Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The First Sorrowful Mystery - The Agony in the Garden


The apostles are sleeping in the darkness somewhere, a stone's throw, from Jesus. The full Passover moon and the angel keep Jesus company in his grief. Jesus is wearing red, so we can find him in the night's darkness, but also to signify his bleeding for us. Doesn't the Red Cross have a saying: Give the gift of life; give blood. Here Jesus' gift of life-blood is beyond our comprehending.

This consoling angel appears with a towel over the left arm, a towel to absorb Jesus' blood, sweat and tears. Until the 1960's the priest wore a vestment at Mass over his arm called a maniple. It signified a handkerchief or waiter's towel. The maniple was eliminated in the name of modern simplicity. But in putting it on, the priest was reminded to take the world's tears and sufferings with him to the altar.

The account of the Jesus' prayer and arrest in Gethsemane can be found in Matthew26:36ff; Mark 14:32ff; Luke 22:39ff and John 18:1ff  ~  (ff means and what follows).



Our Father, Who art in heaven...

The gospels tell us that when Jesus prayed in the garden, he knelt. Kneeling says silently, God, you are God, not I. The humility of Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Jesus asked the apostles to pray with him in the garden. He knows they will be tempted to lose faith in him when they see him arrested and abused. But they fall asleep. And I?

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Jesus is God; equal to the Father. But as a man he needs to pray. In his terrible sorrow and suffering, Jesus speaks to the Father in intimacy. He see everything he will suffer. He sees the world's sin. I want to kneel next to Jesus, reassuring him of my repentance and love.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The sensitivity of Jesus: he feels the world's abandonment and rejection. He sweats blood. Oh Jesus, sensitize me to the world's sorrow, to the pain of other people.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Not my will, but yours be done. Jesus is utterly abandoned to the Father. His human will is in harmony with God's will. Is there some of this harmony in my own prayer, especially times of difficulty and suffering?

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Judas twists up the sign of respect and affection, the kiss, into a sign of betrayal. But Jesus is gentle and calls him friend. And Jesus calls me friend too. Oh, that I would be a friend to Jesus in truth.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The garden quickly becomes a place of chaotic violence. But Jesus is in control. An arresting soldier has his ear cut off. Jesus restores and heals him. Imagine: healing an enemy!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Jesus goes to the cross in obedience to the Father. He does not allow violence, even in his own defense. This is very difficult for us today. I might begin drawing near to the non-violent Jesus by recognizing and dropping even one of my clutched defenses.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

So often we think in self-pity, I'm having such a hard time of it. Then pray: May the will of God, who is just and loving, be done and fulfilled in me above everything else.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

As there were angels at Bethlehem and in the wilderness where Jesus was tempted, now I see an angel who comforts Jesus in the loneliness of the night-time garden. God's consolation and help are near to me always. Many people feel this deeply!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Glory be to the Father...


Lily of the Valley ~ Mary's Tears

1 comment:

  1. Father Stephen,
    I am very pleased to find these Rosary reflections. My rosary beads have sat buried in a drawer for years without a thought. This has made be take them out and actually think to use them. I find the little reflections just perfect to keep me focused on my praying. I hope that others are doing the same.
    Tara McDermott

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