Sunday, April 9, 2017

St. Catherine's Emmerich's visions of the Passion of Christ

Big week ahead of us. Many of us will be starting a 33 day Consecration which will end on the 100th Anniversary of Fatima on May 13th with Fr. Heilman, the Passion of Christ is approaching and the Divine Mercy Novena starts on Good Friday.

Some of my favorite Holy week readings are from St. Catherine Emmerich's visions of the Passion of Christ.

A few excerpts:

Among the sins of the world which Jesus took upon himself, I saw
also my own; and a stream, in which I distinctly beheld each of my
faults, appeared to flow towards me from out of the temptations with
which he was encircled. During this time my eyes were fixed upon my
Heavenly Spouse; with him I wept and prayed, and with him I turned
towards the consoling angels. Ah, truly did our dear Lord writhe like a
worm beneath the weight of his anguish and sufferings!

Whilst Satan was pouring forth his accusations against Jesus, it was
with difficulty that I could restrain my indignation, but when he spoke
of the sale of Magdalen's property, I could no longer keep silence, and
exclaimed: 'How canst thou reproach him with the sale of this property as
with a crime? Did I not myself see our Lord spend the sum which was
given him by Lazarus in works of mercy, and deliver twenty-eight
debtors imprisoned at Thirza?'

At first Jesus looked calm, as he kneeled down and prayed, but after
a time his soul became terrified at the sight of the innumerable crimes
of men, and of their ingratitude towards God, and his anguish was so
great that the trembled and shuddered as he exclaimed: 'Father, if it is
possible, let this chalice pass from me! Father, all things are
possible to thee, remove this chalice from me!' But the next moment he
added: 'Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.' His will and that of
his Father were one, but now that his love had ordained that he should
be left to all the weakness of his human nature, he trembled at the
prospect of death.

I saw the cavern in which he was kneeling filled with frightful
figures; I saw all the sins, wickedness, vices, and ingratitude of
mankind torturing and crushing him to the earth; the horror of death
and terror which he felt as man at the sight of the expiatory
sufferings about to come upon him, surrounded and assailed his Divine
Person under the forms of hideous spectres. He fell from side to side,
clasping his hands; his body was covered with a cold sweat, and he
trembled and shuddered. He then arose, but his knees were shaking and
apparently scarcely able to support him; his countenance was pale, and
quite altered in appearance, his lips white, and his hair standing on
end. It was about half-past ten o'clock when he arose from his knees,
and, bathed in a cold sweat, directed his trembling, weak footsteps
towards his three Apostles. With difficulty did he ascend the left side
of the cavern, and reach a spot where the ground was level, and where
they were sleeping, exhausted with fatigue, sorrow and anxiety. He came
to them, like a man overwhelmed with bitter sorrow, whom terror urges
to seek his friends, but like also to a good shepherd, who, when warned
of the approach of danger, hastens to visit his flock, the safety of
which is threatened; for he well knew that they also were being tried
by suffering and temptation. The terrible visions never left him, even
while he was thus seeking his disciples. When he found that they were
asleep, he clasped his hands and fell down on his knees beside them,
overcome with sorrow and anxiety, and said: 'Simon, sleepest thou?' They
awoke, and raised him up, and he, in his desolation of spirit, said to
them: 'What? Could you not watch one hour with me?' When they looked at
him, and saw him pale and exhausted, scarcely able to support himself,
bathed in sweat, trembling and shuddering,--when they heard how changed
and almost inaudible his voice had become, they did not know what to
think, and had he not been still surrounded by a well-known halo of
light, they would never have recognised him as Jesus. John said to him:
'Master, what has befallen thee? Must I call the other disciples? Ought
we to take to flight?' Jesus answered him: 'Were I to live, teach, and
perform miracles for thirty-three years longer, that would not suffice
for the accomplishment of what must be fulfilled before this time
tomorrow. Call not the eight; I did not bring them hither, because they
could not see me thus agonising without being scandalised; they would
yield to temptation, forget much of the past, and lose their confidence
in me. But you, who have seen the Son of Man transfigured, may also see
him under a cloud, and in dereliction of spirit; nevertheless, watch
and pray, lest ye fall into temptation, for the spirit indeed is
willing, but the flesh is weak.'...

The Nailing of Jesus to the Cross.

The preparations for the crucifixion being finished four archers
went to the cave where they had confined our Lord and dragged him out
with their usual brutality, while the mob looked on and made use of
insulting language, and the Roman soldiers regarded all with
indifference, and thought of nothing but maintaining order. When Jesus
was again brought forth, the holy women gave a man some money, and
begged him to pay the archer anything they might demand if they would
allow Jesus to drink the wine which Veronica had prepared; but the
cruel executioners, instead of giving it to Jesus, drank it themselves.
They had brought two vases with them, one of which contained vinegar
and gall, and the other a mixture which looked like wine mixed with
myrrh and absinthe; they offered a glass of the latter to our Lord,
which he tasted, but would not drink.

There were eighteen archers on the platform; the six who had
scourged Jesus, the four who had conducted him to Calvary, the two who
held the ropes which supported the cross, and six others who came for
the purpose of crucifying him. They were strangers in the pay of either
the Jews or the Romans, and were short thick-set men, with most
ferocious countenances, rather resembling wild beasts than human
beings, and employing themselves alternately in drinking and in making
preparations for the crucifixion.

This scene was rendered the more frightful to me by the sight of
demons, who were invisible to others, and I saw large bodies of evil
spirits under the forms of toads, serpents, sharp-clawed dragons, and
venomous insects, urging these wicked men to still greater cruelty, and
perfectly darkening the air. They crept into the mouths and into the
hearts of the assistants, sat upon their shoulders, filled their minds
with wicked images, and incited them to revile and insult our Lord with
still greater brutality. Weeping angels, however, stood around Jesus,
and the sight of their tears consoled me not a little, and they were
accompanied by little angels of glory, whose heads alone I saw. There
were likewise angels of pity and angels of consolation among them; the
latter frequently approached the Blessed Virgin and the rest of the
pious persons who were assembled there, and whispered words of comfort
which enabled them to bear up with firmness.

The executioners soon pulled off our Lord's cloak, the belt to which
the ropes were fastened, and his own belt, when they found it was
impossible to drag the woollen garment which his Mother had woven for
him over his head, on account of the crown of thorns; they tore off
this most painful crown, thus reopening every wound, and seizing the
garment, tore it mercilessly over his bleeding and wounded head. Our
dear Lord and Saviour then stood before his cruel enemies, stripped of
all save the short scapular which was on his shoulders, and the linen
which girded his loins. His scapular was of wool; the wool had stuck to
the wounds, and indescribable was the agony of pain he suffered when
they pulled it roughly off. He shook like the aspen as he stood before
them, for he was so weakened from suffering and loss of blood that he
could not support himself for more than a few moments; he was covered
with open wounds, and his shoulders and back were torn to the bone by
the dreadful scourging he had endured. He was about to fall when the
executioners, fearing that he might die, and thus deprive them of the
barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, led him to a large stone and
placed him roughly down upon it, but no sooner was he seated than they
aggravated his sufferings by putting the crown of thorns again upon his
head. They then offered him some vinegar and gall, from which, however,
he turned away in silence. The executioners did not allow him to rest
long, but bade him rise and place himself on the cross that they might
nail him to it. Then seizing his right arm they dragged it to the hole
prepared for the nail, and having tied it tightly down with a cord, one
of them knelt upon his sacred chest, a second held his hand flat, and a
third taking a long thick nail, pressed it on the open palm of that
adorable hand, which had ever been open to bestow blessings and favours
on the ungrateful Jews, and with a great iron hammer drove it through
the flesh, and far into the wood of the cross. Our Lord uttered one
deep but suppressed groan, and his blood gushed forth and sprinkled the
arms of the archers. I counted the blows of the hammer, but my extreme
grief made me forget their number. The nails were very large, the heads
about the size of a crown piece, and the thickness that of a man's thumb,
while the points came through at the back of the cross. The Blessed
Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her
plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and
Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the
right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach
the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes
to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross,
pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for
it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his
breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted. They again knelt
upon him, tied down his arms, and drove the second nail into his left
hand; his blood flowed afresh, and his feeble groans were once more
heard between the blows of the hammer, but nothing could move the
hard-hearted executioners to the slightest pity. The arms of Jesus,
thus unnaturally stretched out, no longer covered the arms of the
cross, which were sloped; there was a wide space between them and his
armpits. Each additional torture and insult inflicted on our Lord
caused a fresh pang in the heart of his Blessed Mother; she became
white as a corpse, but as the Pharisees endeavoured to increase her
pain by insulting words and gestures, the disciples led her to a group
of pious women who were standing a little farther off.

The executioners had fastened a piece of wood at the lower part of
the cross under where the feet of Jesus would be nailed, that thus the
weight of his body might not rest upon the wounds of his hands, as also
to prevent the bones of his feet from being broken when nailed to the
cross. A hole had been pierced in this wood to receive the nail when
driven through his feet, and there was likewise a little hollow place
for his heels. These precautions were taken lest his wounds should be
torn open by the weight of this body, and death ensue before he had
suffered all the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The whole
body of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by the violent
manner with which the executioners had stretched out his arms, and his
knees were bent up; they therefore flattened and tied them down tightly
with cords; but soon perceiving that his feet did not reach the bit of
wood which was placed for them to rest upon, they became infuriated.
Some of their number proposed making fresh holes for the nails which
pierced his hands, as there would be considerable difficulty in
removing the bit of wood, but the others would do nothing of the sort,
and continued to vociferate, 'He will not stretch himself out, but we
will help him;' they accompanied these words with the most fearful oaths
and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to his right leg, dragged
it violently until it reached the wood, and then tied it down as
tightly as possible. The agony which Jesus suffered from this violent
tension was indescribable; the words 'My God, my God,' escaped his lips,
and the executioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to
the cross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They then
fastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored a hole
through them with a species of piercer, because they could not be
placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once. Next they
took a very long nail and drove it completely through both feet into
the cross below, which operation was more than usually painful, on
account of his body being so unnaturally stretched out; I counted at
least six and thirty blows of the hammer. During the whole time of the
crucifixion our Lord never ceased praying, and repeating those passages
in the Psalms which he was then accompanying, although from time to
time a feeble moan caused by excess of suffering might be heard. In
this manner he had prayed when carrying his cross, and thus he
continued to pray until his death. I heard him repeat all these
prophecies; I repeated them after him, and I have often since noted the
different passages when reading the Psalms, but I now feel so exhausted
with grief that I cannot at all connect them.

When the crucifixion of Jesus was finished, the commander of the
Roman soldiers ordered Pilate's inscription to be nailed on the top of
the cross. The Pharisees were much incensed at this, and their anger
was increased by the jeers of the Roman soldiers, who pointed at their
crucified king; they therefore hastened back to Jerusalem, determined
to use their best endeavours to persuade the governor to allow them to
substitute another inscription.

It was about a quarter past twelve when Jesus was crucified, and at
the moment the cross was lifted up, the Temple resounded with the blast
of trumpets, which were always blown to announce the sacrifice of the
Paschal Lamb.

I'm always floored when reading her description of the mystical world around us - the spiritual gouls who feast on the manifestation of our sins. We know its there, but we are so oblivious to it all.

Can you imagine what the mystical world looks like in Rome? The Romans are putting on best excrement show since the actual Crucifixion.

1 comment:

Mark Docherty said...

Excellent, thank you.