Spiritual Crusade – Day 17

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This is day 17 of our spiritual crusade. Please join us in prayer for the protection of unborn children in Ireland and in your own country. 

Intention: to obtain from God, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that Ireland may be entirely delivered from the evil of abortion and that the bishops may be granted the grace to preach the gospel fearlessly and to defend unborn children with all their strength.

Prayer: Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

A reflection on the First Sorrowful Mystery – The Agony in the Garden

“What is meditating on Christ? It is simply this, thinking habitually and constantly of Him and of His deeds and sufferings. It is to have Him before our minds as One whom we may contemplate, worship, and address when we rise up, when we lie down, when we eat and drink, when we are at home and abroad, when we are working, or walking, or at rest, when we are alone, and again when we are in company; this is meditating. And by this, and nothing short of this, will our hearts come to feel as they ought.

“Now of such meditation, or thinking over Christ’s deeds and sufferings, I will say two things; the first of which would be too plain to mention, except that, did I not mention it, I might seem to forget it, whereas I grant it. It is this: that such meditation is not at all pleasant at first. I know it; people will find it at first very irksome, and their minds will gladly slip away to other subjects. True: but consider, if Christ thought your salvation worth the great sacrifice of voluntary sufferings for you, should not you think (what is your own concern) your own salvation worth the slight sacrifice of learning to meditate upon those sufferings? Can a less thing be asked of you, than, when He has done the work, that you should only have to believe in it and accept it?

“And my second remark is this: that it is only by slow degrees that meditation is able to soften our hard hearts, and that the history of Christ’s trials and sorrows really moves us. It is not once thinking of Christ or twice thinking of Christ that will do it. It is by going on quietly and steadily, with the thought of Him in our mind’s eye, that by little and little we shall gain something of warmth, light, life, and love. We shall not perceive ourselves changing. It will be like the unfolding of the leaves in spring. You do not see them grow; you cannot, by watching, detect it. But every day, as it passes, has done something for them; and you are able, perhaps, every morning to say that they are more advanced than yesterday. So is it with our souls; not indeed every morning, but at certain periods, we are able to see that we are more alive and religious than we were, though during the interval we were not conscious that we were advancing.

….

“… to see [His sufferings] in their fulness we must look on to His passion… But I will observe thus much; first, what is very wonderful and awful, the overwhelming fear He had of His sufferings before they came. This shows how great they were; but it would seem besides this, as if He had decreed to go through all trials for us, and, among them, the trial of fear. He says, ‘Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.’ And when the hour came, this terror formed the beginning of His sufferings, and caused His agony and bloody sweat. He prayed, ‘O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done.’ St. Luke adds; ‘And being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’ [John xii. 27. Matt. xxvi. 39. Luke xxii. 44.]

“Next, He was betrayed to death by one of His own friends. What a bitter stroke was this! He was lonely enough without this: but in this last trial, one of the twelve Apostles, His own familiar friend, betrayed Him, and the others forsook Him and fled; though St. Peter and St. John afterwards recovered heart a little, and followed Him. Yet soon St. Peter himself incurred a worse sin, by denying Him thrice. How affectionately He felt towards them, and how He drew towards them with a natural movement of heart upon the approach of His trial, though they disappointed Him, is plain from the words He used towards them at His Last Supper; ‘He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.’ [Luke xxii. 15.]

“Soon after this His sufferings began; and both in soul and in body was this Holy and Blessed Saviour, the Son of God, and Lord of life, given over to the malice of the great enemy of God and man.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman, “Christ’s Privations a Meditation for Christians”, Plain and Parochial Sermons, (Vol VI)