+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: The 14 meditation of the denying of peter

BENING, Simon 
Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht 
c. 1525

And Peter sat abroad in the Court below, whom when the Maid portess of the high Priest saw sitting at the light, and warming him, & had behold him, she said: And this man was with him: & the maid came unto him, saying: and art not thou of the disciples of this man? he said, I am not: and he denied before them all, saying: Woman I know no the man, neither do I know, nor have known, what thou sayest: And he went forth before the court, and the Cock crowed.

Consider first that whereas all the Apostles, (as our Lord had aforesaid) had suffered scandal, yet only Peters denial is repeated by the Evangelists, and by all of them, both because it seemed so strange & incredible, that Peter could deny Christ, that this his sin could not be comprehended by the Evangelists themselves; and also because many men mark the faults of their superiors. And lastly considering that he who was foundation of the Church did sin, that thou shouldest neither doubt, but that the other Disciples suffered scandal, nor yet presume of thine own strength. For no man committeth that sin, which another would not do; if the guide be wanting, which created man.

Consider secondly when Peter denied Christ? In the night, & when it was cold. If thou wilt not behold the light of truth, and convert thy self wholly unto Christ, in thine own conscience, and if the love of God and thy neighbor was cold in thee, doubt not, but thou shalt fall into errors of faith, or into more grievous offenses.

Consider thirdly, where he denied? where Christ was taken & bound, in the company of wicked men, in speaking with a woman: avoid these occasions if thou intends to be holy. And although St. Cyril affright that St. Peter denied not Christ so much through fear of any hurt, which might happen unto him, as though a kind of love. least he should be thrust out of the house, & so deprived of his presence. Yet it is most certain, that he committed a most grievous sin. Beware thou, least under any color of devotion or virtue, thou dose transgress the law of God & of his Church. For evil is not to be done that good may come thereof.

Consider fourthly that Christ is not denied by him only, who saith that Jesus is not Christ. but also by him, who being christened denyeth himself to be a Christian, and the Disciple of Christ, and this may be done not only on words, but also in deeds, by those which profess to know God, but in their deeds do deny him. For doest thou think (saith Saint Bernard) that any man thinketh Jesus to be the Son of God, who neither fearth his threatening, nor is moved by his promises, nor obeyeth his commandments. nor alloweth his counsels? How often then hast thou denied Christ, and yet hast not done penance with Peter.

Fifthly the cock crowed, but he being otherwise busied observed it not, for our Lord did not yet look upon him. Be thou at no time so overwhelmed with business or sins, but that thou always attend the voice of God speaking in thee, and that thou mayest hear thy neighbor admonishing thee.


But he going out of the gate, another Maid saw him, & said to them, which were there: And this man was with Jesus of Nazareth, and another seeing him said: and thou art of them. But Peter said, O man, I am nat, and he denied with an oath, for I do not know the man.

Consider first how Peter burning in desire to see our Lord, who stood bound before the Councell in an inward and higher Chamber, did not go out of the house, but out of the lower room, & began to inquire something of Christ: that thous may devise and try all ways and means to enjoy thy Lord in thy meditations, & to obtain him through the works of virtue.

Consider secondly, that where the devil doth once get the victory, he doth at his return rage more cruelly, and wound more deeply. First there came one maid, and spake unto Peter somewhat modestly: Then some other servants came to that Maid, and at the last a great number came together and did as it were oppressed him with their words: wherefore Peter at the first did only deny: Secondly he added an oath: Thirdly he began to sure and blaspheme. Take thou heed therefore that the Devil never overcome thee; for he being once subdued by the death of Christ, is driven away by resistance only, according to that saying Resist the Devil, and he will fly from you.

Consider thirdly the fall of Peter: First he presumed of himself: Secondly he slept in the Garden: Thirdly he left his fellow Disciples: Fourthly he thrust himself into company amongst wicked men: Fifthly he denied. Therefore the beginning of his fall was presumption, and the neglecting of the service of God.


And the space as it were of an hour being past, another affirmed, saying: Verily and this man was with him; for he also is a Galilaean: The they said unto him: Whether art thou one of his Disciples? he denied and said I am not, and they came which stood by, and said: Verily thou also art a Galilaean, and thy speech doth make thee manifest: Then said one of the Servants of the High Priest to him, his cousin whose Ear Peter had cut off: Did not I see thee in the Garden with him? Then he began to curse, to detest, and swear, for I know not this man of whom yes speak: and forthwith as he was yet speaking the Cock crowed again: And our Lord turned, and beheld Peter: And Peter remembered himself of the word of our Lord, as he had said, that before the Cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrive, and Peter going out of the doors wept bitterly.

Consider first, that when peter was come again to the fire, he began to speak more freely with the servants, to the end that he might take away all suspicion from himself: For by his speech he was judged to be a Galilaean. Thou therefore who art the servant of Christ take heed of familiarity with the wicked. Let thy communication be of Heavenly things, as thou mayest receive the Apostles speeches were in the Acts of the Apostles, and by their Epistles: For he which is delighted with the vine speeches of secular men, will easily be drawn to imitate their manners, and to be warmed with their fire, and intrepid with their delights.

Secondly, Peter was known by his speech to be the Disciple of Christ, and a Galilaean. Do thou likewise so govern thyself, that all men even by thy outward conversation may know thee to be the follower of Christ, and a Galilaean, that is, one flying from the worldly to a spiritual life, and aspiring to Heaven.

Consider thirdly the benignity of Christ towards his servants. He being oppressed with so many miseries, did as it were forget himself, and take care of his Disciples: He restrained him from sinning any deeper, and cause him after his third denial to stay, beholding him, not with the eyes of the body (for that he could not do,) being in an upper chamber, and compassed round about with officers) but turning to him with the inward beams of his mercy; with which he touched his heart, illuminated and mollified it. For the beholding of Christ doth illuminate the Conscience, that sins may be known, even as the beams of the Sun do lighten a Chamber.

Consider fourthly the order of his Conversion: First the Cock crowed: Secondly our Lord beheld him: Thirdly Peter remembered the word of Jesus; Fourthly he went forth: Fifty he wept bitterly: If Christ look not upon thee, the Cock crows in vain. Do thou therefore give ear unto the Preachers and Admonishers, as unto Cocks; and pray that our Lord will turn unto thee. Observe the words which thou hearest: Fly all occasions of evil, and do Penance. Here thou being a most grievous sinner mayest have great hop of pardon, seeing that the mercy of our Lord gave so free pardon for this grievous sin, that Christ never objected it unto Peter. But thou who hast offended with Peter, go not about to excuse thyself with Adam, but weep with Peter, who (as St. Clement witnesseth) did all his whole life time after the first crowing of the Cock rise up to his prayers, and slept no more that night.

Fr. Francis Costerus S.J. 1616