2/12 This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday: Suggested Reading for Lent: The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
(From The Hours of the Passion. Click here for book)
This book (The Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ) is a translation of the Italian book, L’Orologio della Passione di Nostro Signore Gesu Cristo, written by Luisa Piccarreta, “The Little Daughter of the Divine Will,” about the year 1914, in obedience to the ecclesiastical authority at that time, the now Saint Annibale Maria di Francia. This presentation was taken largely from the preface of the fourth edition, which Saint Annibale Maria di Francia had written for the original Italian.
Luisa was seventeen years old (she relates these facts in the first of thirty-six volumes which she wrote by order of holy obedience). On the last day of a Christmas Novena which Jesus Himself prompted her to do, He surprised her with an unusually vivid experience of the marvelous Mysteries of His Love. And He told her He wanted to lavish New and Greater Graces on her, manifesting to her other, even more lofty Excesses of His Immense Love, and inviting her to continue giving Him uninterrupted company during the twenty-four hours of His Sorrowful Passion and death.
Much later, after Luisa had already been Living these Hours of the Passion intensely in her interior for more than thirty years, the now Saint Annibale di Francia, who was the ecclesiastic delegate on matters concerning Luisa’s writings and who had come to know about this practice of hers, gave her the obedience to write these Hours down. This, then, is how the book, The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ began.
It was then that Saint Annibale di Francia published it for the first time. To this edition, there followed seven others: five in Italian and two in German—always with the proper ecclesiastical permissions. It was recently published in English and Spanish as well.
When Luisa had finished writing the Hours of the Passion, she wrote a letter which she gave to Saint Annibale together with the book, who included it in the book’s preface when he published it. From this letter, we come to appreciate how pleased Jesus is, and how many benefits are lavished upon the soul, when it practices these Hours on a daily basis, as Bread without which one cannot live. Here is the letter.
“I am finally sending you this hand-written copy of The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May it all be for His greater Glory. I have also enclosed a few sheets on which I have described the Effects and the beautiful Promises which Jesus makes to all those who meditate these Hours of the Passion.
“I believe that if whoever meditates on them is a sinner he will convert; if he is imperfect he will become perfect; if he is holy he will become holier; if he is tempted he will find victory; if suffering he will find strength, medicine and comfort in these Hours; if weak and poor he will find a spiritual food and a mirror in which to look at himself continually, and so become beautiful and similar to Jesus, our Model.
“Jesus’ Joy is so immense when someone meditates on the Hours of the Passion, that He would like to see at least one copy of these meditations being used in every city and town. Because then it would be as if Jesus were hearing His own Voice and His own Prayers which He raised to His Father during the twenty-four hours of His painful Passion. And if this is done at least by a few souls in each town and city, He Himself promises that the Divine Justice will be appeased in part, and punishments will be lessened.
“Reverend Father: You make an appeal to everyone. Bring this little work to completion, which my Loving Jesus has had me do.
“I would also like to add that the purpose of these Hours of the Passion is not so much that of recounting the story of the Passion, since there already are many books which deal with this pious subject, and it would not be necessary to write another one. Instead, its purpose is to make reparation: to unite ourselves to Jesus in each of the different moments of His Passion, and with His own Divine Will, make a worthy reparation for each of the various offenses He receives, and compensate Him for everything that all creatures owe Him.
“From this there derive the different ways of making reparation in these Hours. In some instances, the soul blesses Him, in others it sympathizes with Him, in others it praises Him, it comforts suffering Jesus, it compensates Him, it begs, prays and asks Him, and so on.
“So, I entrust to you the task of making known the purpose of these Hours to those who will read them.”
Therefore, in every city, town and nation, let us form so many cenacles, in which these twenty-four Hours of the Passion of Our Lord are meditated and lived. Like so many living clocks, let them faithfully mark the hours of each day, to keep Jesus company with our love, our reparation and our gratitude, for He is not loved as He deserves. Indeed, His own children offend Him and crucify Him again in their hearts, by closing the doors to Grace, to the Divine Will.
It happened that on one occasion, Saint Annibale di Francia went to Luisa’s house and recounted what had taken place on one of his visits with the Pope (being an intimate friend of Pope Saint Pius X, he was frequently received by him). While with him, he wanted to introduce him to the book, The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which he had been spreading. So, St. Annibale read a few pages of it to the Pope, specifically, from the Hour of the Crucifixion. At a certain point, the Pope interrupted him, saying:
“Father, this book should be read while kneeling: It is Jesus Christ who is speaking!”
I was writing the Hours of the Passion and I thought to myself: ‘How many sacrifices in order to write these blessed Hours of the Passion, especially to put on paper certain interior acts which had passed only between me and Jesus! What reward will He give to me?’ Letting me hear His tender and sweet voice, Jesus told me: “My daughter, as a reward for having written the Hours of my Passion, for each word you have written, I will give you a kiss – a soul.” And I: ‘My love, this is for me; and what will you give to those who will do them?’ And Jesus: “If they do them together with Me and with my own Will, I will give them a soul for each word they will recite, because the greater or lesser effectiveness of these Hour of my Passion is in the greater or lesser union that they have with Me. In doing them with my Will, the creature hides inside my Volition; and since it is my Volition that is acting, I can produce all the goods I want, even through one single word. This, for each time you will do them.”