Friday, June 19, 2009

The Nineteenth Day of June

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

One day while St. Margaret Mary was absorbed in meditation on the sadness and agony of our Lord in the Garden of Olives, our Divine Master said to her; "It was here that my interior sufferings were greater than in any other part of my Passion, for I saw myself wholly abandoned by heaven and earth and loaded with all the sins of mankind. I appeared thus before the sanctity of God, who, without regard to my innocence, punished me in His fury, making me drain the chalice which was charged with all the gall and bitterness of His just indignation; as if He had forgotten the name of Father, that He might sacrifice me to His wrath. No creature can understand the greatness of the torments, which I endured at that time for mankind."

In the next place, compassion for His own sufferings, and for those of the whole human race, combined with this terrible view of His Father's wrath, to fill the Heart of Jesus with agony.

The third suffering of the Heart of Jesus was His compassion for Himself. The anticipation of evils is ordinarily more painful than the endurance of the evils themselves. Now Jesus Christ, during His agony, allowed all the torments of His Passion to fall together upon Him and present themselves to His mind with all the circumstances which made them so full of sorrow and ignominy, He would give Himself a foretaste of all their bitterness, and bear them in His Heart, before actually enduring them in His body. The nails, the cords, the cross, the rods, the thorns, the gall, the vinegar, the spittle, the blows, the purple robe, the scepter of scorn, the insults of His enemies, the abandonment of His friends, the treachery of one of His Apostles, the denial of the other—He foresaw all, He accepted all, during that painful and sorrowful agony.

The fourth suffering of the Heart of Jesus was His compassion for mankind, whom He loved with a sovereign love. "He did not confine Himself to deploring their loss in general. He felt for the evils of each one of that vast multitude, and grieved for their sins, not indiscriminately and in a mass, but individually and in detail, so that there was no sin that ever was or ever will be committed, mortal or venial, which did not contribute in its measure, to rend the Heart of our Lord" (St Angela of Foligno). Whoever we are, just or sinners, we all contributed to cast our share of bitterness into this compassionate Heart; we all caused Him this cruel agony. We should count then, the vast multitude of men who have ever lived or who ever shall live to the end of time, measure the number and frightful enormity of their crimes, the unbounded love for souls which burned in this Heart, the ardent desire which urged it to save them all, if we would form an idea of the anguish of the agony of this divine Heart.

To this sight of the loss of so many souls, and of their ingratitude, must be added all the sufferings, all the physical and moral trials of the human race, which cast themselves into this ocean of bitterness and which our divine Lord was pleased to endure by compassion in His Sacred Heart, in order that we might be able to say truly with the Apostle, "We have not a High Priest who is unable to compassionate our infirmities."

Such are the incomprehensible sorrows which encompass on every side and rend in pieces the Heart of Jesus. Thus He exclaims: "My soul is sorrowful even unto death. My Father, if it he possible, let this chalice pass from me!" You see Him abandoned by His Father, given over to fear and sadness, and reduced to such a state, that a sweat of blood streams from His Sacred Body and runs even to the ground, forced from Him by the violence of His sorrow and love before the executioners, the nails, the thorns, or the scourges have done their work. Alas! it is because the Heart of Jesus suffers almost as much here as upon the cross; it is because He would be the model, the refuge, and the consolation of all afflicted hearts. The Jews, who witnessed the tears shed by Jesus over the grave of Lazarus, exclaimed in admiration; "Behold, how He loved him!" Ecce quomodo amabat eum (St. John, xi. 36). What should you, then, say or think, O Christian soul, at the sight not merely of the tears, but of the blood which Jesus sheds today in order to prove to you His love?

Draw near, then, to your agonizing Savior. Compare, if you have the courage, your pains with those which transpierce His Heart, and beg of the Eternal Father to allow you, all unworthy as you are, to take the place of the angel sent by Him to console Him, to stay beside Him, to watch with Him, as He invites you to do Himself: Sustinete hic, et vigilate mecum (St. Mark, xiv. 34).
Patience and resignation under your sufferings are the consolation, which the afflicted Heart of Jesus looks for at your hands.

Practice: When you are preparing for confession, beseech the Heart of Jesus to deign to receive your heart within His own, that you may have some share of the bitter sorrow which He felt for those sins of which you are going to accuse yourself, and which were present to Him during His sorrowful agony.

Ejaculatory Prayer: By Thy Heart, O Jesus, pierced with sorrow, I beg Thee to pierce mine with regret for all its sins.

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

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