Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas – Saturday: The Grain of Wheat

May be an image of 1 person

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas

Saturday: The Grain of Wheat

Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone.–John xii. 24.

We use the grain of wheat in two ways, for bread and for seed. Here the word is to be taken in the second sense, grain of wheat meaning seed and not the matter out of which we make bread. For in this sense it never increases so as to bear fruit. When it is said that the grain must die, this does not mean that it loses its value as seed, but that it is changed into another kind of thing. So St. Paul (i Cor. xv. 36) says, That which then thou sowest is not quickened, except it die first.

The Word of God is a seed in the soul of man, in so far as it is a thing introduced into man’s soul, by words spoken and heard, in order to produce the fruit of good works, The seed is the Word of God (Luke viii. II). So also the Word of God garbed in flesh is a seed placed in the world, a seed from which great crops should grow, whence it is compared in St. Matthew’s Gospel (xiii. 31, 32) to a grain of mustard seed.

Our Lord therefore says to us, “I came as seed, something meant to bear fruit and therefore I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone” which is as much as to say, “Unless I die the fruit of the conversion of the Gentiles will not follow.” He compares Himself to a grain of wheat, because He came to nourish and to sustain the minds of men, and to nourish and sustain are precisely what wheaten bread does for men. In the Psalms it is written, That bread may strengthen man’s heart (Ps. ciii. 15), and in St. John, The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world(John vi. 52).

2. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit (John xii. 25). What is here explained is the usefulness of the Passion. It is as though the gospel said, Unless the grain fall into the earth through the humiliations of the Passion, no useful result will follow, for the grain itself remaineth alone. But if it shall die, done to death and slain by the Jews, it bringeth forth much fruit, for example:

(i) The remission of sin. This is the whole fruit, that the sin thereby should be taken away (Isaias xxvii. 9). And this is the fruit of the Passion of Christ as is declared by St. Peter, Christ died once for our sins, the just for the unjust that he might offer us to God (i Pet. iii. 18).

(ii) The conversion of the Gentiles to God. I have appointed you that you shall go forth and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain (John xv. 16). This fruit the Passion of Christ bore, if I be lifted tip from the earth, I will draw all things to myself (John xii. 32).

(iii) The fruit of Glory. The fruit of good labours is glorious (Wis. iii. 15). And this fruit also the Passion of Christ brought forth; We have therefore a confidence in the entering into the Holies by the blood of Christ: a new and living way which He hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh (Hebr. x. 19).

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas – Friday: The Crown of Thorns

May be a closeup

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday: The Crown of Thorns

Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of his heart.–Cant. iii. n.

This is the voice of the Church inviting the souls of the faithful to behold the marvellous beauty of her spouse. For the daughters of Sion, who are they but the daughters of Jerusalem, holy souls, the citizens of that city which is above, who with the angels enjoy the peace that knows no end, and, in consequence, look upon the glory of the Lord?

1. Go forth, shake off the disturbing commerce of this world so that, with minds set free, you may be able to contemplate him whom you love. And see king Solomon, the true peacemaker, that is to say, Christ Our Lord.

In the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him, as though the Church said, “Look on Christ garbed with flesh for us, the flesh He took from the flesh of His mother.” For it is His flesh that is here called a diadem, the flesh which Christ assumed for us, the flesh in which He died and destroyed the reign of death, the flesh in which, rising once again, He brought to us the hope of resurrection.

This is the diadem of which St. Paul speaks, We see Jesus for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour (Heb. ii. 9). His mother is spoken of as crowning Him because Mary the Virgin it was who from her own flesh gave Him flesh.

In the day of His espousals, that is, in the hour of His Incarnation, when He took to Himself the Church not having spot or wrinkle (Eph. v. 27), the hour again when God was joined with man. And in the day of the joy of his heart. For the joy and the gaiety of Christ is for the human race salvation and redemption. And coming home, He calls together His friends and neighbours saying to them, Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost (Luke xv. 6).

2. We can however refer the whole of this text simply and literally to the Passion of Christ. For Solomon, foreseeing through the centuries the Passion of Christ, was uttering a warning for the daughters of Sion, that is, for the Jewish people.

Go forth and see king Solomon, that is, Christ, in His diadem, that is to say, the crown of thorns with which His mother the Synagogue has crowned Him; in the day of His espousals, the day when He joined to Himself the Church; and in the day of the joy of His heart, the day in which He rejoiced that by His Passion He was delivering the world from the power of the devil. Go forth, therefore, and leave behind the darkness of unbelief, and see, understand with your minds that He who suffers as man is really God.

Go forth, beyond the gates of your city, that you may see Him, on Mount Calvary, crucified.

St. Simeon

May be an image of monument

St. Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, Martyr

A.D. 116.

ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister of the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin-german to Christ. Simeon and Simon are the same name, and this saint is, according to the best interpreters of the holy scripture, the Simon mentioned, 1 who was brother to St. James the Lesser, and St. Jude, apostles, and to Joseph of José. He was eight or nine years older than our Saviour. We cannot doubt but he was an early follower of Christ, as his father and mother and three brothers were, and an exception to that of St. John, 2 that our Lord’s relations did not believe in him. Nor does St. Luke 3 leave us any room to doubt but that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles; for he mentions present St. James and St. Jude, and the brothers of our Lord. Saint Epiphanius relates, 4 that when the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser, his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after our Saviour’s resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that church. 1

Continue reading

CROWN OF THORNS: CROWN OF PAIN

May be art of 3 people

CROWN OF THORNS: CROWN OF PAIN

“Platting a Crown of Thorns, they put it upon His Head.” [Mt. 27: 29]

1. The bad example of superiors is contagious, and strongly affects the life and conduct of their subjects. The soldiers of the Roman Governor Pilate had during the morning repeatedly heard him giving to Jesus of Nazareth the title of King of the Jews. They presumed that such a high title had by the President been used in irony and mockery. This was the reason, says St. John Chrysostom, why those barbarous men, after having, during the scourging at the pillar, covered our Lord from head to foot with wounds and blood, resolved to make sport of Him, by treating Him in every possible way as a mock king, and by forcing upon Him all the ridiculous theatrical insignia and the affected homages of a sham royalty. “Quia Pilatus dixit eum Regem, Schema ei contumeliae apponunt.” [Chrysostom Romil. 88]. Our Lord had been scourged in the court of the palace. From this place the soldiers of the Governor took Him into the hall, and gathered together around Him the whole band of the garrison, which served as a body guard to Pilate. Now, for His greater shame and confusion, they rudely strip our Savior once more. They make Him sit down upon a cold stone, as His royal throne; and affect to offer Him the flattering homages of obsequious courtiers. “The soldiers of the Governor, [St. Matthew says], taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band.” [Mt. 27: 27] Whilst the majority of these heartless men heap outrages and insults upon the incarnate Son of God, another small party, more malignant and cruel, is eagerly engaged in weaving together, in the form of a helmet or cap, a horrible and ignominious crown of Red-Sea bulrushes, the thorns of which are very long, hard and sharp. St. Vincent Ferrer says, that the Crown of Thorns intended for our Lord was made in the shape of a hat covering His whole Head. “Domini Corona erat ad modum pilei, ita ut forum togebat caput.” [Seffil. in Parasc.] Such an instrument of torture could only be formed with long and pliable thorns like Red-Sea rushes. This is also the opinion of St. Augustine and St. Anselm, who mention a revelation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of others. The famous St. Vincent of Lerins, on the authority of eyewitnesses, states that these Red-Sea thorns are so strong and sharp as to perforate the soles of the shoes of travelers. In fact, some of the thorns of our Savior’s crown are to the present day religiously preserved in various Catholic sanctuaries, and the sight of them always produces a shudder of pious horror.

Continue reading

Saint Bernadette Soubirous

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'S.Bernadette Soubirous'

Saint Bernadette Soubirous

Virgin
(1844-1879)

Saint Bernadette Soubirous was born at Lourdes, in the Pyrenees mountains, in 1844. This young girl, fragile of health, born of a very poor but pious family, at fourteen years of age witnessed eighteen apparitions of Our Blessed Lady at Lourdes, from February 11, 1858 to July 16th of the same year. She was instructed to make known the healing powers which the Blessed Virgin, by Her presence, would give to the miraculous spring of Lourdes. A worker who had lost an eye in an explosion recovered his sight when he washed his face in this water; a dying child was plunged into the small basin which had formed around the spring, and the next day began to walk. The police attempted to stop the crowds from going to the Grotto for the foretold apparitions, but were unable to do so. On March 25th, the Beautiful Lady identified Herself in response to Bernadette’s request: I am the Immaculate Conception.

Bernadette was accused of having hallucinations, of spells of mental illness, of lying, but her great simplicity eventually made evident her innocence and entire sanity. Through the benevolent understanding and collaboration of the bishop of nearby Tarbes, Bishop Laurence, who later authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes, a chapel and then a beautiful basilica were raised above the grotto of the apparitions, on the banks of the Gave River, now a world-famous pilgrimage site.

In 1866 Saint Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity at Nevers, taking her perpetual vows in 1878. She died in 1879 at the age of 36, after long and painful sufferings which she bore very willingly, even with joy. When one of the Mothers said to her: We will pray that God may relieve your pain, she answered, No! Don’t pray for relief for me, only for patience. The last words she wrote in her little spiritual notebook were: The more I am crucified, the more I rejoice. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1925, canonized by him in 1933.

Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. (Catholic Book Publishing Co.: New York, 1951-1955).