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.
Arriving at the close of His earthly life, the Divine Redeemer, after having given Himself entirely to us as food and drink in the Sacrament of His love, and having nourished His Apostles with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, went with His own to the Garden of Olives, known to His disciples and also to Judas. Along the road which leads from the Cenacle to the Garden, Jesus teaches His disciples. He prepares them for the impending separation, for His imminent Passion, and prepares them to undergo, for love of Him, calumnies, persecution and death itself, to fashion in themselves Him, Who is their model.
He is there to begin His dolorous Passion. Instead of thinking of Himself, He is all anxiety for you. Oh what an immensity of love does this Heart contain! His face is covered with sadness and at the same time with love. His words proceed from His innermost Heart. He speaks with a profusion of affection, encouragement, comfort, and in comforting gives His promise. He explains the most profound mysteries of His Passion.
Arriving at the Garden the Divine Master withdrew apart from His disciples, taking along only three of them, Peter, James and John, to have them as witnesses of His sufferings. Would just these three, who had seen Him transfigured on Tabor between Moses and Elias, and who had confessed Him to be God, would they now have the strength to acknowledge the Man-God in pain and mortal anguish?
Beginning of the prayers of the Rosary: Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary's ...
He, the author of life sees Himself led from one tribunal to another, into the presence of judges who condemn Him. He sees His own people, so loved by Him, the recipients of so many of His benefits, who now maltreat Him with infernal howls and hissing, and with a great shout demand His death-the death on the Cross. He hears their unjust accusations, sees Himself condemned to the most awful scourging; crowned with thorns,
He sees Himself condemned to the ignominious death of the Cross, then ascending to Calvary, fainting under the weight of the cross, pale and falling to the ground repeatedly. He sees Himself, arrived on Calvary, despoiled of His garments, stretched out on the Cross, pitilessly crucified, raised up on it in the sight of all. He hangs on the nails which cause excruciating torture. Oh God, what a long agony of three hours will overwhelm Him amidst the insults of a crazed, heartless crowd.
He sees His throat and entrails on fire with a burning thirst, and to add to this agony, a drink of vinegar and gall. He sees the abandonment of His Father and the desolation of His Mother. At the end, the ignominious death between two robbers; the one to acknowledge and confess Him as God and be saved, the other to blaspheme and insult Him and die in despair. He sees Longinus approach and, as a final insult and contempt, pierce His side. Christ beholds the consummation of humiliation in the separation of soul and body. Everything, everything, passes before Him, torments Him, terrifies Him, and this terror takes possession of Him, overwhelms Him. He trembles as if shaken by a violent fever. Fear also seizes Him, and His spirit languishes in mortal sadness.
The desolation in which He finds Himself, the battle which He is fighting alone, seems to make Him go in search of someone who could comfort Him. Slowly, therefore, He rises from the ground and, staggering takes a few steps. He approaches His disciples in search of comfort. They, having lived so long with Him, they, His confidants, could well understand His internal grief. And with this expectation He goes to them. They will surely know how to provide a little comfort for Him.
But oh, what a disillusionment! He finds them buried in profound sleep and feels Himself so much more alone in that limitless solitude of His Spirit. He approaches them and, sweetly turning to Peter, He says: "Simon, do You sleep? You who protested that You wanted to follow Me unto death?" And turning to the others He adds: "Could you not watch one hour with me?" The lament of the Lamb destined for sacrifice; of a wounded Heart that suffers immensely ... alone, without comfort. He, however, raises Himself as if from a battlefield, and forgetting Himself and His sufferings, concerned only for them, adds: "Watch and pray that you fall not into temptation." He seems to say: If you have so quickly forgotten Me, Who struggle and suffer, at least watch and pray for yourselves.
They, however, heavy with sleep, hardly hear the voice of Jesus, they barely perceive Him as a faint shadow, so much so that they are not aware of His countenance all disfigured from the internal agony which tortures Him.
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.
Man, although he lies dying under the mass of sin, is ungrateful, ignores His love for him! He writhes in profound agony, love submerges Him, tortures Him His countenance has deathly pallor-His eyes are languid, an indefinable sadness takes entire possession of Him! "My soul is sorrowful unto death."
Divine Blood, spontaneously You flow from the loving Heart of my Jesus; the flood of pain, the extreme bitterness, the steadfast perseverance which He sustains press You from that Heart, and sweating from His pores You flow to wash the earth! ... Let me gather You up, Divine Blood, especially these first drops. I want to keep You in the chalice of my heart. It is the most convincing proof that love alone has drawn You from the veins of my Jesus! I want to purify myself with You, and all the places contaminated by sin. I want to offer You to the Father.
It is the Blood of His well beloved Son, Who came down to purify the earth; It is the Blood of His Son, the God-Man, which ascends to His throne to pacify His justice, offended by our sins. He is super abundantly satisfied.
Jesus does not want to stop the flow of His charity for men. Men must have the infinite proof of His love. He must see to what ignominy it can make Him go. If the infinite justice of the Father is measured by the infinite value of His Most Precious Blood and He is satisfied, man, on his part must have palpable proof that His love is not yet sated with suffering, and that He will not stop, but continue to the extreme agony of the Cross, to the ignominious death on it.
Perhaps a spiritually minded man can evaluate at least in part, the love which reduces Him to the agony of the Garden. But he who lives, given up to material affairs, seeking more the world than Heaven must see Him also agonizing and dying outwardly on the Cross, to be moved by the sight of His Blood and of this torturing agony. No, His loving Heart is not satisfied. Regaining consciousness, He prays again: "Father if You do not wish that this chalice pass from Me, unless I drink it, not Mine but Y our Will be done."
From now on Jesus responds to the loving cry of His Heart, to the cry of humanity, which, in order to be redeemed clamors for His death. At the sentence of death which His Father pronounces against Him heaven and earth demand His death. Jesus, resigned, bends His adorable head: "Father, if You do not want that this chalice pass unless I drink it, not Mine but Your Will be done."
Strong emotion, the late hour of the night, that presentiment of something awful - irreparable - which seemed to be approaching, and fatigue, had put them to sleep, such a sleep that weighs down upon one and seems impossible to shake off, and trying to shake it off, one falls into it again without knowing how. Jesus has pity on them saying: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
Jesus has so felt this neglect from His own that He exclaims: "Sleep now and rest." He pauses a moment. Suddenly, at the footsteps of Jesus, with an effort they open their eyes. Jesus seems to say: You who are My friends and disciples sleep, but My enemies are awake and are about to seize Me. You, Peter, who felt strong enough to follow Me unto death, you sleep! From the beginning you gave Me proofs of weakness. But be calm, I clothed Myself with weakness and I have prayed for you. And after you have recognized your mistake, I will be your strength and you will feed My lambs ... You, John, also sleep! You, who a few hours past in the ecstasy of My love, have felt the beat of this Heart, you also sleep? Rise, let us go, there is no more time to sleep, the enemy is at the gate; it is the hour of the power of darkness, yes, let us go. I go spontaneously to meet death. Judas hurries to betray Me and I advance with firm and sure step. I will place no obstacle to the fulfillment of the prophecies. My hour has come; the hour of great mercy for humanity. Jesus says: "It is enough. The hour is at hand. The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go. Behold, he who betrays Me is at hand." (Mt 26:45, 46). And, in fact, there is heard the sound of steps, a reddish light of torches penetrates the Garden and Jesus, followed by the three disciples, advances, intrepid and calm.
O Jesus, impart to me also that same strength, when my weak nature foreseeing future evils rebels, so that like You, 1 may accept with serene peace and tranquility all the pains and distress which 1 may meet on this earth of exile. I unite all to Your merits, to Your pains, Your expiations, Your tears, that 1 may cooperate with You for my salvation and flee from sin, which was the sole cause of making You sweat blood and which led You to death. Destroy in me everything that does not please You, and with the sacred fire of Your love write Your sufferings into my heart. Hold me so closely to You, with a bond so tight and so sweet, that I shall never again abandon You in Your sufferings.
May I be able to rest on Your Heart to obtain comfort in the sufferings of life. May my spirit have no other desire but to live at Your side in the Garden and unite itself to the pains of Your Heart. May my soul be inebriated with Your Blood and feed itself with the bread of Your sufferings. Amen.