The Crucifixion of Christ: Sin and the Soul

By Tony Capobianco

Artist: A Strasburgian painter Possibly Hermann Schadeberg.  Title: The Crucifixion. Date: Between  1410 and 1415. This artwork is in the public domain.


Artist: A Strasburgian painter Possibly Hermann Schadeberg. Title: The Crucifixion. Date: Between 1410 and 1415. This artwork is in the public domain.

This, the fifth and final installment of the sin and the soul series reflects upon the final consequences of mortal sin. Every time mortal sin is chosen, sanctifying grace is lost in that particular soul as that soul essentially evicts the indwelling of the Most Blessed Trinity from their interior life. Choosing to commit mortal sin is to choose death rather than life, darkness rather than light. It is a choice to crucify one’s very own soul. Once a soul suffers crucifixion it is impossible for it to escape from the cross under its own powers. The soul cannot will itself to freedom and life. Only divine intervention could defeat death and resurrect this dead soul. 

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich powerfully describes the mystical vision in in which she was blessed to see the most sorrowful scene of Our Redeemer’s crucifixion as Follows,

This scene was rendered the more frightful to me by the sight of demons, who were invisible to others, and I Saw large bodies of evil spirits under the forms of toads, serpents, sharp-clawed dragons, and venomous insects, urging these wicked men to still greater cruelty, and perfectly darkening the air. They crept into the mouths and into the hearts of the assistants, sat upon their shoulders, filled their minds with wicked images, and incited them to revile and insult our Lord with still greater brutality. Weeping angels, however, stood around Jesus, and the sight of their tears consoled me not a little, and they were accompanied by little angels of glory, whose heads alone I saw. There were likewise angels of pity and angels of consolation among them; the latter frequently approached the Blessed Virgin and the rest of the pious persons who were assembled there, and whispered words of comfort which enabled them to bear up with firmness.

The executioners soon pulled off our Lord’s cloak, the belt to which the ropes were fastened, and his own belt, when they found it was impossible to drag the woollen garment which his Mother had woven for him over his head, on account of the crown of thorns; they tore off this most painful crown, thus reopening every wound, and seizing the garment, tore it mercilessly over his bleeding and wounded head. Our dear Lord and Saviour then stood before his cruel enemies, stripped of all save the short scapular which was on his shoulders, and the linen which girded his loins. His scapular was of wool; the wool had stuck to the wounds, and indescribable was the agony of pain he suffered when they pulled it roughly off. He Shook like the aspen as he stood before them, for he was so weakened from suffering and loss of blood that he could not support himself for more than a few moments; he was covered with open wounds, and his shoulders and back were torn to the bone by the dreadful scourging he had endured. He was about to fall when the executioners, fearing that he might die, and thus deprive them of the barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, led him to a large stone and placed him roughly down upon it, but no sooner was he seated than they aggravated his sufferings by putting the crown of thorns again upon his head. They then offered him some vinegar and gall, from which, however, he turned away in silence. The executioners did not allow him to rest long, but bade him rise and place himself on the cross that they might nail him to it. Then seizing his right arm they dragged it to the hole prepared for the nail, and having tied it tightly down with a cord, one of them knelt upon his sacred chest, a second held his hand flat, and a third taking a long thick nail, pressed it on the open palm of that adorable hand, which had ever been open to bestow blessings and favours on the ungrateful Jews, and with a great iron hammer drove it through the flesh, and far into the wood of the cross. Our Lord uttered one deep but suppressed groan, and his blood gushed forth and sprinkled the arms of the archers. I counted the blows of the hammer, but my extreme grief made me forget their number. The nails were very large, the heads about the size of a crown piece, and the thickness that of a man’s thumb, while the points came through at the back of the cross. The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and His legs were quite contracted. They again knelt upon him, tied down his arms, and drove the second nail into his left hand; his blood flowed afresh, and his feeble groans were once more heard between the blows of the hammer, but nothing could move the hard-hearted executioners to the slightest pity. The arms of Jesus, thus unnaturally stretched out, no longer covered the arms of the cross, which were sloped; there was a wide space between them and his armpits. Each additional torture and insult inflicted on our Lord caused a fresh pang in the heart of his Blessed Mother; she became white as a corpse, but as the Pharisees endeavoured to increase her pain by insulting words and gestures, the disciples led her to a group of pious women who were standing a little farther off.
— (Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ)

Wherever sin, wickedness, and evil are found, the Devil will not be far away. The above excerpt from Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s vision shows a multitude of hideous demons diabolically urging the wicked men to increase the cruelty of their wicked deeds toward Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother during His Sorrowful Passion. The same nefarious scene continues every time that a person chooses to commit mortal sin. In a mystical manner the soul of a person in mortal sin undergoes the sorrows of Our Savior’s Passion as the soul is horribly isolated, disfigured, and killed as the life of sanctifying grace departs. This spiritual death will become what Sacred Scripture calls the second death unless the soul is saved before her body draws its last breath here in this earthly pilgrimage. The fallen angels, the demons, know that each mortal sin, no matter when in time that they are committed add to the Lord’s suffering from the Agony in the Garden through the crucifixion on Calvary. The demons hate God and they also loathe man and as such they distortedly delight in the suffering of both. The Devil and his sinister servants engage in a wrathful revelry as they know that each mortal sin is a deadly nail hammered into both Jesus Christ on the Cross and into the soul which commits the mortal sin.

The Crown of Thorns painfully remained pierced into Our Blessed Lord’s adorable head as He hung on the holy cross. So too, the crown of thorns remain pierced onto the head of the crucified soul of a sinner. The crown of thorns which adorns the soul in a state of mortal sin fittingly depicts the well deserved crown of mockery, for each and every choice to commit mortal sin has the deadly sin of pride at its root. When the soul usurps the authority to know and judge between good and evil, she necessarily has placed herself above God and presents herself to be as God. This diabolical pride is precisely the same sin which caused Lucifer to fall from grace and to become Satan, the Devil. To reject God’s will is to reject God and doing so elevate one’s own will above the will of the omnipotent and omniscient God.

The wood of the cross corresponds to the will of the soul. The will of the soul of a stubbornly unrepentant sinner remains as rigid as the actual wood of the cross on which Our Lord Jesus hung as the will becomes locked in defying and rejecting the will of the Lord. Such a soul prefers darkness rather than light. 

The nails which pierce the soul and fix it to the cross are the mortal sins that she chose to commit. Each and every one of our mortal sins viciously hammer the nails into and through the hands and feet of Our sweet, sinless Savior as He permits His most precious blood to pour forth down the high altar of the cross and onto the ground. Therefore there is no such thing as a victimless mortal sin because each mortal sin greatly offends God and additionally causes the Word Incarnate to suffer unfathomable agonies in His sorrowful passion. Furthermore, the soul guilty of these grave offenses suffers the anguish of a spiritual crucifixion which will assuredly become an eternal fate unless true acts of contrition and repentance are made and absolution is received from the Lord. The crucified soul feels abandoned as she hangs in excruciating pain upon the cross and the tragedy is that such a soul is truly abandoned because it is she that banished God from His abode inside her. It is the sinful soul that condemned itself to be crucified.

[30] Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.
— (The Gospel According to St. John 19: 30)

Just as the mission of Salvation and Redemption were finished as Jesus breathed His last breath and gave up His ghost, so too the human soul’s pilgrimage on earth and chance for salvation is finished when its body breathes its last breath as death arrives. After death, there is no longer an opportunity to repent and seek the Lord’s life giving ocean of mercy. At the moment of death, the state of a soul, whether in a state of mortal sin or a state of grace, is locked for eternity. The sinful crucified soul is not without hope so long as its body is still alive because until the person dies, the chance for repentance and receiving salvation remain a possibility. Only Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can save a soul that is tragically crucified in a state of mortal sin. The Lord Jesus Christ’s triumph of the cross is celebrated on Easter Sunday. Each and every recipient of absolution through the Sacrament of Confession experiences a true miracle as their soul, which was dead and crucified in mortal sin, is resurrected by Jesus Christ. The terrible and disastrous consequences of sin are real and powerful and yet the love and mercy of the Lord is infinitely more powerful, sweet, good, and beautiful. When seemingly trapped in the desolation produced by sin as sin crucifies the soul, always remember this,

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. [9] That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. [10] He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

[11] He came unto his own, and his own received him not. [12] But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. [13] Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
— (The Gospel According to St. John 1: 1-14)

The preceding installments of the Sin and the Soul series can be read by clicking on the following buttons: