Sadness of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Sadness of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani.
“Then He saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here and watch with Me.”—St. Matt. xxvi. 38.
EAST of Jerusalem, between Mount Olivet and Mount Moria, lies the small but memorable valley of Josaphat, through which at the time of Jesus a little torrent flowed. Our Holy Redeemer was obliged to cross this valley and pass over the torrent to go to the Garden of Gethsemani, where He was accustomed to retire to pray for the salvation of mankind. This garden was situated on the side of Mount Olivet. It was a kind of park, one part of which was thickly planted with olive-trees, and the other part was laid out as a garden. No wall surrounded it, and it was freely accessible to all. Into this garden Jesus entered with His disciples, there to begin His fearful passion.
The Redeemer’s countenance assumed a sad and thoughtful expression, and He said to His disciples, “Sit ye here while I go yonder and pray.” As the apostles were taking their seats, Jesus turned to Peter, James, and John, and told them to follow Him. Then with bowed heads and in profound silence these three followed their sorrowful Master into the interior of the park, and towards the place where the trees were thickly planted. “And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.”
Origen alleges two reasons for the choice which Jesus made of those three disciples in preference to the others: first, that they might become convinced, once and for ever, of their human weakness—a subject to which they were not accustomed to give any attention. For St. Peter, only a little while before, had said that, far from being capable of denying his Master, he would willingly give up his life for Him. St. John and St. James, also, but a few days before, had, with great presumption, protested that they were willing to drink of the bitter chalice prepared for Jesus. The Redeemer, therefore, wished those three disciples to be present at His mortal sadness, that they might learn from His example how great is human weakness and how little they should trust their transitory fervor. For if the Son of God at the approach of His painful passion became sad and found strength only by having recourse to God, how much more had the apostles need of prayer to obtain constancy and strength!
Origen’s second reason for the Redeemer’s choice is this: as Peter, James, and John had witnessed Jesus glorious transfiguration on Mount Thabor, and had also received proofs of His omnipotence and divinity on the day when He raised the daughter of Jairus at Capharnaum, so Jesus wished them now to see how weak is humanity when not sustained by the divine hand.
As soon as Jesus found Himself in the company of His three chosen disciples and separated from the rest, He gave free vent to His feelings, and, sighing deeply, said: “Oh, if you could see My heart, you would find it immersed in a sea of sadness. I am as one cast out into the midst of the sea, and overwhelmed by the tempest; the sorrows of death surround Me, and the torrents of iniquity trouble Me: ‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death.’”
My most amiable Jesus, where are those happy days when Thou didst walk upon the waters as if upon the land? Where are those happy days when every one ran after Thee—the afflicted to be consoled, the infirm to be healed, the blind to be restored to sight, the leprous to be cleansed? Why, O my Jesus! why dost Thou seek no consolation for Thyself? Ah! it is because Thou art a most amiable Father, and Thou wishest to sacrifice Thyself for Thy beloved children.
The sacred expositors of the holy text assign various causes for the mortal agony suffered by our Redeemer in the Garden of Gethsemani. St. Jerome says that Jesus was not afflicted because of the imminence of the hour of His passion, since it was to undergo this passion that He had come into the world. But He suffered on account of the unhappy fate of Judas, on account of the scandal which the other apostles would receive, on account of the blindness and reprobation of the Jewish people, and on account of the destruction that was to come upon the unfortunate city of Jerusalem over which He had already shed tears.
St. Bernardine of Sienna tells us that Jesus was saddened principally because He foresaw that, notwithstanding His passion and death, many through their own fault would be deprived of the eternal glory of heaven.
Father Lewis Navarino says that the Saviour experienced fear, fright, and grief in order to alleviate those same feelings in us: for as, if He did not die, He would not subjugate death; so, if He did not experience fear, fright, and grief, He would not mitigate those emotions in us.
St. Cyprian, looking at the subject from another point of view, exclaims: “Who shall not fear, if Jesus Himself was afraid? Who shall not tremble, if Jesus Himself trembled, before Whom every knee must bend? Who shall not be terrified at the approach of death, if the One who is the death of death and the terror of hell was Himself terrified at death’s approach?”
St. Lawrence Justinian in his turn exclaims: “What do I behold, my beloved Lord? Art Thou sorrowful, and dost Thou really experience fear? Is He who is the very essence of joy now Himself become sorrowful? Does fortitude tremble? Does glory suffer tedium? Is splendor obscured? Is health become infirmity? Yet I see no armed men. I see no enemies approaching with swords and scourges. Why, therefore, dost Thou fear and tremble, O Lord? Thou art the great Captain of the Christian militia, and dost Thou tremble? Ah! I know the cause of Thy sorrow. Thou art suffering by anticipation, not simply for the corporal agony which Thou art about to endure, but Thou art suffering for all that the martyrs must undergo in the future. Thou art stoned with Stephen, crucified with Peter, flayed with Bartholomew, devoured by wild beasts with Ignatius. These are the true causes of Thy agony.”
Finally, let us hear the words of the Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure, who thus addresses his agonizing Saviour: O my most amiable Jesus, these words of Thine cause me great surprise,—‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death.’ But why dost Thou fear? What is the cause of Thy sorrow? Is it because of Thy impending sufferings? Is it death which Thou fearest? But was it not in order to die that Thou didst become man? For what reason didst Thou become incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, if not to destroy by Thy death our eternal death? What would it avail that Thou becamest man, were the grand object of the Redemption not to be accomplished? And if Thou didst not, O merciful Jesus, who shall satisfy for my sins? Did I not hear Thee say to Judas but a moment ago, ‘That which thou dost, do quickly’? Then Thou wast impatient to meet death, and now dost Thou seek to avoid it? Ah! no; it is not so; Thou refusest not to consummate the great sacrifice. I believe rather, O Lord, that, being man, Thou wishest to subject Thyself to all the human passions, and, therefore, as man Thou fearest death, but as God Thou longest for death; and Thou art sorrowful because death seems too long in coming. Oh! the great love of God towards man! Oh! the great ingratitude of man towards God!”
Whatever may have been the cause of Jesus’ mortal agony in the garden, it conveys to us a great lesson, one which will be especially profitable for us in times of affliction. Does the thought of death afflict us? The same thought also afflicted Jesus. Does the loss of some dear departed one embitter our remembrance? Jesus in the garden had to bear up against the bitter remembrance of the loss of Judas. Does the number of our sins terrify us? Jesus experienced the same terror. Do misfortunes and calamities grieve us? Jesus suffered the same grief.
But what did the Redeemer do in the midst of these sorrows? He had recourse to His Heavenly Father, and was relieved from them. Let us do likewise in our afflictions, and God will relieve us also.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Ah! that each day I could die a thousand cruel deaths for Christ and for the salvation of one single soul! – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Life.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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