In the course of one’s life, thousands of books may be read. Out of those we set aside our favourites - ones we will go back to time after time - regardless of how well we know the content. Yet, among these a few may stand out as books that have left a lasting mark upon our lives and that we personally value as priceless - The School of Jesus Crucified is among this latter class.
Written by a Passionist, Father Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, The School of Jesus Crucified is aptly named, for it is in truth a personal school of sanctity centered upon the Passion and Death of Our Lord. If you want to be a saint, what better example can you have for how to live than the life of Our Lord? And this book is the guide on how to do that in everyday life.
Fr. Ignatius sets the reader on a path to sanctity by first giving them a guide on how best to live one’s day - from the rising from our slumber to the closing of our eyes, he guides us through the course of our day that we may live it to be most pleasing to God and most efficacious to our eternal salvation; living our day around the Passion and Death of Christ. Allow me to give a few excerpts as example:
- “On awaking in the morning, let your first thoughts be devoted to this great truth: God is here present; and make an act of lively faith in His Divine Presence. Let your first action be the Sign of the Cross, according to the custom of the early Christians; your first words the holy Names of Jesus and Mary…”
- “Then dedicate yourself to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, to be her servant and child, and thus place yourself under her especial protection. Be very exact in daily offering this little tribute of respect to Mary, your loving Patroness and Mother, and you will not fail to experience the blessed effects of her powerful patronage. Devoutly recite three Hail Marys before her image or picture, together with the following [prayer]...”
- “Begin your daily occupations with the intention of fulfilling the Will of God. Be careful at the commencement of each action to offer it to Our Lord in union with all His labours, fatigues, and sufferings; and to have a pure intention of pleasing God, of promoting His glory, and of fulfilling His holy Will in all things.”
One of the most important things we can and should do everyday, is make our daily meditation. How many fruits, graces, and inspirations are given us from this salutary practice as the soul speaks to God in the silence of her heart. It is a practice that if we neglect it, will be to our great detriment! Too busy, you say? Listen to the words of St. Francis de Sales, “Half an hour's meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”
It is here that the book truly shines, and in fact, if the book only contained the aforementioned daily guide and these meditations, I would still regard this book as a priceless treasure! Fr. Ignatius presents us with thirty-one meditations on the Passion and Death of Our Lord; as well as three found later in the book on Our Lady. A heart of stone would crumble beneath these meditations on Our Lord’s Passion, let alone what they will inspire for the pious soul.
At the conclusion of each meditation, we are given a fruit and an example; two very precious gifts. The fruit is the spiritual lesson for us to take away from the day’s meditation along with the inspiration and encouragement to carry it out. Following this, Father takes a very specific moment from the life of a saint in which we can see how they lived the very fruit we hope to enact in our own souls. I’ve found these examples to be quite enriching in themselves, and I always look forward to reading them at the end of my meditation.
Class does not end there, however! Moving further through the book, the lessons continue, as Fr. Ignatius continues to guide the soul with further devotions to be practiced, such as the Rosary of the Five Wounds of Jesus Christ and a practical method for visiting the Holy Crucifix! Yet, we must never forget the important Sacraments of our faith, and neither does Fr. Ignatius, for he gives us practical instructions on making a good confession and how to worthily receive the Blessed Sacrament; and also how to assist well at Mass.
Lastly, he gives us the necessary instructions which render the interior life easy for all Christians. It is the life you are called to live, a life of immense beauty and grace, and Father shows the soul exactly how to do this in concise and simple lessons.
I will conclude with a passage from the back of the book: “Many Saints have stated that the Crucifix was their most instructive ‘book.’ From The School of Jesus Crucified the reader will begin to see what they meant. This book is perfect for Lent or Holy Week - or any time. It can be a real life-changer, uniting the reader to the Saviour and to His Cross, which is the Path to Heaven.”
During this Lent, change your life for the better! Grow in grace and virtue, and make this an unforgettable Lent by learning the lessons from The School of Jesus Crucified! What are you waiting for? School is now in session!