Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011: Holy Thursday (A)

from On the Passion of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

On Saint Peter's Triple Denial

Lord Jesus Christ, I glorify you for enduring Peter's shameful triple denial, by which you were especially dishonored--when in response to a woman's remark, he denied knowing you, saying: I know not the man.

I praise and exalt your name forever, for the kind glance you mercifully cast upon blessed Peter, so that when the cock crowed the second time, he immediately acknowledged his guilt, and without wasting time he left the company of wicked men and with much sorrow of heart he wept bitterly for denying you.

Peter did not fall into the deep pit of despair as did the unfortunate Judas, but he trusted in your continuing abundant mercy, which he had often experienced. Thus shedding sorrowful tears, he hastened to do penance, the saving remedy for sin, and found the gate leading to infinite mercy wide open to him.

Overcome by the fear of death, Peter fell and thrice he denied the truth, but daily I offend Eternal Truth in many ways and at the least provocation I turn from the way of virtue. When Peter fell, he quickly rose again; I fall still more quickly and more slowly do I rise. Rarely do I lament; halfheartedly do I exercise vigilance over myself, nor do I take sufficient care in avoiding dangerous occasions of sin.

Peter wept bitterly, and having learned his lesson through his fall, he fled the occasion of sin. He sought a secret place to pour forth his tears and with a heart full of sorrow he washed away the sinful stains contracted by his lamentable words. Blessed are the tears that quickly wash away past sins and recover lost graces.

Remember me, Saint Peter, and have compassion on me, frail sinner that I am, enveloped in so many unruly passions. Do not let the burden of my vices weigh me down, or let me be carried off by despair for the evil I have committed. You more than the other saints have greater compassion on those who have fallen, for you know how great was the mercy the Lord had shown you. Therefore, kind shepherd, assist the sheep that have strayed, raise up those fallen into filth, console those who are sad, strengthen the fainthearted, protect us from the enemy, keep us from falling into his snares, and take the souls of our brothers with you to the kingdom of heavenly bliss, where you are prince and porter.

Good and most gentle Jesus, with the sincerest sighs, I ask you to look upon me with the same compassionate eyes as you looked upon Peter after he had denied you. Hear my heart's groans, heal my grief resulting from a bad conscience, and restore to me the light of new grace, for you do not wish a penitent soul to perish, whom you redeemed by enduring so much suffering and shame and in the end the horrible torment of the Cross.

-Thomas a Kempis