14 October 2015

The Rosary: The Crucifixion

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery is perhaps one of the most visual images of our faith. Everyone seems to know what a cross is, and most people have seen an artistic rendering of Crucifixion.  The image below is form Giotto's Life of Christ, as are many of the works used to illustrate this series.

When we see the Crucifixion, I don't know if we see it for what it really is: not only capital punishment, but ignominy.  Those condemned to death in the arena might die fighting. Those beheaded, like John Baptist, died quickly. Those left to rot in prison died slowly in the dark. Those crucified, however, were exposed to public and official ridicule, dying slowly through asphyxiation whilst fighting for every breath. We have no equivalent in the modern world: our executions take place quietly and behind closed doors.

This is Jesus sanctifying death. The death of Christ on the Cross is the supreme triumph of life.  "O life, how canst thou die?" We seeing on Friday night.  Life cannot die.  Breathing can be stopped, the heart can be stopped, but Zoe is for ever. All of life now - from conception, to birth, to the tomb - is an open door.  Death is no longer "the end" but the gateway to the fullness of life in God.  There is no fear.  There can be precious little sorrow. Jesus, by his Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection (for this Mystery is not the Last) has open for us the entrance to Eternal Life: we have only to walk through.

When praying this Mystery, I add an embolism such as

"...blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus; the Incarnate Word of God, crucified, dead, and buried. Holy Mary, Mother of God, &c...."

The verses below are taken from the Good Friday Matins and Vespers.


The Fifth Dolorous Mystery:
The Crucifixion and Death of Christ



LET us contemplate, in this Mystery, how Our Lord Jesus Christ, being come to Mount Calvary, was stripped of His clothes, and His hands and feet nailed to the cross, in the presence of His most afflicted Mother.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Through a tree Adam was led out of Paradise; but through the tree of the Cross the Thief made Paradise his home: for the former set aside his Maker’s commandment, while the latter, crucified with him, confessed the hidden God, crying out, ‘Remember me, O Lord, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The lawless bought the Maker of the Law from a disciple, and as a lawbreaker stood him before Pilate’s judgement seat, crying, ‘Crucify’ the one who gave them manna in the desert. But we, imitating the just Thief, cry with faith, ‘Remember us also, O Saviour, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Impious and lawless nation, why dost thou imagine a vain thing? Why hast thou condemned the life of all to death? O great marvel! That the Creator of the world, who loves mankind, is betrayed into the hand of transgressors and lifted up on a tree, that he may free the prisoners in Hell. Long-suffering Lord, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thy life-bearing side, gushing like a spring in Eden and giving drink to your Church, O Christ, is a spiritual Paradise, from thee dividing, as into four heads, into four Gospels, it waters the World, making creation glad and faithfully teaching the nations to worship thy Kingdom.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou wert crucified for my sake, becoming for me a source of forgiveness. Pierced in thy side, gushing forth for me streams of life. Transfixed by nails, that I, assured of the height of thy power by the depth of thy sufferings, might cry to thee, O Christ, giver of life, ‘Glory to thy Cross, O Saviour, glory to thy Passion!
Hail, Mary, &c.

All creation saw thy crucifixion, O Christ, and trembled. The foundations of the earth quaked with fear of thy might. The lamps of heaven hid themselves and the veil of the Temple was rent. The mountains quailed, and rocks were split, and with the faithful Thief we cry to thee, O Saviour, ‘Remember us in thy kingdom!'
Hail, Mary, &c.

All creation was struck with fear when it saw thee hanging on the Cross, O Christ; the sun was darkened and the foundations of the earth were shaken; all things suffering with thee, the Creator of all. All this thou didst endure willingly for us. Lord, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Lifted up on the Cross, destroying the power of death and as God wiping out the record against us, O Lord, only Lover of mankind, grant the repentance of the Thief also to us who worship in faith, Christ our God, and who cry to thee, ‘Remember us also, Saviour, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

O Christ, thy Mother, bearing thee in the flesh without seed, was truly Virgin and remained inviolate after child-birth. By her intercession, most merciful Master, to grant pardon of offences to those who ever cry, ‘Remember us also, Saviour, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When she saw thee, O Christ, the Creator and God of all, hanging on the Cross, she who bore thee without seed, cried bitterly: My Son, where has the beauty of thy form gone? I cannot bear to see thee unjustly crucified; hasten then, arise, that I too may see thy resurrection from the dead on the third day.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O HOLY Mary, Mother of God, as the body of thy beloved Son was for us stretched upon the cross may we offer up our souls and bodies to be crucified with Him, and our hearts to be pierced with grief at His most bitter Passion; and do thou, O most sorrowful Mother graciously vouchsafe to help us, by thine all-powerful intercession, to accomplish the work of our salvation. Amen.