Meditation On The Passion: Meditation Of The Title Of The Cross

LARCIANI, Giovanni di Lorenzo 

The 34. Meditation of the Title of the Cross.

And Pilate wrote the title of his cause upon his Cross, and the superscription was over his head, and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, & Latin.

Consider first, that Pilate set up the Title of the cause of his death, and used the words following. First, that thy Lord might be thought worthy of this death, as a traitor, arrogating the name of a King unto himself; and that Pilate might be cleared before Caesar of the crime of not condemning his competitor of the kingdom. Secondly to be revenged of the Jews, who had threatened to complain of him: for he mocked them, that he had crucified their king, and that king also,whom their ancestors had fore told, so many ages before, and had expected with so great affection and desire. These were the causes, that moved Pilate to make that title. And Christ also our Lord ordained this title for himself; but for far other reason, drawn from the mystery of our salvation. First, that thou shouldest know, that he suffered this death of the Cross, not as a guilty person, but as a Savior, adorned with all virtues, that he might rule thy soul, and that thou shouldest submit thy self to be wholly governed by him, who being nailed both hand and foot, cannot hurt his beloved people, but offereth them all salvation from his open wounds. Secondly, to let thee understand, what merchandize are offered to thee to be sold out of this shop of his Cross. For all houses and shops have commonly their signs. Here then thou mayst find all salvation in Jesus, all flowers of virtue in Nazareth, and all security in the King. Run thou hither in all thy necessities, and buy, and take what thou list, without money, or any other exchange, for this merchant requireth nothing of thee, but thy company, and thy love. Thirdly, that thou mayest know by the Table set before the house, what doctrine and Arts are read & taught in this school. For School masters use to write before their gates, what things are taught within their houses. Here thou mayest learn to be saved, to follow all virtues, to rule thy self, to conquer thy enemies, to govern wisely others, that be under thy charge. Our Mr. Christ doth now teach from the chair of his Cross, even as he taught being an Infant in the manger of the Stable. But thou perhaps desirest and easier chair. But such doctrine is not taught, but out of such a chair: for there is no way to salvation, but by the cross and by many tribulations; and the habits of virtues are obtained by painful actions. If thou wilt rule thy self perfectly and subdue they enemies, the world , the flesh, and the Devil; thou shalt not seek after the ease of thy body; but thou shalt be severe against thy body, and pull it out of the power of the Devil by fasting, watching , works of humility, contempt, & tribulations, according to the example of this Master. Neither shalt thou be able to govern others rightly, if thou reliest only upon thy power and authority; except according to this lesson of Christ thy teacher, thou doest out of the very bowels of thy charity, apply thy self wholly and all things in thee to the profit and good of thy subjects. Fourthly, that by this title thou mayest feel, of what force the sign of the Cross is, which thou makest with thy hands. For it is not a juggling trick, or a fly slap, as the blaspheming enemies of the cross do term it: But it is the virtue & over of Christ, for the safety of all believers; that thou being signed therewith, mayest be know by thy badge to be the servant of the Messias thy King; and be a terror to the Devil; and have entrance into the house of Christ, and that all thy actions may tend to the glory of God and to thy own salvation.

Consider secondly, that this Title was written in divers languages. First, because it concerns all men to know this King; and therefore it was set in a high place, that thou mayest behold it a far off, stand still, read, understand and follow this King, forsaking all other masters, whom thou hast hitherto served. Secondly, because the crucified Messias is to be known and praised in all Languages.

Consider thirdly, the manner of the writing. A part of the Title being preserved with great devotion of Chrostians at Rome in the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem doth declare unto us: First, that the Title was of wood; Secondly not written with a pen, but graven with iron; Thirdly, that the Hebrew was first, then the Greek, and lastly the Latin; Fourthly, that the Greek and Latin was written like the Hebrew from the right hand to the left.

~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J.


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