« EdellinenJatka »
sider themselves most fortunate if their king or their master is obliged by an accident to ask a service of them.
“ Thou art, Lord Jesus, sweet and mild (Psalm lxxxv.), gracious and of much compassion (Jonas iv.). Who makest Thyself perfectly poor in order that Thou mayest be obliged to beg from us.”
C. A large dining-room furnished. When He came on earth to be our companion and our model, He began life in a stable, and through life endured discomfort and poverty in order to win us to poverty and lowliness. But this night He is to begin His Eucharistic Life, and in this new existence His object is not so much to be the model of our outward life as to be our Emmanuel : that is, our God with us; our Sacrifice, our food, our support, our own beloved Jesus. And in this new and most strange existence He desires to be well treated, most generously treated by
He is glad if we give Him the very best that we have. For here He can be rich without scandalising us. He can be rich and yet make us love poverty. He therefore arranges to begin His Eucharistic Life in a spacious and well-furnished chamber; and His grateful Heart will never forget it if we love the beauty of His house, and do our best to make His home on earth in every way suitable and becoming. Hence St. Thomas of Aquin's teaching, which he derived from the spirit of Holy Church, that around the altar of the Blessed Sacrament, the beauty of the sanctuary, the splendour of the services, the sweetness and majesty of the sacred anthems should all show that the grateful hearts of the faithful wish to go as far as human skill can go, in order to do honour to the adorable Mysteries.
Quantum potes tantum aude, Dare all thou canst through all thy Quia major omni laude,
days, Nec laudare sufficis.
And still seek new and worthier lays,
For aye He soars beyond thy praise. D. And if it is His wish to begin His Eucharistic Life in a large and well-furnished Guest-chamber, much more does He desire in Holy Communion to find in our souls a guest-chamber very clean and seemly and well-adorned. For then will He be able to pour out blessings, as He did in the house of Zacheus, so that “our souls may be filled with grace and a pledge of future glory be given to us". If not hindered, He will surely say to us in that hour : Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.
" Who will give water to my head and a fountain of tears to my eyes ? and I will weep day and night (Jeremias ix. I), because in the years gone by I have not prepared a worthy guest-chamber for my Lord in the hour of my visitation.”
JERUSALEM. THE CENACULUM.
I. To reach Jerusalem more quickly, Peter and John would naturally choose the short, rough road over Mount Olivet; but when they arrived at Gethsemani they would be at a loss whether to make for a northern or a southern gate. As, therefore, our Blessed Saviour knew that the Conaculum, for the use of which He was begging, was situated at the south-western corner of the city, He no doubt directed His two Apostles to a southern gate, where the water-carrier would naturally be.
The site of the Cenaculum is now outside the more modern walls raised after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Emperor Adrian. But at the time of this Pasch the Supper-room stood within the city; and from the Cænaculum to the palace of the Priests, the distance was probably not more than about two hundred yards. No vestige remains at present of the room where the Last Supper was held. A church was built upon the spot by St. Helen, and afterwards destroyed by the Mahometans. Another church was erected on the site by the Crusaders, but that also has disappeared. The greater part of the ground formerly occupied by those Churches is now desecrated by a Turkish Mosque. A large upper chamber is still visited, and called the Conaculum. It is supposed to stand on the site of the Guest-room in which our Saviour celebrated the Pasch. It is about forty feet in length, and resembling somewhat a small nave and aisle, separated from one another by a row of pillars. This chamber is in the possession of the Mahometans, and used by them for some religious purposes.
Christians are liable to meet with much rudeness there ; and are always required to pay a good entrance-fee. In an inner room they are allowed to look through a window at what is called the Tomb of David. This Tomb of David, so called, is for the Jewish population and for travellers not Catholics, the principal feature of the building, which is therefore known better as the Tomb of David than as the Cænaculum. There seems, however, to be great reason to doubt whether any Tomb of David ever existed there. Under the upper Chamber now called the Conaculum, there is on the ground-floor a harem, where Mahometan widows and other women live.
In this most sacred spot, as in so many others, faithful hearts are saddened by the abomination of desolation, but we are allowed to hope that the other words of Daniel do not apply to this most sacred sanctuary: And the desolation shall continue even to the consummation and to the end. It is said that the Turkish Government never consent to make over to Christians any site where there has been a mosque for their own religion; but experience has proved that money has a wonderful power over the Sultans and their Ministers. If alms were abundant, many holy sites could still be rescued from desecration.
II. And the disciples (Peter and John) did as our Lord appointed them, and they prepared the Pasch.
The Law prescribed : On the tenth day of the month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses. And you shall keep it till the fourteenth day of the month. The lamb then ought to have been purchased on the Palm Sunday. Had the Apostles on that day made the purchase ? Or may we assume that the good man who had the Guest-room prepared was also inspired to purchase the lamb on the day appointed and have it ready ? It is said that his house was very large, and that he was in the habit of entertaining pilgrims who wished to celebrate the Pasch. One writer who collects from ancient sources states that the Guest-chamber had been prepared, by desire, for King Herod, but that the King had altered his plans, and did not
III. Besides the immolation of the lamb, other rites were prescribed, and therefore there were other things to be provided.
Thus shall you eat it.
Some commentators think that many of these prescribed ceremonies had fallen into disuse. We are allowed, however, in contemplation to prefer the opinion of other learned interpreters who take for granted that all that had been prescribed was faithfully observed at this last and most solemn celebration of the ancient Pasch. The disciples commissioned would therefore see that the girdles, shoes, staves, and all else required, were in
readiness. The devout owner of the house had probably taken care to have all that was wanted.
IV. Again, some commentators are of opinion that all the lambs were slain by the Priests in the Temple, and then carried to the different houses. But others, and among them Father à Lapide, one of the most esteemed interpreters of the Holy Books, takes for granted that on this point the Paschal lamb was an exception to all other victims, and was immolated in each home by the head of the family. This seems more in accordance with the ordinance in Exodus xii. : You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. The killing of the lamb would seem to be an important part of the sacrifice, and therefore included in what the whole multitude of the children of Israel were to do. Add to this, that it seems difficult to understand how the Priests could kill such a number of lambs as would be required for all the families in Jerusalem at a time when such multitudes of visitors were assembled there.
And if, moreover, the ceremony of sprinkling the blood was, as some of the best commentators think, still observed, this would add considerably to the difficulty, as the blood would have to be carried from the Temple to each house. There does not seem to be any reason why we may not in contemplation adopt the opinion of those who think that our Blessed Saviour was present when the lamb was slain.
One argument indeed against this view might be drawn from St. Mark's words: And when evening was come, He cometh with the Twelve
But these words clearly do not mean that He then arrived at Jerusalem, for two of the Twelve were already in Jerusalem. St. Mark's meaning probably is, that when the sunset was come He went with the Twelve into the large Guest-chamber. And so St. Matthew writes: When it was evening He sat down with His twelve disciples. St. Luke: When the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. He may, therefore, have been earlier in Jerusalem, and witnessed the killing of the lamb.
THE HALL OR VESTIBULE OF THE CENACULUM.
A. It is supposed by some that our Lord Himself drew the first blood of the Paschal lamb. If so, as they bring towards Him this lamb, a yearling without spot or blemish, a meek lamb (Jeremias xi.) that makes no resistance, because it knows not that men had devised counsels against it, and that it is about to be made a victim, our Blessed Saviour's tender Heart understands full well the pitiful ceremonial.
1 Before commencing contemplations on the Watches of the Sacred Passion, it may be very useful once more to read carefully St. Ignatius' method of contemplating the scenes of our Lord's Life and of His Passion, as explained in c. i., p. 9:
B. In years gone by, when at Nazareth He was explaining to His Blessed Mother in the Sacred Books the things that were concerning Him, her heart was no doubt throbbing within her as she listened to words like those of Jeremias : And I was as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim, and I knew not that they had devised counsels against Me, saying : Let us put wood on His bread, and cut Him off from the land of the living, and let His name be remembered no more.
And again the words of Isaias: He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and shall not open His mouth (c. liii.).
To His Sacred Heart, then, and to the heart of His Blessed Mother who, with the devout women, is about to celebrate the Pasch in another apartment, the lamb meek and without spot is a most vivid picture of what is coming. We must then, as St. Ignatius teaches, try in contemplation to read the thoughts of Jesus and of Holy Mary, and, if so disposed, speak to them in colloquies.
"O Lamb of God, meek and innocent, Who takest away the sins of the world, blot out those iniquities which blind me and harden my heart, and hinder me from realising that Thou art going to death because Thou hast loved me and delivered (Thyself) up for me.”
Eia Mater, fons amoris,
Loving Mother, hear my prayer,
1 Wood on His bread. They sometimes mixed the pounded wood of the poisonous yew-tree with food when they wished to kill by poisoning.