Passio Domini Thursday Meditations
The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden ¹
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.
Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, Sit here, while I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand (Mt 26:36-46).
CCC 2725: “Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The spiritual battle of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.”
By His prayer in the Garden of Olives, Jesus became our model of prayer in the hour of suffering and at the hour of death.
Beginning of the prayers of the Rosary: Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s …
1. Jesus prayed at a time of extreme sadness, in other words, while He was in a frame of mind in which thousands of others would say, “I cannot pray”.
It is indeed most unfortunate that we neglect prayer in times of trouble, vexation, sadness and other depressions of the soul. Many, even, neglect their prayers when they are somewhat out of sorts or in bad humor. And still prayer is never so necessary as in times of depression. For it is in just such moments that the evil enemy attacks us with his temptations and that our natural resources are weak to resist them. And if we then seek not help from above in earnest prayer, we yield to temptation. Then follow complaints against God’s Providence, curses and blasphemies. Some drown their grief in drain shops, others seek solace in the impure lusts of the flesh. And is it not a fact that many a one, urged on by discouragement and despair, has sought to put an end to a miserable existence by committing suicide? We should, then, follow the example of our divine Savior, who being sad unto death, prayed three times over to the Father. We should say to ourselves, Christ could pray in all the anguish of His soul, consequently we can do it also. Then we shall experience what the Psalmist says of himself, “My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God and was delighted” (Ps 26,3-4).
We pray for all bishops and priests that they be men of prayer, especially in times of trial in order not to be overcome by disappointment and temptation. We pray also for the dying this night for ourselves.
Decade of the Rosary
2. Christ prayed while His friends slept.
It may happen that, in the midst of woe, we are entirely deserted. And if it does not happen in life, it will certainly happen at the moment of death, when, all alone, we must face the tribunal of God. Then nothing remains for us but to pray and to remember that “Our help is in the name of the Lord” (ps 123: 8). Christ prayed while His disciples slept. We must also pray when we are among sleeping people, that is, when we must be among lukewarm and slothful Christians, in order, on the one hand, not to become affected by their example, and, on the other, to wake them up by the cry of our prayer from their dangerous sloth. So in a family, a single member who knows how to pray well, is often the greatest blessing to the rest. But if those must pray who are among the sleeping, how much more those who are among the dead, i.e., among sinners, and who must associate all day long with people whose hearts are full of malice and whose tongues are full of impurity.
Let us pray for our priests, for ourselves, for our families and all their needs. Through prayer and sacrifice may we be a light in the world to those who live in darkness or lukewarmness.
Decade of the Rosary
3. Christ prayed while His enemies were banding together to take Him prisoner and to deliver Him to the most shameful death.
In this circumstance we are shown the weapon to be used when the same Christ, either in His Bride, the Catholic Church, or in us, His brethren and members, is attacked by the dark powers of this world. This weapon is none other than prayer. When Peter drew the sword, Christ reproved him and commanded him to put the sword into its sheath. Armed with prayer alone, joined to the patient bearing of trials, may we meet our enemies. The first Christians understood well the example and the teaching of their Master. We find them, therefore, joined together in prayer in order to obtain the freedom of the first Pope held in bondage. And thus it happened in all succeeding centuries, whenever the tragedy of the garden of Olives was repeated in Holy Church. Hence, we also, in these troublesome times, should use trustingly the weapon of prayer and confidently hope that the liberation of Holy Mother Church may be brought about by Him who directs the hearts of kings as He wills and who, besides, has the power to cast down and lay low the wicked as He would the vessel of the potter.
Let us pray for and be determined to use the weapon of prayer and sacrifice rather than relying on our own little strength in combating the powers of evil in imitation of Our Lord. Let us pray for our Holy Father, our bishops and priests that God may send the holy angels to help them as He sent an angel to free St. Peter from prison.
Decade of the Rosary
4. Let us observe, furthermore, that childlike confidence in which the Redeemer gives expression in the words, “My Father.” Although visited by God with such terrible afflictions, He calls Him His father.
How differently we act! When, to punish us for sin, to furnish us with an opportunity of doing penance or of gaining merit for heaven, God visits us in affliction, the word “Father” falls from our lips only by means of a great effort, because, in our inmost heart, we are tempted to consider God, not as a father, but rather as a cruel master or a tyrant. And still, let us rest assured, we can hardly show God greater reverence than by confidently addressing Him by the sweet name of father, in the hour of affliction.
We pray for an increase of filial love and confidence in our heavenly Father in all situations of life. We pray for the priests that they be perfect imitators of Christ’s filial love and dependence on the Father. We also pray for youth that they may have the courage to say “Yes” to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
Decade of the Rosary
5. We should further learn from Christ to persevere in prayer.
Christ prayed, but heaven remained closed. He prayed the second and the third time and, as the evangelist says, it was always the same prayer. Hence we must also pray with perseverance; if we would be heard, we must not grow weak or weary in repeating to God the same petition. How great must have been the anguish of soul of the Redeemer! We ought, to admire and take to heart the perfect resignation of the Redeemer to the divine will. “Father, take this chalice from Me, if it be possible. Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” And let us here consider what sorrows were contained in the chalice to be drained by the Redeemer; then we will, as a consequence, show more patience and more resignation to God’s Holy Will in our much lighter trials.
Let us pray for a complete acceptance of God’s Providence in our lives. Let us pray for priests that they steadfastly persevere in prayer that with Christ they may be able to speak with loving resignation the words which saved the world: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Mt 26:39).
Decade of the Rosary
O 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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