Passio Domini Thursday Meditations
The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden ⁴
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. “And going out He went to the Mount of Olives” (Lk 22:39)
From the Last Supper Room Jesus goes out to meet His cross. His whole life has been a preparation for this great event – His Hour – now about to take place. It has been before His eyes since His infancy; it has been the subject of His prayers during all those thirty-three years. Lately, as it has been drawing nearer, He has been accustomed to think and to pray more about it, in order to get more strength to go through it. Now that He is face to face with it, He is calm. He has come upon earth for the purpose of paying this price for man’s redemption, and – cost what it may – He will carry out His plan. He will face His cross.
His soul is sad, it is true, and His heart is heavy, for He knows what is before Him; but that does not make Him flinch in His resolution to go through to the bitter end – for man’s sake.
And we, for our own sake – for Jesus’ sake – shall we not bear our burden, face our difficulties? It may be that our heart sometimes sinks, and that we feel tempted to give up the struggle, the odds seem so great against us; but the sight of Our Lord going so calmly to meet His Passion will give us strength. How very much less we shall ever have to face than what was before Him on that evening. A few moments before, He has said to His Apostles, “Have courage, I have overcome the world.” He says the same to us. “Have Courage!”
Decade of the Rosary
2. “Stay here and watch with Me” (Mt 26:38)
Our Lord, having left the eight Apostles near the entrance to the Garden, took with Him Peter, James and John, into the interior, and withdrawing Himself a short distance from them, gave them the injunction to remain near Him and watch with Him. These were the three Apostles who had seen His glory manifested on Mount Tabor, and who had been so overcome by what they had seen that they had wished to remain there. Now they were to be witnesses of a very different scene. If they had only known what that invitation, on the part of Jesus, to stay and watch with Him meant, how readily they would have responded to it. “Many prophets and just men have desired to see the things that you have seen and have not seen them” (Mt 13:17).
Now was the time for Peter, James, and John to repay in some way their Master’s many kindnesses to them. He had told them that He was sad and sorrowful, and their love for Him should have prompted them to do what they could to comfort Him. Our Lord also asks us to stay and watch with Him in His agony, to console Him, so that we may not stray from Him when hardships fall upon us. How wicked, how foolish, to desert Him. “We have wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity, we have walked hard ways, but the way of the Lord we have not known” (Wis 5:7). So says the lost soul, when it is too late. Had it stayed with Jesus in this world, it would have found that He was “the way, the truth, and life everlasting,” and that His “yoke was sweet indeed, and His burden light” (Mt 11:30).
Decade of the Rosary
3. “Being in an agony, He prayed the longer” (Lk 22:43)
Agony, in the ordinary sense of the word, is the supreme struggle of life against death; it is often used as to moments of intense anguish, when nature is bearing the greatest amount of suffering of which it is capable. Such a period was Our Lord passing through in the Garden when, He said, “My soul is sorrowful unto death.” Consciousness of pain adds enormously to its intensity, and knowledge o f guilt increases remorse and anguish.
Our Lord was conscious of every portion of His Passion. His knowledge was so clear that “He may be considered to have suffered the whole of His Passion in every moment of it” (Cardinal Newman). In a certain sense He felt Himself guilty, too, because He was “bearing the iniquities of us all” (Ps 53). He, the Sinless One, the Lamb o f God, appeared before His Father bearing the sins of all the world, of the living and of the dead, of those as yet unborn. He was doing penance for the human race; for the pagan who knew Him not; for the heretic who refused to accept His teaching; for the bad Catholics. No wonder that He was crushed by the awful weight of such a burden; no wonder that He who knew so well the foulness and the malice o f sin, and the Father’s loathing for it, should be in an agony of shame and sorrow.
The effect of His agony was to make Him pray “the more”. The thought of our sins, which Christ was bearing, should make us pray “the more”, too: “0 God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
Decade of the Rosary
4. “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me” (Mt 26:39)
A clear proof of the intensity of anguish that Christ was suffering, was His agonizing appeal to His Father. He who before had been so courageous in facing the trial, He who had looked forward to, and even longed for, this His hour, now that it was at hand seems to have been overcome with fear, and to have prayed that the chalice of His suffering might be removed from Him. How intensely real the Passion must have been to Him, to have caused Him to make such an appeal to His Father.
Our Lord was passing through the anguish of desolation in its most aggravated form. The face of the Father was turned away from Him, for He represented sin and all the sinners of the world. Compared with this desolation, the lash, the thorn, the nails, were nothing, for they did not make Him cry for help to His Father.
We ourselves can experience no phase of anguish that Jesus has not also passed through, giving us an example “that as I have done you also may do” (In 13:15). To some it may seem that the hand of God is pressing so heavily upon them that they cannot support the strain. If we ever are so tested we should imitate Jesus in seeking help from God. “Lord, save us or we perish.” “In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.” (ps 30:2).
Decade of the Rosary
5. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Mt 26:39)
In spite of His intense natural repugnance to drink of the chalice presented to Him, Our Lord bowed His will to that of His Father. His Father’s will was like bread to Him; He had come upon this earth to do, not His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him (In 6:36). “Sacrifices and oblation and holocausts You willed not. Then, said I: Behold I come to do Your will, a God !” (Heb 10:8,9). That God’s will might be done was His constant desire. He voiced it in the prayer that He taught the Apostles us, when He said, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Three times He prayed in Gethsemane, and God rewarded His constancy, not by removing His chalice, but by sending an angel to comfort Him and to enable Him to bear it.
“Lord, teach us to pray,” the Apostles said to Christ. In the Garden, He gave a perfect example ofprayer. There was seen faith in God: “Father, remove this chalice.” There was seen reverence, so that “He was heard because ofHis reverence” (Heb 5:7); for He fell upon His face “before His Father” (Mt 26:39). There was seen perseverance, for “being in an agony He prayed the longer.” There was seen resignation to the will of God: ”Not My will, but Yours, be done.” We should examine our prayer and see if it has these qualities, if so, “all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive” (Mt 21 :22). If we receive not what we ask the fault lies not with God, but with ourselves.
Decade of the Rosary
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 Three Days; A Symposium on the Passion and Resurrection, by Father G.R. Roche, Spiritual Book Associates, New York, 1949
Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is repaid by so much forgetfulness, negligence, and contempt, behold us prostrate before Your altar, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries, to which Your loving Heart is subjected. Mindful that we, ourselves, have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Your pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those who straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their infidelity to follow You, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the vows of their Baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Your law.
We are now resolved to expiate each and every outrage committed against You; we are determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holy days, and the blasphemies uttered against You and Your Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Your Vicar on earth and Your priests are Subjected to, for the profanations by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very Sacrament of Your Divine love; and lastly for the public crimes of nations, who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which You have founded.
Would that, O Divine Jesus, we were able to wash away these abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Your Divine honor, the satisfaction You once made to Your Eternal Father on the Cross and which You continue to renew daily upon our altars. We offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Your Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense as far as we can with the help of Your grace, for all neglect of Your great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth we will live a life of unwavering faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel, especially that of charity.
O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to You, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where You with the Father and the Holy Spirit live and reign one God, world without end. (Pope Pius XI, Encyclical, Miserentissimus Redemptor).
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