Passio Domini Thursday Meditations

The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden ²

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. “

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

1. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

The prayer of Christ in the Garden of Olives is instructive if we consider its effects.

The first effect of the prayer of Christ is described in the following words of the Gospel: “And there appeared to him an angel from Heaven strengthening him” (Lk 22, 43). The King, then, of the Holy angels, He who is Divine Power itself, the Consoler of hearts, is strengthened and consoled by an angel! It is, indeed, wonderful! We can understand how, at the birth of Christ, the angels descended with joy to intone the first Gloria in honor of their Lord. We can understand also how, later on, after the Savior had fasted forty days and forty nights, the same angels came and ministered unto Him. But that an angel should approach his Creator in the quality of a consoler, is strange to the last degree. Still, God had so willed it, and Christ, with an humble heart, took from one of His creatures that comfort which He might have had from and of Himself. Is this not a touching and an attractive scene? Does not such humility render the Lord infinitely lovable and dear to us? From this occurrence we learn, that in our trials we can expect efficacious help from heaven above. It is worthy of note also that Almighty God could not in a more beautiful and impressive way show us what confidence we ought to place in the holy angels.


We pray that for the grace of fervent prayer and that God may send the holy angels to all the faithful, especially the priests and bishops, to strengthen them in their trials.

Decade of the Rosary

2. We now arrive at the question as to what the comfort given to Christ by the angel really consisted in.

Did it consist in the removal of the chalice of suffering, as it did in the case of Abraham, when the angel commanded him to sheathe the sword raised over Isaac? Certainly not. The chalice, which, because He so willed it, contained nothing but bitterness for Him, was shown to the Savior by the angel from another point of view and in a more favorable light so that it lost all that was abhorrent and repulsive and appeared as something desirable and precious. Above all, he showed Christ the will of the heavenly Father engraved upon the cup, and he reminded Him of His own words, “My food is it to do the will of him the One who sent me” (In 4: 34). Then he showed Him the glory of the holy Cross, how from His death there should accrue to the heavenly Father infinitely more honor and glory than from the united praises of all creatures. Then, again, he let pass before his mental vision all the millions of men who would be forever lost if He persisted in His request and all the millions of souls who were awaiting in limbo the hour of redemption. He further represented to the Redeemer His passion as the foundation of His own glory and pointed out how, for all eternity, thanks would arise to Him as to the Savior and Redeemer of the world. By means of these and similar thoughts the angel worked upon the will of the Lord in order to determine Him to accept the cup of suffering.


Let us pray that God may send the holy angels to enlighten all the faithful in regards to the salvific meaning of suffering so that all, especially the priests and bishops may receive the strength to embrace their trials with loving resignation for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Decade of the Rosary

3. What a mighty result did the angel achieve!

Before this the Savior quaked and trembled at the sight of impending woe; now he combats this fear of death with such efforts that the bloody sweat flows from His pores. Before this He prayed with resignation, that the chalice might pass from Him; now He prays for this alone, that the will of God be done. Before this, He repeatedly interrupted His prayer, now this prayer is continuous, and His soul is entirely immersed in God. Before this, He sought solace with His disciples, and now He tells them, “Rise up, let us go,” and courageously He goes to meet the enemy. That was the first effect of the prayer of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Olives.


Let us pray for the grace of fervent and continuous prayer (especially for the priests) so that all may remain gloriously united with our suffering Savior in all the events of life, especially in trials.

Decade of the Rosary

4. From these last considerations three important truths are brought to our knowledge.

Just as certain as it is that the prayer which we address to heaven, in imitation of the Savior, shall be heard, just so certain is it that this will not always happen in the manner which we desire. But if Almighty God, instead of removing the bitter cup, gives us the strength to support our trials or even greater ones with patience, even with joy, should we not be grateful to him throughout all eternity? Again, we should become accustomed to consider the cup we must drain from another point of view and in a more favorable light. We should also see engraved upon it the will of our heavenly Father. We should not forget that God’s honor and our glory are increased by patient suffering, and then all our murmuring and complaining will cease. Finally, Christ made the most powerful effort to accomplish the will of His heavenly Father in a matter which was so difficult that it caused him to sweat blood. We ought, therefore, to be ashamed of our sloth and our cowardice which cause us, at the least difficulty, to cease our struggle against evil and to destroy God’s commandments. And surely, we have never yet resisted evil to the shedding of blood.


We pray for steadfastness in our sufferings, for an increase of filial love and confidence in our heavenly Father. We pray for the priests that they be perfect imitators of Christ’s filial love and acceptance of the Father’s will.

Decade of the Rosary

5. Still another effect of the prayer of Christ is described in the following words of St. Leo:

“This word of the Head, ‘your will be done,’ has brought weal to the whole body. The word has inflamed all confessors, has crowned all martyrs. For who would have victoriously overcome the hatred of the world, the storms of temptations and the fearful tortures of the persecutors, if Christ had not, in the Garden of Olives, suffered in all and for all, if He had not said in all and in the name of all, ‘Your will be done?'”

In all our tribulations, we should, therefore, pray with the Savior: ” Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” Especially should it be our prayer on our death-bed, when mortal agony approaches to seize upon us. It is true, our heavenly Father is not likely to send us an angel from heaven in visible shape. But the angels will surely be present in the hour of death to protect us from the Evil One, to console us to strengthen us in our agony and mortal combat and to lead us happily from time into eternity.


Let us pray that God’s will may be the greatest treasure in our lives. Let us pray that God may send the holy angels in this night to all the dying souls, especially the priests to bring them the grace of final perseverance and self-offering to God.

Decade of the Rosary

Concluding Prayer

0 Lord Jesus Christ, through your holy agony and your prayer which You offered for us upon the Mount of Olives, when your sweat, as drops of blood, trickled down upon the ground, grant, we beseech You, to present and to offer to God, the Father Almighty, against the multitude of all our sins, the abundance of your bloody sweat, which You copiously shed for us in fear and trembling, and to deliver us in the hour of our death from all the pains and anguish which, we fear, we have merited for our sins. Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

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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