Even though this is set out as a collection for meditations for each day in Lent, it would be used with great profit at any time of the year.
Each entry is very brief – and though light-on with words it is weighty with value! If you wanted to start about halfway through Lent, it would work well to do one meditation in the morning and another later the same day. Even three per day would be an alternative way to use this book. Or the proposed design of one per day over 39 days followed by entries for Palm Sunday, then every day in Holy Week, ending with one for Easter Sunday, would place you daily in the mind of the Lenten season, or be a useful aid for meditating on Our Lord’s Passion during every season.
To demonstrate how short yet inspiring and instructive the entries are, the entirety of a few example sections is here presented:
“First Day. ‘Being come to the place called Gethsemane, He said to His disciples, “Sit you here while I pray.”’ Jesus being overwhelmed with sorrow, has recourse to prayer. It is the magnet of the saints; they always find there, if not repose, at least courage and strength. He separates Himself, not without pain, from His beloved disciples, to pray in profound solitude. There He is to receive His sentence and submit to His Father’s will. Learn, O Christian soul, that the best kind of prayer is submission to God’s will. O my Saviour! I possess not the requisites of prayer; inspire me with the prayer to obtain them.”
“Fourth Day. ‘Couldst thou not watch one hour with Me?’ Judas watches; the enemies of Jesus are active, and the Apostles are asleep! Thus do we sleep in prayer; sleep in temptation; sleep in our evil habits; sleep in our most important duties. Why do you sleep when you should be watching over your passions, over your thoughts, your whole deportment? Watching to avoid evil, to do good – to save your soul. Lord, I know not how to answer this most just reproach. Confusion is my only excuse; silence my defense. I cast myself upon Thy mercy.”
“Twenty-fourth Day. ‘Jesus crowned with thorns.’ Why do His tears mingle with the blood gushing from His brow? Remember the sins which ought to have made you the scorn of all creatures, and they will tell you that He could not become your representative without being covered with confusion before God and man. There need be no longer on earth thorns to wound us if we render available the crown which encircles our Redeemer; take refuge under the shadow of these thorns to find security against temptation and repose in all our difficulties.”
As evident by their content and brevity, these daily entries are merely kickstarts for extended meditation, rather than just for reading without pausing and reflecting. Otherwise, the whole book could be read through in one or two sessions, which is what my nine-year-old son asked if he could do during his Holy Hours on Holy Thursday and Good Friday at the Altar of Repose in our local chapel.
A few Lents ago, I read each entry aloud to my children every morning, so we all had those thoughts to ponder for the rest of each day. Since they’re so short, it is suitable for even the youngest of children without their minds wandering (too much) and since they’re so rich in spiritual depth, yet beautifully simple at the same time, they’re suitable for all ages of Catholics in any walk of life.
If you need some extra motivation to utilise such a salutary book, consider these words of St. Alphonsus Liguori, “He who desires to go advancing in virtue and grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus. There is no practice more profitable for your sanctification than the frequent meditation on the sufferings of Christ.”
This book has an Imprimatur given in Baltimore in 1887 but I can’t find any mention of who authored it.
I will leave you with another consideration, this time from St. Albert the Great, “One gains more merit by meditating lovingly on the Passion than by scourging oneself most severely or fasting on bread and water every day of one’s life.”
God-willing we will all have a very blessed and fruitful Lent and be able to resonate with the thought for Easter Sunday given in this wonderful little book:
“’He is risen! He is not here!’ Consider the glory of the blessed body of Jesus, when reunited to His soul, free from all infirmity, its wounds changed into so many sources of light. The glory of the divinity shines forth from the tomb, from which He issues as sovereign Lord of life and death. He comes forth risen from weakness into power and strength, from the ignominy of His passion into honor and glory. So let it be said of you, ‘He is risen! He is not here!’ Risen from the tomb of sin, of evil habits, of indifference. Risen from forgetfulness of God, from uncharitableness, from self-indulgence.”