The Suffering and Death of Christ in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the
by Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B.
Abbot of Maredsous
1. The Agony in the Garden
It is for the love of His Father above all else that Jesus willed to undergo His
Behold Jesus Christ in His agony. For three long hours weariness, grief, fear and
anguish sweep in upon His soul like a torrent; the pressure of this interior agony is so
immense that blood bursts forth from His sacred veins. What an abyss of suffering is
reached in this agony! And what does Jesus say to His Father? "Father, if it be
possible, let this chalice pass from Me." Can it be that Jesus no longer accepts the
Will of His Father? Oh! certainly He does. But this prayer is the cry of the sensitive
emotions of poor human nature, crushed by ignominy and suffering. Now is Jesus truly a
"Man of Sorrows." Our Savior feels the terrible weight of His agony bearing down
upon His shoulders. He wants us to realize this; that is why He utters such a prayer.
But listen to what He immediately adds: "Nevertheless, Father, not My will but
Thine be done." Here is the triumph of love. Because He loves His Father, He places
the Will of His Father above everything else and accepts every possible suffering in order
to redeem us.
2. The Scourging
Christ substituted Himself voluntarily for us as a sacrificial victim without blemish
in order to pay our debt, and, by the expiation and the satisfaction which He made for us,
to restore the Divine life to us. This was the mission which Christ came to fulfill, the
course which He had to run. "God has placed upon Him"--a man like unto
ourselves, of the race of Adam, but entirely just and innocent and without sin--"the
iniquity of us all."
Since Christ has become, so to speak, a sharer in our nature and has taken upon Himself
the debt of our sin, He has merited for us a share in His justice and holiness. In the
forceful words of St. Paul, God, "by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
as a sin-offering, has condemned sin in the flesh." And with an impact still more
stunning, the Apostle writes: "For our sakes He (God) made Him (Christ) to be sin who
knew nothing of sin." How startling this expression is: "made Him to be
sin"! The Apostle does not say "sinner," but--what is still more
Let us never forget that "we have been redeemed at great price by the precious
blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
3. The Crowning with Thorns
Christ Jesus becomes an object of derision and insults at the hands of the temple
servants. Behold Him, the all-powerful God, struck by sharp blows; His adorable face, the
joy of the saints, is covered with spittle; a crown of thorns is forced down upon His
head; a purple robe is placed upon His shoulders as a mock of derision; a reed is thrust
into His hand; the servants genuflect insolently before Him in mockery. What an abyss of
ignominy! What humiliation and disgrace for One before Whom the angels tremble!
The cowardly Roman governor imagines that the hatred of the Jews will be satisfied by
the sight of Christ in this pitiful state. He shows Him to the crowd: "Ecce
Homo--Behold the Man!"
Let us contemplate our Divine Master at this moment, plunged into the abyss of
suffering and ignominy, and let us realize that the Father also presents Him to us and
says to us: "Behold My Son, the splendor of My glory--but bruised for the sins of My
4. Jesus Carries the Cross
Let us meditate upon Jesus Christ on the way to Calvary laden with His cross. He falls
under the weight of this burden. To expiate sin, He wills to experience in His own flesh
the oppression of sin. Fearing that Jesus will not reach the place of crucifixion alive,
the Jews force Simon of Cyrene to help Christ to carry His cross, and Jesus accepts this
In this Simon represents all of us. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we
should all help Jesus to carry His Cross. This is the one sure sign that we belong to
Christ--if we carry our cross with Him.
But while Jesus carried His cross, He merited for us the strength to bear our trials
with generosity. He has placed in His cross a sweetness which makes ours bearable, for
when we carry our cross it is really His that we receive. For Christ unites with His own
the sufferings, sorrows, pains and burdens which we accept with love from His hand, and by
this union He gives them an inestimable value, and they become a source of great merit for
It is above all His love for His Father which impels Christ to accept the sufferings of
His Passion, but it is also the love which He bears us.
5. Jesus Dies on the Cross
At the Last Supper, when the hour had come to complete His oblation of self, what did
Christ say to His Apostles who were gathered around Him? "Greater love than this no
man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." And this is the love,
surpassing all loves, which Jesus shows us; for, as St. Paul says, "It is for us all
that He is delivered up." What greater proof of love could He have given us? None.
Hence the Apostle declares without ceasing that "because He loved us, Christ
delivered Himself up for us," and "because of the love He bears for me, He gave
Himself up for me."
"Delivered," "given"--to what extent? Even to the death on the
What enhances this love immeasurably is the sovereign liberty with which Christ
delivered Himself up: "He offered Himself because He willed it." These words
tell us how spontaneously Jesus accepted His Passion. This freedom with which Jesus
delivered Himself up to death for us is one of the aspects of His sacrifice which touch
our human hearts most profoundly.
From Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B., The Mysteries Of The Rosary. Translated and
published by the Monks of Marmion Abbey, Aurora, Illinois. Translation of Dom Columba
Marmion's "Les Mysteres du Rosaire" published with the permission of the Abbey
of Maredsous in Belgium.
Electronic text (c) Copyright 1996 EWTN. All rights reserved.