The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

Anthony Zimmerman
February 18, 2003
Reproduced with Permission

We pray the Second Sorrowful Mystery with Mary thanking Jesus for family life, the nest in which human culture and love are fostered, and for giving us the grace to live chastely in accordance with the wisdom and law of God. By the scourging at the pillar, Jesus merited for us the grace to live chastely in marriage and outside of marriage.

The God who created us, asks us to live holy lives, lives by which we demonstrate our pride in being His children, members of His household. Jesus, our Brother, helps us always to preserve, strengthen and consolidate our freedom as we meet the tests that are part of growing into adulthood. To help us in this life-venture, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be scourged at the pillar. As the blows fell, He prayed: "That my brothers and sisters may be chaste."

"The Creator", said Pope Pius XII, "who in His goodness and wisdom has willed to conserve and propagate the human race through the instrumentality of man and woman by uniting them in marriage has ordained also that in performing this function, husband and wife should experience pleasure and happiness both in body and soul. In seeking and enjoying this pleasure, therefore, couples do nothing wrong. They accept that which the Creator has given them" (No 59, Address to Midwives, October 29, 1951).

The joys that accompany the marital union give husband and wife a foretaste of things to expect in heaven. Pope Pius XII instructed midwives to show couples "how nature has given the instinctive desire for enjoyment and approves of it in lawful wedlock, but not as an end in itself; that it is something that serves life" (ibid. No. 67). Indeed the desire for this pleasure serves life not only by generating new life, but also by consolidating family life and thereby structuring human civilization and refining human culture. Pius XII in the same address, No. 50, invokes St. Thomas to point out how the sex drive consolidates and enriches family life:

"By its nature, perfect married life means also the complete dedication of the parents for the benefit of their children, and in its strength and tenderness, conjugal love is itself a postulate of the most sincere care for the offspring and the guarantee of its being carried out" (St. Thomas, Supplementum 49. 2 a.1). Saint Thomas also quotes Saint Augustine with approval that sex is essential for human welfare: "What food is to the well-being of the body, such is sexual intercourse to the welfare of the human race (De Bono Conjugali xvi) in Summa Theologica II-II 154,1).

From it we can understand that when mankind observes in general and by and large the natural rule for the use of sex, civilization flourishes; but if mankind decides to part from the rule, chaos is at the door and civilization breaks down. Parents and the Church and government must work hand in hand to preserve civilization by teaching the young to observe the rules of the use of sex. They must teach the young as God taught Cain: "Sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:7).

Geneticist Jerome Lejeune notes that the forebrain projection of the genital organs is at the upper extremity of the Rolando fissure in the inter-hemispheric surfaces of the brain, very close to the midbrain. It means that the human forebrain that processes thought and free choice is in immediate biological contact with the midbrain that processes emotions, by the gateway of the sex drive. It follows that we are so constituted that whatever concerns genital activity involves also moral activity, neurologically speaking. This points to the impossibility of mastering emotional behavior if we do not first master conscious and deliberate genital behavior (cf. Lejeune, "Is there a natural morality?" in Linacre Quarterly, 1989). We might say that we control our emotions via the power of control over the sex drive.

For the grace to be holy, Christ prayed at the Last Supper: "For their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth" (John 17:19). Now, at the scourging, He was truly consecrating Himself for us.

Mary could not hear the thud of the whips as they landed, and she had never sinned to bring this whipping upon Christ. But Mary, the Immaculate, also owed the gift of chastity to the graces merited for her by Christ. She, too, could only thank Christ deeply for undergoing the scourging, for going that extra mile for herself and for all of us, her children.

The most beautiful flower on earth is the lily of chastity. But the finest beauties of creation become the ugliest miscreants of all when we use them improperly. The magnificent Columbia space ship, when its wing overheated, scattered charred debris over the surface below. An adulteration of the sex drive ruins civilization. If we allow Planned Parenthood to overheat the sex drive of the young, look for trouble.

For our sins against this virtue Christ allowed His hands to be tied to a pillar, and to have his back bared to the pounding. Jesus accepted the blows of the lashes, one, two, three, each time saying: "For my people who are sinners, that they may rise again and be chaste."

For all families, too, Christ prayed that they may be consecrated in truth. The family should be a nest of pure holiness where parents sanctify each other and model holiness for their children. The sacred laws of God must not be broken there, and if broken, then repaired again by Confession and Holy Communion.

Christ groaned again as another blow fell. "That such and such a family, too, may live chastely," thus did He pray between blows. Families the world around are grateful to Him today because Jesus merited for them the grace and joy to live a holy life in matrimony. Priests and nuns light a candle as they happily renew their vows to spend their lives chastely for the Lord. All owe this grace to Jesus.

Another blow falls. Jesus prays again: "That my people may finally reject contraception, abortion, sterilization, sodomy, pornography, pedophile, all that disfigures beautiful human nature." The whip sings in mid-air and another blow falls: Jesus prays that His human family will reject the perversion of unchaste sex ed by Planned Parenthood, the overheated condom/abortion juggernaught of the UNFPA, the shameful lucrative business of porn.

Why must Jesus suffer to redeem our sins, and to merit for us the grace of chastity? Can He not merit these graces for us without suffering? It is a mystery. Jesus keeps looking to the Father praying: "Is there no other way? Yet, not my will but thine be done. If this is the only way to redeem my people and to obtain chastity for them, then so be it." Another blow falls.

The last blow has fallen. Jesus survived. The soldiers untie His hands. He straightens up. He readies Himself now for what is still coming: the thorns, the shouting, the cross, the nails, the three hours of hanging on them. He will become our peace. He will do it for us, and for perfecting Himself as our Savior by burning up His life as a holocaust of love.

When the scourging was finished, Jesus stood taller than before as Our Savior. He was perfecting Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit as He suffered. He relished more than before the beauty of chastity in our lives. He was even more kind and good than before. Hebrews explains how Jesus grew in perfection through His suffering: "But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrews 2:9-12). Jesus perfects Himself, and we can grow in perfection with Him.

Each generation and each individual needs to ask for and accept the riches that Christ offers for our salvation. Every new generation meets specific temptations, each individual meets his or her individually tailored gauntlet of temptations and challenges. Abstinence before marriage, faithfulness within marriage, that is the human program arranged for each individual and for each generation. God and nature will not depart from that plan.

The repair shop of Confession is at our service, as we progressively grow in holiness. We live chastely only through vigilance, foresight, prayer, contrition and penance. If that is God's way for us, we accept it. What past generations have done, that we also can do. If Jesus did His part for us, we will do our part for Him too. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, to Him who was scourged for us. Amen