From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Preparation Before Each Hour
O my Lord Jesus Christ, prostrate in your divine presence, I implore your most loving heart to allow me to enter into the sorrowful meditation of the twenty-four hours of your passion, in which, for love of us you wanted to suffer so much in your adorable body and in your most holy soul, even to death on the cross. O give me help, grace, love, profound compassion, and understanding of your sufferings as I now meditate this Hour.
For those hours which I cannot meditate, I offer you the will I have to meditate them; and I propose to meditate them with my intention during all the hours in which I must dedicate myself to my duties, or sleep.
Accept, O merciful Lord, my loving intention, and let it be beneficial for me and for all, as if I effectively and in a saintly way accomplished what I desire to do.
I give You thanks, O my Jesus. I thank You for calling me to union with You in prayer. To please You, I take your thoughts, your tongue, and your Heart. I want to pray with them. I want to fuse myself in your Will and in your Love. I extend my arms to embrace You, I rest my head on your Heart— and I begin….
My Jesus, You are taken down from the Cross, and your sorrowful Mother is the first to receive You in her lap. Your pierced Head rests gently in her arms. O sweet Mother, do not refuse my company. United with You, let me do my last duty to my loving Jesus. My sweetest Mother, it is true that you surpass me in love and gentleness in touching my Jesus, but I will try to imitate You as best I can—to delight adorable Jesus in all that I do. That is why I want to join my hands with your most holy hands to remove all the thorns that crown his Sacred Head—and to unite your profound adoration to my own. Heavenly Mother, your hands make ready to clean the clotted blood from Jesus’ eyes—those darkened and lifeless eyes that used to give light to the whole world.
O Mother, I unite myself with You. Let us kiss them together! see the ears of my Jesus, covered in Blood, bruised by blows and pierced with thorns. O Mother, let us adore those ears that no longer hear. Let us adore those ears that have suffered so much, inviting countless deaf and stubborn souls with the call of grace. O sweet Mother, I see your tearful and sorrowful eyes as You gaze at the mournful Face of Jesus.
I unite my sorrow to yours. Let us remove the mud and spittle which have nearly disfigured Him. Let us adore that Face which enamored Heaven and earth with its Divine Majesty—and which now gives no sign of life. O sweet Mother, let us kiss his mouth. Let us kiss that divine mouth which used the gentleness of his words to draw so many souls to his Heart.
O Mother, I want to take your very own mouth, to kiss his bruised and bloodied lips—and to adore them profoundly. O my sweet Mother, Jesus’ Body has become one great wound. I want to kiss it with You again and again. want to join my hands with Yours to put back the pieces of flesh that hang from his Body, as we adore them profoundly.
O Mother, let us kiss those creative hands that have worked so many prodigies for us—those pierced and twisted hands now cold and rigid in death. O sweet Mother, let us enclose the destinies of all souls in these most holy wounds. When He rises from the dead, Jesus will find all the souls You have placed here—and none will be lost. O Mother, let us adore these wounds with all souls—and in the name of all souls. O heavenly Mother, You draw near to Jesus’ poor feet to kiss them. How many torn wounds there are! The piercing nails have torn away part of the flesh and the skin—and the weight of his most Sacred Body has ripped them cruelly. Let us kiss these wounds and adore them profoundly.
Let us enclose all the steps of sinners in the wounds of his feet. As they walk, may they feel Jesus’ steps close behind them—and may they no longer dare to offend Him! O Mother, I see you fix your gaze on sweet Jesus’ open Heart. I beg You to bury and enclose me in his Heart. What shall we do inside this Heart? You will teach me, O mournful Mother, you will bury me inside It, you will cover It with the stone and seal me inside and here, where I place my heart and my life, I shall hide for all eternity.
O Mother, give me your Love that I may love Jesus! Give me your sorrow to plead for everyone—and to atone for every sin against his Heart! O Mother, as You bury Jesus with your own hands, remember that I, too, want to be buried with Him—so that, after having been buried with Jesus, I may rise with Him and all that is His. May it be like this!
And now a word for You, O most loving Mother. I deeply pity You. If it were possible, with all the strength of my poor heart I would gather your heartbeats, your desires, and the lives of all creatures—and I would lay them before You as an act of compassion and love. I suffer with You in your extreme sorrow at seeing Jesus die, crowned with thorns, and torn by the whips and by the nails. I suffer with You upon seeing those eyes that no longer look at You; those ears that no longer hear your voice; and that mouth that no longer speaks to You.
I pity You in your sorrow upon seeing those hands that no longer embrace You; and those feet that no longer follow You. If it were possible, I would like to offer You the very Heart of Jesus overflowing with Love—to console You as You deserve and to ease your most bitter pains.
Reflections and Practices.
Jesus is buried. A rock secures Him and prevents his Mother from gazing upon her Son any longer. Am I like one who is dead inside the Heart of Jesus? Can I say that my heart is like a tomb that keeps me hidden from the eyes of creatures, and that I am indifferent, seeing that everyone has forgotten me? Once buried, no one glances at Jesus any more: a stone hides Him, and He can no longer gaze at his Mother; nor can She gaze at her Son; and though They are both holy, They can no longer gaze at each other. Now in holy things, do I remain indifferent, with that holy detachment that does not allow me to be disobedient in anything?
And though I may feel different affections, until it seems that Jesus has completely abandoned me, do I conquer everything with a holy detachment that continually draws me to Him? Can I say that yesterday is like today, and that though I may be rejected, still, with my constancy, I form a sweet chain that draws Him to me so that, should I want to form a thought, I will take the life of my thinking from the thoughts of Jesus? Are my glances immersed in Jesus’ glances in such a way that I only receive the glances that Jesus wants to give me, and I only look at what Jesus looks at? Is my voice immersed in Jesus’ voice in such a way that should I desire to speak, I would not do so unless I did it with Jesus’ tongue?
Are my steps immersed in His in such a way that as I walk I do not leave the impressions of my own footprints, but those of Jesus? Is my heart immersed in His so that I am able to love and desire as his Heart Loves and desires? my Jesus, just as your life flows in the midst of ours and constantly spurs us to love You and imitate You, so may my life do for others.
If Jesus is hidden, can I say that my sorrow is similar to the sorrow of the most Holy Mother, and that while I suffer I am bound more tightly to his Heart?
My Mother, when Jesus hides Himself from me for the good of my soul, grant me the grace that You had when You were deprived of Him, so that I may give Him all the glory that You gave Him when He was buried in the Sepulcher.
As I take your thought in order to think, do give me the thoughts from your Mind, thus allowing my thoughts to share in your power and to do the good that your Mind did. Jesus, as I look with your glances, do give me the power and the tenderness of your divine glances, thus allowing me to penetrate the hearts of all creatures. In this way I will honor You: it will be as if your glances, looking inside me and inside all souls, attracted all souls to You in the same way that You deigned to attract my soul.
O Jesus, I pray, but with your voice. And just as your voice pierced the Heavens and resounded in the voices of all, so may the voices of all creatures resound in my voice, to give honor to your voice, piercing the Heavens to give glory and love to your word.
My Jesus, my heart is beating; yet I am not happy unless You let my heart beat with Yours—for with your heartbeat I will love as You Love. I will give You the love of all creatures, and a singular cry will ring out: “Love, Love!” It will satisfy the love of the Father and of all creatures, beseeching all creatures to convert. Therefore, O my Jesus, give honor to Yourself! On everything I do, imprint the seal of your power, your Love, and your glory.
Most holy and desolate Mary leaves the Holy Sepulcher.
My sorrowful Mother, I see You prepare Yourself for your last sacrifice—having to bury your dead Son, Jesus. Resigned to the Will of Heaven, You accompany Him. With your own hands, You place Him in the sepulcher. While You arrange his limbs, You try to bid Him farewell and give Him a last kiss; but You feel your Heart wrenched from your breast for pain. Love nails you to those members. And by force of love and sorrow, your life is on the verge of being snuffed out, together with that of your lifeless Son.
Poor mother, what will you do without Jesus? He is your life, your all. Still, it is the Will of the Eternal One that wants it like this. You will have to struggle with two insurmountable powers: love, and the Divine Will. Love nails you in such a way that you cannot make the separation; the Divine Will imposes itself and wants the sacrifice…
Poor mother, how will you do it? How I sympathize with you! Please, angels of heaven, come and raise her from the rigid members of Jesus, otherwise she will die. Oh, what a miracle: while she seems to have died together with Jesus, I hear her voice, trembling and interrupted by sobs, which says:
“Son, beloved Son, this was the only comfort left to me, and it halved my pains: To unburden myself over these wounds of your most holy humanity, to adore them and kiss them. Now, even this is taken from me because this is what the Divine Will wants—and I resign myself to it. But know, O Son, that I want to do it but cannot. At the mere thought of doing it, my strength fades and life flees me. . . . O Son, please: In order to receive the strength and the life I need to make the bitter separation, permit me to leave my whole being buried in you and to take for myself your life, your pains, your reparations and all that you are. Yes, only an exchange of life between you and me can give me the strength to carry out the sacrifice of separating myself from you.”
My suffering mother, I see that with determination you again pass over those members. Resting your head on that of Jesus, you kiss it and enclose your thoughts in Jesus’ head. You take for yourself his thorns, his afflicted and offended thoughts, and all that he has suffered in his most holy head.
Oh, how you would like to give life to Jesus’ intelligence with yours, in order to give life for life! You already feel yourself coming to life again, for having taken the thoughts and the thorns of Jesus into your mind. Sorrowful mother, I see that you kiss Jesus’ lifeless eyes. You are heart-broken to see that Jesus no longer looks at you.
How many times those divine eyes, looking at you, enraptured you and make you rise from death to life! Now, seeing that they no longer look at you, you feel yourself die. So, I see that you put your eyes in those of Jesus; and for yourself you take his eyes, his tears and the bitterness of his gaze which suffered so much, seeing the offenses of creatures and all the insults and their rejections of him. My transfixed mother, I see you kiss his most holy ears. You call him time and again, and say:
“My Son, is it possible that you no longer hear me—you who answered my every sigh, even the least? Now I weep and I call you— but you don’t hear me? Yes: dear love is the most cruel tyrant! You were for me more than my very life. And now I will have to survive such pain! So, my Son, I leave my ears in yours, and I take for myself what your most holy ears have suffered: the echo of all the offense that resounded in yours. This alone can give me life: your pains, your sorrows.”
As you are saying this, the sorrow and the pangs of your heart are so intense that you become speechless and remain motionless. My poor mother, my poor mother, how I sympathize with you! How many cruel deaths you suffer! Sorrowful mother, the Divine Will imposes itself and gets you going. So you look at his most holy face, kiss it, and exclaim:
“Adorable Son, how disfigured you are! Yes, if love didn’t show me that you are my Son, my life, my all, I wouldn’t recognize you, for your unrecognizable state. Your natural beauty has been transformed into deformity. Your rosy cheeks have been changed into bruises. O beloved Son, your beautiful face that radiated light and grace—for to see you and remain ecstatic was one and the same thing—has been transformed into the pallor of death.
“Son, how you are reduced! What ugly work sin has done on your most holy members! Oh, how your inseparable mother would like to return your original beauty to you! I want to fuse my face in yours and take yours for me, as well as the blows, the spit, the ridicule and all that you suffered in your most holy face. Yes, Son, if you want me alive, give me your pains; otherwise I will die.”
Your sorrow is so intense that it suffocates you and cuts off your words; and you remain as if lifeless over Jesus’ face.
Poor mother, how I sympathize with you! My angels, come to sustain my mother. Her sorrow is immense. It is flooding her and suffocating her. She has no life or strength left. But the Divine Will, tearing through these waves that are drowning her, returns life to her. Now you have come to his mouth. As you kiss it, you feel your lips embittered by the bitterness of the gall that so embittered Jesus’ mouth. Sobbing, you continue:
“My Son, say one last word to your mother. Is it possible that I won’t hear your voice any more? All your words you said to me in life, like so many arrows, strike my heart with sorrow and love. And now, seeing you silent, these arrows begin to move in my lacerated heart, giving me innumerable deaths; and it seems as though they want to steal one last word from you by force. But not receiving it, they torture me, and say to me: ‘Well, you will not listen to him any more. You will no longer hear his sweet voice, the melody of his creative word which created as many paradises in you for as many words as he said.’ Ah, my Paradise is finished, and I will have nothing but bitternesses! Yes, Son, I want to give you my tongue to give life to yours. Yes, give me everything you suffered in your most holy mouth: the bitterness of the gall, your burning thirst, your reparations and prayers. Then, by hearing your voice in the things you suffered, my sorrow will be more bearable, and your mother will be able to live by means of your pains.”
Tortured mother, I see that you hurry now, because those around you want to close the sepulcher. So you quickly pass over Jesus’ hands, taking them in yours and kissing them. You press them to your heart; and putting your hands in his, you take the pains and the wounds of those most holy hands for yourself. Then, passing over Jesus’ feet and looking at the cruel tears that the nails made in them, while you put yours in his and take those wounds for yourself, you offer yourself in Jesus’ place to run after sinners and snatch them from hell. Grieved mother, now I see that you are saying your last good-by to Jesus’ pierced heart. Here you stop. This is the last assault your maternal heart receives. You now feel it being torn from your breast by the intensity of love and of sorrow. And by itself it escapes and puts itself in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Seeing yourself without a heart, you hurry to take Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart to yourself, as well as his love rejected by so many creatures, all his ardent desires frustrated by their ingratitude, and the sorrows and transfixions of that Most Sacred Heart which will have you crucified during your whole life. Looking at the gaping wound, you kiss it and lick the blood. And feeling Jesus’ life in you, you feel the strength to make the bitter separation. So, you embrace him and permit the stone of the sepulcher to enclose him. My sorrowful mother, as I weep I pray you not to let Jesus be taken from our gaze for now. First, let me enclose myself in Jesus to take his life into me. If you, the immaculate one, the holy one, the full of grace, cannot live without Jesus, much less can I, who am weakness, misery, sinfulness itself. How could I live without Jesus?
Please, sorrowful mother, don’t leave me alone. Take me with you. But first, put my whole being into Jesus. Empty me of everything to be able to put all Jesus into me, as you put him into yourself. Begin your maternal duty with me which Jesus gave you from the cross. Let your maternal heart be moved by my extreme poverty; and with your own maternal hands, enclose me totally, completely in Jesus. Enclose Jesus’ thoughts in my mind so that no other thought will enter into me. Enclose Jesus’ eyes in mine so that he may never escape from my view. Put his ears in mine so that I may always listen to him and fulfill his Most Holy Will in everything. Put his face in mine so that by looking at that face so disfigured for love of me, I may love him, give him compassion and make reparation to him. Put his tongue in mine so that I may speak, pray and teach with Jesus’ tongue. Put his hands in mine so that every movement I make and every work I do may have life from Jesus’ works and movements. Put his feet in mine so that every step I take may be life, salvation, strength and zeal for other creatures.
And now, my saddened mother, let me kiss his heart and lick his most precious blood. As you enclose his heart in mine, grant me the grace to live by his love, by his desires, by his pains. And now, take the rigid right hand of Jesus so that he may give me his last blessing with it. Now you permit the rock to enclose him. How agonizing it is for you! Weeping, you say your last good-by to him; and kissing the sepulcher, you leave it. Your sorrow is so immense that now you are petrified, now frozen. My transfixed mother, together with you I say good-by to Jesus. And weeping, I want to sympathize with you and keep you company in your bitter desolation. I want to remain by your side to give you a word of comfort and a compassionate gaze for every sigh, pang and sorrow of yours. I will gather up your tears; and if I see you fainting I will hold you in my arms.
Now I see you are obliged to return to Jerusalem by that same path on which you came. After just a few steps the cross already appears, on which Jesus suffered so much and then died. You run to it and kiss it. Seeing it stained with blood, the pains he suffered are on it are renewed in your heart one by one. Unable to contain your sorrow, sobbing, you exclaim:
“O cross! How is it that you were so cruel to my Son? No, you didn’t spare him in anything! What wrong did he do to you? You didn’t permit me, his sorrowful mother, to give him even a sip of water when he asked for it; and to his parched mouth you gave him gall and vinegar. I felt my transfixed heart liquefied, and would have liked to offer my melted heart to those lips to quench his thirst, but I received the sorrow of being rejected. Yes, O cross, you are cruel, but holy, because you were divinized and sanctified by your contact with my Son. Change that cruelty you used with him into compassion for miserable mortals. And for the pains he suffered on you, plead grace and strength for suffering souls, so that no one may be lost because of trials and crosses. Souls cost me too much. They cost me the life of a Son-God. And as Co-redemptrix and mother, I bind them to you, O cross.”
You kiss the cross over and over, and then continue on. Poor mother, how I sympathize with you! At every step and encounter, new sorrows arise, which become more immense and more bitter. They are overwhelming and submerging you like waves, and so you feel death at every instant. A few steps more, and you come to that point where this morning you met Jesus, exhausted and streaming blood, under the enormous weight of the cross. He had a bunch of thorns on his head, which, striking the cross, went deeper and deeper, giving him mortal pains at every movement. Meeting your eyes, Jesus’ eyes sought pity; but to deprive you and Jesus of this relief, the soldiers pushed him and made him fall, causing him to shed new blood.
And now, seeing the ground soaked with it, you prostrate yourself on the ground and kiss that blood, saying:
“My angels, come and keep guard over this blood so that not a single drop will be trampled on and profaned.”
Sorrowful mother, let me give you my hand to raise you up and comfort you, because I see that you are agonizing in Jesus’ blood. As you walk on, you find new pains. You see traces of blood everywhere and recall his sufferings, so you quicken your pace and enclose yourself in the cenacle. I too enclose myself in the cenacle—the cenacle of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. From within this heart I want to come upon your maternal knees to keep you company in this hour of bitter desolation. I don’t have the heart to leave you alone in so much sorrow.
Desolate mother, look at this little child of yours. I am too little to live by myself. Neither can I nor do I want to. So, take me on you knees, clasp me in your arms and mother me, for I need guidance, help and support. Look at my misery and shed a tear on my wounds. When you see me distracted, press me to your maternal heart and call Jesus’ life back into me.
But while I am praying to you, I am compelled to stop and turn my attention to your bitter sorrows. I feel myself pierced, seeing that as you move your head you feel the thorns which you have taken from Jesus sinking deeper. Together with the thorns of all our sins of thought, they even prick your eyes, causing you to weep tears mingled with blood. As you weep, having Jesus’ vision in your eyes, there pass before your sight all the offenses of creatures. Oh, how embittered you are by them! How well you understand what Jesus suffered, having his own pains in yourself! But one pain doesn’t wait for the next. As you listen intently, your ears are deafened by the echo of the voices of creatures. Each kind of offensive voice of the creature, passing from your ears and penetrating into your heart, pierces it; and you repeat your refrain: “Son, how you have suffered!”
Desolate mother, how I sympathize with you! Let me wipe your face bathed in tears and blood. But I fall back, seeing it all covered with bruises, unrecognizable and pale with a deathly pallor. I understand: These are the ill-treatments Jesus received, which you have taken for your own, that make you suffer so much. Yes, as you move your lips to pray or to emit sighs from your inflamed breast, you feel your breath embittered and your lips burned by Jesus’ thirst.
My poor mother, how I sympathize with you! Your sorrows increase ever more, and they seem to give a hand to each other. Taking your hands in mine, I see them pierced by the nails. It is in these same hands that you feel the pain of seeing the homicides, the betrayals, the sacrileges and all the evil works which repeat the blows, enlarging the wounds and making them ever more painful.
How I sympathize with you! You are the true crucified mother, such that not even your feet remain without nails. What is more, you not only feel them nailed, but torn as well by so many evil steps, and by the souls that are going toward hell. And you run after them so that they may not fall into the infernal flames. But this is still not everything, O nailed mother. All your pains, joining together, echo in your heart and pierce it not with seven swords, but with thousands and thousands of swords—especially since you have the divine heart of Jesus in you, which encloses all hearts and encompasses the heartbeats of everyone in itself. And that divine heartbeat, as it beats, says, Souls! Love! With the heartbeat, Souls, you feel all sins flowing in your heartbeat, and you feel you are being given death. In the heartbeat, Love, you feel life being given to you. And so you are in the continual alternation of death and life.
Crucified mother, as I look at you I sympathize with you in your sorrows. How inexpressible they are! I would like to change my being into tongue and voice, to sympathize with you. But before so many pains my sympathies are nothing. So, I call the angels and the Most Holy Trinity, praying them to put their harmonies, contentments and beauty around you, to soothe you and to sympathize with your intense sorrows. I pray them to sustain you in their arms and to give you love in exchange for all your pains. And now, desolate mother, I thank you in everyone’s name for all that you have suffered. By this bitter desolation, I pray you to come and assist me at the hour of my death. When my poor soul will find itself alone and abandoned by everyone, among a thousand anxieties and fears, come then to give me the company that I gave you so many times in life. Come to assist me, be by my side and send the enemy away. Wash my soul with your tears. Cover me with Jesus’ blood and dress me with his merits. Beautify me with your sorrows and all of Jesus’ pains and works. In virtue of his pains and your sorrows, make all sins disappear from me, giving me forgiveness for them all. As I breathe my last breath, receive me in your arms, put me under your mantle and hide me from the eyes of the enemy. Take me away, in flight, to heaven and put me into Jesus’ arms.
My dear mother, you agree to do this, don’t you? And now, I pray you to return the company I have given you today, to all those who are dying in this moment. Mother them all. These are extreme moments and great helps are needed, so don’t deny your maternal offices to anyone.
One last word as I leave you: I pray you to enclose me in Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart. And you, O my sorrowful mother, be my sentinel so that Jesus may not cast me out of his heart, and so that even if I should want to, I may not leave it. Now I kiss your maternal hand and ask you to bless me.
(Personal Offering and Thanksgiving)
Thanksgiving after each hour
My Beloved Jesus, You have called me to this Hour of your Passion to keep You company—and I have come. I seem to have heard you, anguished and sorrowful, praying, making reparation and suffering. With the most loving, eloquent voices you were pleading for the salvation of souls. I tried to follow You in everything. Now, I owe You my heartfelt “Thank You” and “I bless You.”
Yes, O Jesus, I repeat my “Thank You” thousands and thousands of times. I bless You for all that You have done and suffered for me and for everyone. I thank You and I bless You for every drop of Blood You shed. I thank You for every breath, for every heartbeat, and for every step. I thank You for every word, glance, affliction, and outrage that You had to endure. In everything, O my Jesus, I intend to give You my “Thank You” and “I bless You.” O my Jesus, let my soul send forth a continuous flow of thanksgiving and blessings to You—to draw down upon all of us the abundant flow of your blessings and graces. Please, O Jesus, press me to your Heart, and with your most holy hands seal every particle of my being with your “I bless you”, so that nothing other than a continuous hymn to You may come from me.
So I leave my being within Yours, to follow you in all you do; better still, you will be so alive in me that I will leave my thoughts in you to defend you from your enemies, my breaths as a faithful companion, my heartbeat to recall my “I love you,” and to give you the love that the others refuse to give you; I will give you the drops of my blood to atone and make up the honor and regard that your enemies deny you with their insults and offenses. I will leave my entire being as a guard.
My dear love, while I must go about my duties, I will remain in your heart. I am afraid to leave It. Is it not true that You will keep me here? Our heartbeats will continually touch so that You will give me life, love, and close and inseparable union with You.
Jesus, if You see that I am about to run from You at times, let your heartbeat hasten in mine. Let your hands press me closer to your Heart; let your eyes look at me and pierce me with rays of fire so that I may feel your presence and immediately return to union with You.
O my Jesus, be on guard so that I may not exhaust You. I beg You to watch over me. O give me a kiss, embrace me, and bless me! Give me your most holy hands so that I can do all that I must do united with You! My Jesus, give me the kiss of Divine Love, embrace me and bless me; I will kiss your intoxicating Heart, and take my rest in You.