Robert B. The 7 words 87

The prudence of the sparrow is necessary both for contemplatives, and also for those who devote themselves to the active duties of the ministry. There are both hedge- sparrows and house-sparrows. Hedge-sparrows show the greatest care in avoiding the nets and snares set for them, and house-sparrows, which dwell near men, never become the friends of man, and with difficulty are captured by men. So Christians, and especially priests and monks, must imitate the prudence of the sparrow to avoid falling into the nets and snares set for them by the devil, and when they treat with men, should do so solely for their neighbours' advantage, should avoid all familiarity with them, especially with women, should fly from idle conversations, should decline invitations, and should not be present at plays and theatres.

The last decree regarding sacrifices was that the victim should not only be living and holy but also pleasing, that is, should send forth a most sweet odour, according to what the Scriptures say: "And the Lord smelled a sweet savour,"
(Gn 8,21) and "Christ delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness." (Ep 5,2). It was necessary that the victim, in order to send forth this odour so pleasing to God, should be both killed and burnt. This takes place in the mystical and reasonable sacrifice of which we are speaking, when the concupiscence of the flesh is completely brought into subjection and burnt out by the fire of charity. Nothing more efficaciously, quickly, and perfectly mortifies the concupiscence of the flesh than a sincere love of God. For He is the King and Lord of all the affections of our heart, and all our affections are ruled by Him and depend upon Him, whether they be those of fear or hope, or desire or hatred, or anger, or any other inquietude of mind. Now love yields to nothing except to a stronger love, and consequently when Divine love has complete possession of the heart of man and sets it wholly in flame, all carnal desires yield to it, and, being completely subdued, occasion us no disquiet: and, therefore, ardent aspirations and fervent prayers should ascend from our hearts like incense before the throne of God. This is the sacrifice which God demands of us, and which the Apostle exhorts us to be ever most ready to offer.

St. Paul uses a very strong argument to persuade us to it, as it is of itself so hard and full of difficulty. His argument is expressed in these words: "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice."
(Rm 12,1).he word mercies used instead of mercy. What and how many are the mercies of God by which the Apostle beseeches us? In the first place there is creation, by which we were made something whereas before we were nothing. Secondly, although Almighty God stood in no need of our service, He has made us His servants, because He wishes us to do something for which He can reward us. Thirdly, He made us to His image, and rendered us capable of knowing Him and loving Him. Fourthly, He made us through Christ His adopted children and coheirs of His Only-Begotten Son. Fifthly, He has made us members of His Spouse, and of that Church of which He is the Head. Lastly, He offered Himself on the Cross, "an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness," (Ep 5,2) to redeem us from slavery and wash us from our iniquities, "that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle." (Ep 5,27). These are the mercies of God by which the Apostle beseeches us, as if he would say: The Lord has showered so many graces upon you, who have neither deserved them, nor asked for them, and should you think it a hard matter to offer yourselves as living, holy, and reasonable victims to God? Forsooth, far from being difficult, it should seem to any one who attentively considers all the circumstances, light and easy and pleasant and agreeable, to serve so good a God with our whole hearts throughout all time, and after the example of Christ to offer ourselves wholly to Him as a victim, an oblation, and a holocaust in the odour of sweetness.

CHAPTER XVI: The fourth fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the sixth Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.

A fourth fruit can be drawn from a fourth explanation of the word "It is finished." For if it is true, as most certainly it is, that God by the merits of Christ has withdrawn us from the servitude of the devil, and placed us in the kingdom of His Beloved Son, let us inquire, and not desist from our inquiry till we have found the reason, why so many men prefer the slavery of the enemy of mankind to the service of Christ, our most kind Master, and choose rather to burn for ever in the flames of hell with Satan, than reign most happy in eternal glory with our Lord Jesus Christ. The only reason I can find is that the service of Christ begins with the Cross. It is necessary to crucify the flesh with its vices and concupiscences. This bitter draught, this chalice of gall, naturally produces a nausea in frail man, and is often the sole reason why he would rather be the slave of his passions than be the master of them by such a remedy. A man without reason, indeed, or rather not a man but a beast, for a man bereft of his reason is such, might be ruled by his desires and appetites: but since man is endowed with reason, he certainly knows or ought to know that he who is commanded to crucify his flesh with its vices and concupiscences should insist on keeping this precept, particularly as he is assisted by God's grace to do so, and that our Lord, like a wise physician, so prepares this bitter potion that it may be drunk without difficulty. Moreover, if any one of us individually was the first person to whom these words were addressed, "Take up your cross and follow Me," we might have an excuse for hesitating and mistrusting our own strength, and not daring to lay our hands on a cross which we considered ourselves unable to carry. But since not only men but even children of tender years have boldly taken up the Cross of Christ, have patiently carried it, and have crucified their flesh with its vices and concupiscences, why should we fear, why should we hesitate? St. Augustine was vanquished by this argument, and at once mastered his carnal concupiscence which for years he had regarded as unconquerable. He placed before the eyes of his soul many men and women who had led chaste lives, and said to himself: "Why cannot you do what so many of both sexes have done who trusted not in their own strength, but in the Lord their God?" What has been said about the concupiscence of the flesh, may be said with equal force about the concupiscence of the eyes--which is avarice, and the pride of life. There is no vice which with God's assistance cannot be overcome, and there is no reason to fear that God will refuse to help us. St. Leo says: "Almighty God justly insists on our keeping His commandments since He prevents us by His grace." Miserable and mad and foolish, then, are those souls who prefer rather to carry five yoke of oxen under the command of Satan, and with labour and sorrow be the slaves of their senses, and at last be tortured for ever with their leader, the devil, in the flames of hell, than to submit to the yoke of Christ, which is sweet and light, to find rest for their souls in this life, and in the life to come an eternal crown with their King in everlasting glory.

CHAPTER XVII: The fifth fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the sixth Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.

A fifth fruit may be gathered from this word, since we may apply it to the building of the Church which was perfected on the Cross. The Church was formed from the Side of Christ as He was expiring on the Cross, like another Eve formed from the rib of another Adam. And this mystery should teach us to love the Cross, to honour the Cross, and to be closely united to the Cross. For who does not love his mother's birth place? All the faithful have an extraordinary veneration for the holy house of Loreto, because it is the birthplace of the Virgin Mother of God, and there in her virginal womb she conceived Jesus Christ our Lord, as the Angel announced to St. Joseph: "For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."
(Mt 1,20). So the Holy Roman Church, mindful of the place of her nativity, has the Cross planted everywhere and everywhere exhibited. We are taught to make it on ourselves; we see it in churches and houses; she confers no Sacrament without the Cross, blesses nothing without the sign of the cross; and we, the children of the Church, show our love for the Cross when we patiently endure adversities for the love of our crucified God. This is to glory in the Cross. This is to do what the Apostle did "when they went from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the Name of Jesus." (Ac 5,41). St. Paul plainly gives us to understand what he means by glorying in the Cross when he says: "We glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience trial, and trial hope, and hope confoundeth not, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us." (Rm 5,3-5). And again in his Epistle to the Galatians: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world." (Ga 6,14). This is indeed the triumph of the Cross, when the world with its pomps and pleasures is dead to the Christian soul that loves Christ crucified, and the soul is dead to the world by loving tribulations and contempt which the world hates, and hating the pleasures of the flesh, and the empty applause of men which the world loves. In this manner is the true servant of God rendered so perfect that it may also be said of him: "It is finished."

CHAPTER XVIII: The sixth fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the sixth Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.

The last fruit to be drawn from the consideration of this word is to be gathered from the perseverance which our Lord exhibited on the Cross. We are taught by this word, "It is finished," how our Lord so perfected the work of His Passion from the beginning to the end that nothing was wanting to it: "The works of God are perfect."
(Dt 32,24). And as God the Father completed the work of creation on the sixth day and rested on the seventh, so the Son of God completed the work of our redemption on the sixth day and rested in the sleep of death on the seventh. In vain did the Jews taunt Him, "If He be the King of Israel let Him come down from the Cross and we will believe Him." (Mt 27,42). With more truth does St. Bernard exclaim: "Because He is the King of Israel, He will not desert the ensign of His royalty. He would not give us an excuse for failing in perseverance, which alone is crowned: He would not make the tongues of preachers dumb, nor the lips of those who console the weak mute, nor the words of those void whose duty it is to say to every one, Do not abandon your cross, for without doubt each individual soul would answer if it could: I have abandoned my cross, because Christ first deserted His." Christ then persevered on His Cross even unto His Death, in order so to perfect His work that nothing should be wanting to it, and to leave us an example of perseverance in every way worthy of our admiration. It is easy indeed to stay in places which are agreeable to us, or to persevere in duties which are pleasant, but it is very difficult to remain at one's post where there is much grief to be allayed, or to continue in an occupation where there is much anxiety attached to it. But if we could understand the reason which induced our Lord to persevere on the Cross, we should be thoroughly convinced that we ought to bear our cross with constancy, and if need be, to bear it with courage even unto death. If we fix our eyes on the Cross alone we cannot but be filled with horror at the sight of such an instrument of death. But if we fix our eyes on Him Who bids us carry the Cross, and on the place whither the Cross will lead us, and on the fruit which the Cross will produce in us, then instead of appearing full of difficulties and obstacles, it will be easy and agreeable to persevere in carrying it, and even to remain with constancy nailed to it.

Why then did Christ hang upon His Cross with such perseverance even unto death without a sigh and without a murmur? The first reason was the love He bore His Father: "The chalice which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?"
(Mt 27,42). Christ loved His Father and the Father loved His Only-Begotten Son, with an equally ineffable love. And when He saw the chalice of suffering offered to Him by His all-good and all-loving Father in such a manner that He could not but conclude it was presented to Him for the best of purposes, we cannot wonder at His drinking it to the dregs with the utmost readiness. The Father had made a marriage feast for His Son, and had given Him for His Spouse the Church--disfigured and deformed indeed, but which He was lovingly to cleanse in the bath of His Precious Blood and render beautiful, "not having spot nor wrinkle." (Ep 5,27). Christ on His side dearly loved the Spouse given Him by His Father, and hesitated not to pour out His Blood to render her fair and comely. Now if Jacob toiled for seven years in feeding the flocks of Laban, suffered from heat and cold and want of sleep in order to marry Rachel, and if these seven years of labour passed so quickly that "they seemed but a few days because of the greatness of his love," (Gn 29,20) and a second seven years seemed equally as short, we cannot be surprised that the Son of God desired to hang on the Cross for three hours for His Spouse, the Church, who was to be the mother of so many thousands of saints and the parent of so many children of God. Moreover, in drinking the bitter chalice of His Passion, Christ was influenced not only by His love for His Father and His Spouse, but also by the exalted glory and the boundless and never-ending happiness He was to secure by means of His Cross: "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross. For which cause God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a Name which is above all names: that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." (Ph 2,8-11).

To the example which Christ has set us, let us add also the examples which the Apostles hold out for our imitation. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, after enumerating his own crosses and those of his fellow- labourers, asks: "Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? As it is written: For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." And he answers his own questions. "But in all these things we overcome because of Him that hath loved us."
(Rm 8,35-37). We must not regard the suffering which crosses entail if we wish to persevere unflinchingly in bearing them, but rather encourage ourselves by the love of that God Who so loved us as to give His only Son for our ransom, or even keep our eyes fixed on that Son of God Who loved us and "gave Himself for us." (Tt 2,14).In his Epistle to the Corinthians the same Apostle says: "I am filled with comfort. I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations." (2Co 7,4). Whence arose this consolation and this joy which rendered him, so to speak, impassible in every affliction? He supplies us with the answer. "For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory." (2Co 4,17). Thus the contemplation of the crown which awaited him, and the thought of which he ever kept before him, rendered all the trials of this life momentary and trivial. "What persecution," cries out St. Cyprian, "can prevail against such thoughts as these? what torments can overcome such a vision? As a second model we will take the conduct of St. Andrew, who looked upon the cross, on which he was to hang for two days, not as a gibbet, but embraced it as a friend, and when the spectators of his execution wished to take him down, he would by no means consent to it, as he desired to remain fastened to his cross even to death. And this is not the action of a crazy or foolish person, but of an enlightened Apostle and of a man filled with the Holy Ghost.

All Christians can learn from the example of Christ and His Apostles how to conduct themselves when they cannot descend from their cross, that is, when they cannot free themselves from some particular affliction or suffering without sin. In the first place the life of each religious who is bound by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, is compared to a martyrdom from which he must not shrink. Again, if a husband is wedded to a wife who is quarrelsome, morose, and peevish, or a wife is married to a husband whose temper and character is not a whit the less difficult to put up with, as St. Augustine in his "Book of Confessions" assures us was the disposition of his father, the husband of St. Monica, the cross must courageously be borne as the bond is indissoluble. Slaves who have lost their liberty, prisoners condemned to a life-long servitude, the sick who are suffering from an incurable disease, the poor who are tempted to secure a momentary relief by theft or robbery, each and all must turn their thoughts, not to the cross they are carrying, but to Him Who has placed the cross upon them, if they wish to persevere in carrying it with internal peace, and desire to gain the immense reward which is promised to them in heaven when their sufferings here shall be over. Without doubt it is God Who afflicts us with crosses, and He is our most loving Father, and without His concurrence neither sorrow nor joy can befall us. Without doubt, too, whatever happens to us by His will is the best for us, and ought to be so agreeable to us as to force us to say with Christ: "The chalice which My Father has given Me shall I not drink it?"
(Jn 18,11) and with the Apostle: "But in all those things we overcome because of Him that hath loved us." (Rm 8,37). Consequently those who cannot lay aside their cross without sin must consider, not their present suffering, but the crown which awaits them, and the possession of which will more than counterbalance all the afflictions, all the griefs of this life. "For I reckon that all the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us," (Rm 8,18) is what St. Paul said of himself, and the judgment he passed on Moses was, "Rather choosing to be afflicted with the people of God, than to have the pleasure of sin for a time, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of the Egyptians. For he looked unto the reward." (He 11,25-26).

For the consolation of those who are forced to bear the heavy weight of a cross through a long series of years, it will not be out of place briefly to relate the story of two souls who failed to persevere, and found a far heavier and eternal cross awaiting them.

When the traitor Judas began to reflect upon and detest the enormity of his treachery, he felt unable to bear the shame and confusion of again meeting any one of the Apostles or disciples of Christ, and he hanged himself with a halter. Far from escaping the shame which he dreaded, he has only exchanged one cross for a heavier one. For his confusion will be much greater when, at the Day of Judgment, he will have to stand before all Angels and men, not only as the convicted betrayer of his Master, but also as a self-murderer. What folly it was on his part to avoid a little shame before the then little flock of Christ, who would all have been meek and kind towards him like their Master, and would all have had him trust in the mercy of his Redeemer, and not to have avoided the infamy and the ignominy which he must suffer when he stands forth in the sight of all creatures as a traitor to his God and a suicide! The other example is taken from the panegyric of St. Basil on the forty martyrs. In the persecution of the Emperor Licinius, forty soldiers were condemned to death for their steadfast belief in Christ. They were ordered to be exposed naked during the night on a frozen lake, and to gain their crown by the slow agony of being frozen to death. Beside the frozen lake there was prepared a hot bath, into which any one who denied his faith had liberty to plunge. Thirty-nine of the martyrs turned their thoughts to the eternal happiness which awaited them, regarded not their present suffering, which would soon be over, persevered with ease in their faith, and deserved to receive from the hands of Jesus Christ their crown of everlasting glory. But one pondered and brooded over his torments, could not persevere, and plunged into the hot bath beside him. As the blood began to flow again through his frozen limbs, he breathed forth his soul, which, branded with the disgrace of being a denier of its God, forthwith descended to the eternal torments of hell. By seeking to avoid death, this unhappy wretch found it, and exchanged a transitory and comparatively light cross for one which is unbearable and eternal. The imitators of these two miserable men are to be found among those who abandon their religious life, who cast from them the yoke which is sweet and the burden which is light, and when they least expect it, find themselves bound as slaves to the heavier yoke of their various appetites which they can never satisfy, and pressed down under the galling burden of innumerable sins. Those who refuse to carry the Cross of Christ, are obliged to carry the bonds and the chains of Satan.

CHAPTER XIX: The literal explanation of the seventh Word, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit."

We have come to the last word which our Lord pronounced. At the point of death Jesus, "crying with a loud voice said, Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit."
(Lc 23,46). We will explain each word separately. "Father." Deservedly does He call God His Father, for He was a Son who had been obedient to His Father even unto death, and it was proper that His last dying request, which was certain to be heard, should be prefaced by such a tender name. "Into Thy hands." In the Sacred Scriptures the hands of God signify the intelligence and will of God, or in other words His wisdom and power, or, again, the intelligence of God which knows all things, and the will of God which can do all things. With these two attributes as with hands, God does all things, and stands not in need of any instruments in the accomplishment of His will. St. Leo says: "The will of God is His omnipotence." Consequently, with God to will is to do. "He hath done all things, whatsoever He would." (Ps 113,3) "I commend." I hand over to your keeping My life, with the sure faith of its being restored when the time of My resurrection shall come. "My Spirit." There is a diversity of opinion as to the meaning of this word. Ordinarily the word spirit is synonymous with soul, which is the substantial form of the body, but it can also mean life itself, since breathing is the sign of life. Those who breathe live, and those die who cease to breathe. If by the word spirit we here understand the Soul of Christ, we must take care not to think that His Soul at the moment of it's separation from the Body was in any danger. We are accustomed to commend with many prayers and much anxiety the souls of the agonizing, because they are on the point of appearing at the tribunal of a strict Judge to receive the reward or the punishment of their thoughts, words, and deeds. The Soul of Christ was in no such need, both because it enjoyed the Beatific Vision from the time of its creation, was hypostatically united to the person of the Son of God, and could even be called the Soul of God, and also because it was leaving the body victorious and triumphant, an object of terror to the devils, not a soul to be scared by them. If the word spirit then is to be taken as synonymous with soul, the meaning of these words of our Lord, "I commend my spirit," is that the Soul of Christ which was enclosed in the body as in a tabernacle was about to throw itself into the hands of the Father as into a place of trust until it should return to the body, according to the words of the Book of Wisdom: "The souls of the just are in the hand of God." (Sg 3,1). However, the more generally accepted meaning of the word in this passage is the life of the body. With this interpretation the word may be thus amplified. I now give up My breath of life, and as I cease to breathe I cease to live. But this breath, this life I intrust to you, My Father, that in a short time you may again restore it to My Body. In your keeping nothing perishes. In you all things live. By a word you call into existence things which were not, and by a word you give life to those who had it not.

We may gather that this is the true interpretation of the word from the thirtieth Psalm, one of the verses of which our Lord was quoting: "Thou wilt bring me out of this snare which they have hidden for me, for Thou art my protector. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."
(Sg 3,1). In this verse the prophet clearly means to signify life by the word spirit, since he beseeches God to preserve his life, and not to suffer him to be killed by his enemies. If we consider the context in the Gospel, it is clear that this is the meaning our Lord also intended to convey. For after He had said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," the Evangelist adds: "And saying this He gave up the ghost." (Lc 23,46). Now to expire is the same as to cease breathing, which is the characteristic of those only who live. It cannot be said of the soul, which is the substantial form of the body, as it can of the air we inhale, that we breathe it as long as we live, and we cease breathing it as soon as we die. Lastly, our interpretation is strengthened by the words of St. Paul: "Who in the days of His flesh with a strong cry and tears offering up prayers and supplications to Him that was able to save Him from death, was heard for His reverence." (He 5,7). Some authors refer this passage to our Lord's prayer in the Garden: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to Thee, remove this chalice from Me." (Mc 14,36). But the reference is incorrect, as our Lord on that occasion neither prayed with a loud cry, nor was His prayer heard, and He Himself did not wish to be heard in order to be delivered from death. He prayed that the chalice of His Passion might pass from Him to show His natural repugnance to death, and to prove He was really man whose nature it is to dread its approach. And after this prayer He added: "But not what I will, but what Thou wilt." (Mc 14,36). Consequently the prayer in the Garden was not the prayer to which the Apostle alludes in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Others, again, refer this text of St. Paul to the prayer which Christ made on the Cross for those who were crucifying Him. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Lc 23,34). On that occasion, however, our Lord did not pray with a loud cry, and He did not pray for Himself, neither did He pray to be delivered from death, and both these objects the Apostle distinctly mentions as being the ends of our Lord's prayer. It remains then, that the words of St. Paul must refer to the prayer Christ made with His dying breath: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." (Lc 23,46).

This prayer, St. Luke says, He gave forth with a loud voice: "And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said." The words of both St. Paul and St. Luke agree in this interpretation. Moreover, as St. Paul says, our Lord prayed to be saved from death, and this cannot mean that He prayed to be saved from death on the Cross, for in that case His prayer was not heard, and the Apostle assures us it was heard. The true meaning is that He prayed not to be swallowed up by death, but merely to taste death and then return to life again. This is the evident explanation of the words: "With a strong cry and tears offering up prayers and supplications to Him that was able to save Him from death."
(He 5,7). Our Lord could not but know that He must die as He was already so near death, and He desired to be delivered from death in the sense only of not being held captive by death. In other words, He prayed for His speedy resurrection, and this prayer was readily granted, as He rose again triumphant on the third day. This interpretation of the passage of St. Paul proves beyond doubt that when our Lord said: "Into Thy hands I commend my Spirit," the word spirit is synonymous with life and not with the soul. Our Lord was not anxious about His soul, which He knew to be in safety, as it already enjoyed the Beatific Vision, and had beheld its God face to face from the moment of its creation, but He was anxious for His Body, which He foresaw would soon be deprived of life, and He prayed that His body might not long be kept in the sleep of death. This prayer was tenderly listened to and abundantly granted.

CHAPTER XX: The first fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the seventh Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.

According to the practice we have so far pursued, we will gather a few fruits from the consideration of the last word spoken by Christ on the Cross, and from His Death, which immediately followed. And first we will show the wisdom, the power, and the infinite charity of God from the very circumstance which seems attended with such weakness and folly. His power is clearly shown in this, that our Lord died whilst He was crying out with a loud voice. From this we conclude that had it been His will He need not have died, but He died because He willed. As a rule, people at the point of death gradually lose their strength and voice, and at the last gasp are not able to articulate. And so it was not without reason that the Centurion, on hearing such a loud cry proceed from the lips of Christ, Who had lost almost every drop of blood in His veins, exclaimed, "Indeed, this was the Son of God."
(Mt 27,54).

Christ is a mighty Lord, inasmuch as He showed His power even in His Death, not only by crying aloud with His last breath, but also by making the earth tremble, by splitting rocks asunder, by opening graves, and rending the veil of the Temple. We know, on the authority of St. Matthew, that all these things happened at the Death of Christ, and each and all of these events has its hidden meaning wherein is manifested His Divine wisdom. The earthquake and the splitting of the rocks showed that His Death and Passion would move men to penance, and would soften the hardest hearts. St. Luke gives this interpretation to these mysterious omens, for after having mentioned them he adds, that the Jews returned from the sight of the Crucifixion, "striking their breasts." (Lc 23,48). The opening of the graves foreshadowed the glorious resurrection of the dead, which was one of the results of the Death of Christ. The rending of the veil of the Temple, whereby the Holy of Holies could be seen, was a pledge that Heaven would be opened by the merits of His Death and Passion, and that all the predestined should there behold God face to face. Nor was His wisdom exhibited merely in these signs and wonders. It was exhibited also by producing life out of death, as was prefigured by Moses producing water from the rock, (Nb 20,11) and by the simile in which Christ compared Himself to a grain of wheat. (Jn 12,24). For as it is necessary for the seed to be crushed in order to produce the ear of corn, so by His Death on the Cross Christ enriched a countless multitude of all nations by the life of grace. St. Peter expresses the same idea when he speaks of Jesus Christ as "swallowing down death that we might be made heirs of life everlasting." (1P 3,22). As though he would say: The first man tasted the forbidden fruit and subjected all his posterity to death; the Second Man tasted the bitter fruit of death, and all who are born again in Him receive everlasting life. Lastly, His wisdom was manifested in the manner of His Death, as from that moment the Cross, than which previously nothing was more ignominious and disgraceful, became an emblem so dignified and glorious that even kings consider it an honour to wear it as an ornament. In her adoration of the Cross the Church sings--

"Sweet are the nails, and sweet the wood, That bears a weight so sweet and good."

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