“Those who do not pray to Jesus in his Passion,” wrote the poet priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, “pray to God, but scarcely to Christ.” We pray with passion when we meditate on the Lord’s Passion.
How crucial to keep the cross at the center of our prayer. St. Leo the Great assures us that “through the cross the faithful receive strength from weakness, glory from dishonor, life from death.” In her Diary, St. Faustina relates:
Jesus told me that I please him best 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. When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before.
We can approach Christ’s Passion in prayer with hope and great peace. In the words of Joseph Ratzinger, “What looks down at us from the cross is a goodness that enables a new beginning in the midst of life’s horror.” And St. John Paul II adds, “The cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence.”
One practical way to meditate on the Lord’s Passion is to pray before a crucifix, for “the human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced” (CCC 1432). The Imitation of Christ tells us, “If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s Passion and willingly behold his sacred wounds.” Also, of course, is prayerfully meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
St. Gregory of Nazianzen gives this counsel: “Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself.” We do well in this since “it is only as a cross-bearer that one belongs to Christ” (A. Sertillanges).
Dominican Fr. Simon Tugwell encourages us:
It is the cross and only the cross that provides a constant point of reference in the chaos of our world, because there is all our poverty and helplessness and pain, all our yearning and all our mutual injustice, taken up into the stillness of God’s everlasting love and made into the instrument and revelation of his unchanging will.
Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.
See some of the earlier pieces below: