The Mortal Agony of Jesus Christ.
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.
The Mortal Agony of Jesus Christ.
“And being in agony, He prayed the more.”—St. Luke xxii. 43.
HAVING finished His prayer of wondrous fervor and resignation, and still experiencing no relief in answer to its devout recital, Jesus went out from the grotto to seek some solace for His afflicted spirit in the company of His beloved disciples. But here again He was doomed to disappointment; for, notwithstanding the fervent injunctions laid upon them to watch and pray in order not to fall into temptation, He found them asleep. He aroused and gently reproached them, saying, “What! could you not watch one hour with Me?” This was as if Jesus had said, “What! you cannot watch one hour with Me on this night so gloomy and dreadful for Me? Where now are all your promises of fidelity? You protested but a moment ago that you would willingly die with Me. Alas! if you could but know the terrible persecutions which menace us this night, you would not thus yield to sleep. Pray, therefore, that you enter not into temptation.”
In order to mitigate in some measure the bitterness of this well-merited reproach, our Lord subjoined, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak;” which was equivalent to saying, “But do not lose courage, My beloved disciples, for I know well how weak is human nature. The spirit indeed is willing, ready to make generous sacrifices, but the flesh is weak and yields easily to even the slightest temptations.”
Saying this, Jesus returned to the grotto, and with increased fervor addressed His prayer again to the Eternal Father. But still no consolation came. Thereupon He sought His beloved disciples once more, and found them again asleep. Leaving them undisturbed, He returned to prayer. But that night the heavens had become as bronze to the prayers and supplications of Jesus. The divinity seemed to have gone out from Him, or rather it was present in Him only to increase the measure of His anguish, by causing the whole series of the sufferings of His passion to pass in dreadful review before His mind.
Thus He beheld all the outrages, insults, and torments which the Jews were at that moment preparing for Him. He saw the ropes and chains with which He was soon to be bound in that very garden. He felt the blows and saw the derision to which He was to be subjected in the court of Annas and Caiphas. He beheld the scourges and thorns ready to torture Him in the court of Pilate. He saw the ridicule and insults with which He was to be received in the court of Herod. He saw, too, there before Him the cross, the nails, the hammers, the vinegar and gall, which were to be instruments of His passion on Mount Golgotha. All the sins of the world, past, present, and future, rose up before Him, and He saw Himself loaded with their weight and standing as if guilty of them all in the presence of His Eternal Father. He saw how few would save their souls, and how many, notwithstanding all His sufferings, would be lost. He foresaw that one of His apostles would betray Him, that another would deny Him, and that all would abandon Him. He foresaw all the pain, anguish, and affliction that were to come upon His dear Mother, till, overwhelmed at the sight of this dreadful array of suffering and torments, Jesus falls into a mortal agony. A death-like pallor overspreads His divine countenance. He is filled with anguish and terror; but still collecting His remaining strength, He pours forth to His Eternal Father the same prayer of love and resignation: “O my most loving Father, have pity on Thy Son! Ah, remove from My spirit the vision of all these horrible torments, and grant that I may not have to drink of this bitter chalice! But if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.”
As Jesus uttered this prayer, His heart seemed to break within His bosom; the pores of His body opened, and blood oozed forth and came trickling down to the ground, falling so profusely that it soon formed a small stream which ran through the grotto: “And His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground” (St Luke xxii. 44).
St. Lawrence Justinian, contemplating the agony of Jesus in the garden, breaks out into the following apostrophe: “Draw near, O Christian soul, to thy agonizing Saviour; behold how deserving He is of all thy compassion. With the eyes of faith contemplate thy merciful Jesus, the King of heaven and earth, kneeling there in supplication, trembling, agonizing, sweating blood! Such a sight must surely win from thee the tribute of thy tears; for how canst thou restrain them on beholding thy God shedding for love of thee not only tears, but also blood? Look upon the merciful Jesus, the Fountain of all good, prostrate on the ground, with pallor on His brow, His heart oppressed with anguish, His limbs bathed in blood,—and then let thy pity be excited, and groan and weep with Jesus in the sorrow of thy heart. Judge, O Christian soul, by Jesus sweat of blood, how great must be His anguish and how horrible will be His passion! If, at the consideration of future sufferings, He agonizes, what will He not suffer when He will be crucified? If so great a sadness takes possession of Thee, O Jesus, at the very beginning of Thy passion, what shall be Thy emotions when Thou wilt be struck, insulted, scourged, crowned with thorns, cursed, blasphemed, and crucified?”
To Jesus, thus immersed in a sea of suffering and sorrow, the Eternal Father was pleased at last to send an angel from heaven to comfort and console Him: “And there appeared to Him an Angel from heaven strengthening Him.”
It is the opinion of Dionysius Carthusianus and other pious contemplative writers that this angel was the Archangel Michael, prince of the heavenly hosts. The above-mentioned writers put these words on the Archangel’s lips: “Lord, Thou art now about to liberate mankind from the slavery of hell; the hour of Thy passion, so long announced by the prophets, so anxiously awaited by the souls of the just in Limbo, is at hand. Thou knowest that the redemption of mankind can be accomplished only by Thee. If, therefore, Thou hast this great work at heart, it is necessary for Thee to die the death that has been so long prophesied for Thee.” Thus spoke the Archangel, to whom, according to Blessed Bernardine de Busto, Jesus made answer: “I desire the salvation of man, and, therefore, I accept the most painful death of the cross.” O incomparable love of Christ, which made Him choose death rather than see the human race condemned forever!
From this consideration we should learn how to pray. Father Lewis Navarino observes that the angel appeared to Jesus after His prayer,—not that our Lord needed the angel’s assistance, He Himself being the consolation of all the afflicted, but that it should not appear that Jesus in His anguish had prayed to His Father in vain. Again, we are taught by the coming of the angel that we, too, should have recourse to prayer in all our necessities, having confidence that we shall certainly obtain relief, though, by a just decree of Heaven, our tribulations may not at once be removed. Let us ever keep before us the example of our Divine Master. His prayer was not granted immediately, but He persisted until an angel was sent from heaven to comfort Him. As the Eternal Father consoled Jesus, so also will He console us. “Ask and you shall receive,” Jesus said to His disciples. Let us, therefore, ask with confidence, faith, and perseverance, and God will infallibly hear us.
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.
In order to combat desolation and put temptation to flight, one ought to persevere in prayer a little beyond the prescribed time. Thus he will accustom himself not only to resist the enemy, but to overthrow him. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises.
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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