Saturday, April 07, 2007

Triduum Day Two: the Embrace

Where was Jesus on Good Friday? He was on the Cross, and also in our arms.

I love the sobriety and also the great emotional devotion shown in the Adoration of the Cross. Where else will one see hundreds standing in line to embrace and perhaps kiss a representation of an ancient instrument of torture?

In turn, Christ embraces us.

I like the portrait of St Bernard of Clairvaux and Christ embracing. It hangs in the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank.

Here are some words of St. Bernard, related to this embrace.

"For the humble," says St. Bernard, "the sweet name of Jesus, or His Sacred Humanity, is their entire delight and the object of their affections. Thus the sweet fragrance of the name of the Savior, a balsam poured into as many devotions and pious institutions as are generated within the Holy Church, causes those souls that are pure, and those that are humble to come to Him, and, entering into His mystical kingdom to succeed in loving Him truly, and even with ardor and to an extreme degree, and so deserve to enjoy one day HIs intimate union and communication.

"When they pray before a sacred image of the Man-God, whether newly born, or at the breast, or preaching, or dying on the Cross, or ascending up to the heavens or at some other stage in His life, they feel their hearts full of love for virtue and full of hatred for vice. In this way the Invisible One makes Himself visible so as to attract the hearts of men to the spiritual love of His Sacred Humanity, men who could otherwise love HIm in only a human way. Thereby, he gradually, and through progressive stages, elevates them to a more spiritual and purer love.

"Let those souls, then, rest here in the shade of this good God, souls that are humble and do not feel themselves virtuous enough to seek the sun's invisible rays. Let them be sustained by the sweetness of the flesh of Jesus Christ.

"Let them be consoled with this material consolation until the Vivifying Spirit visits them, possesses them and lifts them to other exalted degrees of love. For the celestial fragrance of the mysteries of the Humanity of Christ will always be attracting pure and sincere souls to this, the only "Way," which will lead with certainty to the delightful and spacious regions of light and life that are the mysteries of the Divinity. For it is not possible to enter save through Him Who is the Gate and the Way, as St Augustine observes. Only the humble and pure souls are able to feel and savor the gentleness and sweetness of the Mysteries of Jesus."

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