Monday, June 26, 2023

St. Longinus – the Centurion at the Crucifixion – Part Two.

His reason for piercing the Heart of Jesus with his lance. Although objectively the blow of the lance seems cruel, Longinus’ motive was noble. The great concern Longinus shows towards the Blessed Mother. Mary obtains for him the grace of salvation.


Following is a condensed version of Maria Valtorta’s long chapter on the Crucifixion (609), in her work The Gospel as Revealed to Me, removing whatever is extraneous to the role of Longinus in this tragedy. 


Four brawny men, certainly of the same category as the scourgers, jump from a path onto the place of the execution. They are wearing short sleeveless tunics, and in their hands they are holding nails, hammers and ropes, which they show to the condemned men scoffing at them. The crowd is excited with cruel frenzy.


The condemned men are ordered to undress. The executioners offer the condemned men three rags, so that they may tie them round their groins.


But Mary has noticed everything and She has removed the long thin white veil covering Her head under Her dark mantle, and on which She has already shed so many tears. She removes it without letting Her mantle drop and gives it to John so that he may hand it to Longinus for Her Son. The centurion takes the veil without any objection and, when he sees that Jesus is about to strip Himself completely, facing the side where there are no people, and thus turning towards the crowd His back furrowed with bruises and blisters, and covered with sores and dark crusts that are bleeding again, he gives Him His Mother's linen veil. Jesus recognizes it and wraps it round His pelvis several times, fastening it carefully so that it may not fall off.


                                                       Pope Innocent VIII holds the spear point. 

Now the top of Golgotha has its trophy and its guard of honour. At the top there is the cross of Jesus. At the sides the other two crosses. Half a century of soldiers, in fighting trim, is placed all round the summit; inside this circle of armed soldiers there are the ten dismounted soldiers, who throw dice for the garments of the condemned men. Longinus is standing upright between the cross of Jesus and the one on the right. And he seems to be mounting guard of honour for the Martyr King. The other half century, at rest, is on the left path and on the lower open space, under the orders of Longinus' adjutant, awaiting to be employed in case of need.


The indifference of the soldiers is almost total. Only an odd one now and again looks at the crucified men. Longinus, instead, watches everything with curiosity and interest, he makes comparisons and judges mentally. He compares the crucified men, and the Christ in particular, and the spectators. His piercing eye does not miss any detail. And to see better, he shades his eyes with his hand, because the sun must be annoying him.


The sun is in fact strange. It is yellow-red like a fire. Then the fire seems to go out all of a sudden, because of a huge cloud of pitch that rises from behind the chains of the Judaean mountains and soars swiftly across the sky, disappearing behind other mountains. And when the sun comes out again, it is so strong that the eye endures it with difficulty. While looking, he sees Mary, just under the slope, with Her tormented face raised towards Her Son. He calls one of the soldiers who are playing dice and says to him: «If His Mother wants to come up with the son who is escorting Her, let Her come. Escort Her and help Her.»


And Mary with John, who is believed to be Her «son», climbs the steps cut in the tufaceous rock and goes to the foot of the cross, but a little aside, to be seen and see Her Jesus. The crowd showers the most disgraceful abuses on Her at once, associating Her with Her Son in their curses.


In fact Longinus has given an order, and the fifty soldiers, who were resting, have come into action and they prick the buttocks of the first Judaeans they find. The latter run away shouting and the soldiers stop to block the entrances to the two roads and protect the open space. The Judaeans curse, but Rome is the stronger.


Also the soldiers point to the sky and to a kind of cone that seems of slate, so dark it is, and that rises like a pine-tree from behind the top of a mountain. It looks like a water-spout. It rises and rises and seems to produce darker and darker clouds, as if it were a volcano belching smoke and lava. It is in this frightening twilight that Jesus gives John to Mary and Mary to John.


And fainter and fainter, sounding like a child's wailing, comes the invocation: «Mother!» And the poor wretch whispers: «Yes, darling, I am here.» And when His sight becomes misty and makes Him say: «Mother, where are You? I cannot see You any more. Are You abandoning Me as well?» and they are not even words , but just a murmur that can hardly be heard by Her Who with Her heart rather than with Her ears receives every sigh of Her dying Son, She says: «No, no, Son! I will not abandon You!


Listen to Me, My dear... Your Mother is here, She is here... and She only regrets that She cannot come where You are...» It is heart-rending...


And John weeps openly. Jesus must hear him weep. But He does not say anything. I think that His impending death makes Him speak as if He were raving and that He does not even know what He says, and, unfortunately, He does not even understand His Mother's consolation and His favourite apostle's love.


Longinus – who inadvertently is no longer standing at ease with his arms folded across his chest, and one leg crossed over the other alternately, to ease the long wait on his feet, and is now instead standing stiff at attention, his left hand on his sword, his right one held against his side, as if he were on the steps of the imperial throne – does not want to be influenced. But his face is affected in the effort of overcoming his emotion, and his eyes begin to shine with tears that only his iron discipline can refrain.


The head of Jesus falls on His chest, His body leans forward, the trembling stops, He breathes no more. He has breathed His last. The summit of Golgotha trembles and quakes like a plate in the hands of a madman, because of the subsultory and undulatory shocks that shake the three crosses so violently that they seem on the point of being overturned.


Longinus, John, the soldiers grab whatever they can, as best they can, not to fall. But John, while grasping the cross with one arm, with the other supports Mary Who, both because or Her grief and the unsteadiness, has leaned on his chest. 


Joseph and Nicodemus appear and they go to Longinus. «We want the Corpse.»


«Only the Proconsul can grant it. Go quick, because I heard that the Judaeans want to go to the Praetorium to obtain permission to fracture His legs. I would not like them to disfigure His Body.»


«How do you know?»


«A report of the ensign. Go. I will wait.»


The two men rush down the steep road and disappear. It is at this moment that Longinus approaches John and in a low voice says something to him, which I do not understand. Then he makes a soldier give him a lance. He looks at the women, who are all attending to Mary, Who is slowly recovering Her strength. They have all their backs turned to the cross.


Longinus places himself in front of the Crucified, he ponders carefully how to deal the blow and he strikes it. The lance penetrates deeply from the bottom upwards, from right to left. John, wavering between the desire to see and the horror of seeing, makes a wry face for a moment.


«It is done, my friend» says Longinus, and he ends: «Better so. As for a knight. And without fracturing bones... He was really a Just Man!» A lot of water and just a trickle of blood, already tending to clot, drip from the wound. I said drip.


There is a compassionate group that is consoling Mary, and John standing on the left side of the cross and weeping, and Longinus, standing straight on the right side, solemn in his respectful posture. Nicodemus and Joseph arrive back running and they say that they have Pilate's permission. But Longinus, who is not too trustful, sends a horse-soldier to the Proconsul to learn what he has to do also with regard to the two robbers. The soldier goes and come back at a gallop with the order to hand over Jesus and break the legs of the other two, by will of the Jews.


Longinus calls the four executioners, who are cravenly crouched under the rock, still terrorised by what has happened, and orders them to give the robbers the death-blow with a club. Which takes place without any protest by Disma, to whom the blow of the club, delivered to his heart, after striking his knees, breaks in half, on his lips, the name of Jesus, in a death-rattle. The other robber utters horrible curses. 


The four executioners would also like to take care of Jesus, taking Him down from the cross. But Joseph and Nicodemus do not allow them. Also Joseph takes off his mantle and tells John to do likewise and to hold the ladders, while they climb them with levers and tongs.


Mary stands up trembling, supported by the women, and She approaches the cross. In the meantime the soldiers, having fulfilled their task, go away. And Longinus, before descending beyond the lower open space, turns round from the height of his black horse to look at Mary and at the Crucified. Then the noise of the hooves resounds on the stones and that of the weapons against the armour, and fades away in the distance.


On Calvary remain the three crosses, the central one of which is bare and the other two have their living trophies, who are dying.




The Lord Jesus praised St. Longinus: 


Pilate is a false good man. Longinus is good, because although he was less powerful than the Praetor and less defended, in the middle of the street and surrounded by few soldiers and a hostile multitude, he dares to defend Me, help Me, grant Me a rest, to be consoled by the pious women, be assisted by the man from Cyrene and finally to have My Mother at the foot of the Cross. He was a hero of justice and so he became a hero of Christ.”

The Blessed Virgin obtained his salvation, as she revealed to Maria Valtorta, in The Notebooks, Dec. 8, 1943:


It was the mercy of Longinus that allowed me to approach the Cross, at which I had arrived by way of steep shortcuts, carried more by love than by my own strength. Longinus was an upright soldier who did his duty and exercised his right with justice. He was already predisposed, then, towards the miracles of Grace. Because of that mercy of his, I obtained for him the gift of the drops from the Side, and they were his baptism in grace, for his soul was thirsty for Justice and Truth. At dawn on the day of Jesus' birth, the angels had said, “Peace on earth to men of good will.” 


At sunset on the day of his death, the same Christ was giving this man of good will his Peace. And Longinus was the first son born to me from the labor of the Cross, for Disma was the last one to be redeemed through the word of Jesus of Nazareth, as John was the first one, and I might say that he, with his heart like a lily made of diamonds inflamed by love, was the light born of Light, and the Darkness was never able to obscure it.”



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Monday, June 19, 2023

St. Longinus – the Centurion at the Crucifixion - Part One.

The Way of the Cross from the Praetorium to Calvary and the great sympathy Longinus shows towards Our Lord. He is listed among the martyrs of the Church in the Martyrologium Romanum, with a feast day of March 15. Maria Valtorta’s Poem of the Man-God provides a detailed account of his actions during the Passion.

Pontius Pilate has just decided to have Jesus crucified, bowing to the frenzied demands of the Jews. After washing his hands, literally and symbolically, he goes back to his little throne and summons the centurion Longinus. Standing upright, he stretches his hand forward with its palm turned down, while ordering: “Let Him go to the cross. Soldier, go. Prepare the cross.” Then he descends from his throne without even looking at Jesus or the uproarious crowd. 


Some time goes by, not more than half an hour, while the cross is prepared. Valtorta writes in chapter 604: 


Then Longinus, who is entrusted with the task of superintending the execution, gives his orders. But before Jesus is taken outside, into the street, to receive the cross and set out, Longinus, who has looked at Him twice or three times, with a curiosity that is already tinged with compassion and with the expert eye of one who is accustomed to certain situations, approaches Jesus with a soldier and offers Him a refreshment.” Valtorta surmises that it was a cup of wine. “In fact he pours a light blond rosy liquid out of a real military canteen.” Longinus speaks to the Lord: «It will do You good. You must be thirsty. And the sun is shining outside. And the way is a long one.» And Jesus replies to him: «May God reward you for your compassion. But do not deprive yourself of it.»


«I am healthy and strong... You... I am not depriving myself... And even if I were... I would do it willingly, to give You some solace... A draught... to show me that You do not hate heathens.»


Jesus no longer refuses and takes a draught of the drink. As His hands are already untied […] He can do it by Himself. But He refuses to take more, although the good cool drink should be a great relief to His fever, which is already showing itself in the red streaks that inflame His pale cheeks and His dry lips. 


«Take some, take it. It is water and honey. It will give You strength and quench Your thirst... I feel pity for You... yes... pity... It was not You Who was to be killed among the Jews... Who knows!... I do not hate You... and I will try to make You suffer only what is necessary.»


But Jesus does not drink any more... He is really thirsty... The dreadful thirst of those who have lost much blood and are feverish... He knows that it is not a drink with narcotics, and He would drink it willingly. But He does not want to suffer less.” Valtorta writes that she has been enlightened to understand [...] that the compassion of the Roman is of greater solace to Him than the water sweetened with honey.


«May God reward you with His blessings for this solace» He then says. And He smiles again... a heart-rending smile with His swollen wounded lips, which move with difficulty, also because the severe contusion between His nose and His right cheek-bone, caused by the blow with a cudgel He received in the court-yard after the flagellation, is swelling consider ably.

Following is a condensed version of Valtorta’s long chapter on the Way of the Cross (604), removing whatever is extraneous to the role of Longinus in this tragedy.

The two robbers are brought forward, and it is time to go. Longinus gives his instructions. As a centurion he has one hundred soldiers at his command, some are mounted. They are now ready. And Longinus gives the order of march. First the Nazarene, behind Him the two robbers; a decury [a unit of ten soldiers] around each of them, with the other seven decuries positioned on the flank as reinforcements. 


Jesus comes down the three steps that from the lobby take one into the square. And it is immediately clear that Jesus is in an extremely weak condition .The Jews laugh seeing Him stagger along like a drunk man and they shout to the soldiers: «Push Him. Make Him fall. In the dust the blasphemer!» But the soldiers do only what they have to do, that is, they order the Condemned One to stay in the middle of the road and walk.


Longinus spurs his horse and the procession begins to move slowly. 


Jesus is panting more and more. He stumbles and falls on His right knee, but He can hold Himself up with His left hand. The crowd howls with joy… Longinus urges to make haste and the soldiers, striking with the flat of their daggers, press poor Jesus to proceed. Longinus, who turns round now and again, feels sorry for Him and orders a few minutes' stop. And the rabble insults him so much that the centurion orders the soldiers to charge them. And the faint-hearted crowds at the sight of the shining threatening lances, run away shouting and hurling themselves here and there down the mountain.


And immediately afterwards, the pain of the third fall, a complete one. 


«Make sure that He dies only on the cross!» shout the crowd. «If you let Him die beforehand, you will answer to the Proconsul, bear that in your minds. The culprit must arrive alive at the execution place» say the chief scribes to the soldiers. The latter cast withering glances at them, but discipline prevents them from speaking. But Longinus is just as afraid as the Jews that the Christ may die on the road, and he does not want to have troubles. Without needing to be reminded, he knows what is his duty as officer responsible for the execution and he takes action.


So Longinus gives the order to take the longer road that winds up the mountain and is therefore not so steep. This road seems a path that by dint of being used by many people has changed into a rather comfortable road. 


And in the midst of the loud noise of weeping women and cursing Judaeans, Jesus sets out again. Jesus is once again completely wet with perspiration. The road continues. It goes round the mountain, it comes back almost to the front, towards the steep road. Here, there is Mary with John. John looks at Her with desolate pity.


The other women – Mary and Martha of Lazarus, Mary of Alphaeus and Mary of Zebedee, Susanna from Cana, the mistress of the house, and some others – are all in the middle of the road looking to see whether the Saviour is coming. And when they see Longinus arrive, they rush towards Mary to inform Her. And Mary, supported by John who is holding Her by the elbow, departs from the hillside, stately in Her grief, and places Herself resolutely in the middle of the road, moving aside only at the arrival of Longinus, who from the height of his black horse looks at the pale Woman and at Her blond wan companion, whose meek eyes are blue like Hers. And Longinus shakes his head while passing by followed by the eleven soldiers on horseback.


Mary tries to pass through the dismounted soldiers, who, being warm and in a hurry, strive to drive Her back with their lances, all the more now that stones are thrown from the paved road, as a protest against so much compassion. It is the Jews, who once again curse because of the halt brought about by the pious women . 


Longinus spurs his horse against the reviling pack of hounds, who run away for the second time. And in doing so he sees a cart standing still, and is waiting for the crowds to pass, so that it may go down towards the town with its load of greens. Curiosity has made the man from Cyrene and his sons go up there. The man, instead, a very strong man, about forty-fifty years old, standing near the little donkey, which is frightened and tries to draw back, looks attentively at the procession.


Longinus looks him up and down. He thinks that he can be useful and says to him in a commanding voice: «Man, come here.» The man from Cyrene feigns he has not heard. But one cannot trifle with Longinus. He repeats the order in such a way that the man throws the reins to one of his sons and approaches the centurion.


«Do you see that man?» he asks. And in doing so, he turns round to point out Jesus and he sees Mary, Who is imploring the soldiers to let Her pass. He takes pity on Her and he shouts: «Let the Woman pass.» He then resumes speaking to the man from Cyrene: «He cannot proceed further laden as He is. You are strong. Take His cross and carry it in His stead as far as the summit.»


«I cannot... I have the donkey... it is restive... the boys cannot hold it...» But Longinus says: «Go, if you do not want to lose your donkey and get twenty blows as punishment.» The man from Cyrene delays no longer. He shouts to the boys: «Go home and be quick. And say that I am coming at once» and he then goes towards Jesus.

Bernini's statue at the Vatican
Bernini's Statue at the Vatican

Jesus turns towards His Mother, Whom only now He sees coming towards Him, because He is proceeding so bent and with His eyes almost closed, as if He were blind, and He shouts: «Mother!»


Since He began being tortured, it is the first word that expresses His sufferings. Because in that cry there is the confession of everything, and all the dreadful sorrow of His spirit, of His morale, of His body. 


Mary presses Her hand against Her heart, as if She had been stabbed, and She staggers lightly. But She collects Herself, quickens Her step and while going towards Her tortured Son with outstretched arms, She shouts: «Son!» But She says so in such a way that whoever has not got the heart of a hyena, feels it is breaking because of so much grief. There are signs of compassion even among the Romans... and yet they are soldiers, accustomed to slaughters, marked by scars... But the words: «Mother!» and «Son!» are always the same for all those who are not worse than hyenas, they are understood everywhere and they raise waves of compassion everywhere...


The man from Cyrene feels such pity... And as he sees that Mary cannot embrace Her Son because of the cross, he hastens to remove the cross, and he does so with the gentleness of a father, in order not to give a shove to the crown or rub against His sores. 


Behind Jesus there is now the man from Cyrene with the cross. And Jesus, freed of that weight, is proceeding more easily. He is panting violently, He often presses His hand against His heart, as if He had a great pain or a wound there, but He can walk better.


Longinus stops and orders his men to inexorably repel everybody farther down, so that the top, the place of the execution, may be free.


The soldiers, who have driven the people away from the top, with convincing blows of their lances subdue quarrels and make room, so that the procession may pass without any hindrance on the last stretch of the road. The mountain, on the three sides on which the slopes descend gently towards the valley, is all crowded with people. While the men responsible for the execution prepare their instruments, finishing emptying the holes, and the men condemned await in the middle of the square formed by the soldiers, the Jews insult them. They insult also the Mother: «Death to the Galileans. Death! Galileans! Galileans! Curse them! Death to the Galilean blasphemer. Nail on the cross also the womb that bore Him! Away from here the vipers that give birth to demons! Death to them! Clear Israel of the females who copulate with the billy-goat!...»


Longinus, who has dismounted, turns round and sees the Mother... He orders his men to stop the uproar... The fifty soldiers who were behind the condemned men charge the rabble and clear the second esplanade completely, as the Jews run away along the mountain, treading on one another. The centurion sets out towards the top. Everything is ready on the summit. They make the condemned men go up. And once again Jesus passes near His Mother, Who utters a groan, which She tries to stifle, by pressing Her mantle against Her lips. The Jews notice it, they laugh and deride. John, the meek John, who has one arm round Mary's shoulders to support Her, turns round and glares at them.


As soon as the condemned men are on the fatal platform, the soldiers surround the open space on three sides. Only the one that drops sheer is empty. The centurion orders the man from Cyrene to go away. And he goes away, unwillingly now, and I would not say out of sadism, but out of love. The two robbers throw their crosses on the ground swearing. Jesus is silent. The sorrowful way has come to its end.

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Monday, June 12, 2023

On the Modernist Novus Ordo Mass.

A Modernist council and Modernist Popes have given us a Modernist Mass.


No less an authority than Pope Paul VI himself admitted that the smoke of Satan had entered the church through some crack. As the late Fr. Dominic Bourmaud stated in his classic work One Hundred Years of Modernism – A Genealogy of the Principles of the Second Vatican Council, the smoke is Modernism, and the crack was Vatican II. 


According to Fr. Bourmaud, the Modernist levels a three-pronged attack against the bulwarks of Christian culture – the philosophy of being, revelation as a fact, and the harmony between faith and reason. In its place modernism proposes a philosophy of no being (existence precedes essence), revelation without a historical basis, and ultimately, “a theology without God.”


In the current synodal process, as noted recently by Fr. Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the SSPX, “The underlying idea is that God does not reveal Himself through the traditional channels of Holy Scripture and Tradition, which are safeguarded by the hierarchy, but through the ‘experience of the people of God’ [i.e. revelation without a historical basis]. Such a faith-experience, necessarily destined to evolve according to the awareness and the needs of the different moments in history, is constantly ‘enriched’ with new contents, and at the same time leaves aside that which is no longer current.”


This is reflected in the Modernist Mass of Paul VI with its constant state of flux – changes in rubrics and praxis, in rules, regulations and ceremonies. It focuses on the personal experience and feelings of the people, their active participation in the Mass, on self, and secondarily on the Lord, thus approaching a “theology without God.” 


The following three facts alone indicate the Modernism of the Mass and its theology without God – the tendency to minimize the absolute primacy of the worship of God in the Mass:

  1.  The Priest faces the assembly while praying to God.

  2. The Sacred Species are handled by Eucharistic ministers.

  3. Communion is received in the hand and standing – disrespectful on two counts. 

It is ironic that the proponents of this Mass are attempting to increase devotion to the Eucharist. Historically, only in contact with the consecrated hands of a Catholic Priest, the Sacred Species are touched by unconsecrated male and female lay “ministers,” and put into the hands of the laity without exception for reception, while everyone is standing. “And he said: I believe Lord. And falling down he adored Him” [John 9:38].


I am old enough to remember attending the Tridentine Mass, when as a child I thought that the few who received Communion must be very holy. They received only from the Priest, in the mouth and kneeling. Confession before reception was the implied standard. This process is of course completely alien to the Modernist Mass, as it is the antithesis of the “welcoming, ecumenical” mindset of its attendees, most of whom according to statistics, do not even believe in the Real Presence. The best example of the Modernist mass-going mentality that I have read came from a diocesan newspaper, where one person was quoted as saying that to kneel before receiving Communion would be “beneath her dignity.”


To quote Fr. Bourmaud: “The religion in which man divinizes and adores himself is thus a rejection of original sin and the refusal of the Savior. Such is the essence of Modernism” [p. 181].


In the Modernist Mass, the Priest is not obliged offer the Holy Sacrifice ad orientem, the sermon is frequently an attempt to entertain, and talking in Church is common. In fact, in one of the most recent Modernist Novus Ordo Masses that I attended, the deacon had to get up on the altar before Mass started in order to ask everyone to be quiet, because some people wanted to pray!


To approach the altar with a “humble and contrite heart,” after proving oneself; to deny oneself, forget oneself, and concentrate on worshiping and adoring God. This is piety, this is reverence. Lord, help me not to judge those who accuse worshipers such as these of being triumphalist rigid Christians, rosary counters, restorationists. and self-absorbed neo-pelagians.


To improve Eucharistic devotion, the Modernist Mass would have to change direction and proceed in the way of the Traditional Latin Mass. But change direction it will not and cannot, since it would be admitting defeat. How many decades went by before they finally caved in and restored the Eucharistic prayer to say “for many” instead of “for all?” Instead they will tweak it in some minor, non-essentials. For example, having communicants say more than just “Amen” upon receiving the Host. 


Let them tweak all they want – there is little hope for the Modernist Novus Ordo Mass!



Fr. Dominic Bourmaud, One Hundred Years of Modernism: A Genealogy of the Principles of the Second Vatican Council, Kansas City, Mo., Angelus Press, 2006. 


Interview with the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X”, with Fr. Davide Pagliarani;

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