Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 4

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Sorrow and Anguish


 to devote Himself to endure for the sins of the world the greatest excess of agony and pain. To make sat­isfaction for the origin and development of all kinds of sin and guilty pleasures, the most merciful Jesus, through love for us sinners, received into His own Heart the root of all expiatory reconciliation and saving pains. He allowed those infinite sufferings in satisfaction for endless sins, like a thousand branched tree of pain, to pierce through, to extend through all the members of His Sacred Body, all the faculties of His holy Soul. Thus entirely given up to His Humanity, He fell on His face, calling upon God in unspeakable sorrow and anguish. He saw in countless forms all the sins of the world with their innate hideousness. He took all upon Himself and offered Himself in His prayer to sat­isfy the justice of His Heavenly Father for all that guilt by His own sufferings. But Satan who, under a frightful form and with furious mockery, moved around among all this abomination, became at each moment more violently enraged against Him. He evoked before the eyes of His soul visions of the sins of men, one more frightful than the other, and constantly addressed to the Sacred Humanity of Jesus such words as, "What! Wilt Thou take this also upon Thyself? Art Thou ready to endure its penalty? How canst Thou satisfy for this?"

From that point in the heavens in which the sun appears between ten and eleven in the morning, a narrow path of light streamed toward Jesus, and on it I saw a file of angels coming down to Him. They imparted to Him fresh strength and vigor. The rest of the grotto was filled with the frightful and hor­rible visions of sin, and with the evil spirits mock­ing and tempting. Jesus took all upon Himself. In the midst of this confusion of abomination, His Heart, the only one that loved God and man perfectly, shrank in terror and anguish from the horror, the burden of all those sins. Ah, I saw there so many things! A


Life of Jesus Christ

 whole year would not suffice to relate them!

When now this enormous mass of sin and inequity had passed before the soul of Jesus in an ocean of horrible visions and He had offered Himself as the expiatory sacrifice for all, had implored that all their punishment and chastisement might fall upon Him, Satan, as once before in the desert, brought forward innumerable temptations; yes, he even dared to allege a crowd of accusations against the inno­cent Saviour Himself. "What!" said he to Him, "wilt Thou take all this upon Thee, and Thou art not pure Thyself? See, here and here and here!" and he unfolded all kinds of forged bonds and notes before Him, and with infernal impudence held them up under His eyes. He reproached Him with all the faults of His disciples, all the scandal they had given, all the disturbances and disorder He had caused in the world by abolishing ancient customs. Satan acted like the most crafty and subtle Pharisee. He reproached Jesus with causing Herod's massacre of the Holy Innocents, with exposing His parents to want and danger in Egypt, with not having rescued John the Baptist from death, with bringing about disunion in many families, with having protected degraded people, refusing to cure certain sick per­sons, with injuring the Gergeseans by permitting the possessed to overturn their vats and their swine to rush into the sea. He accused Him of the guilt of Mary Magdalen, since He had not prevented her relapse into sin; of neglecting His own family; of squandering the goods of others; and, in one word, all that the tempter would at the hour of death have brought to bear upon an ordinary mortal who, with­out a high and holy intention, had been mixed up in such affairs, Satan now suggested to the trem­bling soul of Jesus with the view of causing Him to waver. It was hidden from him that Jesus was the Son of God, and he tempted Him as merely the most righteous of men. Yes, our Divine Redeemer permit­ted,

Satan Tempting Jesus


 in a certain measure, His most holy Humanity to veil His Divinity, that He might endure those temptations that come upon the holiest souls at the hour of death respecting the intrinsic merit of their good works. That He might drain the chalice of suf­fering, He permitted the tempter, from whom His Divinity was hidden, to upbraid Him with His works of beneficence as so many sins incurring penalty and not yet blotted out by the grace of God. The tempter reproached Him likewise for desiring to atone for the sins of others, although He was Him­self without merit and had not yet made satisfac­tion to God for the grace of many a so-called good work. The Divinity of Jesus allowed the wicked fiend to tempt His Sacred Humanity just as he would tempt a man who might have ascribed his good works to some special merit of their own, independent of that which they can acquire by being united with the merits of the saving death of our Lord and Sav­iour. Thus the tempter called up before Jesus all the works of His love as not only without merit for Him­self, but as so many crimes against God; and as their value was, in a certain measure, derived from the merits of His Passion not yet perfected and of whose worth Satan was ignorant, therefore for the grace by which He effected them He had not yet made satisfaction. For all His good works, Satan showed Jesus written bonds, telling Him as he pointed to them: "For this action and for this also, hast Thou incurred indebtedness." At last he unrolled before Him a note that He had received from Lazarus for the sale of Magdalen's property in Magdalum, and the proceeds of which He had expended. Satan accompanied the action with these words: "How darest Thou squander the property of others and thereby injure the family?" I saw in vision all those things for which the Lord offered Himself in atone­ment, and with Him I bore the burden of many of the accusations that the tempter made against Him;


Life of Jesus Christ

 for among those visions of the sins of the world that the Saviour took upon Himself, I saw my own numer­ous transgressions. From the cloud of temptations that encircled Jesus, I saw a stream flow toward myself, and in it were shown me, to my great con­sternation, all my defects of omission and commis­sion. Still, I kept my eyes turned toward my Heavenly Bridegroom, I struggled and prayed with Him, and with Him I turned to the consoling angels. Ah! The Lord writhed like a worm under the weight of His sorrow and agony.

It was with the greatest difficulty that I restrained myself while all these charges were brought against the innocent Saviour. I was so enraged against Satan. But when he exhibited the note holding Jesus amenable for distributing the proceeds of Magdalen's property, I could no longer subdue my anger, and I exclaimed: "How canst thou charge Jesus with the sale of Magdalen's property as with a crime? I saw myself how the Lord devoted that sum received from Lazarus to works of mercy, how He released with it twenty-seven poor, abandoned creatures held pris­oners for debt at Tirzah."

At first Jesus knelt calmly in prayer, but after awhile His soul shrank in affright from the multi­tude and heinousness of man's sins and ingratitude against God. So overpowering was the sadness, the agony of heart which fell upon Him that, trembling and shuddering, He prayed imploringly: "Abba, Father, if it be possible, remove this chalice from Me! My Father, all things are possible to Thee. Take this chalice from Me!" Then recovering Himself, He added: "But not what I will, but what Thou wilt." His will and the Father's were one. But now that through love He had delivered Himself up to the weakness of His human nature, He shuddered at the thought of death.

I saw the grotto around Him filled with frightful figures. I saw the sins, the wickedness, the vices,

The Sweat of Agony


 the torments, the ingratitude of men torturing and crushing Him, and the horror of death, the terror that He experienced as Man at the greatness of the expiatory sufferings soon to come upon Him, I saw pressing around Him and assailing Him under the form of the most hideous specters. Wringing His hands, He swayed from side to side, and the sweat of agony covered Him. He trembled and shuddered. He arose, but His trembling knees could scarcely support Him. His countenance was quite disfigured and almost unrecognizable. His lips were white, and His hair stood on end. It was about half-past ten o'clock when He staggered to His feet and, bathed in sweat and often falling, tottered rather than walked to where the three disciples were awaiting Him. He ascended to the left of the grotto and up to a terrace upon which they were resting near one another supported on their arm, the back of one turned toward the breast of his neighbor. Exhausted with fatigue, sorrow, and anxiety under temptation, they had fallen asleep. Jesus went to them like a man overwhelmed with sorrow whom terror drives to the company of his friends, and also like a faith­ful shepherd who, though himself trembling to the utmost, looks after his herd which he knows to be in danger, for He knew that they too were in anguish and temptation. All along this short distance, I saw that the frightful forms never left Him. When He found the Apostles sleeping, He clasped His hands and, sinking down by them from grief and exhaus­tion, He said: "Simon, sleepest thou?" At these words, they awoke and raised Him up. In His spiritual dere­liction, He said: "What! Could ye not watch one hour with Me?" When they found Him so terrified and dis­figured, so pale, trembling, and saturated with sweat, shuddering and shaking, His voice feeble and stam­mering, they were altogether at a loss what to think. Had He not appeared surrounded by the light so well known to them, they would not have recognized


Life of Jesus Christ

 Him as Jesus. John said to Him: "Master! What has befallen Thee? Shall I call the other disciples? Shall we take to flight?" Jesus answered: "Were I to live, teach, and work miracles for thirty-three years longer, it would not suffice for the accomplishment of what I have to fulfill before this time tomorrow. Do not call The Eight! I have left them where they are, because they could not see Me in this suffering state without being scandalized at Me. They would fall into temptation, forget many things that I have said to them, and lose confidence in Me. But you who have seen the Son of Man transfigured, may also see Him in this hour of darkness and complete dereliction of soul; nevertheless watch and pray, lest ye fall into temptation, for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." These last words referred both to Himself and to the Apostles. Jesus wished by them to exhort His followers to perseverance, and to make known to them the struggle of His human nature against death, together with the cause of His weak­ness. In His overpowering sorrow, He said many other things to them, and remained with them about a quarter of an hour.

Jesus returned to the grotto, His anguish on the increase. The Apostles, seeing Him leave them thus, stretched out their hands after Him, wept, threw themselves into one another's arms, and asked: "What does this mean? What is the matter with Him? He is perfectly desolate!" And then covering their heads, they began in great anxiety to pray. All thus far related occupied about one hour and a half counting from Jesus' entrance into the Garden of Olives. In the Scripture it does, indeed, say: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?" But these words are not to be taken according to our measure of time. The three Apostles who were with Jesus had prayed at first and then slept, for, owing to distrusted speeches, they had fallen into temptation. The Eight however, who had remained at the entrance, did not

Mary in Great Anxiety


 sleep. The anxiety that marked all of Jesus' last actions on that evening greatly disquieted them, and they wandered around Mount Olivet seeking a hid­ing place for themselves.

There was little bustle in Jerusalem on this evening. The Jews were in their homes busied with preparations for the feast. The lodgings for the Paschal guests were not in the neighborhood of the Mount of Olives. As I went to and fro on the road, I saw here and there friends and disciples of Jesus walking together and conversing. They appeared to be uneasy and in expectation of something. The Mother of the Lord, with Magdalen, Martha, Mary Cleophas, Mary Salome, and Salome had gone from the Coenaculum to the house of Mary Marcus. Alarmed at the reports that she had heard, Mary and her friends went on toward the city to get some news of Jesus. Here they were met by Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and some relatives from Hebron, who sought to comfort Mary in her great anxiety. These friends knew of Jesus' earnest discourse in the Coenaculum, some from being them­selves present in the side buildings, others from hav­ing been informed of it by the disciples; but although they questioned some Pharisees of their acquain­tance, yet they heard of no immediate steps against Our Lord. They said, therefore, "The danger is not so great. And besides, the enemies of Jesus would make no attempt against Him so near to the feast." They did not know of Judas' treachery. Mary told them how restless he had been during the past few days, and of his sudden departure from the Coenac­ulum. He had certainly gone with treacherous inten­tions, for, as she said, she had often warned him that he was a son of perdition. The holy women returned to the house of Mary Marcus.

When Jesus went back into the grotto carrying His load of sadness with Him, He cast Himself face downward on the ground, His arms extended, and


Life of Jesus Christ

 prayed to His Heavenly Father. And now began for His soul a new struggle, which lasted three quar­ters of an hour. Angels came and showed Him in a long series of visions and in all its' extent what He would have to endure for the atonement of sin. They showed the beauty and excellence of man, the image of God, before the Fall, along with his deformity and corruption after the Fall. They showed how every sin originates from that first sin; they pointed out the essence and signification of concupiscence, its terrible effects upon the powers of the soul, as well as upon the physical well-being of man; also the essence and signification of all the sufferings entailed as chastisements by that same lusting after plea­sure. They showed Him, in the expiatory sufferings that awaited Him, first a suffering that would reach to both body and soul, a punishment that would comprehend in its intensity all the penalty due to Divine Justice for all the sins of the whole human race. Secondly, they showed Him a suffering which, in order to be satisfactory, should chastise the crimes of the whole human race in that Humanity which alone was sinless—namely, the Most Sacred Human­ity of the Son of God. That Sacred Humanity, through love, assumed all the guilt of mankind with the penalty due to it; consequently, It had also to gain the victory over man's abhorrence of pain and death. All this the angels showed Jesus, sometimes appear­ing in whole choirs and exhibiting row after row of pictures, and sometimes displaying only the princi­pal features of His Passion. I saw them pointing with raised finger to the visions as they appeared, and without hearing any voice, I understood what they said.

No tongue can express the horror, the anguish that overwhelmed the soul of Jesus at the sight of these visions of expiatory suffering. He understood not only the consequence of every species of concu­piscence, but also its own peculiar expiatory chas­tisement,

The Bloody Sweat


 the significance of all the instruments of torture connected with it; so that not only the thought of the instrument made Him shudder, but also the sinful rage of him that invented it, the fury and wickedness of all that had ever used it, and the impatience of all, whether innocent or guilty, who had been tortured with it. All these tortures and afflictions Jesus perceived in an interior contempla­tion, and the sight filled Him with such horror that a bloody sweat started from the pores of His sacred Body.

While the adorable Humanity of Christ was thus agonizing and writhing under this excess of suffer­ing, I saw among the angels a feeling of compassion for Him. There seemed to be a pause, in which they appeared desirous of giving Him consolation, and I saw them praying to that effect before the throne of God. For an instant, there seemed to be a strug­gle between the mercy and the justice of God and that love which was sacrificing itself. I had also a vision of God not as before seated upon His throne, but in a less clearly defined, though luminous, fig­ure. I saw the divine nature of the Son in the Per­son of the Father and, as it were, withdrawn into His bosom. The Person of the Holy Ghost was pro­ceeding from the Father and the Son. He was, as it were, between them, and yet there was only one God. But who can speak of such things? I had more an interior perception of all this than a vision under human forms. In it I was shown that the Divine Will of Christ withdrew more into the Father in order to permit His Most Sacred Humanity to suffer all those things for whose mitigation and warding off the human will struggled and prayed in agony; so that the Godhead of Christ being one with the Father, all that for whose removal His Manhood prayed to the Father, should weigh upon His Humanity alone. I saw all this at the instant of the angels' sympa­thetic emotion, when they conceived the desire to


Life of Jesus Christ

 console Jesus, who did in fact, at that same moment, receive some alleviation. But now these visions dis­appeared, and the angels with their soothing com­passion retired from the Lord, to whose soul a new sphere of agony more violent even than the last opened up.

When the Redeemer on Mount Olivet, as a true and real human being, delivered Himself to the temp­tation of human abhorrence against suffering and death; when He took upon Himself also the van­quishing of that abhorrence, the endurance of which forms a part of every suffering, the tempter was per­mitted to do to Him what he does to every mortal who desires to offer himself a sacrifice in any holy cause. In the first part of the Lord's agony, Satan with furious mockery set before Him the immensity of the debt that He was about assuming, and he car­ried the temptation so far as to represent the ac­tions of the Redeemer Himself as not free from faults. After that, in this second agony, there was displayed before Jesus in all its greatness and intrinsic bit­terness the expiatory suffering necessary to discharge that immense debt. This was shown Him by the angels, for it belongs not to Satan to show that expi­ation is possible. The Father of lies and despair never exhibits to men the works of divine mercy. But when Jesus, with heartfelt abandonment to the will of His Heavenly Father, had victoriously resisted these assaults, a succession of new and terrifying visions passed before His soul. He experienced that uneasi­ness felt by every human heart on the point of mak­ing some great sacrifice. The questioning doubt: What advantage, what return shall I reap from this sac­rifice? arose in the soul of the Lord, and the sight of the awful future overwhelmed His loving Heart.

Upon the first man God sent a deep sleep, opened his side, took out one of his ribs, formed from it Eve, the first woman, the mother of all the living, and conducted her to Adam. Receiving her from God,

Christ, the New Adam


 Adam exclaimed: "This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. The man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh." This is the marriage of which it is written: "This is a great Sacrament, I speak in Christ and in the Church." Christ, the new Adam, was pleased to permit a sleep, the sleep of death, to come upon Him on the Cross. He permitted, like­wise, His side to be opened that the new Eve, His virginal Bride, the Church, the Mother of all the liv­ing, might be formed from it. He willed to give her the Blood of Redemption, the water of purification, and His own Spirit, the three that render testimony upon earth. He willed to bestow upon her the holy Sacraments in order that she should be a Bride pure, holy, and undefiled. He willed to be her head and we the members, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. In taking human nature and willing to suffer death for us, He too left Father and Mother to cleave to His Bride, the Church. He has become one flesh with her, nourishing her with the Most Holy Sacra­ment of the Altar, in which He unceasingly espouses us. He wills to remain on earth with His Bride, the Church, until we shall all in her be united to Him in Heaven. He has said: "The gates of Hell shall not prevail against her." To exercise this immeasurable love for sinners, the Lord became man and the brother of sinners, that He might thus take upon Himself the punishment of all their guilt. He had indeed contemplated with anguish the immensity of that guilt and the greatness of the expiatory suffer­ings due to them, but at the same time He had offered Himself joyfully as a victim of expiation to the will of His Heavenly Father. Now, however, He beheld the sufferings, temptations, and wounds of the future Church, His Bride, which He had pur­chased at so dear a price, that of His own Blood, and He saw the ingratitude of man.

Before the soul of the Lord there passed in review


Life of Jesus Christ

 all the future sufferings of His Apostles, disciples, and friends, and the small number of the primitive Church. As her numbers increased, He saw heresies and schisms entering her fold, and the sin of Adam repeated by pride and disobedience in all forms of vanity and delusive self-righteousness. The tepidity, the malice, the wickedness of innumerable Chris­tians; the manifold lies, the deceptive subtlety of all proud teachers; the sacrilegious crimes of all wicked priests with their frightful consequences; the abom­ination of desolation in the Kingdom of God upon earth, in the sanctuary of the thankless human race whom, amid inexpressible sufferings, He was about to redeem with His Blood and His life.

The scandals of the ages down to our own day and even to the end of the world, I saw pass before Jesus' soul in an immense succession of visions: all forms of error, proud fallacies, mad fanaticism, false prophecies, obstinate heresies, all kinds of wicked­ness. The apostates, the self-righteous, the teachers of error, the pretended reformers, the corrupters and the corrupted of all ages, mocked and tormented Him for not having been crucified according to their ideas, for not having died comfortably on the Cross according to their desires, according to their fancy or caprice. They tore and divided the seamless robe of the Church. Each wanted to have a Redeemer other than He who had delivered Himself through love. Countless numbers ill-treated Him, mocked Him, disowned Him. He saw countless others who, disdainfully shrugging their shoulders and wagging their heads at Him, avoided His arms stretched out to save them and hurried on to the abyss which swallowed them up. He saw innumerable others who dared not openly deny Him, but who turned away in disgust from the wounds of His Church, which they themselves had helped to inflict. They were like the Levite passing by the poor man that had fallen among robbers. Jesus saw them abandoning His

The Scandals of the Ages


 wounded Bride like cowardly, faithless children who forsake their mother in the dead of night at the approach of the thieves and murderers to whom they themselves had opened the door. He saw them has­tening after the booty that had been conveyed into the wilderness, the golden vessels and the broken necklaces. He saw them pitching their tents under the wild offshoots, far away from the true vine. He saw them like wandering sheep becoming the prey of wolves, and led into unwholesome pasturage by base hirelings, instead of going into the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. He saw them straying homeless, willfully clos­ing their eyes to His city placed high upon a moun­tain, and which could not remain hid. He saw them scattered in the desert, driven hither and thither by changing winds among the sand drifts; but they would not see the house of His Bride, the Church, built upon a rock, with which He had promised to abide till the end of time, and against which the gates of Hell shall never prevail. They would not enter through the narrow gate, because they were not willing to bend their neck. He saw them follow­ing leaders who would conduct them anywhere and everywhere, but not to the true door. They built upon the sand perishable huts of all kinds, without altar or sacrifice, the roofs surmounted by weathercocks, according to which their doctrines were ever chang­ing; consequently they were ever in opposition to one another, they understood not one another, they had no fixed state. He saw them, time and again, pulling down their huts and hurling the fragments against the cornerstone of the Church which, how­ever, stood unshaken. He saw many among them, although darkness reigned in their dwellings, neglect­ing to go to the light that was placed on the candlestick in the house of the Bride. They wandered with closed eyes around the enclosed gardens of the Church by whose perfumes alone they still lived.


Life of Jesus Christ

 They stretched out their arms after shadowy forms and followed wandering stars that guided them to wells without water. When on the very brink of the precipice, they heeded not the voice of the Bride call­ing them and, though dying with hunger, proudly and pityingly derided the servants and messengers sent to invite them to the marriage feast. They would not enter the garden, for they feared the thorns of the hedge. The Lord saw them hungering and thirst­ing, but without wheat or wine. They were intoxi­cated with self-esteem and blinded by their own lights, wherefore they persisted in declaring that the Church of the Word made Flesh is invisible. Jesus beheld all, grieved over all, and longed to suf­fer for all, even for those that do not see Him, that do not carry their cross after Him in His Bride, to whom He gives Himself in the Most Holy Sacra­ment; in His City built upon a mountain, and which cannot remain hidden; in His Church founded upon a rock and against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail.

All these innumerable visions upon the ingrati­tude of men and their abuse of the atoning death of my Heavenly Bridegroom I saw passing before the agonized soul of the Lord, sometimes in chang­ing pictures, and again in painful reproductions of the same. I saw Satan under many frightful forms, dragging away and strangling under the eyes of the Lord, men redeemed by His Blood; yes, even those anointed by His Sacrament. Jesus beheld with bit­ter anguish all the ingratitude, the corruption of Christendom past, present, and future. While these visions were passing before Him, the voice of the tempter of His Humanity was constantly heard whis­pering: "See! Canst Thou undergo such sufferings in the sight of such ingratitude?" These words, added to the mockery and the abominations that He beheld in the rapidly changing visions, pressed with such violence upon Him that His most Sacred Humanity

Christ, the Son of Man


 was crushed under a weight of unspeakable agony. Christ, the Son of Man, writhed in anguish and wrung His hands. As if overwhelmed, He fell repeat­edly on His knees, while so violent a struggle went on between His human will and His repugnance to suffer so much for so thankless a race, that the sweat poured from Him in a stream of heavy drops of blood to the ground. Yes, He was so oppressed that He glanced around as if seeking help, as if call­ing upon Heaven and earth and the stars of the fir­mament to witness His anguish. It seemed to me that I heard Him crying out: "Ah, is it possible that such ingratitude can be endured! Witness ye My extreme affliction!"

At that moment, the moon and the stars appeared suddenly to draw nearer to the earth, and I felt in that same moment that the night became brighter. I noticed on the moon what I had not seen before. It looked quite different. It was not yet quite full, though it appeared to be larger than it does to us. In its center, I saw a dark spot. It looked like a flat disc lying before it. In the center of this disc, there appeared to be an opening through which streamed light to the moon not yet full. The dark spot was like a mountain, and all around the moon was a cir­cle of light like a rainbow.

In His sore distress, Jesus raised His voice for some instants in loud cries of anguish. I saw that the three Apostles sprang up in fright. With raised hands, they listened to Jesus' cries and were on the point of hastening to Him. But Peter stopped James and John, saying: "Stay here! I will go to Him." And I saw him hurrying forward and entering the grotto. "Master," he cried, "what has happened to Thee?"­—but he paused in terror at the sight of Jesus bathed in blood and trembling with fear. Jesus made no answer, and appeared not to notice Peter. Then Peter returned to the other two, and reported that Jesus had answered him only by sighs and groans. This


Life of Jesus Christ

 news increased the sorrow and anxiety of the Apos­tles. They covered their heads and sat weeping and praying with many tears.

I turned again to my Heavenly Bridegroom in His bitter agony. The frightful visions of the ingratitude and the misdeeds of future generations whose debt He was taking upon Himself, whose chastisement He was about to endure, overwhelmed Him with their ever-increasing multitude and horror. His strug­gle against the repugnance of His human nature for suffering continued, and several times I heard Him cry out: "Father, is it possible to endure all this? O Father, if this chalice cannot pass from Me, may Thy will be done!"

Among this throng of apparitions typical of the outrages offered to Divine Mercy, I saw Satan under various abominable forms, each bearing reference to the species of guilt then exhibited. Sometimes he appeared as a great black figure in human shape, and again as a tiger, a fox, a wolf, a dragon, a ser­pent; not that he really took any of these forms, but he displayed the chief characteristics of their nature joined to other hideous appearances. There was noth­ing in them that perfectly resembled any creature. They were symbols of discord, of abomination, of contradiction, of horror, of sin—in a word, they were diabolical shapes. And by these hellish forms, Jesus beheld innumerable multitudes of men urged on, seduced, strangled, and torn to pieces—men for whose redemption from the power of Satan, He was about to enter upon the way that led to the bitter death of the Cross. At first I saw the serpent but seldom, but toward the last I beheld it in gigantic form, a crown upon its head. With terrible might and leading after it immense legions of human beings from every condition of life and of every race, it pre­pared to attack Jesus. Armed with all kinds of engines and destructive weapons, they struggled for some moments among themselves, and then with fright­ful

The Bread of Life


 fury turned the attack upon Jesus. It was an awful spectacle. Their weapons, their swords and spears, rose and fell like flails on a boundless thrash­ing floor, and they raged against the Heavenly Grain of Wheat that had come upon earth to die in order to feed mankind eternally with the Bread of Life.

I saw Jesus in the midst of these raging multi­tudes, many of whom appeared to me blind. He was as much affected by the sight as if their weapons really descended upon Him. I saw Him staggering from side to side, sometimes standing upright, and then falling to the ground. The serpent formed the central figure in this army, which it constantly led forward to new attacks. It lashed its tail around on all sides, and all whom it felled to the earth or enveloped in its coils it strangled, tore to pieces, or devoured. Upon this I received an instruction that these multitudes that were thus tearing Jesus to pieces represented the countless number of those that in divers ways ill-treat Him who, in His Divinity and Humanity, Body and Soul, Flesh and Blood under the forms of bread and wine in the Most Blessed Sacrament, dwells ever present in that Mystery as their Redeemer. Among these enemies of Jesus, I rec­ognized the offences of all kinds committed against the Blessed Sacrament, that living Pledge of His unin­terrupted personal Presence with the Catholic Church. I saw with horror all the outrages spring­ing from neglect, irreverence, and omission, as also those of abuse and the most awful sacrilege. I saw those that arose from the worship of the gods of this world, from spiritual darkness and false, superficial knowledge, from error, incredulity, fanaticism, hatred, and bloody persecution. I saw all kinds of people among these enemies: the blind and the lame, the deaf and the dumb, and children. There were blind who would not see the truth; the lame through sloth, who would not follow it; the deaf who would not lis­ten to its warnings or its threats; the dumb who


Life of Jesus Christ

 would never, with the sword of the word, take up their Lord's defense; and in fine, children spoiled by following worldly minded and God-forgetting parents and teachers, who were fed on earthly pleasure, who were intoxicated with empty knowledge, and who loathed divine things, though starving without them. Among these children (the sight of whom grieved me especially, because Jesus so loved children), I noticed in particular many badly instructed, badly reared, and irreverent acolytes who do not honor Christ in the Holy Mass. Their guilt falls partly upon their teachers and the careless sacristans. But with ter­ror I saw that many of the priests themselves, both of high and low degree—yes, even some that esteem themselves full of faith and piety—contribute their share toward outraging Jesus in the Blessed Sacra­ment. Of the many whom, to my great sorrow, I thus saw, I shall say a word of warning to one class only, and it is this: I saw numbers that believe, adore, and teach the Presence of the Living God in the Most Blessed Sacrament, yet who do not sufficiently take it to heart. They forget, they neglect, the palace, the throne, the canopy, the seat, and the royal adorn­ments of the King of Heaven and earth, that is, the church, the altar, the tabernacle, the chalice, the mon­strance of the living God, along with all the vessels, the furniture, the decorations, the festal robes, and all that is used in His worship, or the adornment of His house. All things were ignominiously covered with dust and rust, moldering away and, through long years of neglect, falling to ruin. The service of the living God was shamefully neglected, and where it was not inwardly profaned, it was outwardly dis­honored. Nor did all this arise from real poverty, but from indifference and sloth, from following old cus­toms, from preoccupation of mind with vain, worldly affairs, and often too from self-seeking and spiritual death. I saw neglect of this kind in rich churches and in others tolerably well-off. Yes, I saw many in

The Presence of the Living God


 which worldly love of splendor and tinseled finery had replaced the magnificent and appropriate adorn­ments of a more devout age. What the rich in osten­tatious arrogance do, the poor foolishly aim at in their poverty and simplicity. This recalls to me our poor convent chapel in which the beautiful old stone altar had been covered with wood veined to imitate marble, a fact that always gave me sorrow.

These visions of the outrages offered to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I saw multiplied by innumer­able church wardens who were totally deficient in their sense of equity, who failed to share at least what they had with their Redeemer present upon the altar, although He had delivered Himself to death for them, although He remains for them hidden in the Sacrament. Even the poorest creatures are often better off than the Lord of Heaven and earth in His churches. Ah, how deeply did the inhospitality of men trouble Jesus, who had given Himself to them as Food! Truly, riches are not necessary to entertain Him who rewards a thousand fold the glass of cold water given to the thirsty! And how great is His thirst for us! Ought He not to complain when water swarming with worms is offered Him in impure glasses? By such neglect, I saw the weak scandal­ized, the sanctuary profaned, the churches abandoned, the ministers of religion despised. This state of impu­rity and negligence sometimes extended even to the souls of the Faithful. They kept not the tabernacle of their hearts purer to receive therein the living God than was the tabernacle of the altar. For the fawning eye-service of princes and lords of the world, and to indulge their caprice and worldly designs, I saw every means carefully and actively resorted to by these unenlightened ecclesiastics, while the King of Heaven and earth lay like another Lazarus out­side the gate, vainly sighing after the crumbs of love denied Him. He has nothing but the Wounds which we have inflicted upon Him and which the dogs lick,


Life of Jesus Christ

 namely, ever-relapsing sinners who like dogs vomit and return to their food.

Were I to talk a whole year, it would not suffice to recount the different outrages committed against Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament made known to me in this way. I saw the offenders in immense crowds with weapons corresponding to the species of crime perpetrated by them, assaulting the Lord and striking Him to the ground. I saw irreverent sac­ristans of all centuries, light-minded, sinful, worth­less priests offering the Holy Sacrifice and distributing the Blessed Sacrament, and multitudes of tepid and unworthy communicants. I saw countless numbers to whom the Source of all blessing, the Mystery of the living God, had become an oath or a curse expres­sive of anger, and furious soldiers and servants of the devil who profaned the sacred vessels, who threw away the Most Blessed Sacrament, who horribly out­raged It, or who dishonored It in their frightful, hell­ish worship of false gods. Side by side with these hideous, barbarous cruelties, I saw innumerable other forms of godlessness more refined and subtle, but not less atrocious. I saw many souls, owing to bad exam­ple and perfidious teachers, losing their faith in Jesus' promises to remain always in the Blessed Sacrament, and no longer humbly adoring their Saviour therein present. I saw in this multitude a great many sin­ful teachers who became teachers of error. They first struggled against one another, and then united against Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of His Church. I saw a great crowd of these apostate heresiarchs disdain­fully rejecting the priesthood of the Church, attack­ing and denying Jesus Christ's presence in the Mystery of the Blessed Sacrament in the manner in which He Himself gave this Mystery to the Church, which has truly preserved It. By their seductive words, they tore from the Heart of Jesus countless numbers for whom He had shed His Blood. Ah! It was fearful to look upon! For I saw the Church as the Body of

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 4

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