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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE FOURTH ARTICLE: "Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and
    • CHRIST, EXEMPLAR OF VIRTUES
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CHRIST, EXEMPLAR OF VIRTUES

 

From all this then is seen the effect of the passion of Christ as a remedy

for sin. But no less does it profit us as an example. St. Augustine says

that the passion of Christ can bring about a complete reformation of our

lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly need do nothing other than despise

what Christ despised on the cross, and desire what Christ desired. There is

no virtue that did not have its example on the Cross.

 

So if you seek an example of charity, then, "greater love than his no man

hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends."13 And this Christ did

upon the Cross. If, therefore, He gave His life or us, we ought to endure

any and all evils for Him: "What shall I render to the Lord for all the

things that He hath rendered to me?"14

 

If you seek an example of patience, you will find it in its highest degree

upon the Cross. Great patience is exemplified in two ways: either when one

suffers intensely in all patience, or when one suffers that which he could

avoid if he so wished. Christ suffered greatly upon the Cross: "O all ye

that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to My

sorrow."15 And with all patience, because, "when He suffered, He threatened

not."16 And again: "He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter and shall

be dumb before His shearer, and shall not open His mouth.17 He could have

avoided this suffering, but He did not: "Thinkest thou that I cannot ask My

Father, and He will give Me presently more than twelve legions of

Angels?"18 The patience of Christ upon the cross, therefore, was of the

highest degree: "Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us;

looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who, having joy set

before Him endured the cross, despising the shame."19

 

If you seek an example of humility, look upon Him who is crucified;

although He was God, He chose to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to be put

to death: "Thy cause has been judged as that of the wicked."20 Truly "that

of the wicked," because: "Let us condemn Him to a most shameful death."21

The Lord chose to die for His servant; the Life of the Angels suffered

death for man: "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to

the death of the cross."

 

If you seek an example of obedience, imitate Him who was obedient to the

Father unto death: "For by the disobedience of one man, many were made

sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just."

 

If you seek an example of contempt for earthly things, imitate Him who is

the King of kings, the Lord of rulers, in whom are all the treasures of

wisdom; but on the Cross He was stripped naked, ridiculed, spat upon,

bruised, crowned with thorns, given to drink of vinegar and gall, and

finally put to death. How falsely, therefore, is one attached to riches and

raiment, for: "They parted My garments amongst them; and upon My vesture

they cast lots." How falsely to honors, since "I was covered with lashes

and insults;" how falsely to positions of power, because "taking a crown of

thorns, they placed it upon My brow;" how falsely to delicacies of the

table, for "in My thirst they gave Me to drink of vinegar." Thus, St.

Augustine, in commenting on these words, "Who, having joy set before Him,

endured the Cross despising the shame," says: "The man Christ despised

all earthly things in order to teach us to despise them.

 

 

 

 




13. John, xv. 13.

 



14. Ps. cxv. 12.

 



15. Lament., i. 12.

 



16. Pet., ii. 23.

 



17. Isa., liii. 7.

 



18. Matt., xxvi. 53.

 



19. Heb., xii. 1-2.

 



20. Job, xxxvi. 17.

 



21. Wis., ii. 20.




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