Thursday, Last Week in Lent
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
He shook like the aspen as he stood before them, for he was so weakened from suffering and loss of blood that he could not support himself for more than a few moments; he was covered with open wounds, and his shoulders and back were torn to the bone by the dreadful scourging he had endured. He was about to fall when the executioners, fearing that he might die, and thus deprive them of the barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, led him to a large stone and placed him roughly down upon it, but no sooner was he seated than they aggravated his sufferings by putting the crown of thorns again upon his head.
They then offered him some vinegar and gall, from which, however, he turned away in silence. The executioners did not allow him to rest long, but bade him rise and place himself on the cross that they might nail him to it. Then seizing his right arm they dragged it to the hole prepared for the nail, and having tied it tightly down with a cord, one of them knelt upon his sacred chest, a second held his hand flat, and a third taking a long thick nail, pressed it on the open palm of that adorable hand, which had ever been open to bestow blessings and favours on the ungrateful Jews, and with a great iron hammer drove it through the flesh, and far into the wood of the cross. Our Lord uttered one deep but suppressed groan, and his blood gushed forth and sprinkled the arms of the archers.
I counted the blows of the hammer, but my extreme grief made me forget their number. The nails were very large, the heads about the size of a crown piece, and the thickness that of a man’s thumb, while the points came through at the back of the cross.
The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself.
When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted. They again knelt upon him, tied down his arms, and drove the second nail into his left hand; his blood flowed afresh, and his feeble groans were once more heard between the blows of the hammer, but nothing could move the hard-hearted executioners to the slightest pity. The arms of Jesus, thus unnaturally stretched out, no longer covered the arms of the cross, which were sloped; there was a wide space between them and his armpits.
Each additional torture and insult inflicted on our Lord caused a fresh pang in the heart of his Blessed Mother; she became white as a corpse, but as the Pharisees endeavoured to increase her pain by insulting words and gestures, the disciples led her to a group of pious women who were standing a little farther off.
by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion
by Dr. Mark Eastman
Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 b.c. It was "perfected" by the Romans in the first century b.c. It is arguably the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term "excruciating." It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of criminals.
The most common device used for crucifixion was a wooden cross, which consisted of an upright pole permanently fixed in the ground with a removable crossbar, usually weighing between 75-100 lbs. Victims of crucifixion were typically stripped naked and their clothing divided by the Roman guards. In Jesus' case this was done in fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, "They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots."
As a gesture of "Roman kindness" the prisoner was offered a mixture of vinegar (gall) and wine as a mild anesthetic. This anesthetic was refused by Jesus.5 Consequently, He bore it all! The Apostle Peter stated of Jesus:
The severing of this nerve is a medical catastrophe. In addition to severe burning pain the destruction of this nerve causes permanent paralysis of the hand. Furthermore, by nailing the victim at this point in the wrist, there would be minimal bleeding and there would be no bones broken! Thus scriptures were fulfilled:
I can count all my bones: they look and stare upon me. Psalm 22:17
He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:20
The positioning of the feet is probably the most critical part of the mechanics of crucifixion. First the knees were flexed about 45 degrees and the feet were flexed (bent downward) an additional 45 degrees until they were parallel the vertical pole. An iron nail about 7-9 inches long was driven through the feet between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. In this position the nail would sever the dorsal pedal artery of the foot, but the resultant bleeding would be insufficient to cause death.
Talking with the children about the Eleventh Station...
What is the worst pain the children can recall feeling? How many times more do they think Christ suffered at the crucifixion? Why did He, who truly could have come down from the cross at any time, not save Himself? Why did God-made-Man put Himself through this?
The Eleventh Station:
Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
V: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. (Genuflect)
R: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. (Rise)
V: Consider Jesus, thrown down upon the cross, He stretched out His arms and offered to His eternal Father the sacrifice of His life for our salvation. They nailed His hands and feet, and then, raising the cross, left Him to die in anguish. (Kneel)
R: My despised Jesus, / nail my heart to the cross / that it may always remain there to love You and never leave You again. / I love You more than myself; / I am sorry for ever having offended You. / Never permit me to offend You again. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)
Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.
Eleventh Station (St. Francis of Asissi)
Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Stripped of His garments, Jesus is violently thrown down on the Cross. His hands and His feet are nailed to it in the most cruel way. Jesus remains silent, because it so pleases His heavenly Father. He suffers patiently, because He suffers for you. How do you act in sufferings and trials? How fretful and impatient, how full of complaints are you!
O Jesus, * meek and patient Lamb, * I renounce forever my impatience. * Crucify, O Lord, my flesh, * with its evil desires and vices. * Punish and afflict me in this life, * but spare me in the next. * I resign myself altogether to Thy holy will. * May it be done in all things.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.