Passio Domini Thursday Meditations

The Causes of Jesus’ Agony

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.


From the Gospel of St. Luke: Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.) When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” (Lk 22:39-46)

ALL: Most Divine Spirit, enlighten and inflame me in meditating on the Passion of Jesus, help me to penetrate this mystery of love and suffering of a God, Who, clothed with our humanity, suffers, agonizes and dies for the love of the creature! … The Eternal, the Immortal Who debases Himself to undergo an immense martyrdom, the ignominious death of the Cross, amidst insults, contempt and abuse, to save the creature which offended Him, and which wallows in the slime of sin. Man rejoices in his sin and his God is sad because of sin, suffers, sweats blood, amidst terrible agony of spirit. No, I cannot enter this wide ocean of love and pain unless You with Your grace sustain me. Oh that I could penetrate to the innermost recesses of the Heart of Jesus to read there the essence of His bitterness, which brought Him to the point of death in the Garden; that I could comfort Him in the abandonment by His Father and His own. Oh that I could unite myself with Him in order to expiate with Him.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, may I unite myself with you to follow Jesus and share His pains and your sufferings.

My Guardian Angel, guard my faculties and keep them recollected on Jesus suffering, so that they will not stray far from Him. (St. Padre Pio)

Beginning of the prayers of the Rosary: Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s …

1. What were the causes which gave rise to these sufferings of the soul?

The sufferings of the soul of Christ resulted chiefly from four causes. The first cause was the clear knowledge the Savior had of all the pains He had to endure in His natural body, in His sacramental body, and in His mystic body. The images of all the terrors and of all the tortures to be brought forth by the coming day arranged themselves vividly before His eyes. He beheld the bloody scourge, the crown of thorns, the dishonor of the purple mantle, the false testimonies, the scornful and biting jeers, the altar of sacrifice on Golgotha. …

Add to this the foreknowledge of all the wrong and ignominy He was to suffer in His sacramental body through the various sins against the Blessed Sacrament, of all the persecutions and outrages which would be heaped upon His mystic body, the holy Church, by infidels, heretics and schismatics, by anti-Catholic governments and from the scandalous lives of priests and many Catholics. He knew that He could no more endure these pains after His death, therefore He drank in advance this cup of suffering in the garden of Gethsemane.


Decade of the Rosary

In addition or in place of a decade of the Rosary there may be inserted a prayer from the Chalice of Strength booklet after each meditation.

2. The second cause was the conduct of His ungrateful disciples; this was to the Redeemer a source of untold sadness.

One is already on the way to betray Him for thirty pieces of silver; another, a few hours hence, will deny Him; all are indifferent and given over to careless slumber. In ages to come, the example of these ingrates will be followed by millions of Christians after they shall have reaped the abundance of His benefits, after they shall have been freed, through His precious Blood, from the slavery of Satan and nourished with His own sacred flesh. Truly the Savior could exclaim with the Psalmist,” I have become a stranger to my brethren, and an alien to the sons of my mother. 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.”


Decade of the Rosary

3. The third cause was the painful knowledge that all His struggles and sufferings would be wasted on innumerable souls.

Hear His plaint in the words of Isaiah, the prophet: “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength without cause and in vain.” May God grant that, in these lamentations, his thoughts were not directed towards any of us! Above all, He was afflicted at the thought of the awful end of His apostle Judas, as well as the temporal and eternal ruin towards which His chosen and beloved people of Israel were drifting.

All this is, indeed, more than sufficient to break a heart, even though that heart were divine. And still St. Chrysostom says that we should err were we to think that the knowledge of all these sufferings was the principal cause of the mental grief and of the mortal anguish of Christ. For no matter how fearful these sufferings were, the Redeemer had anxiously desired them and intensely longed for them: “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Lk 12:49). No matter how heavy, how shameful the cross might be, no matter that to many it was a folly and a scandal, it would also bring salvation unto many; for Christ Himself it would be the foundation of His Glory; to the heavenly Father it would bring infinite honor.


Decade of the Rosary

4. What was then the principal cause that made the soul of Our Savior tremble?

It was sin. “The sorrows of death surrounded me: and the torrents of iniquity troubled me.” In the hour when the high priests and Pharisees consulted together in the court of Caiphas how they might apprehend Jesus, the heavenly Father imposed upon Him, (the purity of His soul, however, remaining unsullied), all the injustice of the whole world, the sins of all nations, the sins of all times, the sins of all men; the sins of the rich, the sins of the poor; the sins of parents and the sins of children. Is it a wonder that this burden of iniquities, laid upon the Savior, should press Him to the ground?

To us, indeed, who know so little of the supernatural, sin often appears in more subdued colors. We excuse it, we consider it a mere weakness, something natural, a result of youth and of temperament. We fear at most the penalties of sin threatened by God’s anger. But the soul of Christ saw, clearly and distinctly, not only the entire series of sins, from the disobedience of our first parents down to the desolations of judgment day, but also all the malice, all the abomination, the revolt, the contempt, the dark ingratitude contained in each and every sin. Even when we recognize the wrong done to Almighty God by our sins, we take it little to heart, because we love him so little. But the soul of Christ, which sought nothing more vigorously than the glory of His heavenly Father and which loved him with an immeasurable love greater than that of all the Cherubim and Seraphim, felt most vividly the wrong inflicted on the Divine Majesty by sin.


Decade of the Rosary

5. Jesus was “sorrowful even to death” (Mt 26:38), when He beheld the sins of the entire world.

If this be true, we cannot shut out from our hearts another consideration. At the sight of our sins a God is seized with painful disquiet, and we remain calm. A God is sad over our sins, and we take pleasure therein. A God sweats blood for our sins, and we never shed a tear. We sin and, instead of hesitating and trembling, we think, perhaps, “I have sinned and what harm has befallen me?” At the sight of our sins a God-Man lies in agony, and we, perhaps, live on in a dreadful torpor which is an insult to the agony of Christ, in a false security, which, in a way, is more terrible than sin itself. We, perhaps, shall slumber on in utter blindness until that hour in which the voice of the eternal Judge will awaken us. Oh, dreadful moment, in which the same Redeemer, who now sheds His blood for our sins, will demand of the sinner an account of the blood shed in vain! Oh, most dreadful moment, in which the heart, now tortured out of love for us, even unto death, will appear glowing with eternal wrath!

Still, however great our fault may be, even if our sins be as numerous as the grains of sand on the sea-shore, we must not despair. Now is still the time of grace, even now, from all the pores of the Redeemer wrestling with death, his precious blood is being shed for us, even now His divine Heart is beating warmly for us. Let us firmly resolve to flee the monster sin which caused a God to tremble; by means of the Precious Blood, to purify ourselves in the sacrament of Penance, and, henceforth so to live as to justify the hope that, when we will be confronted with the throes of death, the agony of Christ may bring to the priests and to all the faithful, not despair, but solace; not ruin, but salvation.


Decade of the Rosary

Concluding Prayer

O Jesus, impart to me also that same strength, when my weak nature foreseeing future evils rebels, so that like Y au, I may accept with serene peace and tranquility all the pains and distress which I may meet on this earth of exile. I unite all to Your merits, to Your pains, Your expiations, Your tears, that I may cooperate with You for my salvation and flee from sin, which was the sale 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.

Recitation of the Litany Jesus Christ Priest and Victim for the sanctification of priests.

ALL: Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merit of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. And I ask pardon for those who do note believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.

If time permits, the leader (or each one Silently) can pray:

Jesus, I beg You for a drop of Your most Precious Blood in this hour of Your most bitter agony for [insert intention]
-for the Holy Church
-for our Holy Father
-for our bishops
-for the sanctification of priests
-for vocations to the priesthood and religious life
-for the conversion of sinners
-for our country
-for an end of abortion and contraception
-for an end of divorce
-for sanctification of family life
-for all who are dying
-for the Poor Souls in purgatory
( … for personal intentions)
Prayers for the intention of the Holy Father

Holy, holy, holy …

*Meditations (slightly adapted) taken from: The Passion of Jesus and its Hidden Meaning by Fr. James Groenings, S.J., Tan Books.

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