On the first Holy Thursday, Our Lord went into the garden to pray, signaling the beginning of His divine Passion. He said, "Father, if it be Thy will, take this cup from Me: nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done." Then an angel appeared to Him coming down from heaven to give Him strength. Just as the angel from heaven strengthened and nourished Our Lord, the Eternal High Priest, we gather in the presence of the Holy Eucharist to strengthen and spiritually nourish our priests, through the intercession of the Holy Angels.
The Redemption accomplished through Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection lies at the center of our Catholic faith. This mystery is commemorated every Thursday and Friday in the Work of the Holy Angels in the celebration of the Passio Domini ("Passion of Our Lord"), where we watch and compassionate our Lord in His redeeming suffering.
An angel was sent to Jesus in His agony to strengthen Him as He bore the weight of the world's sins, while the three Apostles slept. Jesus asked them sadly, "Could you not watch one hour with Me?" Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), commenting on the carelessness of the three Apostles, said that these words of Jesus are:
…a reproach of concern to every disciple of Christ. In one way the Church still hears these same words: the reproach addressed to the three Apostles is accepted by the Church as if it were addressed to herself, and she tries to fill the gap left by that lost hour when Jesus remained completely alone in Gethsemane. …And now the Church still seeks to recover that hour in Gethsemane—the hour lost by Peter, James and John—so as to compensate for the Master's lack of companionship which increased His soul's suffering.
Jesus was strengthened not only by the angel, but also by all those generous souls foreseen by Him who, moved by His sorrowful complaint, have kept and continue to keep Him company in the Garden of Olives, watching and sharing His bitterness and mortal anguish. Pope Pius XI wrote in his encyclical letter, Miserentissimus Redemptor:
If, because of our sins also which were as yet in the future, but were foreseen, the soul of Christ became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that then, too, already He derived somewhat of a solace from our reparation, which was likewise foreseen, when "there appeared to Him an angel from heaven" (Lk. 22:43), in order that His Heart, oppressed with weariness and anguish, might find consolation. And so even now, in a wondrous yet true manner, we can and ought to console that Most Sacred Heart which is continually wounded by the sins of thankless men, since - as we also read in the sacred liturgy - Christ Himself, by the mouth of the Psalmist complains that He is forsaken by His friends: "My Heart hath expected reproach and misery, and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none" (Psalm 118:21).
St. Padre Pio, meditating on our Lord's agony, also prayed:
O Jesus, how many generous souls wounded by this complaint have kept You company in the Garden, sharing Your bitterness and Your mortal anguish.... How many hearts in the course of the centuries have responded generously to Your invitation ... May this multitude of souls, then, in this supreme hour be a comfort to You, who, better than the disciples, share with You the distress of Your Heart, and cooperate with You for their own salvation and that of others. And grant that I also may be of their number, that I also may offer You some relief. (The Agony of Jesus, p. 22)
Encouraged by these words of both Popes and Saints, let us also lovingly share in Our Lord's Passion through prayer, compassion and sacrifice, thus offering Him some relief and cooperating with Him towards our own salvation and the salvation of others.
This devotion is especially timely given the current situation in the Church, our country and the world. There is a great need to support our priests and bishops, so that they have the courage and strength to speak out and bear witness to basic Christian morals in our degenerating culture. We wish to give them spiritual support so that they may bear the burden of leading both the Church and the world in the ways of God, building up the culture of life as good shepherds after the Heart of Christ.
We therefore would like to invite you to this communal celebration of the Passio Domini every Thursday. The hours of the Passion are times of special grace and intercessory power. If you cannot make it every week, you might strive for once a month or every first Thursday of the month. The Holy Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are the most efficacious means we have of obtaining graces both for ourselves and for others.
We want to share this essential dimension of Opus Angelorum spirituality with all who wish to dedicate themselves to consoling the Heart of Christ in a special way, and to making reparation for our own sins and the sins of others. The Passion of Christ is at the center of every spirituality. Though this devotion demands sacrifice, it is one of the most important things we can do for our Church and country in these times. Jesus needs generous souls, who by God's grace can accomplish great things through the little way of prayer and sacrifice.