Good Friday, Jesus continues His steady march toward death, bringing us ever closer to forgiveness and new life. On the eve of His suffering, Holy Thursday, Jesus had celebrated the Passover with His disciples, and then taken Peter, James, and John with Him to the garden of Gethsemane. There, He prayed in agony until His arrest.
Jesus has been tried and condemned to death. He has been mocked and painfully scourged. He has endured the humiliation of a mock coronation, designed to make Him less than human, but only succeeding in elevating His divinity. He has carried our burdens on the long way of pain to Golgotha.
And then Our Lord was crucified. The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken,"37and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced." (John 19: 28-37)
Seven Last Words of Christ, which has taken me through the moments of His crucifixion. And I have addressed the pain, the sorrow, the torture, and the agony in those posts, all portions of the crucifixion that can not be forgotten. As I write this post, I feel it nearly impossible to summarize my thoughts, but feel drawn not to the sadness of the cross, but to the gift that it holds for each of us.
Jesus, in the moments leading up to His death—a death which He clearly died for us—is still thinking of others. He comforts His mother and the disciple whom He loved, he offers redemption to the “good thief,” He draws us all to Himself in His suffering, reaching into the darkest void of sin and death, and converting it to an unending well of grace. In His death, Jesus creates a new world, a reborn world, a world where sin no longer has the power it usurped in the Garden of Eden.
And as the world is reborn, so, too are we. We are freed from the burdens of sin that we carry in our own personal Via Delarosa. We need only look within ourselves, contemplating our own suffering, and we see the joyful sacrifice of the Lord on the cross—He who suffered for us, did so willingly, freely, joyfully. He ransomed us from slavery.
He set us free.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."