+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: THE 36. MEDITATION OF THE division of the garments


The 36. Meditation of the division of his Garments.

Then the Soldiers, when they had crucified him, took his garments, ( and made four parts, to every Solider a part) and to his coat. And the coat was without seam woven all over.

Consider first the poverty of Christ thy Lord: he had not change or many suits of apparel, nor the same of silk and other costly matter, but his garments were few and poor, to defend him only from the cold, and to cover his nakedness. And by tradition it is delivered ( as Euthemius witnesseth) that his coat without seam was the work of the mother of God, which she did weave with her own hands for her son, when he was a little infant: which grew miraculously as our Lord grew, and was not worn nor torn out in all that long time: the like whereof is rehearsed in holy Scripture to have happened to the children of Israel” that thou mayest learn by the example of thy Lord to forsake all curiosity  and superfluity, as well in apparel as in other things.

Consider secondly, the liberality of the spouse : he had already given his body, shed his blood, and spent his youthful years for thee: and now he giveth a few poor garments, leaving nothing for himself, but nails, thorns, spitings, and blood, clouded on his body. Behold the riches of thy spouse, who hath no place to rest his head, but on the thorny pillows of his crown. Do thou ask him, where he feted, where he will rest at noon, in this heat of his charity? and esteeming this ignominious poverty of the Cross, to be the greatest riches, run naked to him, that is naked. 

Consider thirdly the scoffing of the Soldiers in this division of his garments, and casting of lots, when every one catches a piece for himself, as of the attire of the King of the Jews. Do thou also sun and gather up at least the hem of his garment, that is to say, esteem highly of all those things, which any way appertain to the passion of Christ, as,his Sacraments, his words, his Church, and his justifications. 

Consider fourthly, that the four executioners of Christ cut his vestment into four parts; that the four Evangelists should sow up our Lords coat in the four corners of the world: to whom be the also an aid and helper, and by thy holy life and doctrine join together the Church of Christ, which is just and divided by many Heresies. Cover the poor of Christ with thy garment, and pray our Lord, that he being now clothed with light, as with a garment, will by the light of his grace clothe thy nakedness, and with mercy adorn thy soul.


The they said amongst themselves, let us not cut, but let us cast lists for it, whose it shall be; that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, saying: they parted my garments among them, and for my coat they did cast lots. Therefore dividing his garments, they cast lots upon them, which part everyone should take.

Consider first the consultation of the Soldiers about the dividing & casting of lots for his garments. The council was good (let us not cut it) but the advice was wicked (let us cast lots whose it shall be) Thou earnest first, that God is present at the council of the wicked, that he may restrain their malice, as he infatuated the council of Achitopell. Secondly, that the effect of our Lord’s prayer didi here appear, when the garment without seam remained whole: whereby is signified, that the Church shall never be divided by any malice of man, but that it shall continue to the end of the world whole, and entire under the one visible head, neither shall the gates of hell prevail against it. For although the outward garments of our Lord may be divided, that is to say, divers companies and societies of men may be distinguished by divers laws. fashions, and customs; yet the coat without seam being next to the body of our Lord, to wit, the Catholic Church, woven all over throughout, spread over the universal world, and orderly distinguished with several offices in several members, agreeing in the Communion of Saints, woven as it were with divers threads, shall never loose his wholeness and integrity. There shall fall from it certain small boughs or branches, like withered leaves from trees; but the Coat of our Lord shall be purged, and not violated thereby. take thou heed, least thou fall from this unsealed Coat of Christ, but remain in it as an excellent piece of workmanship; and because this Coat was begun to be woven in the womb of the Virgin Mother, (for there the Son of God joined human nature to himself, and espoused the Church, ) do thou commend it to the same mother, by whose prayers and help it may remain untouched and uncorrupt.

Consider secondly their twice casting lots for his garments, to wit, Fist, for the parts of his garments, and afterwards, for his Coat without seam. Whereby is declared, First, that Christ himself, and all things belonging unto him, were subject to the will & scoffing of wicked men. Secondly, that wicked men do obtain the coat of Christ, that is to say, the cure of souls, and also part of his garments, that is, the external goods of the Church, not worthily, but by chance and fortune, and possess them by other means, then by the will of our Lord the true owner of them: for they thinking of nothing less then of him crucified, divide & take away his goods, himself looking upon them, and holding his peace. Thirdly, that according to St. Ambrose the parts of the garments of our lord, that is to say, his divine gifts and graces, are distributed and given to every one by lot, that is to say, by the secret council of God, and nt by our own election; but the Coat, that is, Faith, is given whole to every man. If perhaps thou be a Clergy man, called into the service of our Lord, gather under the cross of our Lord that part of his inheritance, which is given unto thee. Take heed of seeking many parts and benefices, & use that part before him crucified, which thou hast received: for he beholdeth thee, and observeth how thou doest administer his goods. Consider thirdly, that the Prophets long before did prophesie of this casting of lots for his garments: that thou mayest learn , First that this casting of lots for his garments was a better of great moment, which so many ages before, Holy men, & Kings fore-saw & lamented. Secondly, of what things the ancient Prophets and Holy men did frame their meditations even before the coming of the Messias, to wit, of the poverty, nakedness, & reproaches of our Lord, that thou being exercised i the same thoughts and cogitations, might be incited to compassion and imitation. Consider fourthly, that these Vestments and holy Reliques of our Lord were permitted to remain in the custody of wicked men, that thou mayest know, first that all men, which are called to holy offices, are not Holy men and acceptable to God; secondly, that holiness is offered to all men in this life. Pray thou unto God, to impart some f his Sanctity unto thee, and suffer it never to be taken from thee.


And the Soldiers did these things: and sitting kept him, and the people stood beholding
Consider 1. (And truly the Soldiers did these things) as if he should say, Christ praying in the torments of the Cross, his Mother suffering the sword of sorrow, his friends weeping afar off, the Soldiers did these things. Whilst the Church suffereth persecutions, whilst the poor perish with hunger, whilst the just man is punished; the wicked play and are merry, they cast lots and dice, they are idle, and spend their time in vanities, neither is there any man, which suffereth upon the contrition of Joseph. And what doest thou thy self, whilst Christ and his Church is afflicted?

Consider secondly, that Christ is kept more carefully, the Theives, lest his disciples or any others should free him from his punishment. But as it was then, so ow also the fervor of Catholics is too cold, to adventure any danger for the name of Christ. Do thou with all care keep Christ in thy heart, and conserve his grace.

Consider 3. the people stood beholding, for os it is to be read, for expecting) some of them scoffing, some marking every thing. Do tho draw near, and standing on thy feet, ready to fulfill the will and commandment of thy Lord, behold, and constantly look upon him fastened to the Cross. Do not slightly pass over all his members, all his pains, all his reproaches: but behold him with a constant view, and do not rest in the outward form only, but rather meditate on those things, which lie hidden within. For under these wounds, spittings and thorns. lurketh the hidden Manna, which no man knoweth, but he which receiveth it. Stand then before table of the Cross, like a little dog before his masters table, expecting and observing the gesture of him, that sitteth, and catching every thing that is cast from the table. Do not imitate the people, curiously beholding Christ, & going to the church for vanity only, and hearing divine service carelessly: But rather imitate the Virgin mother, Who let no word pass, which she did not keep, observing it in her heart. And pray thy Lord to cast large gifts unto thee from his Cross.

~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J. 


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