Friday, February 11, 2005

MH - Reflections for the First Friday in Lent

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
And going out, he went, according to his custom, to the Mount of Olives. And his disciples also followed him. And when he was come to the place, he said to them: Pray, lest ye enter into temptation. And he was withdrawn away from them a stone's cast. And kneeling down, he prayed. Saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. And when he rose up from prayer and was come to the disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow. And he said to them: Why sleep you? Arise: pray: lest you enter into temptation.
- Luke 22:39-46

As we meditate on the First Sorrowful Mystery, imagine myself yourself alone, at night, in a strange place. It has been a warm day, but now there's a chill in the air, and a breeze comes up that makes you want to wrap your arms around you to keep from shivering. Perhaps the breeze rattles around the leaves; you hear them rustle in the trees, or feel them swirl around your feet. It's subtle, but it practically echoes in the silence of the heavy air that otherwise surrounds you.

You look around, but see nothing: the darkness is so deep that you can't even make out any of the distinguishing landmarks. You hear sound in the distance, the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning, and it makes you want to run, somewhere, anywhere, for shelter; but there's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

It's a feeling of being exposed, isolated, totally alone.

It's the feeling that Jesus faced in the Garden: his disciples sleeping, about to desert him; a night and day of horror awaiting him, denial and mockery, pain both physical and mental, real and mystical; the knowledge that many will be saved, but many will reject that salvation.

It's the feeling that we get when we sin, the isolation that sin produces when it drives us away from the loving embrace of Our Lord.

Jesus called on His Father, who sent an angel to give Him strength; and while the horrors still remained, a certain sense of peace seems to follow.

We, too, have a source of peace waiting for us: the the consolation that comes from the forgiveness of God that we find in the Sacrament of Confession. Sitting in the box in the dark we may feel isolated, but we are not alone. God is there, on the other side of the grille, in the person of His priest, and in that act of confession and repentance lies forgiveness, and with that forgiveness comes peace. Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis.

It is this Sacrament that we should make use of during Lent; it is that peace on which we can meditate as we pray the First Sorrowful Mystery.

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