Prayer of Jesus Christ 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.
Prayer of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani.
“Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”—St. Matt. xxvi. 39.
ABOUT a stone’s throw from the Garden of Gethsemani was a grotto hewn out of the solid rock. The light was admitted into this grotto through a hole in the roof. In this country a custom prevailed of building cisterns for the purpose of holding rain-water. This fact, together with the form of the grotto and the aperture in the top, leads to the inference that it was formerly used as a cistern from which the garden was watered. At the time of our Lord it was old and abandoned, and no longer capable of retaining water, but it afforded the loiterer in the garden a place of refuge in warm or rainy weather. This grotto, now converted into a little chapel, still exists. It is called the Grotto of Agony, on account of the agony and bloody sweat which our Divine Saviour suffered there.
Having manifested to His three disciples the profound sadness under which he was laboring, Jesus said to them, “Sit ye here, till I go yonder and pray.” And He immediately retired into the grotto. The solitude of the place, the darkness of the night, the profound silence of nature, and the imminence of the hour of His capture,—these were circumstances which combined to cause the Saviour to raise His voice in prayer to His Heavenly Father. Before examining the prayer of Jesus, let us, according to the suggestion of Origen, consider that the Divine Master, in separating from the eight disciples, had simply said, “Sit ye here;” but to Peter, James, and John, who had witnessed His transfiguration on Mount Thabor and were, therefore, reputed stronger than the other apostles, He said, “Stay you here and watch with me;” which words are thus paraphrased by Cornelius à Lapide: “Stay ye here and look upon your Master in His agony, and see how He has recourse to His Eternal Father. Watch Me, that you may behold the intensity of My sufferings. See into what a state of extreme desolation I am cast, that you may learn how to act in your own future hours of sorrow. Finally, observe Me, and watch with Me, uniting your prayers with Mine, that thus you may give Me some little comfort in My sufferings.” But Jesus did not receive even this small relief from His disciples.
Abandoned by men, our Lord then turned to His Eternal Father. The Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure, puts these words on the lips of the agonizing Saviour: “The chalice of My passion is so filled with bitterness that I dare not press it to My lips. In spirit I see one of My dear disciples, who has sold Me to the chief priests, and advances now at the head of armed men who are coming to make Me prisoner. I see the hatred entertained against Me by the Jews, who are thirsting for My blood. I foresee all the persecutions which My beloved disciples will have to undergo for My sake. I foresee the desolation of My beloved Mother when she shall hear of My capture and see Me crucified. I already see before Me all the sufferings which I shall have to undergo during the whole course of My bitter passion; and in the midst of all these persecutions and tortures My courage fails Me, so that I am forced to ask Thee to remove from Me this bitter chalice. Ah! My Father, grant that without My death, death may be destroyed and sin wiped away. Let man at once be redeemed, let hell be conquered, and the gates of heaven opened: ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’”
Such was the prayer of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani; a prayer short and simple, but which, notwithstanding its brevity and simplicity, conveys many wise lessons for our instruction. Let us, therefore, often meditate on these words: “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Not only the words, but also the deeds of our Divine Lord should serve as a rule for the conduct of our lives, His every word and action conveying a salutary lesson for our guidance. Let us, therefore, consider the prayer which He made in the Garden of Olives, immediately after His agony.
But first we should reflect, according to the suggestion of a pious author, that experiencing grief does not imply imperfection, since it is only natural that human nature should bow under the weight of human infirmity. Secondly, we should understand that experiencing great grief at the loss of one’s reputation is not necessarily an indication of imperfection, since it is in the maintenance of reputation that man’s real life chiefly consists. Thirdly, we should consider with the same pious author that fear, sorrow, and annoyance at the troubles and disappointments of this life do not constitute imperfection, since Jesus Christ, who was perfection itself, became sad, aye, and sorrowful even unto death, at the sight of the sufferings that He was to undergo. A Man-God became sad; and shall we, then, who are but dust and ashes, not be allowed to succumb?
It is only natural, therefore, to yield to grief. But to whom should we go in order to assuage it? Like Jesus, we should have recourse to our Heavenly Father, submitting our will to His, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
St. Dionysius Carthusianus, commenting on these words, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” says: “Behold how humble, how sweet and affectionate is this prayer. It is, therefore, the very prayer that we should use in our hours of trial and affliction; because at such times we should humble ourselves before God, ask the graces of which we stand in need, and submit ourselves to His holy will.”
St. Leo the Great says: “That word of our Head, ‘Thy will be done,’ is the salvation of the whole body. It is that word which has instructed all the faithful, inspired the love of all the holy confessors of the faith, crowned all the martyrs, and fortified all the virgins of the Church. Let all the faithful, therefore, learn this sublime and truly divine prayer, so that when they are in any adversity whatsoever, they may overcome it by submission to the holy will of God.”
At the thought of the Man-God having recourse to prayer, St. Lawrence Justinian exclaims: “O man! proud man, what dost thou do? Art thou stronger than was Christ? The agonizing Jesus has recourse to prayer, and thou, poor miserable sinner, presumest to suffer without deigning to invoke divine aid!”
The lesson which we should learn from Christ’s example is this,—the necessity of prayer. But it is not sufficient to pray only in time of adversity; we should pray always, and pray with entire submission to the divine will. Let us expose to our dear Saviour all our wants and miseries; let us ask not only for salvation, but also for all the temporal blessings of which we may stand in need; let us ask Him for health and for preservation from all the accidents and dangers that surround our daily life. But let us ever make these requests in the spirit of the prayer of Jesus Christ, saying with Him, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
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.
Obedience is a guide which cannot err, an interpreter of the Divine will, which cannot deceive. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Summary of Constitutions.
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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