Night Of Love by John M. Haffert
Blood On The Steps
The Thorns
The Carrying Of The Cross
The Crucifixion
First Sorrowful Mystery: The Chosen Three
Why did Our Lord choose just three of the apostles to go aside with Him to suffer the night before He died?
Why did He choose the three who had seen Him transfigured on Tabor, and who were therefore most aware that He was God?
And did Our Lord not know that these three men would be asleep during the hour? Then what was the sense of inviting them to be with Him at all?
Like many of the mysteries of the Rosary, this is a mystery intended not so much for the moment when it happened as for all those subsequent moments in history when Christians finally would understand the meaning of what our Lord did, and would apply the mystery to their own lives---as we have done tonight in coming to be here, in this church, to be with Him.
Just a couple of hours before His agony, Christ had instituted the Blessed Sacrament. He had given the world the greatest testament of His Love. He had revealed the mystery of the Trinity. He had prayed that all men might be one as He and His Father were One. At the peak of this revelation, one of the apostles who had been with Him for three whole years of His teachings, suddenly said: "Show us the Father, and then we will believe." Almost in exasperation the loving Master exclaimed in return: "Phillip, have I been with you so long and you do not know that when you see Me, you see the Father also?"
We do not know why it was Peter, James, and John whom He invited aside with Him as He went into the Garden to pray. He knew that before this very night was over, Peter would deny Him, and that even James, with the others, would flee. He could have endured the agony alone. He could have anticipated His Passion alone. Indeed, in the end, this is what He had to do. But He chose three to be with Him. And He has chosen us tonight.
He did not want to be alone.
He even came and woke them up, even though He knew that though they were willing in spirit, they were just too tired to stay awake, and He lamented to them: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?"
Now, we are the chosen ones. We are here tonight---chosen by a mysterious call which we ourselves cannot quite define. Certainly there were many temptations to stay away. And perhaps five times as many as the number who are here received the call---but ultimately we remain "the chosen ones."
Those three apostles whom Our Lord took with Him fell asleep.
But He knew that 2000 years later there would be this night, and that others whom He would draw aside, finally, in the perspective of history, would be able to understand His lament: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?"---and in a burst of heroic love would say: "Not one hour, dear Lord, but the night!"
Even so, the spirit is willing but the flesh may be weak. During the course of the night our attention may wander. We may even be tempted to leave, to give up.
But we know much that Peter, James and John did not know. We know how much Christ wants us with Him. We know He is truly present here in our midst...body, blood, soul and divinity: that He has come forth from this monstrance in that Host to Saint Margaret Mary with His Heart flaming with love to appeal for our presence here. Furthermore, He sent His Mother to Fatima to tell us that the cause of wars in the world, the cause of the spread of atheistic communism, can be rooted out only in one way: by prayer and sacrifice.
For that reason Our Lady came at Fatima to plead with us for sacrifices like this night.
Showing us a vision of hell, She said: "So many souls are lost because there is no one to pray and to make sacrifice for them." She appealed to all of us, at least to us who understand, to step aside from our daily lives, from the chores and the routine of our daily lives, to pray, to make sacrifice, to repair for the sins of the world.
That is why we are here tonight.
We hear not only the plea of Christ in the Garden two thousand years ago, but we hear the plea of Our Lady on a mountain today: "So many souls are lost because there is no one to pray and to make sacrifice for them."
So now, in these ten Hail Marys, as we witness the agony of Christ in the modern world mirrored in the numberless sins taking place tonight in this city and throughout the world, we plead to Our Lady to help us with this hour of prayer and sacrifice.
With each hail Mary we remind Her of Her divine Motherhood, we remind Her that we are poor sinners in need of Her prayers, and we plead with Her to lend us Her Immaculate Heart for just this one hour so that we may, in the most perfect way, respond to the thought that out of all the thousands of persons in this area, we few are chosen to be here, because we want to console our Savior and make reparations for our sins and those of our neighbors.
Optional - Decade Prayer to the Father
1) Dear Father, in His agony in the garden Jesus cried out: "Not My Will but Thine be done!" O good Father, that I may ever accomplish Your Holy Will! Thy kingdom come! Thy Will be done!
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Second Sorrowful Mystery: Blood On The Steps
The apostles in the Garden could not stay awake, yet Our Lord was no less human than they, and he had a far busier and more difficult day. Then while they slept, He went through the exhausting agony that was so terrible that it caused blood to ooze from His pores with perspiration.
While they could not watch one hour with Him, He was to spend his entire night in agony...yes, not only the entire night, but all the rest of the day until He was to die in agony!
After the first agony and the kiss of Judas, Our Lord was dragged to Annas and Caiaphas. He admitted that He claimed to be God and the high priest sentenced Him to death. But He still was not given over to sleep. He was turned over to the soldiers, who made sport of Him and finally tied a rope under His armpits and lowered Him into the security prison across the court from Pilate's house.
After Mary's womb, this prison became the world's first tabernacle. It is only a good stone's throw from the very room where Our Lord instituted the Blessed Sacrament, and here in prayer Our Lord spent the last minutes of that terrible night before again He was pulled forth and dragged down Mount Zion, around the temple and into the courtyard of the Fortress Antonia, where the emissaries of the high priest called upon Pilate to ratify their judgment and sign the order of execution.
Some of us were tempted not to make this hour of prayer and reparation. Some may have thought of coming just for the Mass, and of going back later to their comfortable beds. But now with what joy we anticipate spending this night with Our Lord in memory of that night which He spent not in a comfortable church, in the presence of those He loved but in hostile hands and destined for the worst torture man has ever known, culminating in the worst death man could conceive.
Was it not enough that He had already endured the agony of the Garden and that He must endure the agony of the Cross? Was it not enough that He had already spent the entire night in prayer and sacrifice?
No. His love was too great to permit the word "enough." He willed to endure so much suffering that no one, in any age, could ever say that man had known or even imagined a greater love. He was to give not only His night, not only His life, but His utmost limit of suffering.
So, we hear the terrible judgment of Pilate: "Scourge Him."
Many men have died under the scourging. Pilate thought that it would be the limit of suffering which might deter His persecutors from wanting to crucify a just man.
So badly torn was the sensitive body of this perfect Man that more than an hour after scourging, when Pilate still found that he could not escape the pressure of the mob and condemned Him to take the cross, Blood dripped down His garments onto the steps as He walked from the balcony of the Fortress down to the courtyard where the cross was waiting.
Christians of the first century marveled that those drops of Blood spilled upon the steps of the Fortress had permeated the stone and did not wash or wear away. When St. Helena came to the Holy Land in search of the holy places, just a few generations later, she found that Christians in the Holy City had all but forgotten where the Cross had been hidden, but were revering those twenty-eight steps of the Fortress Antonia where the drops of Blood were still to be seen.
So Helena had those great blocks of stone taken one by one, loaded on a ship, and brought to Rome where she built a special church just across from the Lateran Palace which had been given to the Pope as the first public center of the Catholic Church.
To this day we can see the Blood on the steps.
Why would Our Lord want me so vividly to remember this bloodshed other than that He would want me to be here tonight so that this Blood of the scourging will not have been shed in vain?
Is this not, too, why Our Lady came at Fatima showing Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart? Is this not why She pleaded with me: "So many Souls are lost because there is no one to pray and make sacrifice for them?"
Most of the world has forgotten the Blood on the steps. Most of the world has forgotten the Passion of Christ and the meaning of suffering in the world. Most of the world has forgotten that souls are falling into hell "like leaves from the trees in autumn," as St. Theresa said: because there is no one to pray and to make sacrifices that they may have the grace of final contrition.
I now turn to Our Lady in these ten Hail Mary's and plead with Her to give me the understanding of the terrible Passion of Christ, the Christ in whose presence I kneel at this moment and the flame of whose love I feel searing my heart.
I ask Her in these ten Hail Marys to please lend me Her own Immaculate Heart that I may worthily spend this night in union with the night of Christ's Passion and may fulfill the special calling of being one of the few taken aside from the world to participate in this hour of love.
Optional - Decade Prayer to the Father
2) Father, we are appalled to see Your Divine Son bound and scourged, as He is "bound" in our tabernacle as a Prisoner of Love, scourged by our indifference and even by sacrilege. Grant, through the intercession of Our Lady, that we may console our Prisoner of Love!
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Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Thorns
Pilate was not joking when he said to Our Lord: "Are you a King."
There was something regal about Christ, and Pilate, a man of authority, recognized it.
The soldiers to whom Pilate had given Christ for scourging also recognized this regality, this kingliness. It disturbed them. The only way they knew how to tolerate it was to mock it.
They blindfolded Him so that they could not look into those regal eyes, and then they put a purple rag around His shoulders, a reed in His hands for a scepter and thrust a cruel crown of thorns upon His head.
This crown of thorns has become one of the most important symbols of the Passion of Christ. It symbolizes the mockery of His kingship.
Is that why Our Lady, when she appeared at Fatima, showed the crown of thorns around her Immaculate Heart?
The most widespread, and in a sense the most terrible sin of our time, is the mockery and neglect of Christ, our King. Not so much by those who do not know and do not believe, but by those who should know and should believe. That is the main reason we are here tonight. We are here to make reparation for all those who are not here.
We are here to make reparation for all those who pass by Our Lord truly present in churches in almost every city and town around the world. We are here to make reparation for those who live their entire lives without once turning their heads to acknowledge His authority.
For what greater sin could be committed against a person of authority than to be ignored?
When we watch a television program and see people dying before our eyes in these dramas, how often do we hear them invoke the name of God? As we see all the world bustling around us, how often do we see it bending its knee to its Creator? Is this not truly the great sin of our time, the sin of the crown of thorns, the sin of mockery?
A minister released from a Communist prison in Rumania said that the greatest torture endured by Christians in the camp was not the physical torture as much as the mockery. He described how four Christians were tied to crosses in a compound of over a hundred prisoners, and other prisoners half mad with hunger and suffering were forced to void themselves upon the faces and bodies of those ties to the crosses. Then the crosses were raised and all in the prison were told, "There is your Christ, adore Him! He brings you fragrances from heaven!"
He told of even far more terrible things which we fear to mention, and that there were things yet more terrible which he himself did not have the courage to repeat.
This kind of mockery we can understand. It is the mockery of those who know, and who hate.
But what about the mockery of those who know and who don't care? If the Holy Father, or the President of the United States, or our bishop were standing in front of this church looking out upon you, ready to have each of you come up and shake his hand, what an affront it would be if each person got up and simply turned and walked passed him without a nod!
Yet daily this kind of effrontery is offered to Christ in churches, in towns, in cities, in every part of the world.
Will this night be long enough for us to make reparation? How few we are who have come to tell Our Lord that we love Him, that we recognize His Kingship, that we want to lift away the crown of thorns and place upon Him instead, the true crown of the King of Kings, a crown which only our love can fashion.
Certainly, we are not worthy to be here. Certainly we have not a love great enough to fashion this crown for our King. So we turn now with all the fervor of our hearts to Our Mother, who came to Fatima with Her Immaculate Heart surrounded by the crown of thorns. We plead with Her in these ten Hail Marys to send us Her Immaculate Heart that with it we may reach such a state of love in the course of this night that for at least this brief moment, Our Lord may receive the crown of love His own love deserves.
Optional - Decade Prayer to the Father
3) Father, they mocked the kingship of Your Divine Son with a crown of thorns. We affirm His kingship! May He reign in our lives! Thy Kingdom come!
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Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
Our Lord carried the cross from the Fortress Antonia in front of the great Temple, across the entire city of Jerusalem.
About half the distance was downhill from the Fortress and the rest was up. He carried the beam, despite His entire night without sleep and all the tortures to which He had been subjected, all the way from the Fortress to the low point of the journey almost half way to Calvary. There He fell as He turned a corner, and there Our Lady saw Him.
The crowd was so dense that She could not get closer. But about twenty yards from where He fell, He passed so closely that She could almost have embraced Him, were it not for the soldiers.
How can we imagine the emotion that filled the heart of Mary as She saw Her Divine Son; thirty-three years of age, His face disfigured with the Blood from the crown of thorns, His cloak stained through with the Blood of the scourging. His whole weakened body bent under the weight of the beam, and the street filled with the noises and abuse, and the hatred of His enemies?
We won't try to imagine the love and sympathy which filled the heart of this purest and most loving of all mothers. We cannot.
But at least we can vaguely understand why She has come so urgently in our own times, again and again, to plead with us for prayer for the conversion of sinners. We can understand why She has obtained from God, in our own time, a miracle on the mountain of Fatima at a predicted time and place so that the whole world might believe and there might be at least a few who would come to spend a night like this in reparation and sacrifice, in prayer for the conversion of sinners, that the suffering witnessed that day in that street would not have been in vain.
Let us notice something else.
From this moment there was a radical change in Our Lord's Passion. It would seem that He was bent upon enduring everything possible, with no alleviation whatever.
But from the moment His eyes met the eyes of His mother, three things happened in rapid succession. First, the soldiers took the beam from His shoulders and placed it upon those of a farmer; next a woman came forth to wipe His blood-stained face; and then a whole group were found weeping for Him just before He stumbled and fell through the gate in the very shadow of the rock upon which He would die. It would seem as if His mother, who obtained from Him at Cana a miracle before His time had come, in hat one glance on the Via Dolorosa, obtained from Him and the Father alleviation of His Passion.
So now I turn to my Mother in these next ten Hail Marys and plead with Her to make me another Simon of Cyrene, and to give us more persons like those here at this vigil, persons willing to take the cross from the shoulders of Christ and make reparation for sinners. I plead with Her in these ten Hail Marys to help me, at least during this night, to be another Veronica. With each passing moment of these night hours, I offer to Christ the towel of my love, asking Him to impress upon it the Image of Himself, not that I may be rewarded for being here, but that I may never forget the loving exchange that takes place between my heart and His Heart during this sacred night.
Finally, I ask Her to give me the tears of compassion, and to understand His admiration that I weep not just for the suffering that I witness, but that I weep for the sins that cause it. I ask Her to give me the true sense of repentance for my own sins, a true sense of horror for the evil of sin, and to lend me Her Immaculate heart that I may, at least during this night make reparation to my Jesus, my Savior, my Love.
Optional - Decade Prayer to the Father
4) Father, we believe that Calvary is present at every Mass. To assist well at our next Mass we wish to follow in the footsteps of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary on the road to Calvary where, by His death, Jesus showed us that You are Love.
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Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
What would it have been like to have been at the foot of the Cross when Our Lord died?
Have I ever envied John, or Mary Magdalen, or even the good thief, or even the Roman soldier who thrust the lance into Our Lord's dead body and who was forced to exclaim: "Indeed this was the Son of God!"?
Well, in a few moments, I will actually be present at Calvary. This is what the Sacrifice of the Mass means in the deepest sense. In just a few moments, I will be participating in the Mass of the Sacred Heart.
To God all things and all points of time are continually present. All events of history are to Him like a long parade seen from a high place. Someone watching a parade from street level can see only the small part of the parade directly in front and to the right and left of him. But a person on a very high building can look down and see perhaps the beginning and the end of the parade, as well as what is passing directly below. The events of history, in time, are like this to God.
So, when the priest says on the altar, "This is My Body," and then over the wine says, "This is my Blood," it is as though I, too, were suddenly spirited to a very high place and were able to see that I am present at Calvary.
But what a poor comparison! Because I am not spirited away at all. Calvary is brought here to me! Have I ever truly understood the Mass in this way? Or have I only looked upon the Mass as the means by which Christ comes in our midst? Our Lord said: "If I be lifted above the ground, I will draw all things to Myself."
The Evangelist tells us that by this He meant the manner in which He would die, and that through this terrible death of crucifixion, through hours of culminating agony after the world's first all-night vigil, the gates of heaven would be open for all time. Souls in Limbo would suddenly see God for the first time after centuries of privation. The forces of Satan would be greatly diminished, and ultimately there would come a day when enough people would make reparation for others. Graces, obtained by vigils like this, would flow upon the world, opening the eyes of many in darkness to the spiritual Truth which alone can make possible the great peace and unity of all men, even as Christ Himself is One with the Father. Not this night, nor all the nights of my life, nor all the waking minutes of my life would be enough to understand this mystery.
From the moment I hear the sound of the hammer upon the nails; from the moment I see Our Lord stretched upon the cross and see His every muscle tensed to take the weight from His chest that He may live those hours of His seven last words; surely through the sympathetic agony of Mary, the anguish of John, the grief of Magdalen, the sudden awesome faith of the dying thief., I must realize above all that this is a sacrifice for me, me, me. I have been told that if I were the only human being in the world, Our Lord would have done this for me.
Now, in a few moments in this very church, through the Sacrifice of the Mass, I am going to be present there, really and truly. I can speak to Our Lord during the moment of consecration and in the minutes that follow, exactly as I would have spoken to Him were I in the place of the thief, in the place of John, or---O heavenly thought---in the place of His own Blessed Mother.
I have come here tonight to make reparation because Our Lord came out of the monstrance in a chapel in France and told St. Margaret Mary that there were so few to love Him in the Sacrament of His Love. He pleaded with her for hours of reparation before Him, especially on this very night. But in those days an evening Mass was not permitted.
Now I am living in a time when I can be present at Calvary tonight to honor Our Lord's Sacred Heart for the first Friday, and then I can climax my all-night vigil by being present again at Calvary in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, only a few hours later. How fortunate I am to live in this time, when during this single night of reparation I can have the opportunity of being twice present at Calvary? For if I am to make reparation for sin, how better can I do it than sharing with the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the foot of the Cross?
A holy man once said that if we had but one drop of the love that filled the heart of Mary as She stood at the foot of the Cross, we would be lost in an ocean of love. Therefore, dearest Mother, reminding You that it is because of Your appeal to me at Fatima that I have come here tonight. I plead with You to lend me Your Immaculate Heart. St. Grignon says that You have the key to the cellar of Divine Love.
Open these doors, dearest Mother, to so transform my heart with love that, as I am about to assist at this Holy Mass, Our Lord may behold not me, but You---His loving Mother---and hear only Your words as I say to Him that I desire the conversion of sinners. I desire that the Blood that He has shed upon Calvary shall not have been shed in vain, and that soon there may be such an unleashing of grace and love upon the world, that bigotry, and ignorance, and hatred, and sinfulness that seems to surround us will be swept away in that ocean of grace.
Optional - Decade Prayer to the Father
5) The night before He died He said: "When you see Me, you see the Father." Dying He said: "Into Your Hands I commit My Spirit." O good Father, in the passion of Jesus may we recognize the greatness of Your love and mercy. By the intercession of the sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary may many souls be saved by this prayer and that You be honored and loved in all the world!
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Night Of Love by John M. Haffert
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