The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 22:

Things themselves serve to regulate our senses,
passing to meditation on the incarnate Word
in the mysteries of his life and of his passion

I showed you above how we can elevate the mind from the things we sense to the contemplation of divinity. Now you will learn a way to take these same things as a starting point for meditation on the incarnate Word, considering the most holy mysteries of his life and of his passion.

Everything in the universe can serve this aim. If, as I said above, you consider in these things the most high God as the first cause that gave them all of their being, their beauty and their superiority, then pass from this to consider how great and immense is their goodness. Even though he be the sole principle and Lord of everything created, he desired to lower himself to such a level as to make himself man, to suffer and die for mankind, allowing that men themselves take up weapons against him in order to crucify him. In particular, many things after this bring before the eyes of our minds these holy mysteries, such as weapons, ropes, whips, columns, thorns, reeds, nails, hammers, and others that were instruments of his passion.

Poor housing reminds us of the stable and the manger of the Lord. When it rains, that divine and bloody rain comes to mind: dripping from his most holy body, it irrigated the land of the garden. The stones we see represent those that split at the moment of his death; the ground will suggest the earthquake that occurred; the sun, those shadows that obscured it. (Matthew 27.51; Mark 15.38; Luke 23.44) Seeing the waters, we remember those that flowed from his most holy side (John 19.34). I speak in this same manner about other similar things.

Tasting wine or other drinks, recall the vinegar and gall of your Lord (John 19.29). If sweet aromas allure you, hurry with your mind to the stench of corpses he smelled on Calvary. When you dress, remember that the eternal Word clothed himself with human flesh in order to clothe you with his divinity; when you undress, think of your Christ stripped in order to be whipped and nailed to a cross for you. Hearing the noises and hubbub of the crowds, remember those abominable words that thundered in his ears: "Crucify him, crucify him; take him away, take him away" (John 19.6). Every stroke of the clock should remind you of that wearisome heartbeat that your Jesus was pleased to hear when he began to fear his approaching passion and death in the garden; or else your should seem to hear those harsh blows by which he was nailed to the cross.

On every occasion that sadness and sorrows present themselves to you — be they your own, or those of another — think that they are as nothing in comparison to the unspeakable anguish that pierced and afflicted both body and soul of your Lord.

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