how is it possible that with so many incentives to love, our hearts should still remain cold, and unwilling even sometimes to remember, reflect upon, venerate, honor, and love the adorable Wounds of so loving a Redeemer? Jesus has purchased our hearts and affections at the exorbitant price of His Wounds and Blood, and shall we refuse to give them to Him, shall we refuse to employ our hearts in loving Him, and our affections in honoring and venerating His most holy Wounds? Such fearful ingratitude on the part of a Christian would indeed be most painful to the sweet and adorable Heart of Jesus! And, in fact, the most acute and bitter anguish endured by that sacred Heart, was, says St. Bernard, caused by the thought of the ingratitude of man, who would so seldom call to mind His Wounds and His Passion. Dedicate your heart, then, with the tenderest feelings of devotion, to the Wounds of your Redeemer, which are the everlasting pledges of His love for you. Imitate the example of St. Augustine, who used to beseech Jesus Crucified to inscribe His sacred Wounds in his heart with one of His blood-stained nails, that he might thus have these marks of the love of his God continually present to his mind.
2. The Wounds of Jesus are fountains of Grace, Mercy, and Salvation. From them did the price of our Redemption flow, to satisfy Divine Justice for our sins. From them flowed forth the plenitude of the Divine benedictions and mercies, by which our souls were to be enriched, and their salvation rendered an infinitely less arduous task. From them did the Sacraments derive their thrice-blessed origin---the Sacraments which cleanse, purify, and sanctify us, and the celestial waters of which irrigate our hearts with their precious streams, and impart fecundity to the vineyard of Holy Church. These Wounds constitute an asylum, in which we may take refuge, lest we perish with the reprobate, and lose our souls. They are the dearest, and at the same time the most secure pledges of our eternal salvation, which Jesus has bestowed upon us. Whoever desires to know how great was, and is, the anxiety of Jesus for our salvation, need but look at His most sacred Wounds. What deep emotions of gratitude ought not such reflections to awaken in the hearts of all Christians? What affection, what tender devotion, ought they not to feel towards these most holy Wounds? How earnestly should they strive to love and adore them with the utmost reverence, and thus give expression to their unbounded gratitude. Blessed James of Bevagna, being disturbed by fears concerning his salvation, implored Jesus to bestow upon him a pledge of Heaven, the sole object of his desires. His loving Lord, to console him, gave him a paper signed with the Blood that flowed from His Wounds, saying, "Let this Blood be to thee a pledge of thy salvation."
3. The Wounds of Jesus furnish us with powerful motives for hope. Our divine Redeemer has been pleased to retain the marks of His Wounds in His glorified Body, in order to inspire sinners with confidence. His office in Heaven, says St. Paul, is to make continual intercession for us to His Eternal Father. His Wounds are so many tongues ever speaking in our favor. He offers them to His Father, imploring His clemency in our behalf, with powerful efficacy. If our sins demand vengeance, the Wounds of Jesus cry out still more loudly for pity and mercy, and the voice of His Wounds drowns the voice of our sins. They make reparation for those offenses which would otherwise call down the just anger of God upon sinners. They fulfill the merciful office of perpetual advocates and intercessors in our behalf, and implore grace and mercy for us. Let us, then, unite our supplications to their powerful voices, and when we pray and ask favors through the merits of these Wounds, we may be sure of obtaining all that we ask. Let us, then, unite ourselves closely to the most holy Wounds of our Saviour; let us have recourse to them with lively hope and entire confidence, and doubt not that our prayers will be heard. For us have these Wounds been made, and for our sakes has Jesus retained them as marks of glory, to make known to us that our names being thus inscribed in characters of blood, He will never forget us. "No," says St. Augustine, "our Lord willeth not the eternal loss of those souls which He has purchased at so dear a rate." "Jesus," adds St. Bernard, "was pleased to ascend into Heaven with His arms and hands extended, that all might see His sacred Wounds, and seeing, might adore them, and adoring, might place all their hopes in them."
4. Through the Wounds of Jesus Christ we have been reconciled to God, our sins have been pardoned, and we have been released from those bonds which detained our souls in a state of servitude to the Devil. By the Blood that flowed from these adorable Wounds were our sins remitted, our souls purified from their stains, and the life of grace bestowed on penitent sinners. Through these precious Wounds the decree of our condemnation has been canceled, and the merciful sentence of our pardon and absolution written in its stead.However great may be our debts, we may find in the Wounds of our Crucified Jesus wherewith to pay to the full all that may be owing by sinful men to Divine justice. The sacred bank is open, the ransom-money ready, and whoever refuses to profit by it must be resolved to die in his sins. Does your conscience reproach you with the enormity of your sins, and the slightness of the penance you have done for them? Take courage, fear not, hasten to the Wounds of Jesus, and there you will find wherewith to make atonement. Draw nigh to those Wounds with faith and love, bury your sins in them with feelings of heartfelt contrition, wash yourself in the Divine Blood flowing from them, and you will be cleansed from all your stains. But whoever, on the other hand, is obstinate in sin, or refuses to have recourse to the Wounds of his Redeemer, will close to himself those fountains of pardon and reconciliation, and be lost for all eternity. At the hour of death, he will hear these severe words of reproof from the lips of his wounded Lord: "These Wounds were the work of thy hands---for thy sake were they made---and yet thou wouldst not even so much as look at them, much less approach, and hide thyself within them." And what could we, wretched creatures, answer at that awful moment? Let us then at once provide against so fearful a misfortune, and devote all the love and affection of our hearts to the most holy Wounds of Jesus Christ.
5. The Wounds of Jesus invite us to repentance, inspire us with horror for sin, and produce in us a change of life. Even the hard-hearted crucifiers of Jesus, on beholding Him dead and covered with wounds, were touched at the sight, repented, and shed tears of compunction. And is there a man to be found, who, on contemplating the Wounds of his Crucified Lord, recognizing in them the work of his hands, the effect of his malice, and the malignity of his sins, which, like cruel executioners, inflicted such Wounds---is there a man, I say, who will not be moved to repentance? Can any one behold the excruciating torments endured by his mangled Lord, see such copious streams of Blood flowing from His lacerated limbs and pierced Heart, and not bitterly bewail his sins with tears of sorrow? Can anyone have the heart to renew by sin those Wounds which Jesus was pleased to receive in His blessed Body, on account of sin? Are you really anxious to amend? Do you sincerely desire to bewail your ill-spent life? Never allow a day to pass without a few moments' contemplation of the Wounds of your Redeemer, and you will there behold how great an evil sin is, which inflicted on your soul wounds that could not be healed but with the salutary balm distilled from the Wounds of the Son of God. These Wounds will also show you how great is the hatred God bears to sin, since He visited it with such severity upon the humanity of His only begotten Son. How would it be possible for any Christian, who often contemplates Jesus fastened with nails to the Cross, and pierced with the lance, to take pleasure in those sins which inflicted such Wounds upon the Son of God? Could such a man commit sin, and not rather be filled with the deepest abhorrence for it? But we must contemplate Him attentively, and for a due space of time, not hurriedly and with a mere passing glance, as was done on Mount Calvary by the Pharisees, who yet remained as hardened and obstinate as ever. Earthly goods allure, our passions seduce us, and sin tyrannizes over us, only because we do not fix the eyes of our mind upon the Wounds of our Crucified Jesus. Penance alarms us, and we regard it almost with horror, solely because we do not consider how much suffering, and how many wounds were inflicted upon Jesus for sins not His own. Frequently read the enormity of your sins in the Wounds of your Crucified Lord, and you will detest and do penance for them.
6. The Wounds of Jesus make known the infinite value of Heaven, which they have opened to us. Heaven is the price of the Wounds and Blood of the Son of God. Jesus Christ did not think the sovereign beatitude and glory of Heaven too dearly purchased at the price of unspeakable tortures, and by suffering His sacred flesh to be mangled by nails, thorns, and scourges. Great indeed must be the value of that which cost the Son of God so dear! And yet we esteem it so little, as to be even ready to renounce our claim to it, as, in fact, so many of us do, for the sake of some wretched plea- sure or despicable interest! Ye blind and deluded children of men, contemplate the Wounds of your Crucified God, and see in what manner the gates of the kingdom of glory have been opened to you! See what it has cost Him to place you in possession of it, and understand, if possible, how infinite a benefit was bestowed upon you by the Son of God when He purchased for you Heaven, which you had lost by sin! St. Bernard, being greatly disturbed at the hour of death by a strong temptation to fear that he never should obtain Heaven, put the tempter to flight with these words: "It is true that what I have done to gain Heaven is nothing; it is also true that I am undeserving of it; but I hope to obtain it because the Blood and Wounds of my Redeemer have purchased it for me." Enter in spirit into these sacred Wounds, and you will comprehend the value and sublimity of that eternal felicity which they have acquired for you, and you will learn to detach your heart from the earth and from creatures, so as to place all your affections and desires upon Heaven. Be filled with gratitude for those adorable Wounds, which have purchased such a treasure for you, and frequently adore, bless, and venerate them with the liveliest feelings of gratitude. Often gratefully address Jesus Crucified in these words of St. Augustine: "O Jesus! Thy Wounds are my merits." Or in those of St. Jerome: "The Blood which flows from Thy Wounds, O Lord, is to me the key of Heaven."
7. The Wounds of Jesus Christ have delivered us from the slavery of the devil and of Hell. If you had been delivered from slavery among the Turks, what love would have inflamed your heart for the merciful benefactor who had saved you! Now, Jesus Christ has freed you by His Wounds and death from the slavery of a far more cruel and terrible tyrant---the devil. He has saved you from the dreadful torments of Hell; what gratitude should you not then feel for so loving a Saviour? With what emotions of love and devotion should you not contemplate His most holy Wounds, which have broken asunder your chains, and extinguished the flames of Hell, to which you were condemned, by the Blood flowing from them? Cast your eyes upon Hell, and then upon these most sacred Wounds---upon Hell, to see what you had deserved; upon the Wounds of Jesus, to thank Him Who has saved you from it, and to behold in what manner He has saved you. Your creation cost God nothing, but your redemption cost Him Wounds, Blood, Life itself. And can you remain indifferent to so much goodness? Will you not frequently kiss those adorable Wounds with the liveliest sentiments of affection? Will you not return earnest thanks for your liberation from eternal damnation? But the greatest proof of gratitude that you can offer these Wounds---the highest gratification you can give your wounded Redeemer, is to endeavor to avoid sin, which subjects you anew to the slavery of the devil, and imperils your eternal salvation; to direct all your efforts and to seek by every means in your power to save your soul, in order to go to Heaven, where you may forever bless those Wounds of love, and enjoy the happiness of which they are the price, in the society of the holy Angels and Saints. Daily adore the Wounds of your Redeemer, and protest before each of them that you are determined, at whatever cost, to save your soul. And if the devil brings to your mind the sins of your past life, and Hell claims you for its own because you once merited a place in its dark dungeons, look at the Wounds of your Crucified Lord, and listen to their voice, encouraging you not to fear, because the Blood which flowed from them has power to quench the flames enkindled by your sins.
8. The Wounds of Jesus Christ impart to us strength whereby to combat our enemies. Our life on earth is a continual warfare. We have to fight against the devils who, by their deceits, evil suggestions and temptations, lay snares for us on every side, and violently assault and attack us in order to make us fall into sin, and thence headlong into Hell. The Wounds of Jesus are prefigured, according to the Fathers, by those five small stones which the shepherd David selected to vanquish and kill the giant Goliath. In like manner, when you are armed with, and shielded by these five Wounds, you will be enabled to triumph over all the efforts of Hell. If you take shelter within these Wounds, as within so many strong fortresses, the spirit of evil will have no power over you. The world with its flatteries, vanities, terrors and menaces, makes war upon us without ceasing, spreads dangers in our path, lays a thousand snares to rob us of our innocence, and presents us at every turn with occasions of sin and incentives to allure us to our fall. Who will be saved where it is so easy to be lost? He only who takes refuge in the Wounds of Jesus. "Here do I live secure," says St. Bernard, "here have I nought to fear: In this harbor of refuge do I find salvation." The other enemy of our soul is the flesh, a domestic, yet bitter enemy; disguised, but the more powerful on that account, which by allurements and deceptive flatteries seeks to poison our hearts and ruin our souls for eternity. Oh, what havoc does not this enemy make among Christians! How many poor souls are lost for ever through the hateful vice of impurity! Is it your desire to be liberated from the venomous fangs of this monster? Are you anxious to extinguish the flames of impurity lighted up by the flesh, and to excite in your souls the love of holy chastity? Be devout to the Wounds of your Crucified Lord. It is all but impossible that any man who, in time of temptation to sins of the flesh, thinks of the Wounds of his Redeemer, should have the heart to consent to that very sin for which Jesus made satisfaction by so many sufferings and Wounds in His immaculate flesh. Be devout to the Wounds of Jesus, and choose them for your dwelling-place by day and by night. Have recourse to them with confidence in time of temptation and you will infallibly come off victorious. If Christians were to profess a more tender devotion to the holy Wounds of their Crucified Lord, they would be stronger against the enemies of their salvation, and would not fall so miserably into the unhappy abyss of sin. All the Saints have experienced the powerful efficacy of this devotion in enabling a soul to overcome temptations. You also will surely experience the same if from this day you consecrate yourself to it.
9. The Wounds of Jesus are burning furnaces of Charity, which inflame all hearts with the holy love of God, and are the remedy for all our spiritual infirmities. Flames of love issue from these Wounds, consuming all the Saints of Heaven in the burning fire of charity. These blessed furnaces enkindle in the Saints on earth ardent fires of love, ravishing their hearts. How can it be otherwise than that the wounded Heart of Jesus, all on fire as it is with charity, should communicate its blessed heat to whoever approaches it? On one occasion, St. Catherine of Genoa beheld in a vision the Heart of Jesus, with so many flames issuing from it, through the Wound in the side, that she fainted away from the excessive warmth and unbearable heat of this blessed fire. And if such is the effect produced by the mere contemplation of these blessed Wounds, which all breathe forth flames of love, what would it be if we entered into them, and dwelt there? "Certainly," says St. Laurence Justinian, "if your heart were harder than adamant, the sacred fire which burns in these Wounds would soften it, and enkindle the flames of love within you." Jesus invites you to enter into His holy Wounds; draw nigh to them, then, with the liveliest feelings of devotion, unite your heart to them, and you will experience what heavenly sweetness, what delicious consolations, they will infuse into your soul. Then all the joys of earth will become insipid; the love of God alone will give pleasure and happiness, and suffering for Jesus will be sweet and delightful. St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi once beheld the Blessed Virgin holding in her hand a vase, which she was filling with a precious liquid from the side of Jesus, and this liquid was the love of God. Do you thirst after these Heavenly waters? Approach the wounded side of Jesus, entertain a lively devotion toward the Wounds of your Redeemer, often enter into them by devout meditation, and you will find there wherewith to cure all your spiritual maladies, however dangerous and deep-rooted they may be. "No!" exclaims St. Bernard, "there is no medicine more efficacious for healing the wounds of the soul than devotion to, and meditation upon, the Wounds of our Crucified God." He who attentively thinks of the Wounds of Jesus Christ, and meditates upon all the sufferings endured by Jesus in these Wounds, will place a guard over his eyes, bridle his tongue, mortifying his taste, bring his body under subjection, repress his passions, and refuse to gratify the vain desires of his heart. Here may we find a remedy for all bad habits and evil inclinations. "Give but one glance at your Crucified God, look at His Wounds," says St. Augustine, "if you are desirous of being made whole of those spiritual maladies which sin has brought upon your soul." You are sick in body, in soul, in your powers, and in your senses. Jesus and His most holy Wounds are the medicine by which you may be restored to health. From these blessed Wounds is distilled that precious balsam which heals all spiritual infirmities. By them is the soul comforted and strengthened to perform acts of virtue, to suffer willingly, and to endure death itself, for the love of her Lord. From them did the holy Martyrs obtain courage and strength to suffer all their torments with undaunted constancy.
From them did the holy penitents learn how to endure their life-long austerities. Become acquainted, then, by your own happy experience, with all the advantages of this devotion; enter into the Wounds of Jesus Christ; be most devout to them, and in them you will find a hidden treasure; in them all your desires will be fully satiated, and you will no longer set any value upon aught the world can afford you.10. In the last place, the Wounds of Jesus procure us a holy death, open to us the gates of Heaven, and introduce us into a state of everlasting glory and happiness. Our death is the great affair which we have on hand, and on which depends a happy or a miserable eternity. The whole time of our existence here below is given us by God to prepare for a holy death; and what better disposition can we have to ensure our dying happily than that of having always professed a constant and tender devotion to the holy Wounds of Jesus Christ? A holy life is the best preparation and most secure means for obtaining the happiness of dying the death of the Saints. Now, devotion to the Wounds of Jesus Christ causes us to lead a holy life, because these most sacred Wounds enkindle the love of God in our souls, infuse into us a penitential spirit, restrain us from sin, fill us with hope, stimulate us to virtue, render us strong against our enemies, and impart all possible good to the soul. Therefore, through this devotion, that is to say, through the Wounds of our Crucified Lord, which we have loved, venerated, and adored in life, we shall surely obtain a holy death. For this reason is it that the Wounds of our Redeemer are styled by St. Bonaventure, The gates of Heaven, because it is through them that the devout soul passes into eternal glory. St. Edmund, when about to die, asked for a Crucifix, and kissed its Wounds, saying, "Behold the wood on which I hope to reach the port of eternal salvation"; and very shortly after he went to receive the reward of his hope, and of the devotion which he had always felt towards those most holy Wounds. A like happy fate may be hoped for by all who are truly devout to the Wounds of their Crucified Lord. Oh, what consolation will be theirs at the hour of death, when the blessed Crucifix is presented to them! Oh, what confidence of salvation will be awakened in their hearts on beholding those Wounds into which they have so often entered in spirit during life, and which have ever been the dearest objects of their affections and of their devotion. The sight of the Crucifix will sweeten the sorrows of death, give us strength to bear all its accompanying sufferings, and mitigate the horrors of our last agony. The most holy Wounds of Jesus will strengthen, console, and comfort the soul in its last tremendous journey, and will introduce it into the joys of Heaven. Happy the soul which, by means of such slight homage offered to the Wounds of Jesus---by means of a little devotion and affection bestowed upon the Wounds of so loving a Redeemer---thus enters into possession of eternal, infinite, everlasting happiness! If you desire so enviable a fate, consecrate yourself from this day to devotion to the Wounds of Jesus Crucified; let it be your chosen devotion, and let not a day pass without offering your sincerest homage to these adorable Wounds, dedicated yourself to their love and veneration, and renewing your determination to persevere therein to the end of your life. In them you find a rule whereby you may regulate your whole life, and the means of sanctifying your every action. Listen to the words of Jesus Himself. St. Mechtildis, being one day engaged in the contemplation of the Wounds of her Redeemer, was filled with a most earnest desire to know what she could do in their honor that would give the greatest satisfaction to the Heart of Jesus. Our blessed Lord spoke to her, and gave her the following useful lesson: "In return for the Wounds of My feet, thou must offer Me all thy affections and desires; for the Wounds of My hands, thou must offer Me thy works; for the Wounds of My side, thou must offer Me perfect conformity of thy will with Mine." Can any Christian who lives in this manner, lead any other than the life of a Saint? Can he die any other than the death of the Saints? Put this lesson of Our Lord into practice, while you are reciting the Rosary of the Five most holy Wounds of Jesus our Redeemer.
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