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CHAPTER V

OF PATIENT ENDURANCE

The third point is patient endurance. We should mark this point carefully, for it adorned Christ our Bridegroom during all His life. For His sufferings began very early, as soon as He was born; they began with poverty and cold. Then He was circumcised and shed His blood; He was driven to a strange country; He served the lord Joseph and His mother; He suffered hunger and thirst, shame and contempt, the vile words and works of the Jews. He fasted, He watched, and He was tempted by the devil. He was subject to all men; He wandered from country to country, from town to town, with much labour and great zeal, that He might preach the Gospel.

At last He was taken prisoner by the Jews, who were His enemies, though He was their friend. He was betrayed, mocked and insulted, scourged and buffetted, and condemned by false witness. He bore His cross with great pains up to the highest point of the land. He was stripped stark naked. So fair a body neither man nor woman ever saw so cruelly ill-used. He suffered shame, and anguish, and cold, before all the world: for He was naked, and it was cold, and a searching wind cut into His wounds. He was nailed to the wood of the cross with blunt nails, and so stretched out that His veins were torn asunder. He was lifted up and then flung down, and because of the blow His wounds began to bleed again. His head was crowned with thorns; His ears heard the Jews cry in their fury: Crucify Him, Crucify Him, with many other infamous words. His eyes saw the hardness and malice of the Jews, and the anguish of His mother. And His eyes overflowed with the bitterness of sorrow and death; His nose smelt the filth which the Jews spat out of their mouths into His face; His mouth and tongue dripped with vinegar mingled with gall, and every sensitive part of His body had been wounded by the scourge.

Christ our Bridegroom, wounded to the death, forsaken of God and of all creatures, dying on the cross, hanging like a log for which no one cared, save Mary, His poor mother, who could not help Him!

Christ also suffered spiritually, in His soul, because of the hardened hearts of the Jews and of those who were putting Him to death; for whatever signs and wonders they saw, they remained in their wickedness. And He suffered because of their corruption and because of the vengeance for His death; for He knew that God would avenge it on them, body and soul. Also He suffered from the distress and anguish of His mother and His disciples, who were in great affliction. And He suffered still more, because His death would be of no profit to so many men, and because of the ingratitude of man and because of the false oaths which many would swear, reviling and blaspheming Him Who had died out of love for us all. And also His bodily nature and His lower reason suffered, because God had withdrawn the inflow of His grace and of His consolations, and had left them alone in such distress. And of this Christ complained, exclaiming: My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? But as to all His sufferings our Lover was silent; and cried to His Father saying: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And Christ was heard of His Father because of His reverence; for those who acted from ignorance were soon afterwards converted.

These then were Christ’s inward virtues: humility, charity, and patient endurance. These three virtues Christ our Bridegroom practised during all His life, and He died with them, and paid our debt according to justice. And of His generosity He has opened His side. Thence flow forth the rivers of well-being and the sacraments of bliss. And He has ascended in power, and sits at the right hand of the Father, and reigns in eternity.

This is the first coming of our Bridegroom, and it is wholly past.

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