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the Catholic poor in this country. It was his habit, whenever he woke in the night, to rise from his bed and kneel down to say :
Sancta Mater, istud agas, Do this for me, Mother blest,
Firmly fix within my breast,
Jesus with His Cross and wounds. He wished not to forget the watches of the Passion by night or by day.
L. Speaking of the manna, the Wise Man writes, that though it could not be destroyed by fire, yet being warmed with a little sunbeam, it presently melted away. He adds the reason for this prodigy : that it might be known to all that we ought to prevent the sun to bless Thee, O God, and adore Thee at the dawning of the light (Wisdom xvi.). Does not the remembrance of Jesus bowed down in His dungeon, with His chains and fetters upon Him, and His face disfigured, plead with us still more persuasively to prevent the sun and to bless and adore Him at the dawning of the light? The first streaks of the daybreak are messengers which come to us, as Martha came to Mary, and whisper gently: The Master is come and calleth thee-It is the hour for us to rise from sleep, and hasten to visit Jesus in His narrow prison on the altar, where we are reminded of all His wonderful works, and among the rest, of His condition in the dungeon at the dawning of the light.
O God, my God, to Thee do I watch at break of day (Psalm 1xii.).
M. Often we say to our Blessed Lord: “ De profundis ” -Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord, Lord, hear my voice : may Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
“Now, dear Lord, Thou art the Suppliant." "Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O man, My brother, child of My Father, Whom I have loved so well; hear My cry, let thine ears give heed to My pleading.
“Only remember Me: for I was stolen away during the night from the peaceful garden of My Mother, and
from the olive-trees; and here, without fault of Mine, was cast into this dungeon. Only remember Me, and do Me this kindness to put men, who are My masters, in mind, not to take Me out of this dungeon, but to remember Me.”
N. I am become like to a pelican in the wilderness. I am like a night-raven in the house. I have watched and am become as a sparrow all alone on the house-top. All the day long My enemies reproached Me, and they that formerly praised Me did swear against Me.
“ Attendite.” Let us stay yet a while to contemplate our Blessed Saviour all alone; not on the house-top, but in His deep and dark and loathsome dungeon; watching and praying - oh, so earnestly-for us; waiting for the dawn that He may go forth again to His work of redemption, desiring that the moments be abbreviated, that the chalice of His Blood may quickly pass from Him into our souls.
O. All alone! Yet, He says once more: I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.
I am not alone, because My Ever-Blessed Mother is with Me, watching and praying and suffering with Me.
I am not alone, because all My future disciples are with Me-a long-lived seed—who will from this hour remember Me and watch with Me.
amans Jesu mei. Oh, grant, most loving Heart of Jesus, that we may be of the number of those who watch with Thee and remember Thee."
P. He shall sit solitary and hold His peace, because He hath taken it up upon Himself (Lament. iii.).
Not one murmur, nor one complaint, escapes from the Heart of our Lord. He knew all things that were to come, when He offered Himself to the multitude in the Garden. He has carefully counted the cost; and of His own will hath taken it all upon Himself; because He loved me, and most freely and most willingly delivered Himself up for me.
Q. May the spectacle of Jesus bound and fettered cure
“ Fac cor
our souls of their cravings for undue liberty! May His sacred face, bruised and outraged, give us grace to abhor that sensual worship wickedly given to the wanton face, and wickedly coveted by the wanton face!
May the sacred eyes blindfolded obtain tears of true contrition for our eyes, and grace to turn them away that they may not see vanity! (Psalm cxviii.).
The torn and dishevelled hair of our Saviour has moved multitudes of Christian women to follow St. Peter's counsel : Whose adorning, let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, but the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit (ist Peter iii.).
Queen Esther had never contemplated the scenes of the Passion; nor did she know as well as we do how in the prison-house of Hell there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ; yet of her we read : Fearing the danger that was at hand, she had recourse to the Lord. And when she had laid away her royal apparel, she put on garments suitable for weeping and mourning; instead of divers precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body with fasts; and all the places in which before she was accustomed to rejoice, she filled with her torn hair. And she prayed to the Lord the God of Israel, saying : O my Lord, help me a desolate woman, and who have no other helper but Thee (Esther xiv.).
R. Sursum corda. Contemplate how the vigilant providence of the Eternal Father is all the while watching most carefully over His beloved Son, in Whom He is well pleased; and how He has given His angels a charge over Him. Wisdom forsook not the Just when He was sold : but delivered Him from sinners. She went down with Him into the pit. And in bands she left Him not till she brought Him the sceptre of the Kingdom, and power against those that oppressed Him; and showed them to be liars that had accused Him, and gave Him everlasting glory (Wisdom x.).
S. “O Lord Jesus, bound, deliver us poor sinners from our bonds.
“O Lord Jesus, waiting in the dungeon for the daydawn, make haste to help the expecting souls of Thy servants in Purgatory.
“O Lord Jesus, watching for us at the daybreak in Thy tabernacle, draw our waking thoughts to Thee."
As soon as it was day the Ancients of the people and the
Chief Priests and Scribes came together, and they brought
Him into their Council (St. Luke xxii.). And when morning was come all the Chief Priests and
Ancients of the people took council against Jesus, that
they might put Him to death (St. Matt. xxvii.). And straightway in the morning, the Chief Priests holding
a consultation with the Ancients and the Scribes, and the whole Council (St. Mark xv.).
A. The Chief Priests with the Ancients and the Scribes and the whole Council.
Here then we have, as the commentators teach us, a full meeting of the Great Council of the Sanhedrim. Those who are acquainted with Jewish law tell us that it was enjoined that in capital causes, when there was question of death, the whole Council must be assembled. The midnight meeting was on this count illegal; and also because it was held, contrary to law, during the night-time. All defects, therefore, are now to be rectified.
Messengers have been busy since the cock-crow. All have been warned that the business is most urgent, and that for many grave reasons a full attendance is necessary. One of the many reasons is, as has been said, that they wish to have a legal and valid sentence of death. Another, and still more urgent, is that they want to have such an imposing gathering of the important men of Jerusalem as shall overawe the Roman Governor.
B. The whole Council.
It is, however, taken for granted that some few who are, in secret, disciples of Jesus, or inclined to become so, are absent; either because as known partisans they were not summoned; or because, if summoned, they do not wish to take any part in the sacrilegious proceedings. Joseph of Arimathea is one of these: a Councillor, St. Lukt writes, a good and a just man (the same had not consented to their counsel and doings) (St. Luke xxiii.). These last words might perhaps imply that he was present in this Council. and in vain protested against the unjust sentence.
Nicodemus and Gamaliel also think as Joseph does.
We are told that before the coming of the Romans, when the Great Council of the Sanhedrim had authority to pronounce sentence of death, it was prescribed that for the trial of capital causes they must meet within the precincts of the Temple; but when the power of life and death was taken away from them, they no longer considered this solemnity necessary.
Some writers, however, think that even now, in the days of our Lord, they held their court for the trial of great criminals in a hall near the Temple ; and from the fact that Judas brought his money to the Chief Priests and Ancients and cast down the pieces of silver in the Temple, they conclude that the meeting of the Sanhedrim took place in this hall near the Temple.
Other commentators, however, are of opinion that the morning meeting is held in the same judgment-hall of the Palace of the Priests where the condemnation was pronounced the night before. This opinion we shall follow, as it seems to fit in well with the Gospel narrative, and what is related of Judas can, as we shall see, be reconciled with it.
As we reckon the first watch of the day from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and as the daybreak on this first Good Friday came a little earlier than 6 a.m., this Council in the early morning may, for convenience' sake, be joined on with the wicked work of the night.
C. The Chief Priests holding a consultation with the Ancients and the Scribes and the whole Council,