SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives
1st Prelude. See Jesus prostrate with His face on the earth.
2nd Prelude. Beg constant fidelity to all the rules for praying well.
POINT I. “And going a little farther, kneeling down He prayed, and He fell upon His face.”
CONSIDERATION. Remark the extraordinary signs of respect and humility which Jesus Christ showed in His prayer to His Heavenly Father. He knelt down, He fell upon His face on the earth, and He remained thus prostrate as if He was unworthy to raise His eyes to Heaven. He was penetrated with the thought of the infinite majesty of Him to whom He spoke as man, and as a sinful man, bearing the weight of our iniquities. Remark also the deep feelings of filial piety expressed by the words “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”
APPLICATION. Why is our manner so often wanting in respect and propriety when we pray or meditate? Is it not because we think too little of the infinite majesty of God, and of our infinite unworthiness? Happy is the man who before he prays is accustomed to ask himself “Before whom am I going to appear, and wherefore?” His manner will be always respectful; and as the body has a powerful influence over the soul, so a humble and pious exterior will tend very much to produce respect in the mind, the imagination, and all the powers of the soul. Have we not all often had the experience of this?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
CONSIDERATION. Jesus gives us the example of a wonderful and heroic resignation. Like unto us in all things in His human nature, He experienced a vivid horror at the sight of death, and at the thought of the horrible sufferings and fearful humiliations which were to precede it. He supplicated and implored His Heavenly Father, with groaning and tears, to spare Him these agonizing sacrifices. And nevertheless He declared that He was ready to endure them if it were His will; and He did finally submit to them with the most entire and perfect resignation.
APPLICATION. Behold, how we ought to pray when we ask God to exempt us or deliver us from something which is repugnant to our taste or natural inclination. We are not forbidden to supplicate earnestly that the bitter cup, the sufferings, the contradictions, which are so distasteful to nature, may depart from us, but we should always declare that, after all, we desire that His holy will may be done in us in everything, and this we ask for every day when we say “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “He prayed the third time, saying the selfsame words.”
CONSIDERATION. Jesus interrupted His prayer three times to go to the assistance of His disciples, who were wrapped in a false security at the moment of the greatest danger; but immediately afterwards He went back to pray, and repeated with great earnestness the same petition: “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.”
APPLICATION. Two things are taught us by this. First, that we ought not to apply ourselves so long to prayer as to neglect works of charity or zeal; neither ought we to devote ourselves to these works to the neglect of prayer; but that we should sanctify zeal by prayer, and enrich prayer by zealous and charitable labours. Secondly, that we ought not to make prayer consist of a variety of forms and expressions, nor be weary of repeating the same petition.
COLLOQUY with God the Father.