Help to offer my suffering to you so that I might atone for my sins and the sins of those who do not care about what You endured for them.
My Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power. I love you. Thank you for loving me first.
+ Amen +
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
– John 3:16-17
Both Dear Mom and her children stand by the Cross of Christ, the sign of His unlimited love for us. Today, we will stand by the Cross.
Why is there suffering in the world?
As we read earlier on, suffering came into the world because of sin. In the beginning, we were pure and destined for God, but our first parents sinned and we inherited Original Sin instead of this purity.
Original Sin inclines us to sin and to hurting one another and the world and this leads to all our suffering – sorrow, illness, pain, disaster and death. As long as there is sin, there will be suffering.
We chose to disobey God and He rightly could have left us to live our lives as we wanted to, hurting one another, dying in our sin and then being condemned to Hell.
But, God so loved us that He chose to save us from this end instead by sending us His only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ, Our Savior
The Son of God came into the world to save us from our sins. The price of sin was death, so He was going to pay that price for every person – from the first father of humanity to the last child.
Born into poverty, He lived in humility for 30 years under the roof of Dear Mom and St. Joseph. He then began His ministry of healing and preaching.
Finally, at 33 years old, He went to Jerusalem to His death. As the Son of God, innocent, holy and pure, He became the spotless lamb to be sacrificed to atone for our sins.
By His death, He saved us. By His Resurrection, He confirmed our salvation. That is how much He loved us.
In honor of His love, we will learn of His death.
The Passion and Death of Christ
The following description of the Passion is based on the Bible, archaeological research from Catholic.com, the visions of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and forensic evidence given by Dr. Alexander Metherell, M.D., Ph.D in the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.
The Agony in the Garden
On the night before His death, after the Last Supper, Christ was praying in the garden of Gethasame. His fear of the coming suffering was so great that He began to sweat blood.
(For those who wonder how this is possible, this condition is known as hematidrosis. Extreme anxiety can cause the breakdown of blood vessels in the sweat glands, tinging the sweat with blood and making the skin soft and sensitive.)
He was then betrayed to His enemies by His Apostle, Judas, and abandoned by His friends. His captors beat, mocked and spat at Him. This all broke His heart and bruised His body (Luke 22:39-65).
The Scourging at the Pillar
The next morning, the chief priests wrongfully convicted Christ of blasphemy and wanted Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor, to crucify Christ. Pilate saw no grounds and sent Him to be scourged instead.
Though everyone abandoned Him, His mother found Him and He saw her. Mom’s grief was so terrible that she fainted, but her love was so great that she recovered to see and suffer with her Son.
Christ was taken and thrown to the pillar, stripped naked and cuffed to iron rings so high that His feet barely touched the floor. His body bruised, His heart broken, His tormentors drunk, it began.
He was struck with a whip of braided leather, metal balls and shards of bone. The metal burst His bruises, and the bones tore off His flesh. Christ writhed and groaned in great suffering from the 39+ lashes He received from His neck down to His thighs.
When the scourging finally ended, Christ stood up with difficulty. He wanted to see His mother, so when He was quickly garbed, He wiped the blood from His eyes to see her. Dear Mom, struck down in torment of the heart, reached out to Him but He was taken away.
Pilate’s wife did not want any of this for Christ and tried to have her husband save Him. It did not work, so she took white linens and gave them to Dear Mom. Mom, along with her companions, went to the pillar and began mopping up the blood of her Son.
The Crowning with Thorns
Abnormally, Christ was not taken back to Pilate, but to the praetorium instead so that the Roman guard could insult the “King of the Jews.” They stripped Him (re-opening His wounds), put a royal robe on Him, crowned Him with thorns and gave Him a reed.
They bowed to Him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews,” and struck His head with the reed and hurled insults at Him. Throughout this, Christ trembled from thirst, fever, pain and injury.
He was then taken back to Pilate who recoiled at His state. Thinking this would appease the crowd, he said to them, “Behold the man!” but they demanded crucifixion; and he finally relented.
The Carrying of the Cross
Normally, the convicted would only carry the horizontal beam of their cross (called the patibulum), to their crucifixion. Two thieves were to be crucified with Christ and they bore just the patibulum. But Christ, wounded and trembling, had to carry the whole cross. During the long march, He fell down several times.
Christ falls for the first time
At this fall, He reached out His hand for help, but no one came forward. He was forced up and dragged on.
Mom looks for Christ
Learning of His death sentence by crucifixion, Dear Mom went with St. John to find her Son. Her skin pale, her eyes red from tears, she fell and prayed. She asked John if she could bear to see her son in this state and John told her she would grieve if she did not take this chance.
Christ falls for the second time
When the procession arrived, Christ saw His mother and fell again. Dear Mom, seeing only her Son, ran through the crowd and embraced Him. He beheld her love, and then picked up His cross and proceeded forward.
Christ falls for the third time
At this fall, the Pharisees feared He would die before He could be crucified, so the soldiers procured Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Him.
Simon did not want to, but when he saw the weeping and yet heavenly face of Christ, he took on the cross.
Veronica wipes the face of Christ
During the procession, a woman fearlessly approached Christ and halted the crowd. She offered her veil and Christ wiped His face with it, leaving an imprint of His face on the veil.
(The woman is now known as Veronica and the veil rests in St. Peter’s Basilica.)
Simon defends Christ
On the path, Christ fell again, and the Pharisees became angry and began to abuse Him. Simon came to Christ’s defense and threatened them saying he would not carry the cross if they did not cease abusing Him.
When Christ almost fell again, it was Simon who rushed forward with the cross to hold Him up.
Inevitably, they reached the site of the crucifixion.
Crucifixion was used in Rome to punish slaves who betrayed their masters, fugitives, and anyone convicted of robbery, sedition, tumult or false witness. It was known as the final and most terrible punishment of slaves. In betraying God, we committed all these sins, and the Son of God chose to pay the penalty.
(Crucifixion was so torturous that a new word was created to describe it: “excruciating”, which derives from “Ex” and “Crux”, or “out of the cross”.)
When Christ was born, when He served the people, when He went to His betrayal, it was all for this moment. His death would give us a second chance to come home. Throughout this whole ordeal, Christ continuously prayed for each and every one of us.
The cross is prepared
When Christ arrived, they threw the cross on the ground and told Him to mount His “throne”; and Christ did so.
The soldiers outstretched His arms on the patibulum and marked points for where the nails would sit. Then Christ was taken away while the cross was prepared.
Dear Mom had arrived as well and when she saw the preparations, her heart was near to bursting with grief.
Christ’s right hand is nailed to the Cross
When the cross was ready, they brought Christ and stripped Him to His loins, re-opening His blood clots; another torture by itself.
He laid down and, tying His right arm, they prepared a 5 to 7 inch metal spike over the center of His palm.
Then they hammered the spike through His hand, every blow causing Him to groan, and the spike went through and through to the other side of the Cross.
Dear Mom froze and the insults hurled at her Son only increased her suffering.
Christ’s left hand is nailed to the Cross
They pulled His left arm into position, but because it could not reach, they pulled until it dislocated His shoulder. Then they drove the spike through His left hand.
Christ’s feet are nailed to the Cross
They marked holes for His feet and placed a wooden block where Christ could stand when He hung, just to prolong His death. They pulled His legs with violence, tied it down and drove a single spike through both feet, through His heel bone and into the Cross.
Christ’s crime is nailed to the Cross
They nailed His crime on a board above His head. It read, “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum” (INRI for short) or “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”.1
Christ’s Cross is planted in the ground
Finally, with Christ upon the cross, they lifted the Cross up and planted into the hole in the ground. The Cross fell with a great thud and shook Christ which increased His agony.
Bl. Anne, the mystic, states that at the moment the Cross fell into place with a great thud, every heart was silenced. Christ’s face still bore goodness and dignity and everyone was filled with awe.
Christ’s Final Moments
Upon the cross, Christ still thought of all of us and even prayed to God the Father for His executioners, saying “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Two thieves were crucified with Him, one on either side. The one whom tradition names Gesmas blasphemed Our Lord. The other, known as Dismas, defended our Lord from Gesmas’ insults. Then Dismas said to Christ, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And Our Lord said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).
The sun was eclipsed and the sky grew so dark and red that it filled the spectators with terror (Luke 23:44-45). Many fled, many fell on their knees and prayed. Dear Mom begged Our Lord to take her with Him, but Our Lord looked at her and said, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother!”
In the stillness, Christ thought of each and every one of us and offered His suffering and death for our salvation. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” which drew His mother to the feet of the Cross. But Our Lord did not say this because He felt forsaken. He was reciting Psalm 22, which is a psalm of hope.
His death on the Cross
Christ’s breathing was labored and painful. To breathe, He had to stand up and that required tolerating the immense pain of pressing His feet into the nail through His heels and scraping His torn open back against the Cross. This went on for three hours and Dear Mom witnessed every second, watching as He quietly labored to breathe.
When Christ knew His time to depart had arrived, He said, “I thirst.” He was given vinegar and after receiving it, He said, “It is finished,” and “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit”.
Then He cried out, bowed His head and gave up His spirit. He stopped breathing. His heart stopped beating. The Son of God had died and Dear Mom’s sorrow could only be comprehended by God.
His final words resounded with such impact that many people, including the centurions and Pharisees, converted on the spot.
Please take a moment to bow your head before the Crucifix.
Finally, to check if Christ had died, a soldier (tradition names him St. Longinus) pierced His side. The spear punctured His lung and heart and when it was pulled out, blood and water came out with it.
(For those who wonder how water came out as well, a possible explanation is as follows. Christ’s terrible torture would have led to hypovolemic shock, where the heart beats rapidly while the blood pressure drops. His laboured breathing on the Cross would have lead to respiratory acidosis, where carbon dioxide in the blood converts to carbonic acid, increasing blood acidity. With both these medical conditions, pericardial and pleural effusion would set in. This is a medical condition where clear fluids of mostly water surround the heart and lungs. When the spear pierced His heart, it would have to have punctured His lungs as well and the fluid would have poured out from the opening in His side.)
Why did Christ have to suffer?
Why did Christ have to suffer to this degree? God could have used any means to save us, even pardoning us immediately. Yet He chose this method because it was the best course for us.
By His suffering, God showed us how much He loved us. This demonstration of love would then stir in us a desire to love Him in return.
By His suffering, we learned that all wrongs must be made right. Though only Christ could completely atone for the wrong we committed against God, His suffering taught us how we must atone for our sins.1
By His suffering, we know that God understands our suffering and, by His endurance, we learn how to bear with a broken world without sinning.
When God became man, we learned the dignity of each person. When God died for man, we learned the immensity of that dignity.1
The devil seduced man, so God ordained man to defeat the devil.
The devil loved power and hated righteousness, so God had love and righteousness defeat his power.1
Adam’s disobedience brought death to all humanity, so God ordained Christ’s obedience unto death to bring life to all humanity (Romans 5:18).
Christ replaced our disobedience with his obedience; and took on our sins so we could take on His rigtheousness (615).
Why do we have to suffer?
As we saw above, suffering exists because of sin. But if Christ atoned for our sins, why is there still suffering? And why do we suffer if we do not sin? Because there is still sin in the world and we are exposed to its evil. As long as there is sin, there is suffering.
But, because of Christ, suffering has new meaning. Before Christ, suffering was a punishment for our sin. After Christ, suffering became our means of uniting with Christ and becoming holy.
Uniting with Christ
When we are baptized, we become part of the body of Christ. So, just as Christ suffered, so do we (618). And when we think of Christ as we suffer, we more deeply unite ourselves to Him.
The more we suffer with Christ, the holier we become because we destroy the inclination to sin (Philippians 3:8-11) and we make reparation, in part, for our sins and the sins of other Christians.1
We suffer so we can grow closer to Christ and to perfection.
As such, The Little Marian Way does not alleviate suffering, it embraces it; the way does not make the cross lighter, it makes us stronger.b1 Dear Mom suffered the most for Christ. If she suffered by the Cross, so will we – but our suffering will now have meaning.
Ways of suffering (Reparation)
As I mentioned above, reparation is making amends for any wrong done. Christ made perfect reparation for our sins, but we are still responsible to make reparation for our own mistakes; and we do this when we unite our sufferings with Christ and His sufferings.
We can purposely inflict suffering on ourselves for the sake of offering it to Christ for the Church in reparation for the sins committed against God. Here are a few examples:
Fasting is when we purposely limit how much food we eat in a day. The hunger that we feel, and the desire to eat that we ignore is the suffering we offer to God. A standard fast is one normal meal and two snacks that do not add up to a meal.1
Abstinence is when we purposely avoid eating certain foods. Again, the desire to eat that we ignore is the suffering we offer to God. Standard abstinence means avoiding meat (excluding fish).1
Sacrifice is when we set aside small pleasures in life for God. The desire to do what we enjoy that we purposely set aside is the suffering we offer to God. This can include sacrificing dessert, drinks, meals, or entertainment.
We must always check with our spiritual director to see if our sacrifices are appropriate. We must not be immoderate or neglect our duties when we carry out voluntary reparation.
As we live this life, we will encounter things that make us suffer. We can endure this suffering for the sake of offering it to Christ for the Church in reparation for sins committed against God.
If we ever experience sickness, disease, loss, abuse, mistreatment, injustice, grief, sorrow, fear or death of a loved one, all of this can cause us suffering. It is unpleasant and we wish it would go away. But, when it won’t, we can offer these sufferings to God.
In so doing, we build the virtues of long suffering, forbearance and patience, all of which are required for holiness. If we can begin finding joy in suffering, happiness in poverty and happiness in nothingness, then we are with Christ on the Cross.1
Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Christ died to make reparation to God the Father for the sins of mankind. But who makes reparation to Christ for the sins of those who ignore His great suffering and death?
A special class of souls.
Throughout Church history, Christ has called certain people to experience unfathomable suffering to make reparation for the sins that grieve His heart today.
These people are called victim souls, confessors and martyrs.
Victim Souls are those that share in the suffering of Christ by experiencing extraordinary levels of pain for a long period of time while offering it all to God.
Bl. Alexandrina, a woman of great faith, suffered terrible pains from a disease for 31 years and attacks from the devil for 16 of those 31 years. She offered these sufferings to make reparation to Christ’s Sacred Heart.
Nellie Organ of Holy God, a four year old of great faith, who through God’s grace knew beyond doubt that the Eucharist was God, suffered terrible pains from a young age. Throughout her agony, she was quiet and would say, “What is this to what Holy God suffered?” It was because of her heroism that the Church reduced the age at which children could receive the Eucharist.
Some people have such a union with God’s suffering, that they begin to bear the wounds of Christ on their bodies (such as holes in their palms and feet). This phenomena is known as the Stigmata and was experienced by many Catholics such as St. Padre Pio.
Some, through humility, such as St. Catherine of Sienna, ask God to hide the stigmata but to keep the pain, and this is called an invisible stigmata.1
Confessors are Christians who have endured terrible punishments for their faith. Many Christians who were jailed, worked on slave camps, tortured or exiled for their faith are confessors.1
Martyrs have endured some of the most horrific tortures of human cruelty including:
- Stoning (St. Stephen)
- Crucifixion (St. Peter)
- Flaying (St. Bartholomew)
- Being devoured by animals (St. Ignatius of Antioch and early Christians)
- Being grilled alive (St. Lawrence1)
- Dismemberment (St. James Intercisus)
- Decapitation (the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiege1)
- Drowning and hanging (Martyrs of the French Revolution)
- Burning (St. Joan of Arc)
- Freezing (The 40 Martyrs of Sebaste)
- Pressed to death (St. Margaret Clitherow1)
- Sawing (Isaiah)
- Gassing (St. Edith Stein)
- Lethal Injection (St. Maximilian Kolbe)
- And shooting (Christeros)
Their suffering was so great that it many times inspired others to become Christians. That is why Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
We too are called
We too can make reparation for our sins and the sins of others by offering our suffering to God and living a life of purification.
We must remember, however, that we will fail to endure involuntary suffering if we do so on our own strength. But, if we offer our sufferings to God, we will acquire the grace to bear through it with holiness.
In fact, no martyr can endure their martyrdom on their strength alone. Martyrdom is a grace given by God so that they have a superhuman tolerance for pain and suffering until death.1
If God sees fit, we too can die for the faith and partake in Christ’s suffering to proclaim the Gospel and inspire others to Christianity.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary
Our Lord does not call upon all Christians to suffer extraordinary pain to atone for our personal sins or the sins of those around us. But, like the beloved disciple, we can still comfort His heart by resting close to it in Mass and at the Cross.
And as children of Dear Mom, it is our duty to also comfort the heart of our mother who also grieves when Christ grieves.
One of the primary ways we can do this is by completing the Nine First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Five First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Both these devotions console these holy and injured hearts. More will be discussed under “Today’s Tasks”.
Recite the Minim
Say the Minim daily and ask Dear Mom for help when saying the Rosary.
Fasting and Abstinence
In remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death, attempt to fast, abstain and practice silence and patience today (if it is Friday) or the upcoming Friday. Commit to this practice every Friday going forward (except on feast days and solemnities).
The Brown Scapular
Continue the process of enrolling yourself into the confraternity of the brown scapular, by following these steps, and do not give up until it is done.
Confession & Spiritual Direction
Continue the process of arranging for yourself monthly confession and spiritual direction by following these steps, and do not give up until it is done.
Victory IV & V: Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
After you have completed this 9 day retreat, please commit to completing the Nine First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Five First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; not for your sake or its promises, but for Christ’s and Mary’s injured hearts.
[b1] “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort
[b2] “The Glories of Mary” by St. Alphonsus de Liguori