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When Shall I Be Free?

I see the figure of a man, whether young or old I cannot tell. He may be fifty or he may be thirty. Sometimes He looks one, sometimes the other. There is something inexpressible about His face which I cannot solve. Perhaps, as He bears all burdens, He bears that of old age too. But so it is; His face is at once most venerable, yet most childlike, most calm, most sweet, most modest, beaming with sanctity and with loving kindness. His eyes rivet me and move my heart. His breath is all fragrant, and transports me out of myself. Oh, I will look upon that face forever, and will not cease.

And I see suddenly someone come to Him, and raise his hand and sharply strike Him on that heavenly face. It is a hard hand, the hand of a rude man, and perhaps has iron upon it. It could not be so sudden as to take Him by surprise who knows all things past and future, and He shows no sign of resentment, remaining calm and grave as before; but the expression of His face is marred; a great wheal arises, and in a little time that all-gracious Face is hid from me by the effects of this indignity, as if a cloud came over It.

A hand was lifted up against the Face of Christ. Whose hand was that? My conscience tells me: “thou art the man.” I trust it is not so with me now. But, O my soul, contemplate the awful fact. Fancy Christ before thee, and fancy thyself lifting up thy hand and striking Him! Thou wilt say, “It is impossible: I could not do so.” Yes, thou hast done so. When thou didst sin wilfully, then thou hast done so.

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