Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Eighteenth Day of June

Of the Agony of the Heart of Jesus in the Garden of Olives.

Though the whole life of our Lord was a cross and continual martyrdom, from His constantly having before His mind the prospect of all that He was to suffer for mankind, yet it may be truly said, that the most painful moment of this life of bitterness was that in which He allowed all those evils to press together upon His Heart, and endured their full weight and suffering during His three hours agony in the Garden of Olives. It is there that souls, who are devoted to this Divine Heart, should repair to contemplate Him every day and to measure the full extent of His love. This is the time of the martyrdom of His divine Heart. The physical sufferings of His Passion acted, in some sort as an alleviation to His sorrow of Heart and as a satisfaction to His love, but here He suffers without relief and without consolation. He refuses His soul every thought that might give Him comfort.

Let us consider, then, what were His sufferings during that cruel agony.

The first suffering of the Heart of Jesus was His compassion for His Father. Deus charitas est "God is charity" (1 John iv. 8), says the Apostle whom Jesus loved. The definition is worthy of St. John. It is worthy of the Heart of Jesus from whence he drew it as he reclined upon the breast of his divine Master. This God of love has loved us with an everlasting love. From all eternity we have occupied His thoughts and designs of mercy. In charitate perpetua dilexi te (Jer. xxxi. 3). When man had forfeited by sin all those gifts which His goodness had destined for him, God, in a still greater excess of liberality, loved him so far as to give him His only-begotten Son, the object of His complacency and affection, and to deliver up this divine Son to the most painful and ignominious death in order to save sinful man. Sic Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium unigenitum daret (St. John iii. 16). But the world ignored this incomprehensible love. It would not believe it. It lost all remembrance of it.

Indeed, who is there that meditates on this wondrous prodigy of love, which ravishes the angels and saints of heaven with astonishment? Who is there that tries to fathom its depths? Who is there that shows his gratitude for it, as far as it is in the power of any creature to be grateful for so unspeakable a gift?

As no one is so truly a father as God, so it may be said, never did Son feel for the most tenderly loved father so deep a love as that of the Son of God for His Eternal Father. In His agony, then, the Heart of Jesus compassionated, beyond all expression, this incomprehensible love of His Father, outraged by the ingratitude and innumerable crimes with which mankind have repaid it.

The second suffering of the Heart of Jesus, was His compassion for the sorrows of His Mother. To understand what Mary suffered during the sorrowful passion of her divine Son, we should have to penetrate the secrets of her Heart. This Heart was gifted with a power of feeling so noble, so deep, so excellent, that no other mother’s heart can bear comparison with it. She alone could say with truth that the outrages heaped upon her divine Son rebounded upon her heart. She alone felt all the bitterness of the scorn, the insults, the blasphemies directed against Jesus. She heard the sighs, the groans, the last words of her Son. She saw Him abandoned by His Father, stretched upon the ground, nailed to the cross, and expiring in the most cruel agony without being able to wipe away the tears which flowed from His eyes, to staunch the blood which streamed from His wounds, or to render Him any of those sad offices which might soothe His last sufferings, above all, without being able to pout the least comfort into His afflicted Heart. As she looked on, she spoke only by her silence and her tears: Stabat Mater dolorosa juxta crucem lacrymosa, dum pendebat Filius.

What a martyrdom it is to see those whom we love suffering, and still more to see them suffering on our account! Thus the unspeakable sorrows of Mary added to the sorrows of her divine Son. He made them His own, and bore them in His own Heart, by His compassion for her, during His agony.

Measure then, if you can, the weight of these sorrows which were endured for you. Beg of the Heart of Jesus to pour into your heart one drop from that sea of bitterness which encompasses and penetrates His own, that the sense of the sorrows which He endures may give you generosity to suffer and undertake everything in order to make some return to so much love.

Practice: Among the different practices, which our divine Lord Himself prescribed to St. Margaret Mary in honor of His Sacred Heart, He taught her that which is now known under the name of the Holy Hour: "I beg of you to spend in prayer each Thursday night, from eleven o’clock until midnight, that you may share with me the sorrow which I experienced in my agony, in order to appease my anger against sinners and to sweeten in some manner the bitterness which I felt at that time at being abandoned by them, and which forced me to reproach them with not being able to watch with me one hour." If age, health, or the wishes of your superiors do not allow your adopting this salutary practice, you cannot at least excuse yourself from forming the intention and from offering to our Lord every Thursday evening, in place of the prayer which you cannot make yourself, the prayers of so many holy souls who are faithful to this practice. And you may pray your good angel to take your place near the Heart of Jesus.

Ejaculatory Prayer: Oh! who will give me to enter into the interior of Thy Heart, O Jesus!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

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