There is a tradition in the Church that compares the Passion of Christ to the Passion of His Church. This Lent as we approach Holy Week, let’s consider for a moment the last words of Jesus as He was dying on the Cross. We may find it fruitful to think of Our Lord’s last words, which He uttered at such great cost, as they relate to the history of the Church. Here is an example:
“Father, forgive them, for they know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) The First Word was spoken by Jesus as He was nailed to the Cross and raised up to the jeering mockery of His executioners and passersby. It can be applied to the earliest period of the Church, a time of severe persecution, as many early Christians followed their Master to death at the hands of anti-Christians.
“Amen, I say to you, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) This Second Word applies especially to the early ages of the Church as His beloved martyrs built His Holy Church by their sufferings united to His saving Passion and Death.
“Woman, behold thy son.” (John 19:26) The first part of the Third Word may be applied to the rise of the Marian Age, beginning with the phenomenon of the Rosary revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Dominic in 1214 and rapidly spreading throughout the Church, effectively counteracting heresies, winning battles, converting sinners and sanctifying saints. Although the rudiments of the rosary predated St. Dominic, his response to Our Lady’s command to preach the Rosary was what brought the Marian Age into full flower. Through the Rosary, Our Blessed Mother brought many millions of souls to Christ.
“Behold thy Mother.” (John 19:27) The second part of the Third Word is most appropriate to the latter times, when Our Lord has sent His Blessed Mother to warn us to repent and stop offending Him. At Fatima, Our Blessed Mother commanded renewed reparation and emphasized the importance of praying the Rosary. This command required an obedient response both from the hierarchical Church and from the laity. But sadly, it has been widely ignored. The opposite of passion is indifference and part of the message of Fatima is to make reparation for indifference to God’s commands. This post-Fatima period, the latter part of the Marian Age, is marked by widespread indifference to the Fatima message. It is during these times that we must work more than ever before to spread the message of Fatima, so that as many souls as possible are given the opportunity to come to Our Lady of the Rosary before the culmination of the Chastisement.
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46) The Fourth Word may signify the period of the Chastisement in which nations will be wiped from the face of the earth in a matter of seconds and millions will perish outright, with the survivors envying the dead. During this period without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Our Lady’s Rosary and Consecration to her Immaculate Heart will sustain the remnant of the elect.
“I thirst.” (John 19: 28) The Fifth Word may be applied to Christ’s reaching out to those suffering in the time of the Chastisement, offering them the opportunity to turn to Him and unite their sufferings with His for their salvation. It also applies to the time of peace following the Chastisement, during which many souls will be drawn to Christ through the reign of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“It is consummated.” (John 19:30) This Sixth Word may be applied to the period when the number of chosen souls is complete and the Antichrist deceives many.
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” (Luke 23:46) This final Word signifies the presumed victory of the Antichrist over the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, just before the triumphant, conclusive victory of Christ the King at the end of time, bringing forth the true glory of His Resurrected Mystical Body. Just at the moment that satan believes he is victorious over Christ, Jesus ransoms His own!
In short, during this time of the Passion of the Church, we do well to bear in mind that we follow this crucified Savior. His Passion is fearful to behold, but we follow and trust in His infinite mercy. We are Mary’s children after all and our place is at the foot of His cross.
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.