“There are few souls who contemplate My Passion with true feeling;
I give great graces to souls who meditate devoutly on My Passion.”
– Diary of Saint Faustina, para.733
The Crucifix is the most common symbol of faith which we see; so ubiquitous, perhaps, that we may sometimes lose sight of precisely what it is that we are beholding, and what immense power it contains.
For Saint Faustina, the Passion was very much a reality and it was something which frequently formed the basis of her prayers and meditations. Her Diary is filled with references to the Passion –
“Jesus told me that I please Him most by meditating on His sorrowful Passion, and by such meditation much light falls upon my soul. He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus.” (Diary, para.267)
She would often remind the Lord of the price He paid for souls, begging His mercy in virtue of His Passion and Death on the Cross –
“O sweetest Heart of my Lord, full of pity and unfathomable mercy, I plead with You for poor sinners. O Most Sacred Heart, Fount of Mercy from which gush forth rays of inconceivable graces upon the entire human race, I beg of You light for poor sinners. O Jesus, be mindful of Your own bitter Passion and do not permit the loss of souls redeemed at so dear a price to Your most precious Blood.. let every soul trust in the Passion of the Lord, and place it’s hope in His mercy.” (Diary, para.72)
And as can be seen from some of the replies of the Lord to our Saint, He promises great graces to those souls who properly meditate on His Passion.
Those promises apply as much to us today as on the day the words were written in the Diary; we, too, can benefit enormously by devoutly meditating on the Passion and Death of Jesus on the Cross. After all, it is by the sacrifice offered in that holy Passion and Death that we are redeemed. This is what the Crucifix reminds us of.
As Lent approaches, our focus tends to turn more to the Passion of Christ. For many, we might have the opportunity of taking part in the Stations of the Cross at Church. This is a holy and salutary practice, one filled with great grace – and particularly the grace to move hearts and to soften them, if only we would allow that grace to take root within us.
Many are in the habit of stopping and offering a prayer at 3 o’clock each day, mindful that this is the Hour of the Passion and, therefore, the Hour of Mercy. But let us take a moment and recall precisely what the Lord asked of St Faustina – and, by extension, of each one of us – in that hour;
“I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke it’s omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment, mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour, you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice. My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour.. and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the Chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the Chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there, where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant.” (Diary, para.1572)
It is noteworthy that the first response the Lord requests is, wherever possible, the Stations of the Cross. He asks us to walk the Way of the Cross with Him. Such is the power of this particular devotion, focussed so intently on His Passion, that He asks us to follow His steps and so keep Him company, if it is at all possible for us to do so in that hour. Now, it may be that for many of us, other duties and our state of life do not allow this – and so He suggests alternatives, if only the briefest instant of prayer. But His primary request is for the Stations.
For us who adore the great Mercy of the Lord, let us do all in our power to pray in that Hour, or to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and – if we can – to make the Stations with Him.