Thursday's Lenten Reflection, a prayerful one
Father Rodrigues is not physically tortured. His torture is psychological - the ruler will let the people go if Rodrigues apostatizes. To do this, he must stamp his foot on the face of Christ, a minimal act, and it's whispered in his ear by the Japanese interpreter, "you don't have to mean it...." Five people die, then more, because Rodrigues refuses to put his foot on the face of Christ. They know the apostacy of a foreign priest means more than of one of their own. To break him will be to break the will of the community he has guided.
Lord, that which I do, I do only to find You. May I find You after I have completed it! - Blessed Angela of FolignoRodrigues complains about the snoring in the cell next to him - no, it is not snoring, but the moaning of those being hung upside down in the pit, those who will be released if only he places his foot on the fumie. But he cannot bear to do so.
'Lord, since long, long ago, innumerable times I have thought of your face....Whenever I prayed at night your face appeared before me; when I was alone I thought of your face imparting a blessing; when I was captured your face as it appeared when you carried your cross gave me life. This face is deeply ingrained in my soul - the most beautiful, the most precious thing in the world has been living in my soul.'He cannot hear the voice of God, and only knows that the greatest act of love he can perform is to trample on this face he loves to save the lives of others.
My beloved is all radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is the finest gold;
His locks are wavy, black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves beside springs of water,
Bathed in milk, reposed in their setting.
His cheeks are like a beds of balsam, yielding fragrance.
His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh - Song of Songs 5: 10-13
Before him is the ugly face of Christ, crowned with thorns and the thin, outstretched arms....he stares down intently at the man in the center of the fumie, worn down and hollow with the constant trampling.This, of course, is the face of Christ. His suffering Face, worn down by the sins of others, the turning away from Him, the bruising of His body. This is the God Who speaks.
Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion did become "the reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows," I venerate Thy Holy Face on which shone the beauty and gentleness of Divinity. In those disfigured features I recognize Thine infinite love, and I long to love Thee and to make Thee loved. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to behold Thy glorious Face in Heaven! - St. Therese of Lisieux
'Trample, trample! I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot. Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men's pain that I carried my cross.'And for those who know the beautiful Face of Christ is His suffering Face, and those who know that the beauty of Catholicism is its longing for the suffering Christ:
Wisdom of the Sacred Head guide me in all ways. O Love of the Sacred Heart, consume me with Thy fire. O seat of Divine Wisdom and guiding Power, which governs all the motions and love of the Sacred Heart, may all minds know Thee, all hearts love Thee, and all tongues praise Thee, now and for evermore.
Sacred Head of Jesus, Bowed to the Earth which was redeemed at the moment of death on Calvary, Guide us in all our ways.
Adorable Face of Jesus, my only love, my light, and my life, grant that I may know Thee, love Thee and serve Thee alone, that I may live with Thee, of Thee, by Thee and for Thee.
Be it known that the number of armed soldiers were 150; those who trailed me while I was bound were 23. The executioners of justice were 83; the blows received on my head were 150; those on my stomach, 108; kicks on my shoulders, 80. I was led, bound with cords by the hair 24 times; spits in the face were 180; I was beaten on the body 6666 times; beaten on the head, 110 times. I was roughly pushed, and at 12 o'clock was lifted up by the hair; pricked with thorns and pulled by the beard 23 times; received 20 wounds on the head; thorns of marine junks, 72; pricks of thorns in the head, 110; mortal thorns in the forehead, 3. I was afterwards flogged and dressed as a mocked king; wounds in the body, 1000. The soldeers who led me to the Calvary were 608; those who watched me were 3, and those who mocked me were 1008; the drops of blood which I lost were 28,430.