Passio Domini Thursday Meditations

The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden ³

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. Mark:

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him.

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

1. “And he comes, and finds them sleeping. And he said to Peter: ‘Simon, do you sleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.'” (Mk 14:37- 38).

Christ prayed during the sufferings of soul which He had of His own free choice taken upon Himself. The more violent they became, the more also did He strive to overcome His fear, and the more perseveringly and devoutly did He pray. All this was for our instruction. In order to control our inordinate passions, we must strive and pray. By our own strength alone we cannot obtain the victory; we must secure for ourselves God’s help by means of prayer.

Again, the grace o f God alone will not bring us success; we must, on our part, co-operate with grace. Our efforts and our prayers must grow in earnestness and perseverance proportionately as passion increases in force.


Decade of the Rosary

2. The evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke state that Christ not only interrupted His prayer several times, but that He even left the place where He was praying and went to His disciples; which is indeed astonishing.

It might appear that, as He was preparing for death, He would – to give us an example – devote no further thought to the world, but occupy Himself solely with God. Let us consider two reasons which determined the Savior to interrupt His prayer and seek His disciples.

The first reason was the desire to find some consolation in His sadness. In fact, experience teaches that the fire of mental grief is intensified by being conformed to its own hearth. It has drawn many into melancholy and even into despair. It is also universally acknowledged that nothing relieves the heavy heart or consoles the sad soul as much as the imparting of one’s grief to a true friend.

It was, then, not only weakness freely admitted, but also the intention of instructing us which led Christ to His disciples that He might unbosom His grief to them. It must, therefore, be allowable to appeal to others for the purpose of finding solace and encouragement in grief, sadness and mental anguish. [Even now: Our Lord is still seeking consolation with His friends. Are we willing to watch with Him thus giving Him some relief through our love?]


Decade of the Rosary

3. What should be the nature of our complaints in agonizing times?

This we may gather from the words addressed by the Redeemer to His disciples before leaving them to pray: “My soul is sorrowful unto death.” Here we have the model of a legitimate complaint. It contains nothing but the recital of fact in as far as it concerned the Savior. Yet certainly Christ had cause to speak harshly against those who were preparing to do Him the greatest of all wrongs and to rob Him, the Innocent, o f life. As opposed to His plaint, the plaints of man are, at times, nothing else but explosions of anger, slander and calumnies.

Moreover, Christ does not unfold His sorrows to the first comer, nor even to all of his apostles. Only three were permitted to share His grief. We also, in communicating the burdens of our heart, should use great circumspection. It would, for example, be not only foolish, but sinful also, for a wife and a mother to reveal her family troubles to all her neighbors, because very often the honor of her husband and children would thereby be damaged to a great extent.

Finally, Christ does not complain solely to His apostles, but He addresses Himself chiefly to His heavenly Father. Too often in sadness and affliction we forget God entirely and seek solace and support from men alone. In our agonies we can and often even should, according to the Savior’s example, humble ourselves before our fellow-man by seeking consolation, but in any case we should give ourselves to earnest prayer. Then God will help us even, if it needs to be, by sending an angel from heaven to encourage us in the combat and to comfort us.


Decade of the Rosary

4. The second reason which urged the Lord to interrupt His prayer and seek His disciples, was his love for them. …

The first is that Christ thought of them, was anxious about them, when He Himself was in the agony of death. He was anxious about them while in a condition in which we, yielding to pain, would think only of ourselves and in which we certainly would refuse to think of any one else. Not only in the heat of fever but often also in slight maladies, we care nothing for our best friends and are short and indifferent in our manner toward them.

Secondly, Christ thought of his disciples and was anxious about them in an hour when their behavior made them unworthy of His love. For three years, He had done so much for them. They had on former occasions often been ungrateful for His devotion; but flow they add thereunto this ingratitude that, while their Divine Master is plunged in sadness and in the agony of death, they, lacking in courage and wanting in sympathy, fall asleep. What a contrast between these sleeping disciples and friends of Jesus and the wide-awake enemies! Judas is awake to betray Christ; Caiphas and the high priests are awake to condemn Him; the menials and soldiers are awake to bind, scourge and crucify Him: but the disciples are asleep. How that must have saddened our Savior’s heart! [Are we awake?]


Decade of the Rosary

5. What Christ experienced, His Bride, the Church, experiences now.

She is downcast and sad even unto death. An armed mob threatens to deal her the death blow at any moment. And mighty governments who call themselves Christian and who even glory in the title of Catholic look on without emotion and draw around themselves more closely the heartless cloak of neutrality and non-intervention.

The satellites of Satan develop an intense, restless activity to annihilate Christianity and to wipe it from the face of the earth, and thousands of Catholic men stand by and will not move a hand to defend the good cause and the interests of Holy Mother Church.

By His appeal to the apostles under the circumstances which we have noted, the Savior teaches all superiors and Christian parents in particular an important lesson. Nothing can dispense you, Christian parents, from the duty of watching over your children and giving heed that no harm befall their immortal souls; nothing, … neither sorrow nor affliction, nor any cross of suffering, not even, I might say, approaching death; much less work and business, much less still, laziness or fatigue, and least of all love of ease and comfort.


Decade of the Rosary

Concluding Prayer

My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay here and watch. (St. Mark XIV-34).

O Jesus, through the superabundance of Your love, and in order to overcome our hardness of heart, You pour out torrents of graces over all those who reflect on Your most sacred sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane, and who spread devotion to it. I pray You, move my soul and my heart to think often, at least once a day, of Your most bitter Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, in order to compassionate You and to be united with You as closely as possible.

O Blessed Jesus, You, who took upon Yourself the immense burden of our sins that night, and atoned for them fully; grant me the great grace of complete repentant love over my numerous sins, for which You sweat blood.

O Blessed Jesus, for the sake of Your most bitter struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, grant me final victory over all temptations, especially over those to which I am most subjected.

O suffering Jesus, for the sake of Your unfathomable and indescribable agonies, during that night of betrayal, and of Your most bitter anguish of mind, enlighten me, so that I may recognize and fulfill Your will; grant that I may ponder continually on Your heart-wrenching struggle on how You emerged victoriously, in order to fulfill, not Your will, but the will of Your Father.

Be blessed, O Jesus, for all Your sighs on that holy night; and for the tears which You shed for us.

Be blessed, O Jesus, for Your sweat of blood and the terrible agony, which You suffered lovingly in coldest abandonment and in inscrutable loneliness.

Be blessed, O sweetest Jesus, filled with immeasurable bitterness, for the prayer which flowed in trembling agony from Your Heart, so truly human and divine.

Eternal Father, I offer You all the past, present, and future Masses together with the Blood of Christ shed in Agony in the Garden of Sorrow at Gethsemane.

Most Holy Trinity, grant that the knowledge and thereby the love, of the Agony of Jesus on the Mount of Olives will spread throughout the whole world.

Grant, O Jesus, that all who look lovingly at You on the Cross, will also remember Your immense Suffering on the Mount of Olives, that they will follow Your example, learn to pray devoutly and fight victoriously, so that, one day, they may be able to Glorify You eternally in Heaven. Amen. (Saint Padre Pio)

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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