Lesson #26 – The Passion and Death of Our Lord, Part 1

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   


As we explained earlier in Lesson #5, the Spiritual Exercises were designed to be done over a month’s time.  In St. Ignatius’s 2nd week, he mentions that the exercitant can add more meditations as time allows, e.g., Our Lord’s calling of His Apostles, the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord walking on the sea, Our Lord preaching in the Temple, and the resurrection of Lazarus.[1]

Because our purpose here in this series of Lessons is to give a shortened version of the Spiritual Exercises which the laity can use to “do a retreat,” we have limited our treatment of the Second Week.

Consequently, we now proceed to St. Ignatius’s Third Week, which focuses on the Passion and Death of Our Lord.  He breaks this week into 13 meditations as follows:

1.    Our Lord going from Bethany to Jerusalem, including the Last Supper;

2.    The Last Supper to the Garden, inclusive;


3.    From the Garden to the house of Annas, inclusive;


4.    From the house of Annas to the house of Caiphas, inclusive;

5.    From the house of Caiphas to that of Pilate, inclusive;

6.    From the house of Pilate to the house of Herod;

7.    From the house of Herod back to Pilate;

8.    On the 1st part of what happened at Pilate’s house;

9.    On the 2nd part of what happened at Pilate’s house;

10. From Pilate’s house to the nailing to the Cross;

11. From the raising of the Cross to Our Lord’s death;

12. From the taking down from the Cross to the Burial in the Sepulcher, exclusive; and

13. From the burial in the Sepulcher, inclusive, to the house where Our Lady stayed after the burial of her Son.


By devoting one whole week to the reflection on Our Lord’s Passion and Death, St. Ignatius shows us that this work is of great importance to our salvation.  Indeed, Our Lord Himself has revealed to the saints throughout the centuries that He desires for us to spend our lives learning more about His Passion.  He wants us to unite our sufferings to His and learn from His examples.


St. Ignatius gives us a framework for the first two topics listed.  He then expects the exercitant to use this basic framework when doing as many of the remaining 11 meditations as the exercitant’s time allows.

In this Lesson we will give two separate meditations.  The first meditation is on Our Lord going from Bethany to Jerusalem which includes the Last Supper.  The second will be from the Last Supper to and including the Agony in the Garden.  We will present St. Ignatius’s framework for each one including special notes from St. Ignatius.  Then we give specific considerations to aid the exercitant in applying his senses to the Gospel accounts of these events.

St. Ignatius labels his first framework, “FIRST DAY AND FIRST CONTEMPLATION”.

The first contemplation at midnight[2] is how Christ Our Lord went from Bethany to Jerusalem, including the Last Supper.  It contains the preparatory prayer, three preludes, six points, and a colloquy.

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual: I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE  is to call to mind the history, which here is how Christ Our Lord, while at Bethany, sent two disciples to Jerusalem to prepare the supper and afterwards He Himself went there with the other disciples.   How after they had eaten the Pascal Lamb and supped, He washed their feet and gave His Most Holy Body and His Most Precious Blood to His disciples.  How He gave His last discourse after Judas had gone to sell his Lord.

The SECOND PRELUDE is a mental representation of the place.  Here it will be to consider the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, whether it is broad or narrow, whether it is level, etc.  Consider likewise the room of the supper, whether it is large or small, its general appearance.

The THIRD PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  Here it will be to ask for sorrow, affliction, and confusion because the Lord is going to His Passion on account of MY sins.

The FIRST POINT is to visualize the persons at the supper, and reflecting within myself, to strive to gain some profit from them.

The SECOND POINT is to listen to what they say, and likewise to draw some profit from it.

The THIRD POINT is to observe what they are doing and to draw some fruit from it.

The FOURTH POINT is to consider what Christ Our Lord suffers in His Humanity or wills to suffer, according to the passage that is being contemplated.  Here I will begin with serious effort to strive to grieve, to be sad, and lament. I will strive in like manner through the following points.

The FIFTH POINT is to consider how the Divinity hides Itself.  That is to say, how It could destroy Its enemies and does not do so, how It leaves the most Sacred Humanity to suffer so cruelly.

The SIXTH POINT is to consider that all the suffering is for my sins, and what I ought to do and suffer for Him.

The COLLOQUY: Conclude with a colloquy to Christ Our Lord, and at the end say the “Our Father.”[3]

These particular meditations on Our Lord’s Passion and Death require some extra time to prepare the mind to consider the points and the heart to be inflamed to speak lovingly to Our Lord.  One should read the Gospel(s) in the section he is about to meditate on.  In this way he can set the scene in his imagination and apply his senses in order to draw some profit as St. Ignatius instructs us to do.  One can re-read verses of the Gospels as needed while he is pondering.

In this particular meditation we will focus on the Last Supper and Our Lord’s discourse at the Cenacle.[4]   We will attempt to combine some of the factual account from the Gospels with the application of our senses in order to paint the scene for the exercitant and we will give some considerations.  The exercitant is welcome to make some additional considerations and images for himself.  Indeed, these will naturally come to his mind.

Painting the Scene and Giving Some Considerations

Think about this most special evening.  It is the last evening Our Lord will spend with His Apostles—His dear ones.  He has lived with them for three and a half years.  He has instructed them by His words and examples.  They have grown to love Him and depend on Him.

Picture the furnished room with a table and couches.  The apostles take their places.  St. John, Our Lord’s beloved, leans lovingly on the bosom of Our Lord. 

He shows His tender love for them and certainly all the faithful when He says, “With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you.” [St. Luke 22:15]  He knows that He is the Paschal Lamb which will be sacrificed on the Cross on the morrow.  He knows that this same sacrifice is their Sacramental Food this evening.  He wants to give Himself to them to be their spiritual food and so He has instituted the Most Blessed Sacrament.

He, their Master, washed their feet as a loving slave and father.  Our Lord told Peter that He had prayed especially for him because Satan wanted to destroy Peter. He predicted that Peter will deny Him thrice; nevertheless, Peter insisted that he wouldn’t. 

Our Lord also predicted that one of them was about to betray Him.  Each one anxiously asked if he was the culprit.  Of course, Judas asks too, not surprisingly last, because it would look bad if he didn’t.  Our Lord confirms that Judas indeed is the son of perdition and then dismisses him to set about his evil task.

Then imagine the sigh of relief which must have gone around the room.  No doubt, the apostles had an inner uncomfortable feeling whenever Judas was present.  There was something very unwholesome about the man who was always worried about the money purse.

Now Our Lord opened His Heart to His apostles in a most beautiful way.  He explained how He would not leave them orphans but would send The Holy Ghost, the Paraclete.  He explained to them that if they kept His Commandments, they would prove their love for Him and He and His Father would abide in them.  They then said the customary hymn and departed the room.


(As St. Ignatius advises us, we make our colloquy to Our Lord.)

O my Sweetest Jesus, how can I thank Thee enough for all Thy edifying examples of Thy virtues?  I have not appreciated Thee enough because I have not penetrated the depths of Thine examples.  I have not pondered Thy Hidden life and Thy Public life enough.  Help me to start a new course now where I can delve into the lessons Thou dost intend for me to learn.  Help me to appreciate Thy explanation of Thy Father and how I am supposed to dwell in Thee and Thy Father.   Help me to study Thy every action and word so I can understand how to imitate Thee.  Help me embrace Thy Sacred Heart and discover Its riches.  I want to follow Thee unto death.  I need Thee, O my Beloved.  Help me to be a docile student.  (I will close with an Our Father.)

St. Ignatius labels his second framework, “SECOND CONTEMPLATION”.

The second contemplation in the morning will be on the mysteries from the Last Supper to the Garden inclusive. [This includes the Agony]

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual: I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE is the history.  Here it will be how Our Lord descended with His eleven disciples from Mount Sion, where the Supper was held, to the Valley of Josaphat.  Leaving the eight in one part of the valley, He took the other three apart into the Garden.  He then began to pray and His sweat became as drops of blood.  Three times He prayed to His Father, and three times He aroused His disciples from sleep.  After His enemies fell to the ground at the sound of His voice, and Judas gave Him the kiss of peace, after He restored the ear of Malchus which Peter had cut off, He was seized like a malefactor and He was led through the valley and back up the slope to the house of Annas.

The SECOND PRELUDE is a visualization of the place.  Here it will be to consider the road from Mount Sion to the Valley of Josaphat, and likewise the Garden: its width, its length, and its general appearance.

The THIRD PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  In the Passion the proper thing to ask for is grief with Christ suffering, a broken heart with Christ heartbroken, tears, and deep suffering because of the great suffering that Christ endured for me.

Notes: in this second contemplation, after the preparatory prayer and the three preludes already mentioned, the same procedure is to be followed for the points and the colloquies as is found in the first contemplation on the Last Supper. [St. Ignatius explains the times of the day when these are to be done.] Then at a separate time period the application of the senses will be made on the matter of these two contemplations, always beginning with the preparatory prayer and the three preludes, according to the subject matter.  The form is the same as that prescribed and explained for the second week.

In this second meditation lesson we focus from the end of the Last Supper to the Agony of Our Lord and His arrest.

Painting the scene and giving some considerations.

Our Lord and His apostles left the Cenacle.  They walked along and made their way to the Garden of Olives.

Our Lord continued His heart-rending discourse.  He tells His apostles how His Father is the husbandman of the vineyard Who takes care of them as the branches.  Indeed, He tells them that He is the vine and they are the branches and in this way they are united to His Heavenly Father.  Thus, He shows God makes a bond of perfection between God and men.  Furthermore, He relates that His Heavenly Father purges them by the means of trials so they can bring forth more fruit. 

He told them that they would have to suffer persecution for His sake, and in this persecution they would be imitating Him Who was persecuted first.   

The apostles surely could sense a certain special solemnity and finality in His words, especially when He told them that He would be leaving them to return to His Father.  They were disturbed and worried about what was going to happen.  Our Lord continued to console them, “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” (St. John 16:33)

Next, Our Lord prayed to His Father aloud.[6]  He wanted them to hear the wording of His prayer.  This prayer is like a love letter of the Divine Son to His Heavenly Father because it clearly shows His Divine Sonship and His Infinite Love for His Father.  Oh, such an especially consoling prayer which shows Our Lord’s tender Sacred Heart!  He prayed for His Apostles and for us, too, “And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in Me; that they may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.”  (St. John 17:20-21)  Think about how Our Lord willed for this prayer to be recorded in the Gospel so we could benefit by reading it and pondering it.  What tremendous Providential care He manifests to His Mystical Body!

The apostles sensed a change in Our Lord.  His demeanor became even more somber.  His heart began to be afraid and heavy.  He said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”(St. Mark 14:31)  They must have wondered about this.  What kind of burden was He carrying?  They did not realize that He was feeling the weight of all sin overtaking His soul.  This innocent Lamb of God was taking onto Himself the guilt and shame of every sin of every rational human being from the beginning of time to the end of time.  “For My iniquities are gone over My Head: and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon Me.”(Ps. 37:5)

He told His apostles to sit and pray, and He took Peter, James, and John with Him.  He went forward a little and fell flat on the ground.  He prayed earnestly that His Heavenly Father would take the chalice of suffering from Him.  Of course, He wants to do the Will of His Father and adds, “But not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”

He went to the three and found them sleeping “for sorrow”.   They were overcome with the tension of the night.  Our Lord woke Peter up and said to him, “Simon, sleepest thou?  Couldst thou not watch one hour?  Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation.” (St. Mark 14:37)

“And being in an agony, He prayed the longer” (St. Luke 22:43).  Our Lord persevered in prayer, especially when in great need.  This is mentioned for us in the Gospel because Our Lord wants us to follow His example.

What did Our Lord see that brings upon Him so much grief?  He saw so many souls going to hell in spite of the Passion and Death He was about to undergo.  Yes, even the majority of Catholics go to hell!  He died for the sins of all mankind yet so many sinners never repent.  He saw the ingratitude of so many Catholics and saw them being lukewarm.  He saw the Church militant being persecuted.  He saw His clerics, religious, and prelates, including Popes, trying to destroy His Mystical Body.  What mental anguish for Our Dear Lord! 

He began to sweat blood.  Beads of blood formed on all of His skin, clotted, and were borne to the ground by His profuse sweat.  “I am poured out like water.” (Ps. 21:15)  His skin, which was perfect, became extremely tender and sensitive to any touch.  Remember, He willed to suffer everything because He loves His Father.  Everything that touched His skin caused Him intense pain.  He will suffer so many blows, scourges, and then the additional suffering of having His clothes torn off of His tender body.  Oh what exquisite pain!  Remember, He saw all this in advance and even though He had not yet experienced all of it, the mere anticipation of it must have added to His anguish.

He not only felt the weight of guilt for all sins, He also felt all their malice to His Heavenly Father.  He felt the insult which sin inflicts on His Father’s honor and the displeasure which sin causes His Father.  “Thy wrath is strong over me: and all thy waves thou hast brought in upon Me.” (Ps.87:8) and again, “Thy wrath hath come upon Me: and Thy terrors have troubled Me.” (Ps. 87:17) Yes, sin is ugly and He was taking every wretched stain and the guilt of sin upon Himself.  This is the price of the Honor and Majesty of God!

He has suffered the bitter scorn of His nation.  He was the outcast of the people and He felt their hatred, even after He had shown them so much love and goodness in His miracles and doctrine.  They had already despised Him in His public life so far and then with their unjust demands for His death on the Cross, they will show their hatred all the more.  “They are multiplied above the hairs of My head, who hate without cause.” (Ps. 68:5)  He sees all of this in advance and this adds to the extreme sorrow of His Heart. “O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow: for he hath vintage of Me, as the Lord spoke in the day of His fierce anger.” (Lamentations of Jeremias, 1:12)

God the Father gave the Elect to the Son, and in order to give the Elect back to His Father, He must pay the price of salvation.  Few are chosen, because God wants quality not quantity.  Our Lord is preparing His Body for the strikers by undergoing this bloody sweat so His Body would be extra sensitive to the pain that would come.  See how much He loves His Heavenly Father and wants to pay for sin.  It is as if He chose to suffer in the most horrific ways to show His Infinite Love for His Father.  Certainly, He proves that He can pay the Infinite price for the malice of sin and restore the Honor of His Father.

How heart-breaking it must have been for Him to see Judas, one of His own apostles, coming with the soldiers and the multitude to arrest Him.  How is it that this traitor will betray Our Lord with a sign of affection?  The touch of that kiss on Our Lord’s cheek must have burned because of the great hypocrisy of this son of perdition.  “Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Our Lord asked whom they seek.  They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” What power Our Lord showed to them all, including Judas who was standing among the enemy, when Our Lord answered, “Ego sum”, that is, “I am.”  How fitting it was that upon declaring His Divinity in these words, that His assailants all fell backwards onto the ground.  They did not do as men usually do when falling—try to break their fall by putting their arms behind themselves; they simply fell backwards with no control over the results.  Yet, they were so blind with pride they continued in their folly of attempting to arrest the Messiah.  Our Lord allowed them to arrest Him.  Peter, so much in love with Our Lord, put up a fight and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Malchus.  Our Lord healed the ear immediately and told Peter to put his sword away.

How blind Judas and the enemy are with pride that they do not recognize these wonderful works of Our Lord, namely, His throwing them all backwards to the ground!  The apostles did not fall backwards, but only the enemy, and yet the enemy said nothing about what had just happened.   Then Our Lord healed the ear of Malchus in front of them all and they did not make one comment upon this.

 Our Lord then told them, “When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”  Yes, this is their hour of evil.  Thus, He humbly submits to His arresters.  The apostles all fled.

How alone and rejected Our Lord must have felt.  “And they that were near Me, stood afar off.” And again, “I looked for one that would grieve together with Me, but there was none:  and for one that would comfort Me, and I found none.” (Ps. 68:21)

We must remember that Our Lord was the master of His own passion and death.  He could foresee all that would happen and He willed it to be this way for the greater honor and glory of His Heavenly Father.

COLLOQUY:[7] (As St. Ignatius advises us, we make our colloquy to Our Lord.)

O Lord, how often have I been ashamed of my wrongs and have tried to hide my shame or deny my wrong-doings!  Help me to embrace the shame and confusion that I deserve.  Help me to be ever-grateful to Thee for having suffered so much for me. Thou hast been so merciful to me.  Thou hast been so patient with me.  Help me to be ever-grateful to Thee for Thy tender mercies.  I thank Thee for Thy forgiveness.  I am in great need of Thy further mercy.  Help me to penetrate the profound depth of all Thy suffering.  Help me to put myself in thy shoes and thereby get a glimpse of Thy sorrow and grief.  Help me weep for my sins which caused Thee so much torment and pain, both mental and physical.  By this means I will find the courage to do the penance of reparation I need to make to Thee.  Oh, my dearest Lord and Messiah, Thou art my Savior if I am faithful to Thee unto death.  Please help me to be faithful to Thee.  Oh, and I thank Thee for Thy loving prayer that Thou hast left to prove Thy love for Thy Heavenly Father and Thy love for my poor soul.    Please teach me to love Thee with a greater love so I can belong entirely to Thee in time and in eternity. (I will close with an Our Father.)

In our next lesson we will set out a meditation on the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.   We will concentrate on Our Lord’s Humility and Infinite Love for His Father.

[1]           A list of the other suggested meditations and their points that St. Ignatius gave will be given at the end of our entire treatment of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises and included in the book form we intend to make available.

[2]           St. Ignatius sets his Exercises up in the thirty-day retreat in such a way that the exercitant rises at night to do some of the meditations. Likewise in the 2nd contemplation when he mentions the suggested time of doing the meditation to be in the morning, this is based on the thirty-day retreat instructions.

[3]           St. Ignatius adds this note: It is to be observed, as has already been stated in part, that in the colloquies I must exercise my reason and make supplication according to the present circumstances.  That is to say, whether I am being tempted or experiencing consolation, whether I wish to have one virtue or another, whether I try to dispose myself in one direction or another, whether I desire to lament or rejoice in the matter of my contemplation.  Finally, I shall ask for what I most earnestly desire regarding the particular things that I am considering.  In this way I may have just one colloquy with Christ Our Lord, or if the subject matter or devotion prompts me to do one with the Son, and one with the Father, in the manner that was prescribed in the second week, in the meditation on two standards, together with the note following the meditation on the three classes of men.


[4]           The Scriptural texts that pertain to this meditation are Matt. 26:17-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:1-39; John 13 &14

[5]           Of course, this is only a suggestion of a possible colloquy.  The exercitant can compose his own.

[6]           This prayer is the entire chapter 17 of St. John.   Our Lord wants this prayer to be heard by His apostles and to be recorded for our benefit too.

[7]           Of course, this is only a suggestion of a possible colloquy.  The exercitant can compose his own.