The final Sorrowful Mystery is the Crucifixion of the Lord and focuses on the death of Jesus. It can be found in all the Gospels and it is mentioned several times in the Letters as well. This can also be found in some other non-Biblical books like Tacitus and Josephus as well as in the Babylonian Talmud, it is also mentioned in the Koran where Jesus isn’t Crucified but raised by Allah unto heaven. So Jesus carried the cross and we have the Stations of the Cross which highlight these events, eventually getting to Calvary or Golgotha where he was stripped from his clothes and offered wine mixed with myrrh or gall to drink. Jesus was hung between two thieves with a sign saying Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.
The fruit of the mystery is Perseverance in faith, grace for a holy death and Forgiveness. This has quite a few fruits. We touch on the Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude as well as the Gift of from the Holy Spirit. It’s pretty great let us all pray for a holy death. As well as the courage to ask for forgiveness of all that we’ve done wrong in our lives to others and what not.
The fourth sorrowful mystery is Carrying the Cross it can be found in all the Gospels (Matthew 27:31–33, Mark 15:20–22, Luke 23:26–32 and John 19:16–18), but only John specifically mentions a cross and all but John mention Simon the Cyrene, who helped carry the cross. In a couple of weeks we will hear this story at Church several time. Jesus takes the cross, although there is some disagreement as to if it was a whole cross as we see in art or rather just the crossbar as many modern scholars believe. Jesus takes the cross and then we have the whole Stations of the Cross, more on that later.
The fruit of this mystery is Patience. This is something that we all could use a lot more of in the world today. All to often do we need/want everything to be done immediately. Society has trained us to want everything done as quick as possible but we need to take some time. Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and we should continue to ask for patience in our lives.
In this third week of Lent we look at the third sorrowful mystery the Crowning with Thorns. This was another event surrounding the Passion narrative. It can be found in three of the Gospels Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17 and John 19:2-5. The soldiers who just scourged Jesus made a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head mocking him as the King of the Jews. The fruit of the mystery is Contempt of the world (moral courage). This is a bit with the Intimation of Christ as you look at it, the world continually wants us to ignore anything that cares about religion or really anything but the things of the world. Let’s all take some time to reflect on what role religion plays in our lives, do we make time for it more than an hour on Sunday. It’s sort of like the show Living Biblically based on the book A Year of Living Biblically, sure there are lots of rules in the Bible but it’s like how all to often we tend to be more focused on our electronic devices than on other people and diminishing the experience of going to such events. To put it in other terms it’s like going to a sporting event and not watching the game in front of you but worrying about the outcome of the Battle of the Ironclads (Monitor vs Merrimack) and who benefited the most from the results of the Battle.
The second sorrowful mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar or the Flagellation of Christ, when Pilate had Jesus tied to a column and beaten. It can be found in found in every gospel but Luke, however Luke does have a similar event with the High Priest’s guards beating and mocking Jesus. The fruit of this mystery is Mortification which leans from the purity nature of it. The Scourging is one of the popular aspects of Christ life in art. It has been featured in Western art since around the 9th century. This has moved on to film and literature as well notably in A Clockwork Orange when our main droog Alex sees himself as the solider beating Jesus it is also a difficult scene to watch in Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. It is featured in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar as well in the song Trial before Pilate where Jesus gets 39 lashes. Once again it is a powerful song and we need to reflect on the nature of this where are we in this scene with Jesus or the ones beating him up. This is what we need to reflect upon this week.
As we begin the Lenten Season we once again start with the Sorrowful Mysteries. The first is the Agony in the Garden it can be found in all the Gospels in different ways. Since the events covered are from the end of Last Supper and the Arrest of Jesus. The Fruit of the mystery is Sorrow for Sin as Uniformity to God’s Will.
When the Last Supper was ended Jesus took a walk to pray, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives with his apostles/disciples to pray. Peter, James and John were there and Jesus asked them to stay awake for an hour and pray with him. Jesus went off and prayed to the Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. I don’t want to take this poison. Going back to the apostles he finds them asleep and wakes them saying couldn’t you stay up just an hour. While Jesus was praying his sweat was blood and he ended his prayer by accepting it” If the cup can’t pass by let me drink of it your will be done.” After all of this Jesus recognizes that his hour to be betrayed has come.
Let us remember this during Lent we are offered several opportunities for other religious activities confession and stations of the cross seem to be at least a weekly thing along with a fish fry on Fridays during the season. If you have some time take it and go to one of these events or whatever else is offered in our local church.
The final sorrowful mystery is the Crucifixion and death of Our Lord. The fruit of this mystery is Perseverance in faith, grace for a holy death and Forgiveness. This story is found in all the Gospels and if you can’t find it it’s rather easy and throughout the epistles it is mentioned as well. We are all well aware of this story or you could check out the film mother! if you need a refresher (please don’t). Jesus is crucified between two thieves one berates him to “He helped other but can’t save himself” the other asks “Don’t you fear God, for we are all suffering the same fate although we have been fairly judges for the crimes we’ve done this man (Jesus) did nothing.” He continues to Jesus saying “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replies “Today you will be with me in paradise.” This is what is so special about our faith not matter when or where if you but ask it shall be given unto you. Forgiveness is a huge topic and even Pope Francis talked about it this past Sunday’s Angelus (17 Sept) where he said “Forgiveness does not deny the injustice one has been subjected to, but it acknowledges the fact that the human being, created in the image of God, is always superior to the wrong that is committed.” This is what we need to keep in mind for even in the Our Father we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” the second part is the important one.
The fourth sorrowful mystery we focus on the carrying of the cross. It is mentioned in passing in all the Gospels and is the entirety of the Stations of the Cross. The fruit of this mystery is patience. Carrying the cross is a task that we are all called to do and it take patience. Jesus calls us all in the Gospel “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” This is difficult for many of us to do denying ourselves and then taking up a cross to follow Jesus. So many of us struggle with both or either one, we need to be willing to risk everything. Pope John Paul II has a wonderful message on this for the 16th World Youth Day back in 2001 in which he reflects on this quote. John Paul breaks it down into easy pieces to deny oneself giving up one’s own plans that are trite while accepting God’s plan. He continues talking about taking up our crosses doesn’t have to mean a physical thing that leads to death but it is the ultimate sign of love that is the cross that we should bear. There is nothing else of more importance beside love and it is a lasting thing as well unlike the ephemeral nature of everything with instant gratification especially with all the social media where things don’t mean anything. As St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (13:4-8) “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” This is how we should be living our lives, I hope that we can all strive for this simple little thing.
The third sorrowful mystery is the Crowning with Thorns it really isn’t that big of a thing in the Gospels it is mentioned in passing in Matthew, Mark and John around the scourging which were mentioned last week. There are a bunch of relics which are thorns from the crown around the world so If you want to go see one you are in luck, Notre Dame in Paris has a portion which they bring every first Friday during the year and all Fridays in Lent. The fruit of this mystery is Contempt of the World (moral courage). This is a difficult fruit since it seems like it’s going against the world itself but it is more about the things of the world that we get all caught up in. We need to be able to separate ourselves from the things of the world, since we cannot serve both God and mammon. Sure the idea is simple and sure is a place where many people want to be especially with the world currently. However we need to be humble all too often in the world today that is obsessed with what people have done more than the person themselves, yet we read in the Bible “whomever exalts themselves will be humbled and whomever humbles themselves will be exalted”. Let us all try to be more humble in general.
The second Sorrowful Mystery is the Flagellation of Christ, the Scourging at the pillar is one of the early parts of the Passion Narrative. The fruit of the mystery is Purity and mortification.
This is the sixth station is the Scriptural Stations of the Cross and the fourth of the New Stations of the Cross used in the Philippines which is also based on the Scriptures but I’ll get to these during Lent. The event appears in all the Gospels but in different ways Mark and Luke have it taking place with the High Priest guards blindfolding and spitting on Jesus asking “Who hit you?”, while Matthew and John have it take place after Pilate had Jesus who had him flogged. This happens immediately before the next mystery with the Crowing with Thorns. It’s more about looking inward than outward we’ve got to forget about the things of this world as Louis de Montfort put it we need “to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite”. Sure we in general are good at doing this in Lent with our fasting and giving something up but perhaps we should be doing this more often. Most of the time when you hear mortification your mind turns to the extremes the lashing oneself and wearing a hairshirt, yet there is joy in suffering as John Paul II points out Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow, it is supposed to be struggle. Let us all reflect on how we struggle at carrying our crosses and what we can do to try and lead a more pure life.
We’ve reached the Sorrowful mysteries this time around. These chronicle the events of the Passion of Jesus. These can be found in all the Gospels but the synoptic ones (Mark, Luke, Matthew) have a more agony since in John’s Gospel Judas was there soon after they arrived. The fruit of this decade is uniformity to the will of God and Sorrow for sin, as the disciple couldn’t stay awake for an hour while Jesus prayed that the cup would pass him by. The Agony is often depicted in art but has also made it into the musical Jesus Christ Superstar with a whole song, and Beethoveen also wrote an oratorio about this event in opus 85 Christus am Ölberge (Christ on the Mount of Olives). It is Beethoven’s only oratorio. If you have about an hour take a listen to the oratorio. Let us all try to stay bound to the will of God and remember to go to confession.