+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: The 32. Meditation of the Women following Christ.
MAINERI, Gian Francesco
Christ Carrying the Cross
The 32. Meditation of the Women following Christ.
And there followed a great troop of people, and of women, which mourned, and lamented him: and Jesus turning unto them said: O Daughters of Jerusalem weep not over me, but weep over yourselves, and over your Children.
Consider first, that an innumerable multitude of people flocked together to this sorrowful spectacle, to whom perhaps (as the custom is in some places at this day) there was some sign given of the future execution. And because the women only are said to lament & weep, it is an argument, that there were many mockers & curious spectators according to the saying: They spake against me, which sat in the gate. But with what affection wilt thou follow thy Lord. With what mind wilt thou suffer with him? With what eyes wilt thou behold him? Doest thou want occasion of sorrow & tears in this spectacle, since our Lord goeth thus laden and deformed for thy sake, and not for himself? Thou didst play abroad in the street, and in the Kings privy chamber, & sentence of death was given against thee. The only begotten Son of God heard it, and he went forth, putting off his Diadem, clothed in sackcloth, wearing a Crown of thorns upon his head, barefooted, bleeding, weeping, & crying out that his poor servant was condemned. Thou seest him come forth, thou askest the cause & hearest it. What wilt thou do? wilt thou still play, and contemn his tears? or rather wilt thou not follow him, and weep with him, and esteem the greatness of thy danger by the consideration of the remedy?
Consider secondly that the tears of these women were grateful unto our Lord, who in sign of love turned himself towards them in the midst of his torments. Yet he reproved them, because out of a wrong conceit of human pity they lamented his death, as the greatest evil, and extremist misery, without any benefit at all. Do thou mourn, lament, and weep, First, because thou wert the cause of all these so great pains. Secondly because thou hast hitherto born an unthankful mind. Third, because perhaps this death of thy Lord will not be the cause of thy salvation & glory, but of thy greater damnation.
Consider thirdly, the diffculty of this thy lords journey, which cause the women to follow him with tears. Remember thou the seven hard ways, which thy Lord walked for thee in this his Passion, that he might stop up the seven ways of the seven deadly sins, which lead thee unto Hell, & might open the way to everlasting life, by the seven gifts of the holy Ghost. For he went, First, from the house where he supped, to the Garden. Secondly from thence to Annas. Thirdly to Caiphas his house. Fourthly to Pilate. Fifthly to Herod. Sixthly again to Pilate, & seventhly to the Cross. Do thou in all thy travels meditate uoon these ways, and for the love of the Lord run in the way of his Commandments.
For behold the days shall come, in which they shall say blessed are the barren, & the wombs, which have not brought forth, & the breasts, which have not given suck: then they shall begin to say to the Mountains, fall upon us, and to the Hills , cover us.
Consider 1. the goodness of thy Lord, who in the midst of his pains, seekth by his admonition our salvation, and by the terror of future miseries endeavoreth to move us to penance. He speaketh also to women, not to men; 1. least because he was punished by men, he should seem to threaten revenge. Secondly that by these evils, foretold unto women, who had offended less, men might understand, that the like at the least should happen unto them. 3. By this prediction to comfort those women, which lamented so much the death & passions of our Lord; signifying thereby, both that he did unjustly suffer this death, which in a few years should be so deeply revenged; and also that they might escape this revenge, which would leave to be the children of this earthly Jerusalem, & convert themselves to the faith of Christ.
Consider secondly, whereas in former times the barren were accused, now the barren in Christ are blessed. For there is given to Eunuchs: that is, to them, which live chaste and single in the Church, a name better then from sons and daughters.
Consider thirdly, that in all troubles of this life we must say unto the mountains, fall upon us, and to the hills, cover us: that is to say, we have recourse to the help of the Saints, who in the Scriptures are called by the names of mountains and hills; as in Isaias: the house of our Lord shall be a prepared mountain:that is to say, Christ the head of the Church, in the top of the mountains, and he shall be elevated above the hills, exceeding in dignity and worthiness, all Saints, great and less.
Consider fourthly, although these predictions of our Lord pertain chiefly to the overthrowing of Jerusalem: yet they may and ought to be referred also to all sinners. who by their sins were cause of the death of our Lord, and yet are not made partakes of his merits, nor returned into God’s favor by his death. For they which now securely, and whom no danger will make to refrain from sins, shall then run into the dens and Caves of the earth, (as the Prophets have fore spoken) From the face of God, sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For there shall come a great day of wrath on them: and who shall be able to stand? The countenance of the Judge shall be terrible to the wicked, and his sentence intollerable. Then the barren shall be called blessed, that is, they whom the world accounted unprofitable; and the wombs which have not brought forth, that is, which have not followed the concupiscence of the flesh, but have subdued the vices of their belly and throat; & the papas which have not given suck. that is, the humble, and such as are not high minded. Pray thou thy Lord, that thou maist not fear the face of his fury in the day of wrath, and last revenge, & whilst time serveth be reconciled unto Christ.
For if they do these things in green wood, what shall be done in the dry?
~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J.
Consider first, Christ is the wood, ever green and flourishing, delectable to behold, moderating the great heat with the shadow of his thick leaves, bringing forth fruit, pleasant both to the taste and smell, delighting the earth with the singing of birds. For by his divine nature, and by the inward grace of the Holy Ghost, he doth not only exceed all beauty, but also preserve, cherish, and comfort all creatures. Thou also art wood, but dead without the sap of Gace, barren without the fruit of charity; naked and unprofitable, without the leaves of good works.
Consider secondly, who they are which do these things in the green Wood: that is, which gave these torments and death unto Christ thy Lord. First, God the Father, who spared not his own son, but delivered him for us all. Secondly, the Devil, who provoked his servants to put Christ to death. Thirdly, the Jews, and other ministers of his death. But all these did not concord in the passion of Christ to one end. For God the Father punished his Son for the love of thy salvation, and like Abraham, carrying the sword of justice in his hand against his son, and the fire of Charity towards thee, he laid the wood upon hid sons shoulders, to be carried by him, for the burning of the holocaust. The Devil grieving at the conversion of many, endeavored to hinder the course of his preaching, to intangle the Jews in the most grievous sin of innocent death, and to over come the patience of Christ by his torments. And the Jews being moved by envy, could not endure to be admonished to amend their lives by the words and example of Christ.
Consider thirdly, the argument of our Lord: If they do these things in green wood, what shall be done n the dry? First if I suffer this for other mens sins, what shalt thou suffer for thine own? Secondly, if the Father do so grievously afflict his innocent and obedient Son, what will he do against his wicked and disobedient servent? Thirdly, if the devils could by their officers do these things in another kingdom against the sone of God, what will they be able to do in hell in their own kingdom against their own bonslaves? Fourthly,if by the permission of God wicked men raged thus against the only begotten Son of God for the sins of men, why shall any man marvel that God will permit men to vex and molest men, when their sins deserve it? Pray thou thy Lord to ingraft thee into himself being the green wood, and that never more punishment be exacted of thee, then that which he himself suffered for thee.
~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J.