As I mentioned, one of the things I commonly meditate on while praying the Rosary is “What is Christ saying to me in this Mystery?”  This is particularly true of the Sorrowful Mysteries in which we meditate upon His Passion.  It plays into the bigger questions, “Why did Christ suffer and die?  Why did He choose that painful, sorrowful, bloody and violent way?  What was the purpose?”

Crucifixion statue, Charles Bridge, PragueI find that Christ’s answer is quite simple: “You were my purpose.  I did it so that in all of your sufferings, you would know that I went before you, that I bore the brunt for you.  I did it so that you would not be discouraged and give up.  I did it so that you would have the hope and the freedom to persevere.”

A simple answer… but not an easy one.  For it does not provide us any denial of, nor escape from, suffering.  Rather, it exhorts us to suffer well.

Note: these little reflections are just some remembered examples of things that have passed through my mind in pondering these Mysteries.  Words do them only so much justice!  The communication between the soul and God is something much deeper than words.  So, these are not verbatim transcriptions.  Just… impressions, if you will.

I.  The Agony in the Garden. O My child, when all you see before you is darkness, when every course of action threatens to be in vain, when all appears empty and desolate, when even the will of the Father seems oppressive…  Know that I went before you.  When darkness falls over you, know that it is but the shadow of My Cross. Do not despair, but only raise your eyes to see Him who has loved you and given His all. Look also to those beyond, those who remain unmoved beyond the reach of My outstretched arms. Do not scorn them, nor keep them away, but love them as I do.  Bring them, and keep them, near to Me.  Let My Passion not be in vain for even one soul!

II.  The Scourging at the Pillar. O My child, when your body aches, when your flesh is weak, when temptations tear at it, when pain breaks it… Know that I went before you.  That you might be whole and that you might be free to surmount the trials of the flesh, that the edge of all your pains might be dulled, and so that you might not be enslaved to lust or any inordinate desire, I mortified my My own Body, delivered it to the tearing, bruising, bone-breaking flagrum.  And when you think of the cruelties that must yet be borne unjustly by poor souls, know that I am not distant nor indifferent, but that I am bound, defenseless and exposed, to the pillar.

III.  The Crowning with Thorns. O My child, when you are mocked and ridiculed, when you are looked upon with scorn by others who do not see or appreciate your great value and dignity, when others do not recognize you as being My child or the precious and unique person that you are… Know that I went before you.  They made of Me a mock king, when I was the only true King!  But so that you might not not be enslaved to pride, I submitted Myself silently to those humiliations.  I exchanged the crown of glory for a crown of torment.  Those who ridicule you are the ones who press it into My head.  And when you wish to mock or ridicule others, ask yourself whether that is the role you wish to play!

IV.  The Carrying of the Cross. O My child, when the world weighs so heavily upon you that you can barely take another step, when you feel on the verge of collapse, when you find very few familiar and loving faces around you, when you feel pursued to the very brink of death… Know that I went before you.  My head throbbing, blood and sweat burning My eyes, My garments sticking to My torn flesh, the wood of the Cross digging into My shoulder, and unable to break my falls–thus did I make my way to Calvary.  But I remember most My mother’s sorrowful but steadfast gaze, Simon’s strength, Veronica’s compassion, and the women’s tears.  If those humble souls reached out to Me, will I not also reach out to you?

V.  The Crucifixion. O My child, when you are at the moment of death, when you feel utterly forsaken, when your senses grow dim, and when you breathe your last breath… Know that I went before you.  I went before you in death so that you would not be consigned to the dark underworld, but rather would find your rest in My eternal light, forever close to Me and in My presence.  I went before you in death so that death would be destroyed by My eternal, unfailing life.  Do not turn your eyes from Me, nailed, pierced, and emptied, but look upon Me as the vessel broken so that life everlasting might be shed upon you.

(photo by Flickr user Christopher Chan)