The Healing Pool
In the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range near where I lived for many years, there were geothermal pools where those who were troubled with arthritis and other maladies came to bathe to be relieved of their pain. The header for this page reminds me of one of those healing pools. Such a pool existed in Bethsaida, a small town in Galilee, where several of Jesus’ miracles took place. The healings at the pool of Bethsaida were not worked by minerals or the warmth of the water, but by an angel who would occasionally stir the water, (John 5: 2). It was there Jesus encountered the paralytic, yet He did not heal him by immersion into the pool, as the man requested. Instead, he made it a point to simply tell the paralytic to rise, reminding him to sin no more, for He was greater than the angel who stirred the waters of the pool. And the healing that needed to be done was not primarily physical, but spiritual. And so we gather here beside the pool, to invite Our Lord into our lives to heal us from sin and to spend some quiet moments contemplating those things that will help us to reclaim our souls in a world gone mad. The steam from the water rises and the sun casts her early rays, the quakies shake the dew from their leaves and whisper among themselves. A whitetail doe and her fawn watches from the shelter of the pines. Here we can be at peace and listen for the voice of our Beloved, that peace that surpasseth all understanding.
Entry for Sept. 30, 2022
Psalm 46: 1-10
Therefore we will not fear, when the earth shall be troubled; and the mountains shall be removed into the heart of the sea.
Their waters roared and were troubled: the mountains were troubled with his strength.
The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle.
God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved: God will help it in the morning early.
Nations were troubled, and kingdoms were bowed down: he uttered his voice, the earth trembled.
The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector.
Come and behold ye the works of the Lord: what wonders he hath done upon earth, making wars to cease even to the end of the earth.
He shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons: and the shield he shall burn in the fire.
Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.
Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, October 11, 2022
From the work L’âme intérieure, written by l’abbé Baudrand (1822); translation by Javier Morell Ibarra:
We could not invite souls to the interior life in such a stronger way and by a more interesting motive for them than by telling them that it is God Himself who, by some special predilection, is inviting them, is summoning them and almost prompting them. It is there, in this secret life that He wants to entertain them face to face, communicate His inspirations to them, partake His graces with them, in a word, speak to their heart.
The world will invite its partisans to frivolous amusements, profane shows, pleasure parties so often mixed with bitterness and followed by remorsement. God invites the souls that are dear to Him to approach Him, to occupy themselves with worthy things, to hearken the oracles of His eternal wisdom; will they reject His sweet invitation? Will they reject their own bliss?
Come then, ye God’s chosen souls, come near the voice that is heard by your hearts; come gather the treasure of graces which are graciously given you as a singular privilege; come draw from its source the healthy waters that spring to eternal life; come and instruct yourselves with the true science of saints, so you may know the way which will lead you to eternal bliss, come and learn to cry for your sins, to moan over the illusions of your past life, to prepare yourselves to enter a new life that can one day grant you entrance to immortal life, for which you have been created.
Let the mundane run after the false prestige of this world, the allures of lie, the poisoned joys of this wicked century; instead, separate yourselves from the general malady that has infected the world and be humble and docile to the divine voice calling you, and apply your feelings and needs to the one and only affair that concerns you.
Do not be amazed at natural repugnance or at the alarms of self-love, nor at the efforts made by the devil to keep you away from this interior life; it should suffice you to know that a God full of goodness is inviting you, His special grace is awaiting you, and your solid happiness is prepared for you.
Oct. 22, 2022 — St. Melo, Bp. (more from l’abbé Baudrand)
Let us understand then how badly we need the interior life, for all sorts of motives call us to develop and increase our intimate relationship with God.
1º Firstly, because Jesus Christ is our head, we are His members, and so the members must live from the life of the head, and the head must infuse life in the members; but, what was the life of Christ on earth? Ah! If we had but once entered into His heart…
2º Because our whole business in this mortal life is to establish Christ’s kingdom in our souls; but, we know, His kingdom has not been an exterior kingdom of glory, might and luster; He often said that Himself, My kingdom is not from this world; and how will this interior kingdom be established within us if it is not by a life completely turned inwards?
3º Because failing this, our souls do not have this true life that makes worshippers in the spirit; there is an analogy between our souls and our bodies, since bodies without souls are nothing but corpses without feelings; so it is with the soul without the interior life which is like without motion, without feeling and without life.
Let us say it then: the interior life is indispensable, absolutely necessary for us, it is so necessary that without it, we would not know how to live the life that Christ Himself wanted to convey to us; it is so badly needed that without it, we will never attain the degree of sanctity or eternity that God has reserved for us, and not only that, without the interior life even our eternal salvation is in great danger.
Prayer to the Holy Ghost
Holy Ghost, God of lights, source of graces, author of all divine gifts, you are the supreme guide of souls; deign to enlighten, purify, revive mine, and take it to sacred shrine of interior life for which you inspire such a great love and burning yearning in me. I now understand, alas, how far I am, but with the aid of your graces, I dare to aspire, because it is You that invite me, what would I not expect from your assistance? (to be continued at a later date…)
Fr. Frederick W. Faber on Self Deceit, from his Spiritual Conferences, 1858
“Self-deceit is perhaps the most uncomfortable and disquieting subject in the whole of spiritual theology. Why then should we speak of it? For that very reason. The spiritual life is a reality, by far the most real of all realities, because it is our intercourse with God on the most momentous of all interests. It cannot help being real, real with a reality which must often be felt as an important and inopportune yoke upon our frivolous nature. Yet if we are in earnest about saving our souls, and it would be fearful indeed not to be in earnest about such a matter, we should not look about in the spiritual life for smooth things and easy sayings, but for true things and sincere sayings. Some people pride themselves on their principle of getting out of the way of frightening things, and consider it the height of discretion to keep such matters at arm s length, and to be very solemnly severe upon books and preachers that profess to deal in them.
“Such persons are simply insincere, and we must make no account of them. They are worth very little in the sight of God, and therefore their example is worth nothing to us. They must be judged after they die, and it is greatly to be suspected that the judgment will throw a somewhat disconsolate light over this eccentric discretion of theirs. On the whole the judgment is an exceedingly awkward time for finding out mistakes, particularly indiscreet discretions, for many reasons which it is not- of consequence for us to go into, because not holding the opinions of these persons we are not likely to fall into their mis takes, whatever other mistakes may befall us.
“We are very much in earnest with God. We desire to advance in His ways. So we make up our minds to grapple with this ugly subject of self-deceit, and take a very close view of it, believing that the unpleasant operation will be of the greatest service to our souls. Many souls have unquestionably been lost altogether by self-deceit. Many more have fallen far short of the purposes of God upon them. In the case of all of us, numbers of graces have been wasted through not meeting with correspondence, and most frequently that want of correspondence has been attributable to self-deceit. A disease, from which almost everybody suffers, and whose consequences may easily be so ruinous, claims an honest investigation from those who desire to be honest both with God and self.
“Untruthfulness is a very odious thing. It is the most offensive and provoking charge we can make against another. Men of honour consider that it is an imputation which can only be washed out with blood; though what sort of honour this is, is perhaps difficult to say, and more difficult still to discern how blood cleans it when it has been stained. Anyhow it is unpleasant to shed the blood of a fellow creature, and to most men considerably more unpleasant to shed their own; and hence the determination to run this double risk shows how odious the charge of untruthfulness is to the hearts of men. But this is part of the world’s self-deceit, that is, of everybody s self-deceit. We would fain persuade ourselves that untruthfulness is very rare. Else why should we murder our companion merely for attributing to us something very common? Either we have persuaded ourselves that it is not very common, or we are so bent on persuading ourselves of it, that we have made up our minds to shoot any man who raises the question in oar own case. Duelling, however, is manifestly not a counsel of perfection. So we want nothing more of it than this proof how odious the charge of untruthfulness is to the human heart” (pgs. 153-55).
More on Self Deceit from Fr. Faber
It is of little use to plunge into this repulsive subject of self-deceit, unless we are conscious to ourselves of a manly determination to make a thorough work of it. Whoever has not got that, had better read no further, or else he will mistake what is said. A man always makes a mistake, if he applies to himself what is meant for another. It is to be feared there is a great deal of promiscuous physicking of ourselves, after our neigh bour s prescriptions, in the spiritual life. It is not less ruinous to the constitution of the soul, than a similar practice would be to the constitution of the body.
Whatever is said here is meant only for honest people; to dishonest persons it will mean something quite different, and be by no means beneficial. Furthermore, it is of little use to plunge into this repulsive subject of self-deceit, unless we take up, as a standard or ideal, some notion, even though it be a negative one, of Christian simplicity. The acquisition then of this inadequate idea of Christian simplicity shall be our first occupation, and we will try to obtain it by an analysis of its impediments. Christian simplicity, or holy truthfulness, consists in three things, each of which is a good deal rarer than a black swan is out of Australia. It requires, first, that we be truthful with ourselves, secondly, that we be truthful with others, and thirdly that we be truthful with God. There are certain ways of becoming truthful with self, which are at once infallible and indispensable. We shall see if we have acquired the virtue by seeing if we have taken the means to acquire it.
The whole inward corruption of our nature is neither more nor less than the raw material of self-deceit. The malignity of our corruption is in its falsehood; and the person we are most interested to deceive is self. With what success we accomplish this, the whole world can testify. Now, if we are in earnest in undeceiving ourselves, we must be taking real pains to acquire self-knowledge. Unless we know ourselves, and, as far as may be, the ins and outs of our very complicated and inconsistent nature, we are clearly in no position to act truly. But it is not easy to know ourselves. On the contrary it is the hardest thing in the world. Are we really then taking pains to acquire a knowledge of self? Are we honest in our examinations of conscience? Are we punctual in them? We may fairly suppose there are not many men trying to save their souls, of whose daily regularities a brief examination of conscience is not one. Now what is our regularity in this respect, and our accuracy, and our diligence, and our real view of its importance?
If we are not taking pains to know ourselves, we may be quite sure we are not truthful with self. We can hardly be taking pains without knowing it; for this unfortunately is a matter in which the pains are very unpleasant, and it is only wounded men in battle who are sometimes unconscious of unpleasant things. It is of so much consequence to know ourselves, where religion is concerned, that if we not only do not take any pains after self-knowledge, but even rather get out of its way, we can hardly blind ourselves to the fact that we are not in earnest about our souls. But who gets out of the way of self-knowledge? It is plain enough that many take little pains about it. Idleness is the most natural thing in the world.
But who gets out of the way of it, that is, takes pains to remain in ignorance about himself? Nearly everyone. There is scarcely a man or woman on their way, as they think, to holiness, who does not habitually do this, and in more ways than one. Here is one way. People go on, as if on purpose, in a dim, misty, confused manner. They, suspect, perhaps, that they do not prepare for confession as carefully as they ought to do. They have a vague feeling that there is neither enough examination, nor enough pains about contrition, and that the exuberant graces of the sacrament are certainly realized in the most partial way, and the sacrament itself perhaps risked. They are always intending to look into the matter, and never doing it. Sometime or other they will, but somehow or other they never can do it today. They are not sure of the evil. The removal of it therefore is not a plain duty.
For perhaps after all, on enquiry, it may be found there is nothing to remove. By shirking the self-knowledge, they keep at arm’s length the obviousness of the duty; so that they seem to gain by thus defrauding themselves. Now almost everyone has some such woeful uncertainty resting on his conscience about some part of his conduct, most often those parts of his conduct which have to do with the practices and observances of the spiritual life, such as prayer, mortification, sacraments, and the like. Thus a man has a veiled muffled feeling, that he is neglecting bodily mortification to such an extent as to be very unsafe for his soul. Yet he will not call this feeling to account, and unmuffle it, and see what it is worth. He could do this very easily. See how anyone else could do it for him!
Are you all right about bodily mortifications? “I do not feel quite sure about them.” True! but it is not exactly a matter to have any doubt about. “Why it is a long question! there is a great Certainly! there is a good deal to be said.” Certainly there is a good deal to be said about most questions, but why not say it? “Not prepared just now.” Well, but it is a matter which will wait? Either you are leading a mortified life or you are not. Five minutes honest self-inspection will tell you at once: and if not, why you can settle forth with as to the amount of change you must make in your present softness, and then go on. But no! this is a style of spiritual direction far too matter-of-fact for most of us. Indeed we are by no means clear that it is not rude and unfeeling. We cannot have the plasters pulled off our wounds in this way. There is a certain sort of comfort in a fog, especially for shy men. They are less visible.
So we go on with half a dozen grave matters resting unsettled and misty and unargued, in a kind of unspeakably slow interior court of chancery. But how with all this, we can think ourselves true or manful it is not quite easy to see. It is a sad annoyance when others find us out; for it mostly lowers their opinion of us; but the saddest annoyance of all, to our poor nature, is to find ourselves out; for, if we lose self’s good opinion, we are forlorn indeed! The worst of it is, that there is a time and a place when and where detection is inevitable. A wise option is that which chooses the less disagreeable rather than the more disagreeable” (pgs. 156-159).
Here is another way in which people are dishonest with themselves, either from the dislike of exertion, or from a suspicion that investigation will compel them to commit themselves to God, or definitely deny Him something, both of which they are equally anxious to avoid. It is quite common for men to persist in a course of action, without being sure of their motives, even with an indistinct suspicion that their motives are not adequate or trustworthy. This is peculiarly the case where charity may possibly be concerned. There are many instances, in which, from what we know of ourselves, it is probable beforehand that some amount of jealousy, dislike, rivalry, triumph, or other unworthiness may mingle with our motives, and thus not only vitiate a whole series of actions, but even be superinducing a new habit of uncharitableness, or strengthening an old one, and also hindering all other growths of grace in the soul, so long as this canker is allowed to remain.
The same may be said of the works of mercy and charitable enterprises in which we engage. If we have the slightest reason to distrust our motives, the slightest reason to doubt whether the glory of God, if not unmingled, be at least uppermost in our hearts, we ought resolutely to scrutinize our motives, not merely because of the ruinous loss of merit which we are, incurring, but also because of the positive damage done to our soul, and the destruction of works in it, which former operations of grace have constructed. Do we make our faults a subject of sober and mature reflection? There are times certainly when it is not well to do this, times of temptation, discouragement, and scruple, when our spiritual guides would wisely prohibit our doing so. But on the whole must it not be a necessary part of every good man’s religious occupations?
If our great object is to save our souls, if our faults are the sole impediments to this, if moreover they are subtle, false-spoken, apt to disguise themselves, expert at putting on the semblance of good, if furthermore they come to life again when they have been killed, and that by the most clever and unexpected resurrections, and that they have such vitality that some of them, certain forms of self-will to wit, can never be put to death even by the saints, if all these ifs are true, we shall surely be in bad case if the mature con sideration of our faults is not one of the steadiest and most consistent businesses which we transact in the spiritual life. But is it not the fashion for it appears that now-a-days we may save our souls fashionably or the reverse to talk as if everybody was scrupulous, sensitive of conscience, delicately self-suspicious, and distressingly susceptible of divine inspirations, and therefore entitled to the utmost lax limits, which the old theologians, with a kind of edifying and grave ill- humour, hardly consented to allow to souls miserably diseased with an exaggerated scrupulosity?
Thus ladies, who go to balls, theatres, gay watering-places, and the like, who deny themselves none of the personal luxuries and comforts of the nineteenth century, who find piety very much squeezed in the pressure of a London season, and yet do not very well see how to make more room for it, these forsooth are to be supposed to be so many incipient Gertrudes or Teresas! We must not set them to examine their consciences too carefully, because of the extreme sensitiveness they exhibit to their own faults, nor to mortify themselves, because of their already inordinate appetite for discomforts and macerations. Their voluntary social arrangements are the tyranny of indispensable circumstances, claiming our tenderest pity, and to be managed like the work of a Xavier or a Vincent of Paul, which hardly left those saints time to pray! Their sheer worldliness is to be regarded as an interior trial, with all manner of cloudy grand things to be said about it! They must avoid all uneasiness; for such great graces as theirs can only grow in calmness and tranquility! It is lucky we may still make a poor drunken Irishman uneasy; for thus we have a chance of saving some souls at least, though of a truth not these London souls. There were old saints in the middle ages, that St. Bernard for example, surnamed the Mellifluous, lie of the honied tongue, who, if he had in a leisurely way contemplated some of these moderns on their path to perfection, would hare given them a taste of his honey after this fashion: Sir or Madam, strain every nerve to keep out of hell, which methinks you will not do in this manner; and do use your common sense for a moment to remember that you are dealing with God, who is not “mocked”!
A speech, apostolic, and perhaps brutal, which would cause fainting fits, followed by a most reasonable disgust, and be generally condemned in the present day. The fidget is, whether, after all, our modern way is the right way; for if the road should end, and heaven’s gate be found not to be at the end, the condition of these sensitive susceptible souls, which have required so much smoothing and calming, would be undeniably awkward, and, it is to be feared, helpless. Once more: there is hardly a man or woman in the world, who has not got some corner of self into which he or she fear to venture with a light. The reasons for this may be various, as various as the individual souls. Nevertheless, in spite of the variety of reasons, the fact is universal. For the most part we hardly know our own reasons. It is an instinct, one of the quick instincts of corrupt nature. We prophecy to ourselves that, if we penetrate into that corner of self, something; will have to be done which either our laziness or our immortification would shrink from doing. If we enter that sanctuary, some charm of easy devotion or smooth living will be broken. We shall find ourselves face to face with something unpleasant, something which will perhaps constrain us to all the trouble and annoyance of a complete interior revolution, or else leave us very uncomfortable in conscience.
We may perhaps be committed to something higher than our present way of life, and that is out of the question. Religion is yoke enough as it is. So we leave this corner of self-curtained off, locked up like a room in a house with disagreeable associations attached to it, unvisited like a lumber closet where we are conscious that disorder and dirt are accumulating, which we have not just now the vigour to grapple with. But do we think that God cannot enter there, except by our unlocking the door, or see anything when He is there, unless we hold Him a light ? This is one branch of Christian simplicity, to be truthful and earnest and real with ourselves. The second is to be truthful and earnest and real with others. Now in order to attain to this; we must, first of all, act as little as may be with reference to the opinions of others. There is a great deal of self-will in the world, but very little genuine independence of character.
All imitation of others is more or less an untruth. We are ourselves, and we must act as ourselves, and be like ourselves, and consistent with ourselves, and this is hardly what any of us ever are. We go about like weathercocks, ascertaining for ourselves and indicating to others the outlying quarters from which the wind comes. We have not ascertained principles of our own. This leads us into endless petty untruthfulnesses. It makes us seem hypocrites when we are not so; because weakness is apt to look like hypocrisy. No one acts naturally, who imitates others; and no one in the long run is truthful to others who is not natural with others. A discernible self, even if it be an unsatisfactory self, is a grand, genuine, vigorous, and wholesome truth, with a strange and gracious propensity to be very humble, as truths always are.
In the second place, if we wish to be truthful with others, we must avoid explaining and commenting on our own actions in conversation. For, either we must make our conversation like a regular confession, or we must convey an untrue idea of ourselves. Let us take one instance. What is more common for us to say is: “I assure I did such and such a thing entirely because so and so.” Now we know very well that never since we were born, have we ever done any one single action entirely for any one single motive. So that here, quite unconsciously, we may be laying claim to a very high and rare grace, to which only a few even of the canonized saints have attained. A man hardly ever comments on his own actions or explains his own motives without being false. The mere omission of his bad makes the enunciation of his good an untruth. He puts himself into a position from which it is scarcely possible for him to extricate himself without damage to his genuineness and simplicity. Yet no one called him into that position. It is only once in a thousand times, at least in the common affairs of life, that a man is called upon to comment on himself. Nobody wants his comment. People care much less for him either way than he likes to suppose.
In truth it is egregious vanity, pompous self-importance, the itch of self-defence, the identifying of personal feeling with the glory of God, or some other similar absurdity of human littleness which leads him into it. Avoid therefore all such comments and explanations. Least said soonest mended is never more true than in conversations which turn on self. Why is it that reserved men are so peculiarly given to self-defence? Because close men are hardly ever simple men, and self-defence or self- commentation are growths inseparable from unsimplicity. (p. 159-165).
See all of Fr. Faber’s writings on self deceit online here:
(Taken from a book called: “Meditation on the Passion” by Rev. Reginald Walsh, O.P. first published 1946. (with an imprimatur).
ON THE ROAD TO GETHSEMANI
JESUS ENTERS THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANI
Gethsemani was about a mile and a half distant from the supper-room. It was a bright and cheering little spot in the midst of the dreary, sepulchral valley of Josaphat. The place called Gethsemani, where latterly Jesus had several times passed the night with His disciples, was a large garden, surrounded by a hedge, and containing only some fruit-trees and flowers – this place was sometimes used as a pleasure ground, and sometimes as a place of retirement for prayer.
The Garden of Olives was separated by a road from that of Gethsemani, and was open, surrounded only by an earthen wall, and smaller than the Garden of Gethsemani. There were caverns, terraces, and many olive-trees to be seen in this garden, and it was easy to find there a suitable spot for prayer and meditation. It was to the wildest part that Jesus went to pray. This was the place our Lord chose to begin His Passion.
And why did He wish His Passion to begin in this garden, and with prayer? The fall of our first Parents had taken place in a garden, under the trees of Eden; and therefore the reparation of this fall was also to be made in a garden. That question of Almighty God, “Adam, where art thou?” that had once resounded through the garden, demanding satisfaction from the first Adam, had hitherto remained unanswered. No one appeared to offer the required expiation. But now our Lord and Saviour, the second Adam, comes and offers Himself to make full satisfaction, saying: “Behold I come.”
In the second place, it was from Mount Olivet that our Lord was to make His Ascension to the throne of His glory, and in the valley of Josaphat He will hereafter judge mankind; how fitting, therefore, that His Passion, too, should begin there.
Lastly, no more majestic, worthy introduction to the Passion can be imagined than prayer. There was not a single important undertaking in the public life of our Lord that He did not begin with prayer; how much more, then, His blessed and saving Passion! The prayer on Mount Olivet is the gate and vestibule of the sanctuary of His Passion, the first station of the Passion itself. Jesus well knew that this very prayer was to cost Him unspeakable anguish and the sacrifice of His life. But, He does not waver-no hesitation. He does not forbear to make it. Oh, the Jove of Jesus for us all. He will never fail us. What He has undertaken to do for us He will do. The darkness was gathering round Him, was even then like the darkness of death. “My soul,” He says, “is sorrowful even unto death.” He began to fear and to be very heavy. He could hardly endure the misery which by His own decree even then began to fall on Him.
Shall I not offer generously to stand by our Lord always and in all things? Is He not a King to live for, a King to die for? O God, I love Thee.
COLLOQUY— O my Divine Master, my Lord and my God, hear me through that undying love of Thy Sacred human Heart. O Jesus, grant me, I conjure Thee, a heart capable of loving Thee. Whom should I love in Heaven or on earth if not Thee? O my God I do love Thee, and my only regret is that I cannot every moment love Thee more. Strengthen me, good Jesus, to live, labor, suffer, and die for Thee. O Lord Jesus, blot out, I implore Thee, my multiplied iniquities, which I detest from my heart because they have grieved Thee. Grant me pardon, absolution, and full remission of all my sins – let them not stand between me and Thee. I want to love Thee with all my heart. O Jesus, open wide Thy Heart and let me rest therein. Take, Lord Jesus, everything, let me live to Thee alone. O my Mother, I have need of thee.
XII. – THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN (Matt. xxvi. 30-40)
1st Prelude: History — “Then Jesus came into a country place which is called Gethsemani, and said to His disciples:” Sit you here till I go yonder and pray. And taking Peter, James, and John, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then He saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch with Me. And going a little further, He fell upon His face, praying and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
2nd Prelude: Composition of Place — A garden on the western slope of Olivet, close to the brook Cedron that flows through the valley of Josaphat. Olive-trees all about. The moon at the full, but the darkness beneath the trees impenetrable. Our Lord prostrate there with eight of the Apostles near the garden gate. Peter, James, and John a stone’s-throw from the scene of the Agony.
3rd Prelude: Ask what I want — To know the Heart of love – the Heart of Jesus. Its sorrow unto death, fear, heaviness, agony, and all for me! Our Lord’s words are the words of Truth itself; hence we understand them literally when speaking of Himself, He says, “sorrowful unto death.” Ah, my dear Lord Jesus, give me light and grace to realize the anguish and agony of Thy loving Heart, and how great a share I had in Thy sufferings. O Mother of Jesus, I have need of thee. Make me feel as thou hast felt. Make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ my Lord.
Points: I. The Sacred Agony of Jesus.
- “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
III. Like to us in all things.
THE SACRED AGONY OF JESUS
See the persons-listen to the words-consider the actions. Reflect! How the Divinity hides itself. How much Jesus suffers in this mystery, how much He wishes to suffer. And all is for me, for my sins.
Contemplate the thoughtful and compassionate care of Jesus for His disciples. On entering the Garden He said to eight of them: “Sit you here till I go yonder and pray.” He knows that their weakness could not bear the sight of His infirmity; they would be overmuch scandalized and shaken. In spite of His own trouble, He is full of solicitude for them. Dear Lord, help me to learn this lesson, never to allow personal sorrow or trouble to render me selfish or deaden my sympathy for others. I see that sorrow cannot conquer either hope, or love, or compassion in the Heart of Jesus. “Many waters cannot quench charity: neither can floods drown it” (Cant. viii).
Jesus exhorts the eight to pray lest they should enter into temptation, then going on a little further with Peter, James, and John, He entered the Garden of Olives. No words can describe the sorrow which then oppressed Jesus’ soul, for the time of the trial was near. See the distress of the three as John asks Jesus how it is that He, who had hitherto always consoled them, could now be weighed down with fear and sorrow. Jesus answers: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” In their presence Jesus’ Passion has already begun the agony of heart. “He began to fear and to be heavy; to grow sorrowful and to be sad.”
It was from the three chosen witnesses that the Evangelists learned what they wrote down for us. Peter, James, and John told what their eyes had seen and their ears had heard. For in the moonlight they could see that the paleness of death had overspread the Sacred Face of Jesus, and that a look of inexpressible distress and anguish had overcast the beauty of His countenance. The three were dismayed, horror-stricken and scandalized; they saw His tears, His strength apparently gone from His wasted body, His faltering footsteps, His trembling limbs as He turned to say with a choked and broken voice, “My soul is sorrowful unto death.” The heavy night of desolation came down upon His loving Heart. O Jesus, sorrowful unto death for me, penetrate my soul with the truth of Thy word: “Blessed are they that mourn.”
Jesus speaks: “Stay you here and watch with Me; pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Note how sorrow and sadness and fear in all their intensity can never turn our Lord’s soul one hair’s-breadth from perfect love. Jesus’ sorrow is a sorrow unto death. A sorrow strong enough to break His heart and cause death. But it will not conquer His charity, which is strong as death and stronger. And the one sole motive or cause why He is in this extremity of anquish is because He loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”
When the winds and the waves were raging on the lake of Galilee one word from Him commanded them all. So it is now. The passion of fear is strong; sadness is strong; sorrow is strong; but these passions, though they may rise to their topmost height, shall never conquer the charity in Jesus’ Heart. The voice of His love will ever be dominant and supreme over them. “What I have undertaken to do for them I will do.” Ah, Lord Jesus, strengthen me to be true to Thee till death, to stand by Thee under all circumstances. O Mother, I have need of thee.
“Pray,” Jesus says, “lest ye enter into temptation.” Note He does not tell us to pray not to be tempted. For our life must be a warfare, and we must be soldiers, and must fight a good fight. But oh! how earnestly He desires that when Satan comes to tempt, and so to allure us away from our God, our Lord, our Creator, our loving Father and most loving and merciful Redeemer, we shall not listen to the temptation, Satan’s foul treason, or go over to the side of Satan, and agree with him, and make ourselves his subjects and slaves.
St. Ignatius teaches us in contemplation to study not only the outward person, but also the inward thoughts; we are allowed to try in our poor way to find out, if we can, what are the chief objects that are presented to our Lord’s soul to awaken fear and sadness and heaviness of heart.
Spiritual writers answer: (1) Fear is awakened by His coming death and the terrible circumstances of His death. (2) Oppression and most weary tediousness, by the sight of all the opposition which He shall encounter from men and devils in His work of redeeming those He loves so much. (3) Sorrow unto death is caused by the sight of sin; sin past, sin present, sin to come; the offence, the displeasure, the dishonor, the ingratitude, the treason, and treachery, and malice, all heaped upon Himself by sin.
During the Agony in the Garden our Lord anticipated all the coming agony of His Passion. He allowed His human soul to feel in all its intensity each detail of the unspeakable suffering that was now close at hand. Hitherto it had indeed been distinctly present to Him, but now it was not only permitted, but commanded to take possession of His own soul. Now it was a mortal fear, resulting from a clear, vivid realization of all that He had to endure. When darkness invades our souls, we should remember that none is like the deep, black darkness that spread over the Sacred Soul of Jesus.
Where should we have gone in our hours of weakness had there been no Gethsemani! What consolation is wanting to us now that we see the Mighty God-Man stricken with fear, sickening like us at the sight of failure, treachery, ingratitude. How practical, how generous is Christ’s love for us! “All that I can do I will do for them” was His motto through life. And so when His hour came, it was not what befitted His Majesty, but what would help us most, that determined the way in which He would meet suffering and death. To be like us in all things, this was His rule from first to last: that having shown Himself like us, He might win us to be like Him, ready to say in the hour of trial: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to Thee, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.”
Colloquy — With the suffering Heart of Jesus. O good Jesus! how great is Thy love for me! How unselfish Thy love! What sorrow and agony Thou didst endure, and all for me, to help me, teach me, console me, to draw me to Thyself! Can I ever forget Thee? Can I ever love Thee enough? Ah, dear Jesus, I do love Thee, and I want to love Thee with an ever increasing love. Deep in Thy Sacred Heart let me abide.
“Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee; Even though it be a cross that raiseth me!”
Mother of Jesus, my Mother, make me true to thy Divine Son, Jesus.