Friday, March 3, 2017

The Canticle of the Passion

St. Catherine Ricci compiled this canticle of the Lord's Passion. According to this site, she received it during her experiences of the Passion:

Saint Catherine’s experience of the Passion of Our Lord occurred for twelve years, until she and the community prayed for it to stop. The attention and the visitors the convent was gaining due to her ecstasy had become disruptive to the Rules of the Order. During her weekly experience, Catherine’s body was tortured, allowing her sisters to follow the Passion step by step. Catherine would bleed as if being scourged, her forehead would run with blood as if she were being crowned with thorns, a large indentation on her shoulder appeared where Jesus had carried the cross. She further experienced the stigmata and bled from a wound in her side where the lance had been thrust. During these moments, and other moments of deeply penitential prayer, a coral ring would appear on Catherine’s finger, a sign of her marriage to the suffering of Christ. During her first ecstatic experience, she was presented with The Canticle of the Passion (text found below) by Our Blessed Mother—a prayer which Mary urged her to share with others, so that they, too, may contemplate the sufferings of the Lord.


My friends and My neighbors
have drawn near and stood against Me.
I was delivered up and came not forth;

My eyes languished through poverty.
And my sweat became as drops of blood,
trickling down and upon the ground.

For many dogs have encompassed Me
the council of the malignant hath besieged Me.

I have given My body to the strikers
and My cheeks to them that plucked them.

I have not turned away My face from them that rebuked Me
and spit upon Me.

For I am ready for scourges,
and My sorrow is continually before Me.
The soldiers, plaiting a crown of thorns, placed it upon My head.

They have dug My hands and feet;
they have numbered all My bones.

And they gave Me gall for My food;
and in My thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.

All they that saw Me laughed Me to scorn;
they have spoken with lips and wagged their heads.

They have looked and stared upon Me;
they parted My garments among them and upon My vesture they cast lots.

Into Thy hands I commend My spirit;
Thou has redeemed me, O God of truth.

Be mindful, O Lord, of Thy servants,
when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom.

And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice
gave up the ghost.

The mercies of the Lord
I will sing for all eternity.

Surely He hath borne our infirmities
and carried our sorrows.
He was bruised for our sins.

All we, like sheep, have gone astray;
every one hath turned aside into his own way.

For the Lord hath placed upon him
the iniquities of us all.

Arise, why sleepest Thou, O Lord?
Arise and cast us not off to the end.

Behold, God is my Savior,
I will deal confidently, and will not fear.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, help Thy servants
whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.

Have mercy on us, O benign Jesus.
Who in Thy clemency didst suffer for us.

Look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, on this Thy family for which Our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be delivered into the hands of the wicked, and suffer the torments of the Cross.

This YouTube video is from the Dominicans in Ireland and the Canticle is sung in Latin. It is often sung at Friday night devotions during Lent in Dominican houses. I have found it a great devotional addition to attending Stations and Benediction for Lent. The pauses between the stanzas provide moments for reflection and meditation. As the Irish Dominicans' website describes her, she was inspired by Savonarola!:

Alexandra de’ Ricci was born of a noble family near Florence in 1522. At the age of twelve she entered the Dominican convent of St Vincent at Prato and took the religious name Catherine. Inspired by the Dominican reformer Girolamo Savonarola she worked constantly to promote the regular life. She was favoured with extraordinary mystical experiences and at the age of twenty began to experience the sacred stigmata and weekly ecstasies of the Passion. These phenomena continued for twenty years. Despite her intense mystical life of prayer and her penance, Catherine served as prioress of the convent for thirty-six years. She was noted as a kind and considerate superior, particularly gentle with the sick. She died on February 2, 1590 (from the Dominican Supplement for the Liturgy of the Hours).

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