WITH BLESSED KATARZYNA EMMERICH ON VIA DOLOROSA
FR. WALDERMAR CHROSTOWSKI
Evangelical narrations about the passion and death of Jesus Christ marked the main trend of passion faith and religiousness of the Christians. Reflecting on His passion and death fruited with deep mystical experiences, and among them - an unusual testimony which was passed by blessed Katarzyna Emmerich. Reading 'Passion, that is, painful torment of our Lord Jesus Christ' is an ascension onto Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and travel through it with the mystic whose transcripts 'complement' what we know from the Gospel
Passion of Jesus started long before the kidnapping in Gethsemane. When in Bethlehem angels were proclaiming the joyful gospel about the birth of the Redeemer , in Jerusalem a tree had already been grown for his cross. From the beginning besides acceptance of Jesus and his teaching there was growing rejection and hostility. Being aware of his destination and fate, Jesus had been preparing his disciples for apostolic tasks which they were supposed to do.
His indications were stronger in the past period of public activity when it missionary ministry was being formed and was directed towards places and people known from the Acts of the Apostles and early-Christian tradition. The disciples were feeling the close perspective of passion and death of their Master. However, the growing interest in his teachings was accompanied by hostility which was to be revealed soon.
A solemn arrival at Jerusalem
Short moments of enthusiasm of crowds on the Palm Sunday were preceded by the stay of Jesus in the house of Lazarus in Bethany. He showed the sense of redemption history there, starting with the 'paradise, with the degradation of Adam and Eva and with a promise of Redeemer'. He taught, like he used to in Galilee, with the usage of a parable. He also made preparations for the solemn arrival at the Holy City in which the redemption history was to reach the apogee.
The arrival at Jerusalem was a triumph of the promised and announced Messiah, and also time of grief and appearance of behaviours and attitudes hostile to Him. Magdalena anoints Jesus again, which is the announcement of His funeral, which is followed by events known from the Gospel and mystical experiences enriched by details: the teaching of Lazarus and strict reprimand of Peter, the sacrifice of a widow, the announcement of destruction of Jerusalem and other future events and other future events and a feast at home of Lazarus.
The last teachings of Jesus in a temple
The closer it was till seizure and torment of Jesus, the more intensive and stronger the activity of Jesus became. His teaching mainly concerns the future, announces and prepares the time of the Church whose main part is going to be sacramental ministry, with the Eucharist in the lead.
Anointing Jesus in Bethany
Closeness of death and its consequences raises the tension. It is accompanied by other announcements of the fate of the disciples and also Mary, Jesus' Mother. The ministry of women accompanying Jesus is significant, whose faithfulness raises sincere admiration and recognition. It is particularly seen during the feast in the house of Simon and the anointing Jesus with a valuable oil by one of the women. On another pole of this faithfulness there is evil because Judas starts realizing its treacherous plan.
The Last Supper
The Upper Room is the mother of all churches, therefore, its place and outlook are so important. The process of the Last Supper is as important as the dishes and respect for participants are, among whom there were Mary and saint women. The rich description of the Last Supper emphasizes its breakthrough significance in life of Jesus and his disciples and in the life of the Church.
The rite of washing feet is significant, which precedes the establishment of the Blessed Sacrament, which is followed by the last teachings concerning providing holy sacraments and devotion of the Apostles. The establishment of the Eucharist somehow closes the time of Jesus and anticipates the time of the Church. There is no other road to Jesus than the one which is the Church.
Gethsemane and seizure of Jesus
Acceptance of the Blessed Sacrament made the disciples present in the Upper Room stronger. Whereas, the burden of guilt and sins was in the Gethsemane the reason for satan's temptations similar to those which Jesus had experienced in the beginning of his public activity. Growing fear of death were overcome by a trustful prayer and complete entrusting to Father.
The mystic emphasizes the real humanity of Jesus and His spiritual power which does not raise any doubts, that the last word always belongs to God when facing the immensity of evil and mischief. The Church and believers are never alone in their struggles with evil, because their power and remedy is the Eucharist ¨C as the heart of life and mission of the Church.
The arrival of Judas initiated the announcement of passion of Jesus. In the context of betrayal the anger of persecutors appeared stronger. The vision of the seizure was preceded by references to the tree of the cross on which the Redeemer's body will be crucified. The seizure confirmed the enemies' anger and also revealed their weakness visible in growing anxieties and fears. It also induced preparations from influential opponents of Jesus which went together with fear paralysing His disciples and Apostles.
Jesus in front of Annan and Caiaphas
Hearing in front of the supreme religious authorities of Israel was a farce in which pretexts replaced causes. However, just then, among contempt, slanders and ridicule, the messiah identity of Jesus and His real identity were revealed. During hearings in front of Annan and Caiaphas at night, the sense of the history of Israel is revealed. So, there is bigger paradox of mocking at Jesus and denial of Peter, as well as on the one hand: the most beautiful sign of faithfulness ¨C the presence of Mary, Jesus' Mother and ¨C on the other hand: the most significant sign of the tragedy- the presence and despair of Judas.
Jesus in front of Pilate and Herod
The parade to the house of Peter revealed persecutors' anger again and confirmed faithfulness of Jesus' Mother, Magdalena and John. Because of the significance of this episode, there is a long description of the palace and its surroundings. Hearing in front of Herod is based on the report from the Gospel according to St. John, perceived by Biblicists as the closest one to the events which it describes.
The previous residence of Pilate is a place of the beginning of the divine service of the Road of the Cross, that is, 'painful pondering on the bitter Passion of our Divine Redeemer'. In the mystical vision there is also a mention about Pilate's wife and hearing in front of Herod, the marionette Jewish king, from whom Jesus returns to Pilate, where enemies demand His crucifixion.
Whipping, crowning with a thorny crown and sentencing to death
Details of whipping Jesus raise fear and sorrow, revealing dark sides of human attitudes and behaviours, strongly contrasting with the attitude and outlook of Mary and Magdalena. The prolonged sufferings and torments were crowned with a thorn, after which Pilate exposed Jesus to the public with the words: 'Here is the Human Being'. The vision emphasizes growing hostility which led to callousness of hearts and consciences, and filling Pilate with fear, to sentencing Jesus to death on the cross.
Carrying the cross onto the Golgotha
Like beads of the rosary there are other links of the tragedy: in humiliation and suffering Jesus carries his cross. After his first fall he meets his Mother. He rises from the second fall. Help from Simon of Cyrene, a man 'at the age of about 40' does not prevent Jesus from the third fall.
Great relief is brought by Veronica who wipes Jesus' face from sweat, blood and tears, whereas a veil used by her took on miraculous proprieties. The visionary also mentions crying women, the fourth and fifth fall of Jesus under the cross and also the sixth and seventh one when, ascending the Golgotha, he arrived in the place of destination. Surrounded by persecutors and supported by very few people, he was not alone: he was being accompanied by Mary and saint women on his way to the Golgotha.
Crucifixion and death of Redeemer
Taking off his robes and giving him vinegar were the introduction to Jesus' crucifixion. Various details are astonishing, which are not mentioned in the Gospel and sound incredible. The unity and coherence of history of redemption are exposed: 'Among painful moans, Jesus was praying spontaneously and was repeating single parts of psalms and prophets which, predicted in the Old Order, were fulfilled in Him'. The visionary presents the raising the cross, random draw of Jesus' robe, reaction of two villains and - what is particularly significant and moving ¨C seven words of the Crucified. His death is accompanied by unusual signs ¨C earthquake and appearance of the dead in Jerusalem.
Funeral and depositing body into a grave
After Joseph from Arymateia demanded from Pilate to give the body, a wound was made on Jesus' body in order to make sure about his death. There is a description of the garden and the grave where Jesus' body was to be deposited, and also preparations for a quick funeral and depositing the body into the grave.