blasphemies of them, that were just now insulting our Redeemer, cease. All is silent as death. The Thief, whose cross was at the right of Jesus”, feels himself touched with repentance and hope. Turning to his companion, he upbraids him for what he had been saying: Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation ? And we, indeed, justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds : but this Man hath done no evil. Jesus defended by a Thief, at the very time that he is being insulted by them who boast that they know every iota of God's Law, and are sitting in the Chair of Moses ! Nothing could give us a clearer idea of the blindness, to which the Synagogue has voluntarily brought itself. This poor criminal, whose name is Dimas, represents the Gentile world, which now is steeped in ignorance and crime, yet is soon to be cleansed from all its abominations by confessing Jesus Crucified to be the Son of God. Turning his head towards our Saviour's Cross, he thus prays to him: Lord ! remember me, when thou shalt come into thy kingdom! He believes Jesus to be King; and the Chief Priests and Ancients were, but a moment ago, making jests with this King! Dimas sees the divine calmness and dignity of the innocent Victim : it is evidence enough ; he gives him his faith, and begs a remembrance from him when the day of his glory comes. Grace has made him a true Christian : and who can doubt, but that the grace was asked and obtained for him by Mary, the Mother of Mercy, who is now uniting herself in sacrifice together with her Jesus ? Jesus is pleased to find in this poor criminal the faith he had vainly sought for from Israel: he thus grants his humble prayer : Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise. It is the second of Jesus' Words on the Cross. The happy penitent is filled with joy, · St. Luke, xxiii. 40, 41.

St. Luke, xxiii. 42, 43.


and awaits in patient silence the blissful moment when death shall set him free.

Meanwhile, Mary draws near to the Cross, whereon hangs her Son. She recognises him, in spite of all the darkness; her love was her light. The eclipse has dispersed the crowd ; all is silent; and the Soldiers can find no reason for keeping the afflicted Mother from approaching her Son. Jesus looks with tenderest affection upon Mary; the sight of her sorrow is a new grief to his sacred Heart. He is dying, and his Mother cannot console or embrace him. Magdalene, too, is there, distracted with grief. Those feet, which, a few days before, she had anointed with ber most precious perfumes, are now pierced through with nails, and the Blood is clotting round the wounds. They are near enough to the ground for her to reach and bathe them with her tears; but her tears cannot stay the pain. She is come to see the Death of Him that forgave her all her sins. John, the Beloved Disciple, the only Apostle that has followed Jesus to Calvary, is overwhelmed with sorrow. He thinks of the favour bestowed upon him last night, when he rested his head on the Breast of this dear Master,—and the remembrance intensifies his grief. He grieves for the Son, he grieves for the Mother. He little knows the reward he is soon to receive for this his love! Mary of Cleophas has followed the Holy Mother up to the foot of the Cross. At some distance off, there stands a group of women, who loved Jesus, and had ministered unto him during his life.1

The silence is again broken: Jesus speaks his third Word, and it is to his Mother : but he does not call her by that dear name, for it would redouble her pain : Woman ! he says, behold thy son! Then looking upon John, he says to him: Son ! behold thy Mother! What an exchange was here for · St. Matth. xxvii. 55.

St. John, xix. 26, 27.

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Mary! but, О what a blessing it brought upon John, and through him to all mankind !—the Mother of God was made our Mother! This was the subject of our meditation on the Friday of Passion Week: let us, to-day, gratefully receive this last Testament of our Jesus, who, having by his Incarnation made us the adopted Children of his Heavenly Father, now, in his dying moments, makes us Children of his own Blessed Mother.

It is close upon the Ninth hour,—the third hour after mid-day, and it is the one fixed by the eternal decree of God for the Death of Jesus. The feeling of abandonment, which had caused our Redeemer to suffer an Agony in the Garden, now returns. He has taken upon himself the sins of mankind : the whole weight of God's justice now presses on his soul. The bitter Chalice of God's anger, which he is drinking to the very dregs, extorts from his lips this plaintive cry: My God! My God!

Why hast thou forsaken me? It is the fourth Word. He does not say My Father! He speaks as though he were but a poor Sinner, trembling before the judgmentseat of God. A burning thirst elicits from him the fifth Word : I thirst. Whereupon, one of the soldiers presents to his dying lips a sponge full of vinegar; and this is all the refreshment he receives from that earth, on which he daily pours a heavenly dew, and to which he has given ever-flowing fountains and rivers.

The moment is at length come, when Jesus is to yield up his Soul to his Father. He has fulfilled every single prophecy that had been foretold of him, even that of his receiving vinegar when parched with thirst. He therefore speaks this his sixth Word : It is consummated !3 He has, then, but to die; his Death is to put the finishing stroke to our 1 St. Matth. xxvii. 46.

· St. John, xix. 28. 3 St. John, xix. 30.

Redemption, as the Prophets assure us. But he must die as God. This man, worn out by suffering, exhausted by his three hours' agony, whose few words were scarce audible to them that stood round his Cross,—now utters a loud cry, which is heard at a great distance off, and fills the Centurion, who commands the guard, with fear and astonishment :Father! into thy hands I commend my spirit ! This is his seventh and last Word; after which he bows down his head, and dies.

At this awful moment, the sun re-appears in the heavens, and darkness ceases : but the earth is shaken by an earthquake, and the rocks are split. The space between the Cross of Jesus and that of the bad Thief is violently rent asunder, and the opening is shown to this day. The Jewish Priests, who are in the Temple, are terrified at seeing the Veil, which hides the Holy of Holies, torn from top to bottom: the time for figures and types is over, the great realities are

come. Many holy personages arise from their graves, and return to life. But it is in hell itself that the Death of Jesus is most felt. Satan now sees who He is, against whom He has excited all this persecution. He sees, that the Blood which he has caused to be shed, has saved mankind and opened the gates of heaven. This Jesus, whom he dared to tempt in the desert, he now recognises as the Son of God, whose precious Blood has purchased for men a Redemption that was refused to the rebel Angels!

O Jesus! Son of the Eternal Father! we adore thee now lying dead on the wood of thy Sacrifice. Thy bitter Death has given us Life. Like those Jews who saw thee expire, and returned to Jerusalem striking their breasts,—we, also, confess that it is our sins have caused thy Death. Thou hast loved

1 St. Luke, xxiii. 46.

us, as none but a God could love. Henceforth, we must be thine, and serve thee, as creatures redeemed at the infinite price of thy Blood. Thou art our God; we are thy people. Accept, we beseech thee, our most loving thanks for this final proof of thy goodness towards us. Thy holy Church now silently invites us to celebrate thy praise. We leave Calvary for a time; but will soon return thither, to assist at thy holy Burial. Mary, thy Mother, remains immoveable at the foot of thy Cross. Magdalene clings to thy feet. John and the holy women stand around thee. Once more, dearest Jesus! we adore thy sacred Body, thy precious Blood, and thy holy Cross, that have brought us Salvation.


THE OFFICE OF TENEBRÆ. At a late hour in the afternoon, the Night Office of Holy Saturday is anticipated, as on the two previous days. The Faithful are not summoned to the Church by the bells, for, as we have already explained, they are not rung till the Gloria in excelsis of tomorrow's Mass.

The Office of Tenebræ for Holy Saturday is given below, page 519.

THE EVENING. Let us return to Calvary, and there close this mournful day. We left Mary there, with Magdalene and other holy women, and the Beloved Disciple John. An hour has scarcely elapsed since Jesus died, when a troop of soldiers, led on by a Centurion, come up the hill, breaking the silence with their tramp and voices. They are sent by Pilate. The Chief Priests lost no time in returning to the Governor's house; and he, at their request, has sent these men to break the legs of the three Crucified, detach them from their crosses, and bury them before

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