OPEN

BYPASS BIG TECH CENSORSHIP - SIGN UP FOR mICHAEL mATT'S REGULAR E-BLAST

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

OPEN
Search the Remnant Newspaper
Thursday, April 14, 2022

Our Place in the Ever-Present Agony in the Garden

Written by 
Rate this item
(18 votes)
Our Place in the Ever-Present Agony in the Garden

“And when He was come to the place, He said to them: pray, lest ye enter into temptation. And He was withdrawn away from them a stone’s cast, and kneeling down He prayed. Saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from Me, but yet not My will, but Thine be done. And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.” (Luke 22:40-44)

 

Every year during Holy Week we contemplate the hours Our Lord spent in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper, just as we encounter the other mysteries of Jesus’s life throughout the Liturgical Year. In a special way, though, our lives are permanently rooted in the moments of Jesus’s Agony in the Garden. In his meditations on The Agony of Jesus, Padre Pio wrote of what tormented Our Lord most in those hours:

“Jesus has returned to His place of prayer and another picture, more terrible than [the torments of the Passion] presents itself to Him. All our sins with their entire ugliness parade before Him in every detail. He sees all the meanness and the malice of creatures in committing them. He knows to what extent these sins outrage the Majesty of God. He sees all the infamies, immodesties, blasphemies which proceed from the lips of creatures accompanied by the malice of their hearts, of those hearts and those lips which were created to bring forth hymns of praise and benediction to the Creator.”

It is not the thought of the cruel physical tortures before Him that cause so much anguish; rather it is our sins and ingratitude.

It is not the thought of the cruel physical tortures before Him that cause so much anguish; rather it is our sins and ingratitude. Everything we choose to do in the moments, hours, and days that follow the present one, until we breathe our last breath, will be either something that contributed to Jesus’s afflictions, or to His consolations, in the Garden. Whether we recognize it or not, every conscious moment of our life is part of the cruel hours of Our Lord’s suffering.

If Jesus were merely some great man, we might do quite a lot to avoid causing Him some anguish. But Jesus is our loving Creator and Redeemer and, as God, sustains us in our existence so that we may do His will. The saints tell us that Jesus would have suffered and died for each of us individually, even if we were the only ones to benefit from His sacrifice. From the perspective of eternity, every single action that will take place between now and the end of time is permitted for the glory of God and the salvation of the souls who will make proper use of the graces Jesus won on the Cross. In this light, it should be painfully obvious that we should do all we can to avoid sin and to console Jesus.

Each year we hear of the betrayal of Judas, and perhaps we feel some comfort in not being as bad as that great betrayer of Our Lord. As Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus wrote in The School of Jesus Crucified, any such comfort is likely misplaced:

“Judas sold his Master once only, but can you even remember how many times you have been guilty of the same dark treason? . . . Jesus bewailed the perfidy of Judas, but far more does He bewail yours, because it has been so often repeated, and repeated in defiance of so many interior inspirations, of so much remorse of conscience, of so many internal lights, which have reminded and made known to you at how dear a rate Jesus has purchased that soul which you sell to His infernal enemy when you fall into sin.”

No matter how many accolades and honors we may receive during our lifetimes, the greatest success we can have is to repent at least one more time than Judas did, for almost all of us have already sinned more than he did.

It is hard to put this in perspective — that we are worse than Judas when we sin gravely — but if we manage to see it at least in part then we would do well to sear the image in our hearts and minds. No matter how many accolades and honors we may receive during our lifetimes, the greatest success we can have is to repent at least one more time than Judas did, for almost all of us have already sinned more than he did.

And yet we can and should do more than simply die in the state of grace. Almost surely we will not be able to imitate Padre Pio’s holiness, but we can try to learn from his words of prayer:

“O Jesus, how many generous souls wounded by this complaint have kept Thy company in the Garden, sharing Thy bitterness and Thy mortal anguish . . . How many hearts in the course of the centuries have responded generously to Thy invitation . . . May this multitude of souls, then, in this supreme hour be a comfort to Thee, who, better than the disciples, share with Thee the distress of Thy heart, and cooperate with Thee for their own salvation and that of others. And grant that I also may be of their number, that I also may offer Thee some relief.”

Is there a logical reason why this should not be our disposition and prayer as well? If we decide to add to Jesus’s anguish through sin or ingratitude rather than console Him by cooperating with His grace, how would we explain such a decision to Jesus when He judges us upon death if He were to ask us? Would we be able to explain the great reason why we decided to displease Him rather than do His will?

Do we see the connection between the horror of our own times and the failures of men, especially good Catholics, to do God’s will? Jesus, who suffered so much for our sins, allows us to feel the consequences of our sins to draw us to repentance. But for decades the apparent shepherds of the Church have told us stop worrying about our sins; they have told us we have no need of much penance. These shepherds have told us that hell is empty and that God loves all of us so much that He will save even those who practice false religions. Hearing these preposterous lies, souls have drifted further away from God, leading to more sin and more evil consequences.

So here we are in 2022, arguably facing the most treacherous moments in human history. But in the ever-present Agony in the Garden, Jesus has not forgotten us.

So here we are in 2022, arguably facing the most treacherous moments in human history. But in the ever-present Agony in the Garden, Jesus has not forgotten us. What does He want of us? Is He praying that we will vote Biden out of office in a few years and lower oil prices? Is He praying that we will find a way to get the border situation under control? Is He praying that we will end the Great Reset so we can get back to the good lives we led before Covid? Are these the thoughts that cause Him to sweat blood? As followers of Christ we care about these worldly issues because they result from, and contribute to, what caused Our Saviour to sweat blood: the sins and ingratitude of men.

According to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich in The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same angel who tells us that the world’s problems have nothing to do with sin had this taunt for Jesus in the Garden:

“But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of His soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing His adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest Thou even this sin upon Thyself? Art Thou willing to bear its penalty? Art Thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?”

Satan, who does all he can to convince us to avoid consoling Our Lord, taunted Jesus by showing Him all the sins we would commit instead. The horrors we see today are simply the current manifestation of the continuous war for souls and consequences of our sins. Every individual battle we see is part of the war for souls that will last until the end of time, and we contribute to Satan’s “diabolical joy” when we forget that and return to sin.

What will we do in the next moments, hours, and days? Will our actions console Jesus? If we decide that we will add just a little more to His suffering in that moment, do we suppose that He, who governs the entire world, will reward us by blessing our actions with the success that brings us true peace or joy? Is He allowing all of the horrors of the Great Reset for any other reason than to draw us to Himself? Do we think that there is some other solution to this crisis, such that we can neglect Jesus and nonetheless overcome the current chaos and achieve some semblance of peace?

One would never know it from the words of Francis’s “consecration of Russia and Ukraine,” but the most pressing needs of our world relate not to climate change or borders but to the need for souls to stop offending God.

Or does it rather seem that everything depends upon how we respond to the laments of Jesus that Padre Pio heard in his day and which grow louder in ours?:

“I seem to hear all the laments of the Saviour: Oh if at least man for whom I am in anguish and for whom I am ready to embrace all, could only be grateful, would respond to the graces I obtain for him by My great suffering for him! If he would only esteem the value of the price I pay to ransom him from the death of sin, to bestow on him the true life of the sons of God. Ah, that love which grieves My Heart more cruelly than the executioners will tear my flesh! . . . He sees man who does not know because he does not want to draw profit from it. He will even blaspheme this Divine Blood, and more irreparable and inexcusable still, will turn It to his damnation. Only a few will profit by It, the greater number run the way of perdition.”

Will we be among the small number of souls who profit from the Divine Blood or among the greater number who “run the way of perdition”? What is our place in the ever-present Agony in the Garden?

As Francis recently reminded the world, the messages of Our Lady of Fatima are more important than ever now. One would never know it from the words of Francis’s “consecration of Russia and Ukraine,” but the most pressing needs of our world relate not to climate change or borders but to the need for souls to stop offending God, which is exactly what the children of Fatima knew over one hundred years ago according to Sister Lucia’s account of her conversation with her cousin Francisco:

“‘Francisco, which do you like better: to console Our Lord, or to convert sinners, so that no more go to hell?’ — ‘I would rather console Our Lord. Didn’t you notice how sad Our Lady was that last month when she said that people must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already so much offended? I would like to console Our Lord, and after that, convert sinners, so that they won’t offend Him anymore!’”

Francisco saw that he had a responsibility to console Our Lord as much as possible and it seems that there has never been greater need for all faithful Catholics to do the same. May the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to do all we can to respond to God’s graces with so much love and gratitude that we may console His Sacred Heart.

“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners, and grant us the grace which we ask of Thee through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy tender mother and ours.” (prayer of Padre Pio)

A new RTV Short — HOLY WEEK: The Love Story that Built Western Civilization

[Comment Guidelines - Click to view]
Last modified on Friday, April 15, 2022
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.