February 2, 2021: THE PRAYER OF CHRIST
February 2, 2021: COMMEMORATION OF THE PRAYER OF CHRIST
[Tuesday after Septuagesima Sunday]
“My Father, if it be possible, let
this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt… My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.”
(St. Matth, xxvi. 39, 42)
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst teach us in the garden, both by word and example, to pray that we may be enabled to overcome temptation; mercifully grant, that being always instant in prayer, we may receive the abundant fruits thereof. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.
“My heart is troubled within me: and the fear of death is fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling are come upon me…”
(Ps, liv. 5-6)
This feast occurs on the Tuesday after Septuagesima (Double Major). Its object is to commemorate the prolonged prayer which Christ offered in Gethsemane in our behalf in preparation for His Sacred Passion. The Office insists on the great importance of prayer. The feast is placed at the beginning of Lent to remind us that the penitential season is above all a time of prayer.
Below is an explanation of the Agony of our Lord, in the Garden, taken from, ‘The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Revelations of Anna Catherine Emmerich, Imprimatur. 1914.’ The explanations below begin with the departure from the Supper Room after the First Eucharist, and continues until about the setting out of the garden to meet the bailiffs who come to arrest Him, along with Judas Iscariot.
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST IN HIS AGONY IN THE GARDEN
Jesus had been sorrowful in soul even when leaving the Supper Room, and was now growing ever more sorrowful. He led the Eleven to the Mount of Olives by a roundabout way through the Valley of Josaphat. Just as they came to the gate of the city, I (Anne Catherine Emmerich) saw the moon, not yet quite full, rising behind the mountain. While walking with His disciples in the Valley of Josaphat, our Lord said that He would come on that Day to judge the world. But He would not come poor and powerless as He now was. Others would then be afraid and would cry out: Ye mountains, cover us! His disciples did not understand Him. They thought, as they often thought that evening, that He was wandering in mind from weakness and exhaustion. They would walk a while, then they would stand still and converse with Him. Once He said: “You will all be scandalized in Me tonight. For it is written: I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep of the fold shall be scattered. But when I shall have risen, I will go before you into Galilee.”
The Apostles were still overflowing with feelings of devotion and enthusiasm enkindled by the reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the loving, solemn words of Jesus in the Supper Room. They pressed close to Him, expressing their love in various ways, and assuring Him they never could or would abandon Him. As Jesus continued in the same strain, Peter said: “And if all should be scandalized in Thee, yet will not I be scandalized.” To this the Lord answered, “Amen, I say to thee, to-night before the cock crow, thou, just thou, wilt deny Me thrice.” But Peter would not give in at all, saying: “Even if I must die with Thee, I will not deny Thee.” The other Apostles spoke in like manner. They continued walking and landing by turns, while Jesus sank ever deeper into sorrow. They went on remonstrating and doing what they could to turn His thoughts in the opposite direction. But their obstinacy was all in vain, and served but to weary them, to cast them into doubt and lead them into temptation.
Since they had come by a roundabout way, the bridge by which they crossed the brook Cedron was not that over which Jesus was later dragged captive. Gethsemani on the Mount of Olives, the point to which they were going, is just a half-hour's walk from the Supper Room. It takes a quarter of an hour to go from the Supper Room to the gate that opens on the Valley of Josaphat, and another quarter from this gate to Gethsemani. Gethsemani is a plot of ground occupied by several lodge-houses, open and empty, and a large garden, surrounded by a fence and thickly sown with fine bushes and fruit-trees. The garden was a resort for recreation or for prayer, and keys to it were held by many, also by the Apostles. People without gardens of their own often came here for festivals and banquets. The Garden of Olives is divided by a road from the Garden of Gethsemani, and lies higher up on the Mount of Olives. It stands open, surrounded only with a wall of earth, and is smaller than the Garden of Gethsemani. It is a retired mountain-nook with many caverns and terraces and olive-trees. One side is better cared for than the other. Seats and benches are kept in repair, and the caves are well swept and cool, and larger than on the other side. Whosoever will may here arrange a spot for prayer and meditation. Where Jesus went to pray the garden is somewhat wilder.
“My Soul is Sorrowful Even unto Death.”
It was about nine o'clock when Jesus and His disciples reached Gethsemani. It was dark on earth but heaven was bright with moon-light. Jesus was very sad. He told His disciples that danger was near and His words filled them with fear. In the Garden of Gethsemani, where the foliage had been wound into a summer-house. He said to eight of them: “Stay you here, while I go to My place to pray.” He took with Him Peter, and John, and James the Greater, crossed a road into the Garden of Olives, and followed for some minutes its upward slope along the base of the mountain. Tongue cannot tell the sadness He felt in the face of His on-coming Agony. John asked Him whence it came that He, who had always been their Consoler, was now Himself so overwhelmed with fear. Jesus answered: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” He looked around and saw anguish and temptation draw near Him on every side in the forms of clouds peopled with fearful visions. Here it was that He said to the three Apostles: “Stay ye here and watch with Me. Pray, that you fall not into temptation.” And they remained at this place. Jesus went on a little ways. But He felt such deep anguish under the visions of terror surging in upon Him that He turned down to the left out of the sight of His Apostles and concealed Himself in a grotto. This grotto was about six feet deep and directly under the overhanging shelf of stone, on top of which, in a recess to the right, the Apostles had taken their positions. The floor of the cave sank gently inwards, and from the overhanging rock, bushes hung down over the entrance in such abundance that no one could be seen from the outside.
When Jesus was separating from His disciples, I saw round about Him a wide-spreading circle of terrible visions which was narrowing in upon Him more and more. His sadness and anguish grew deeper, and He shrank back into the grotto to pray, like a traveller who seeks refuge from a fearful storm. But I saw the threatening visions set after Him into the cave, and grow ever more and more distinct. O God, that one cavern seemed to hold enclosed the torturing pictures of all sinful, soul-depressing, crying-to-Heaven abominations from the fall of the first man to the consummation of the world. When Adam and Eve left Paradise to dwell homeless upon the unfriendly earth, their first resting-place was here on the Mount of Olives, and this very cavern was witness of their fears and sadness.
I felt distinctly how Jesus was abandoning Himself to His on-coming Agony, how He was sacrificing Himself to Divine Justice as propitiation for the sins of the world. I saw Him in consequence, draw back, as it were, with His Divinity into the Most Blessed Trinity, thus leaving to His pure, true, innocent, deep-feeling humanity, only the love of His human Heart, wherewith to battle again the floods of torture poured in upon Him by the raging world of sin. To satisfy for sin and concupiscence, both in root and branch. He planted into His Heart the very root of purifying, sanctifying pain and sorrow, and let this infinite pain, the satisfaction for infinite sin, grow and spread into a thousand-branched tree of sorrow, out through all the members of His holy body and all the feelings of His holy soul.
Jesus Sees the Sins of the World in All Their Hideousness.
Thus abandoned to His humanity. He fell prostrate on the ground, while sending to God prayers of infinite pain and sadness. His eyes were upon the sins of the world around Him. In countless pictures He saw their inward hideousness, yet He took them all upon Himself, and presented Himself to the justice of His Heavenly Father in satisfaction for all this guilt. Meanwhile Satan, moving in fearful forms amid all these abominations, grew ever more violently bitter against Jesus, brought before His soul ever more terrible visions of sins, and cried again and again to His humanity: “What! This too thou takest upon thyself! For this too thou wilt suffer punishment! How canst thou satisfy for this?”
But between ten and eleven o'clock there shone from the east a narrow pathway of light, reaching from Heaven down to Jesus, and along its course from on high down to Our Savior I saw a series of angels appear, from whom new strength streamed upon Him. Everywhere else the grotto was peopled with those abominable specters of sin and the mocking attacks of the evil spirits. Jesus took them all upon Himself. His Heart, the only heart that loved perfectly God and men, was horrified in gazing on this abomination of desolation, was racked with pain in supporting the weight of these monstrosities. O God, I saw there more than I could express in a whole year!
Now that this volume of sin and guilt, this sea of fearful visions, had rolled in upon the soul of Our Savior and He had made Himself a sacrifice for it all and prayed all its pains down upon Himself—now it was that He had, as formerly in the desert, to endure all possible temptations of the Evil One. Satan went so far as to bring forward a series of accusations against the most innocent Savior Himself. “What” he said, “Thou wilt take all this upon Thee, Thou who art not guiltless Thyself! Look here! And here! And here!” With these words he unrolled false accusations of all kinds, and held them with hellish insolence under the eyes of Jesus. He made Our Lord responsible for all the faults of His disciples, for all the scandal they had given, for all the consternation and confusion which His departure from old-time customs had brought into the world.
Satan argued like the most keen and captious Pharisee. He laid to Our Savior's charge the slaughter of the Holy Innocents by Herod, the poverty and dangers of His parents in Egypt, the non-deliverance of John the Baptist from death, the disunion of many families, the protection extended to wicked men, the refusal to heal many sick persons, the damage done to the Gerasenes, since He had allowed men possessed by the devil to overturn their drinking-vessels and had occasioned the loss of their herds and swine in the lake. He further laid to His charge the guilt of Mary Magdalen, since He had prevented her from falling back into sin. He accused Him of neglecting His own family and of wasting the goods of others. In a word, all the depressing suggestions which the Tempter would employ in order to make despair on his way to death any ordinary man, who without command from on high would have done these deeds outwardly so extraordinary — all these suggestions Satan here brought before the trembling soul of Our Savior in order to crush Him. It was hidden from him that Jesus was the Son of God, and he tempted Our Savior only as a man who was most incomprehensibly just.
Yes, Our Divine Savior abandoned Himself so utterly to His humanity as to let come over Him even that temptation which usually assails ordinary men who die a holy death, the temptation to doubt the inner value of His good deeds. In order to exhaust the anticipated chalice of His Passion, He allowed the Tempter, from whom His Divinity was hidden, to represent His deeds of benevolence as so many debts which He still owed to Divine Grace. How did He dare, so ran Satan's suggestion, how did He dare cancel debts for others, while He was Himself without merit, and still God's debtor for such a number of so-called good works? The Divinity of Jesus allowed Satan to tempt His humanity, just as he would tempt a man who would feel inclined to ascribe to his good works some peculiar value beyond that which they have from their union with the merits of the redeeming death of Our Lord and Savior.
So the Tempter painted all Our Lord's works of love as debts towards God, and without merit in themselves, their only value being derived from the merits of His not yet accomplished Passion. Thus Our Lord would still be in God's debt for the graces whereby He had performed these good deeds. And actually Satan showed Him notes He owed for them all. “For this deed, and this deed” so ran Satan's words “Thou art still in debt.”—Finally he unrolled before Jesus a note which said that Our Lord had received from Lazarus and spent for Himself the price paid for Mary Magdalen's estate in Magdala. “How didst Thou dare to waste the goods of another and thus injure that family?”
I saw the representations of all the sins for which Jesus was immolating Himself. Likewise I felt with Him the weight of many accusations made by the Tempter, since among those visions of the sins of the world assumed by Our Lord I saw also my own many sins, and therefrom flowed upon me from that circling mass of temptations a stream that torturingly painted before me all my faults of commission and omission. But as I suffered with my Heavenly Bridegroom, so also I continued to gaze upon Him, I struggled as He did, turned as He did to the consoling Angels. O God, how He writhed like a worm under His burden of sadness and pain!
“Abba, Father, if It Be Possible, Let This Chalice Pass from Me.”
All during these accusations again the most holy and innocent Redeemer I felt such rage against Satan that only with the greater efforts could I control myself. But when he brought out that note for the price of Magdalen's esate, I could no longer restrain my zeal. “How dared he,” I demanded, “put down the price of Magdalen's estate as a debt? Had I not seen with my own eyes how Jesus had made use of this sum, given to Him by Lazarus for purposes of charity, in order to release from the prison in Thirza twenty-seven poor people confined there for debt?” —At first Jesus knelt and prayed quietly, but after a time His soul began to shrink back from the numberless sins and hideous ingratitude of men towards God, and there fell upon Him such a grinding, crushing sadness and anguish of soul that He cried out; “Abba, Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me! O My Father! All things are possible to Thee! Take this chalice from Me!” But immediately He gathered Himself again and said: “Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt.” His will was one with the will of the Father, but out of love He had abandoned Himself to the weaknesses of humanity, and thus He shrank back from death.
The cave around Him I saw filled with shapes of terror. All sin, all malice, all vices, all suffering, all ingratitude, all the terrors of death, all human despondency, all the immense pain of expiation — all this in apparitions the most ghastly, I saw rage round Him and rush in upon Him. He fell from side to side. He wrung His hands, agonizing sweat covered His body. His whole frame shook and trembled. He rose to His feet, but His knees seemed scarcely to support Him. He was so disfigured, with lips pale and hair dishevelled, as to be almost unrecognizable.
’Twas half past ten when He arose. Still covered with sweat He went towards His disciples, not walking, but rather reeling and falling. He followed the path on the left up from and over the cave to the terrace. There He found His disciples on the ground, all lying in the same position, the head of one towards the breast of the other, each pillowed on his arm, all sunk in slumber through weariness and sadness and fear. What brought Jesus to them was the desire, on the one hand, to be consoled by friends in His affliction, on the other, to watch over their hour of fear and temptation — the Good Shepherd, Himself broken by sorrow, yet guarding His endangered flock. All along this short way I saw Him still surrounded by those forms of horror.
“Could Ye not Watch One Hour with Me?”
On finding them asleep, He began to wring His hands. Then, broken with sadness and exhaustion, He sank down beside them, saying: “Simon, thou sleepest?” They awoke and helped Him to His feet. “Could you not,” He cried in His forsakenness, “could you not watch even for one hour with Me?” They gazed at Him and knew not what to think. That horror-stricken appearance, that pale face, that tottering frame. His garments bathed in sweat. His voice so worn and feeble— were it not for the well-known light enfolding Him, they had not known Him for Jesus at all.
“Master,” John said to Him, “what has befallen Thee? Shall I call the others? Shall we flee?” But Jesus answered: “Were I to live and teach and heal the sick for another three and thirty years it would not equal what I must accomplish by tomorrow. No, call not the others. I left them yonder, because they could not see Me in such wretchedness without taking scandal. They would fall into temptation, would forget much I have said and done, and begin to doubt Me. But ye who have seen the Son of Man transfigured, ye may likewise behold Him in the dark hour of His eclipse and forsakenness. But watch ye and pray, that ye fall not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
These last words are to be understood both of the Apostles and Our Savior. Jesus meant to encourage them to perseverance and to make known to them the cause of His feebleness, namely, the battle of His human nature against death. He went on speaking to them in tones of deepest sadness. About a quarter-hour passed before He left them to return to the cave. His anguish was constantly growing deeper. As He left them, the Apostles stretched their hands after Him, wept bitterly, and sank into one another's arms, saying: “What does it all mean? What is happening to Him? How is He so utterly forsaken?” Then they began to pray, their heads muffled, and their hearts afflicted. —About an hour: and a half had now passed since Jesus had entered the Garden of Olives.
The three Apostles had begun to pray when Jesus left them the first time. But words of doubt and distrust led them into temptation, and thus they had fallen asleep. But the eight Apostles at the entrance were not asleep. Our Savior's sadness of soul, constantly apparent in all He said during the latter period of the evening, had cast them into a state of anxiety and restlessness, and they were now scattered along the sides of Mount Olivet seeking for places of refuge.
The Mother of Jesus.
There was but little excitement in Jerusalem this evening. The Jews were indoors, making preparations for the festival. The quarters for pilgrims were not in the neighborhood of Mount Olivet. As I made my way back and forth along the roads, I saw here and there disciples and friends of Jesus walking and talking with one another. They seemed to be anxious and full of expectancy. The Mother of Jesus had left the Supper Room in company with Magdalen, Martha, Mary of Cleophas, Mary Salome, and Salome herself, and with them had gone to the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. Troubled by the reports she here heard, she had come out with her friends to the paths outside the city to seek for news of Jesus.
Here now they were joined by Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and some relatives from Hebron. The latter tried to calm the great anxiety of the women. They knew, it is true, how earnestly Jesus had spoken in the Supper Room. Some had learned this by personal presence in adjacent buildings, some in conversation with His Apostles. But they had made inquiries of some well-known Pharisees, and had not heard that any direct attempts were being made against Our Savior. So they said that there was as yet no great danger, that before the festival there would be no effort made to capture Him. But they knew nothing of the treason of Judas. Mary told them how worried and excited he had been the last few days, how he had left the Supper Room, that she had often admonished him, that he was a son of perdition. Thereupon the holy women returned to the house of Mary of Mark.
Jesus Suffers to Satisfy for Sin.
Jesus came back into the cave, and all His sadness came with Him. He cast Himself face-downwards on the ground, Wretched out His arms and prayed to His Heavenly Father. And now before the eyes of His soul there began a new battle, which lasted three quarters of an hour. Angels came near, and let pass before Him a long series of visions, showing Him the sins He was to suffer for and what He was to suffer for them. They showed Him man before the fall, in all the glory of the time when he was still the image of God, and the same man after the fall, in all his ugliness and degradation. They let Him see how all sin flowed from that first sin. They represented to Him the meaning and nature of concupiscence, its fearful effects on the powers of man's soul and the members of his body, and the nature and meaning of the sufferings man has to undergo in punishment.
They went on to picture to Our Savior His own sufferings: How He would have to satisfy God's just anger at the sinful deeds and desires of all mankind. How He, the Son of God, would have to take the guilt of all men upon His own absolutely guiltless humanity, would have to conquer in Himself the fear and dislike which all men have of suffering and death.
In showing these visions the angels appeared, now in choirs with long rows of pictures, now singly each with a principal scene. I saw their forms constantly pointing to the on-coming pictures, and I understood what they said though I did not hear their voices.
Tongue cannot say what pain and terror the soul of Jesus felt in gazing on these visions. He realized the full meaning of His sufferings. He did not suffer for sin itself merely. He felt likewise the touch of each and every instrument, from the sinful rage of those who had invented it, from the cruel malice of all who had ever used it, from the impatience of all who had been, either justly or unjustly, tortured by it. All the sins of the whole world were laid upon Him. In the inner vision of His soul He felt them all so fearfully that His body burst into a bloody sweat.
The Angels Long to Console Jesus.
While the humanity of Our Savior was thus sunk in sadness and fear I saw the angels feel compassion for Him. There was a short pause. They seemed to long to console Him, and I saw them beseeching before the throne of God. There seemed to be a struggle between the Mercy and Justice of God on the one hand and the love that was sacrificing itself on the other. At the same time I saw a picture of God, not on a throne, as I usually saw Him, but as a figure of light I saw the Divine Nature of the Son sinking, as it were, into the bosom of His Father, and from them and between them the person of the Holy Ghost, and still 'twas only One God. Who can express such a mystery? I had rather an inner feeling of it than a vision through human forms. In that feeling I saw how the Divine Will of Christ drew back, as it were, into His Father in order to let His humanity suffer just what His anguished human will was struggling and beseeching to have turned aside. His Divinity, one with the Father, laid upon His humanity just what His humanity begged His Father to let pass from Him. I saw all this at the moment when the angels were moved to compassion and wished to console Our Savior. He really felt at that moment some alleviation. But now these visions were extinguished, the angels with their sympathy and consolation went away from Our Lord, and a new circle of terrors closed in upon His soul.
Whilst Our Savior, as real and true man, was delivering Himself over to be tempted by man's fear and dislike of suffering and death, whilst He was taking upon Himself the task of conquering his repugnance which is an element of all suffering, the Tempter was allowed to treat Him as He treats every man who would sacrifice himself for a holy cause. In bitter mockery he put before Our Savior's eyes the fearful debt of sin, He was about to take on Himself. He went so far as to brand the life of Our Savior Himself as not entirely free from guilt. After this Our Savior was once more shown, in the full bitterness of its inner truth, the immensity of His sufferings for men. Satan is not going to show that reconciliation is possible. The father of lies and of despair is not going to point to the works of divine mercy.
What is He to Gain by Suffering?
Now that Jesus, bound fast with heart and soul to the will of His Heavenly Father, had gone victoriously through all these battles, a new circle of fearful visions of terror was set in motion before His inner eye. The question that knocks at every human heart on the eve of sacrifice, the question: What will be the result of this immolation? What will I gain by it?—this question rose up in the soul of Our Redeemer and flashings from a terrible future formed against His loving Heart.
Upon the first Adam God let fall a deep sleep, then opened his side, took one of his ribs, and built thereof a woman. Eve, the mother of all the living, and led her to Adam. And Adam said: “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Therefore shall a man leave father and mother and cling to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.”
Thus was instituted matrimony, of which it is written: “This is a great sacrament, but I say in Christ and the Church.” For Christ, the new Adam, also willed to have a sleep come over Him, the sleep of death upon the cross; willed to have His side opened that out of it might come forth the new Eve, His virgin Spouse, the Church, the Mother of all the living; willed to give her the blood of redemption, the water of purification, and His own spirit, the three things that give testimony on earth; willed to bestow upon her the holy sacraments that she might be a worthy Spouse, holy, pure and unspotted; willed Himself to be her head, us to be her members, thus making us bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh; willed to leave father and mother by becoming man to die for us, and to cling to His Spouse and become one flesh; with her by nourishing her with the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar; willed by the same holy Sacrament to espouse to Himself also us her children, and thus to be with her on earth till we should all be with Him in Heaven, for “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.” ’Twas this boundless love for sinful mankind, this desire to take upon Himself the punishment for all their guilt, that led Our Lord to become man and brother to sinners. And though a sadness unto death had come over Him from the vision of their guilt and His Passion, yet had He joyfully delivered Himself up to the will of His Heavenly Father as a sacrifice of expiation.
Jesus Sees the Coming Sufferings of the Church.
But now He beheld the Church, His Spouse, suffering under the wounds which the ingratitude of men were to inflict upon her. Before His soul stood out clearly the sufferings of His Apostles, disciples and friends during the infancy of the Church, then the heresies and schisms that attended her as she grew and expanded, the pride and disobedience, all the forms of vanity and delusive self-justification, that once more made men fall away from her as they had from God in Paradise. He saw the lukewarmness, malice and corruption of countless Christians, the manifold lies of so many proud teachers, the blasphemous crimes of all bad prices. He saw the consequences of all this, the abomination of desolation in the kingdom of God upon earth, in the sanctuary of ungrateful mankind, which with unspeakable pain He was about to buy and build at the cost of His blood and life.
In an endless succession of visions, from all centuries down to our own times, and on to the end of the world, I saw all these scandals pass before the soul of suffering Jesus— all forms and varieties of feeble presumption, browbeating deceit, fanatical extravagance, false prophecy, heretical obstinacy and malice. Apostates, self-justifiers, heretics and hypocritical reformers, corrupters and corrupted, all mocked and tortured Him, as though He was not yet crucified to their taste, not yet nailed to the Cross in such fashion as would suit their concupiscence and pride. They tore in pieces and divided among themselves the seamless garment of His Church, each trying to make the Redeemer something else than His loving self. Countless was the number of those who maltreated Him, mocked Him, denied Him. Countless the number of those whom He saw pass by Him with proud shake of head, and shrug of shoulders, pass by to sink into the abyss of perdition while He stood there with arms outstretched to save.
Countless others He saw who did not dare deny Him openly, but who passed by His bleeding Church, nauseated at the wounds, which they themselves had struck her. They were like the Levite passing by the poor man who fell among robbers. They were like cowardly, faithless children whose wicked ways have opened an entrance for thieves and murderers into the house of their mother, who, when the moment of danger comes, abandon their mother, and follow the ruffians into the desert, whither the latter are bearing away their booty, the golden vessels and tattered laces they have stolen. They were like branches cut off from the true vine, and now keeping company with wild fruit trees. They were like lost sheep, left to the mercy of the wolves but unwilling to go into the fold of the Good Shepherd, who had given His life for His sheep. They were like exiles, wandering homeless upon earth, yet unwilling to lift their eyes to the City on the hill that could not be hidden.
He saw them driven by the winds back and forth across the sand-waves of the desert, one disagreeing with the other, yet none willing to look towards the house of His Bride, the Church built upon the Rock, which He had promised to be with all days to the consummation of the world and against which the gates of Hell were never to prevail. They would not enter at the narrow gate, did not want to bend their proud necks. They followed those who went in by another way and not at the door. They built huts upon the sand; huts that differed one from the other and were constantly changing, without altar or sacrifice, with doctrines that shifted like the weather-cocks on their roofs. They contradicted one another, misunderstood one another, and had no abiding dwelling place. Again and again they tore down their huts and hurled the fragments against the immovable cornerstone of the Church.
Many He saw leave their huts for fear of the darkness that reigned in them. But these instead of following the light that burnt upon the candlestick in the house of the Bride, began to wander with closed eyes round and round the garden of the Church, to whose fragrant odors they owed what little life they had left. They fetched out their arms to hazy phantoms, and followed wandering stars that led them to wells without water. Ever on the verge of the abyss they would not listen to the voice of the Bride, and, hungry though they were, smiled in their pride a smile of pity upon the servants and messengers who were sent to invite them to the marriage-feast. They feared the thorns in the garden fence. Drunk with self-esteem, they refused the wheat that would still their hunger, and the wine that would quench their thirst. Blinded by the light of their own reason, they determined that the Church of the Incarnate Word must be invisible. Jesus saw them all, mourned over them all, offered Himself to suffer for them all — for those who will not see Him, who refuse to carry their cross after Him, who refuse to belong to His Bride, to whom He has given Himself in the Most Holy Sacrament, who refuse to come into the City on the hill that cannot be hid, into the Church built on the Rock 'gainst which the gates of Hell shall ne'er prevail.
I saw these countless pictures of abuse and ingratitude pass in various manner before the troubled soul of Our Lord, sometimes one after another in regular succession, sometimes a single one in painful repetition. And in the series as it passed on I saw Satan take on many fearful shapes, saw him tear away from before the eyes of Our Savior many of the souls that had been redeemed by His Blood and even anointed with His sacrament Jesus looked upon and mourned over the ruin and corruption of Christianity, from its beginning to its end, in its early age, in its later age, in our own days, and on to the consummation of the world.
“Such Ingratitude — Is That What Thou Art Suffering for?”
“Behold the ingratitude of men! Is that what thou art suffering for?” Again and again this question was hurled by the Tempter at Our Savior as the endless vision of woe rolled on. At length the unceasing flood of derision and abomination poured such an unspeakable burden of anguish upon Him that He wrung His hands in pain and flung Himself upon His knees over and over again. The repugnance of His human will to suffer so unspeakably for such an ungrateful race forced His sweat out in thick drops of blood, that ran in streams down His limbs to moisten the earth. He looked around Him and above Him as if looking for help, as if calling on heaven and earth and the lights in the firmament to be witnesses of His Passion. “Is it possible,” so I seemed to hear Him cry out, “is it possible to suffer such ingratitude? Give testimony to My woe!”
At this moment moon and stars seemed to give a jerk and come nearer. I felt at once that it was getting brighter. My attention was now drawn to the moon which I had not noticed before. It looked altogether different from what it usually did. It was not yet at the full, but seemed to me larger than we ever see it here. Over the center I saw a dark spot, as if a disk were lying flat in front of it. In the center of this dark disk there shone a small opening through which light was streaming out upon the side of the moon that was not yet full. This dark spot looked like a mountain, while round the moon there was a circle of light that looked like a rainbow.
In His anguish Jesus raised His voice for some moments in loud wailing. I saw the Apostles spring to their feet, lift their hands in terror, listen in the direction of the cry, and on the point of rushing to their Master. But Peter pushed James and John back and said: “Stay here, I am going to Him.” I saw him rush over the ground and enter the cave. “Master, what is it?” And he stood there, and trembled on seeing His Master in that bloody anguish. But Jesus did not answer and seemed not to notice him. Peter went back to the other two, and told them that Jesus had given him no answer but wails and sighs. Their sadness grew deeper, they muffled their heads, sat down, and prayed in tears.
I turned again to my Heavenly Spouse in His bitter desolation. The horrible visions of future abuse and ingratitude on the part of men whose guilt He had taken on Himself, whose punishment He was Himself enduring, breamed in upon Him with ever increasing violence, and His battle against man's fear and dislike of suffering was still unabated. Again and again I heard Him cry out: “Father, is it possible to suffer for all these? O Father, if this chalice cannot pass from Me, Thy will be done.”
Amid these visions that showed how men abuse God's mercy I saw Satan appear in various monstrous shapes to correspond with different crimes represented. Now he was a big, black man, now a tiger, a fox, or a wolf, a dragon, or a snake. Not that he looked exactly like any of these. But he would take a characteristic feature of one of them and combine it with other abominable shapes. Never did he have the appearance of a perfect creature. Shapes of contradiction, of ruin, of monstrosity, of heinousness, of sin—in a word, shapes of the devil. And these devilish shapes Jesus saw pursuing unnumbered multitudes of men — pursuing them, seducing them, throttling them, tearing them to pieces — men whom to save from Satan He was now on His road to the death of the cross. As first I did not see the serpent so often, but at length I saw him rise up, gigantic in size, with a crown on his head, and rush with frightful power upon Our Savior. Whole armies of every race and rank of men followed him. They were fitted out with all possible instruments and weapons of torture. Sometimes indeed they fought with one another, but only again to turn their fury against Our Lord. ’Twas a most fearful spectacle. They mocked, and spat, and cursed, they threw, and thrust, and struck. Their swords and spears rose and sank, like flails on an endless thrashing-floor. And their rage was all against the one Heavenly Grain of wheat that had come down to hide in the earth, to die in the earth, in order to nourish them all with the unending harvest of Life Everlasting.
In the midst of these raging multitudes, many of whom seemed to be blind, I saw Jesus tossed about as if He were really being struck by their weapons. He reeled from side to side, now rising up, now falling down. And I saw the serpent constantly urge those armies onward, saw him strike out right and left with his tail, saw him Wrangle, tear to pieces and devour all whom he had struck down.
Sins Against the Most Holy Sacrament.
It was made known to me that these lacerating multitudes represented the countless numbers of those who in such manifold ways maltreat Our Savior present as God and man, with body and soul, with flesh and blood, in the Most Holy Sacrament. I recognized among them all classes of offenders against this holy mystery, this pledge of His unbroken personal Presence in the Catholic Church. I gazed with horror upon all these kinds of maltreatment, ranging from neglect, carelessness, abandonment, on to contempt, to abuse, to most abominable sacrileges, from diversion to the idols of the world, from pride and false wisdom on to heresy, infidelity, fanaticism and bloody persecution.
Among these enemies there were all kinds of men — blind, and lame, and deaf, and dumb, even children. Blind men who would not see the truth, lame men who were too lazy to follow it, deaf men who would not listen to His warning cries of woe, dumb men who would not fight for Him even with the sword of the tongue. Children following in the tracks of worldly minded, God-forgetting parents and teachers, gorged with the pleasures of life, drunk with vain science, disgusted with the things of God, or for lack of them irrevocably depraved and corrupted. I felt especial sorrow for the children in thinking how Jesus loved them so much. Among them I noticed in particular many ill-instructed, ill-trained, irreverent mass-servers, who show no honor to Christ even in this most holy action. Their guilt falls back partly on their teachers and pastors. But I observed with terror that many priests, high and low in rank, yes, even such as considered themselves full of faith and piety, nevertheless were doing their share in maltreating Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
I will mention but one class of the many I saw. I saw very many who believed, adored, and taught the Presence of the Living God in the Most Holy Sacrament, but who did not allow their belief to cost them much. They would not take the trouble to keep in proper condition the palace, the throne, the royal furniture of the King of heaven and earth, that is, the church, the altar, the tabernacle, the chalice, the monstrance of the Living God, the vessels, ornaments, vestments, and all that makes Divine Service beautiful. Years of dust, and dirt, and rust, and trash, had done their work of decay and ruin, and the Service of the Living God, if not inwardly desecrated, was at least outwardly dishonored. Nor was this condition due to real poverty. It was always the result of want of feeling, of laziness, of easy-going custom, of occupation with vain, worldly unimportant matters. Often it came from selfishness and inward death. For I saw this state of neglect even in churches that were well-to-do or at least had enough to meet all needs. Yea, in many churches I saw the most magnificent and venerable ornaments of a bygone age of faith banished by tasteless, grotesque, worldly grandeur— spectacular, deceptive decoration to varnish over the real state of extravagance, uncleanliness, neglect and ruin. And what boastful superiority led the rich to do, that the poor by lack of simplicity were soon brought to imitate. I could not but reflect on our poor convent church, where the beautiful ancient altar of stone had disappeared beneath an ambitious superstructure of wood, painted to look like marble. To think of it had always made me sad.
To add to these wrongs of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I saw countless pastors who had not enough feeling for what is right and just to share what they possessed with Him who for them had delivered Himself to death, for them had left all that He was and all that He had in the Most Holy Eucharist. Yea, the house of even the very poorer was often better than the dwelling of the Lord of Heaven and earth. Alas, how bitterly did Jesus feel this want of welcome on the part of those whose very Food He had become. And surely riches are not needed to welcome One who rewards a thousandfold even the cup of cold water given to the thirsty. And are not we the cup of water for which He pants? And must He not break forth in lamentation when the cup we give Him is unclean, the water full of worms?
I saw how this carelessness scandalized the weak, desecrated the sanctuary, emptied the church, degraded the priest. Neglect and uncleanliness soon settled down also on the souls of the surrounding parish. They could not be expected to keep the tabernacle of their heart more pure than the tabernacle on the altar. When there was question of flattering the lords and princes of the world, of satisfying their whims and worldly projects, then these pastors were pictures of far-seeing, energetic activity. At the same time the King of heaven and earth lay like Lazarus at their doors, and longed for the crumbs of love which no one would give Him. Nothing had He at all but the wounds we had struck Him, and the sores licked by the dogs, i.e. by backsliding sinners who return like dogs to their vomit. Though I were to go on for a year, I could not tell all I saw, the various sufferings thus inflicted upon Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I saw all these offenders crowding in upon our Savior and striking Him down, each with a weapon that corresponded to his own particular guilt. Century after century drove in its crowds of irreverent sacristans, of careless and sinful priests, of lukewarm and unworthy communicants. Countless were those for whom the fountain of all blessing, the mystery of the Living God, was become nothing more than a word wherewith to curse and vent their rage. With them came warriors and devil worshipers, who defiled the holy vessels, scattered the sacred Hosts on the ground, maltreated them abominably, or even profaned them sacrilegiously by hellish idolatry.
More Refined Impiety.
Side by side with these grosser forms of maltreatment I saw countless shapes of a more refined impiety—more refined but equally abominable. Bad example and faithless teaching drove many souls away from belief in His presence, from adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Among these crowds was a great multitude of sinful teachers who had become heretics. At war with one another at first, they began to rage in common against Jesus in the Sacrament of His Church. I saw there many apostates, heads of heretical churches, reject with scorn the priesthood of the Church, dispute and deny away the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and thus tear away from His Heart countless souls for whom He had shed His blood, for whose sake He had given this Mystery to the safe keeping of His Church, for whom she had guarded It so faithfully.
O God, the sight was terrible! The Church is the very Body of Jesus. His bitter Passion had woven all her scattered members together. And all those parishes or families, and all their descendents— I saw them torn from Him as so many pieces of His living, bleeding Body! O God, how melting the sight when He turned to gaze upon them and weep over them. He who had reached the Eucharistic Food out across boundless space even to the outermost members of mankind, and had thus drawn them together to form the one Body which is His Church and His Bride—He had to behold this Body torn asunder and its scattered limbs bringing forth the evil fruits of the tree of schism. His supreme, eternal work of love, meant by Him to be the banquet table of reunion, was turned by false teachers into a landmark of disunion. And where alone ’twas right and salutary for the many to become one, around the table whereon lay as Food the Living God Himself, just there His children had to part from unbelievers and heretics lest they become guilty of their neighbor's sin. And thus I saw whole peoples torn away from His loving Heart, and losing all share in the treasures of His Church.
Terror Would Cleave Thy Heart Asunder.
’Twas terrible to behold how the first few who tore themselves away were on their return grown into whole peoples. Disagreed in what is holiest, they at first stood marshalled against one another like opposing armies. But at length they united. All the separated children of the Church, grown wild and savage in unbelief, superstition, heresy, pride and false wisdom—all these combined into great armies and began to storm and rage against the Church, while the serpent in their midst throttled them and urged them on. O God, it seemed as if Jesus saw and felt Himself being torn into countless tiny shreds. He felt in Himself the full power of the poisoned tree of separation, with all its branches and fruits — the tree that is to go on cleaving and dividing till the consummation of the world, when the wheat shall be gathered into the barns and the chaff be cast into the fire. What I had seen was so horrible that my Heavenly Bridegroom appeared to me, laid His hand on my breast, and said: “No one has yet seen all this, and terror would cleave thy heart asunder, did I not hold it together.”
And now I saw blood trickling in heavy, dark drops down the pale face of my Savior, saw His hair, usually smooth and well-parted, now clogged with blood, tangled and dishevelled, saw His beard bloody and tousled. 'Twas after the last vision, after the fearful laceration by those armed multitudes, that like one fleeing He came forth from the cave and went again to His disciples. But His gait was not steady. He moved like one who is wounded and weighed down by a heavy load, who hesitates and seems every moment ready to fall.
When He reached the three Apostles, He did not find them, as He did the first time, lying on their sides in a sleeping position. They sat on the ground their heads muffled and rested on their knees —a position which I often saw people in that country take when in sorrow and in prayer. Sadness and fear and weariness had sunk them in slumber. But when Jesus, trembling and groaning drew nigh them, they opened their eyes. There He stood in the moonlight, His breast fallen in, His face pale and bloody. His hair dishevelled, His figure bending towards them under its weight of sorrow. So unspeakably disfigured was He, and so tired were their eyes, that they did not at first recognize Him. But seeing Him wring His hands, they sprang to their feet, put their arms round Him, and supported Him like loving children. And He spoke in great sadness: Tomorrow He would be put to death. Within an hour He would be taken captive, and dragged into court, would be maltreated, mocked, scourged and cruelly put to death. He likewise begged them to console His Mother. In great sorrow of soul He told all He would have to suffer until the next evening, and besought them to console, not only His Mother but also Mary Magdalen.
He stood thus for some minutes talking to them. They gave no answer. They knew not what to say, so overcome were they with sadness and dismay at His appearance and His words. Yea, they began to think He must be out of His mind. When He tried to go back to the cave He could not walk, and I saw John and James lead Him there. When He reentered the cave they returned to Peter. It was about a quarter past eleven.
Anguish of Our Blessed Lady.
During the Agony of Our Savior I saw also His Blessed Mother suffer deep anguish in the house of Mary of Mark. She was in a garden near the house, and with her were Mary of Mark and Magdalen. She was cowered down on a slab of stone, where she had sank to her knees and then broken down. Repeatedly her inner vision of the Agony of Jesus made her lose her outward senses. She had sent out messengers to get news of Him, but her anguish would not let her await their return, so with Magdalen and Salome she went out into the Valley of Josaphat. Her face was veiled. Often she held out her hands towards Mount Olivet. In spirit she saw Jesus sweating blood and she seemed to be trying to wipe and dry His face. And I saw how this powerful movement of her soul reached even to her Son, and how Jesus was moved in remembering her, and looked towards her as if seeking for help. I saw this mutual sympathy in the form of rays of light, which they sent back and forth to each other. On Magdalen He thought also. He felt her sorrow, and looked over to her, and felt touched by her compassion. Hence it was that He had commanded the Apostles to console her too. For He knew that, after the love of His Mother, none had such great love for Him as Magdalen. And He had seen what she was still to suffer for Him, and that till her death she would never again offend Him.
At this time, about a quarter past eleven, the eight Apostles were again in the garden-house of Gethsemani. They spoke for a while, then fell to sleep again. The heavy trial had struck them with fear and consternation. Each had been looking for a place of refuge. All were thinking: “What shall we do if He is put to death? We have left all that we had, and are now poor and a byword to the world. We threw ourselves entirely on His power, and behold He is become so weak and broken that He can give us no consolation.” The other disciples had wandered here and there for a while. After obtaining many bits of information regarding the latent movements of Jesus, they had nearly all retired to Bethphage. Again I saw Jesus praying in the cave. He was still struggling with human repugnance for suffering. He was growing weary and dejected. “My Father,” so He prayed, “if it be Thy will, take this chalice from Me. Nevertheless not My will but Thine be done.”
A Vision of indescribable Beauty.
But now the deep opened up beneath Him, and along a path of light He gazed many steps downwards into Limbo. There He saw Adam and Eve, all the patriarchs, prophets, and just men of the Old Law, His Mother's parents and John the Baptist— all waiting so longingly for His coming that His loving Heart found new strength and courage in the vision. Unto these drooping captives His death was to open Heaven. He Himself was to lead them forth from their prison of expectation.
When Jesus had gazed for a while with deep inner feeling upon these Old Testament heirs of Heaven, the pointing angels went on to show Him the future multitudes of the Blessed. He saw them fight their battles in the power of His merits, and by Him attain to union with the Heavenly Father. This was a vision of indescribable beauty and consolation. There they were marching along under His eyes, each in his own rank, each with his own dignity, each clothed with his own deeds and sorrows. In them He saw the innermost, inexhaustible salvation and sanctification of the redeeming death that was awaiting Him. The Apostles marched by Him, the disciples, the virgins and holy women, all the martyrs, hermits and confessors, all holy priests and bishops, the companies of monks and nuns, in a word, all the countless hosts of the Blessed. All were decked out with garlands of victory — garlands woven from their own sufferings and triumphs. And all the flowers in these garlands, so different one from another in shape, color, scent, and power, grew naturally out of the many different sufferings, battles and victories wherein they had won their title to glory. All that they were, their life and their work, the dignity and impressiveness of their victories, the many-colored glory of their triumphs — all flowed from their union with the merits of Jesus Christ.
To see all these Blessed Ones, acting and reaching upon one another, floating now above now below one another, and all drinking from one single fountain, from the Most Holy Sacrament of the Passion of Our Lord — this was a spectacle most wonderfully beautiful and touching. There was nothing accidental or out of place. Act and omission, martyrdom and crown, appearance and garb, all woven into one web of infinite harmony and unity. And this wonderful unity in variety arose from the manifold colored rays of one single sun, the Passion of Our Lord, the Incarnate Word, in whom was the Life that was the Light of men, the Light that shone in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.
’Twas the Communion of Saints that was passing in vision before the soul of Our Savior. He stood between the patient longing of the Old Testament and the triumphant fulfillment of the New, while the patriarchs of the former and the saints of the latter united to form one complete circle of triumph round the loving Heart of their Redeemer. A spectacle of such surpassing tenderness refreshed and strengthened in some measure the all-suffering soul of Our Lord. O God, how he loved His brothers. His creatures! Willingly He would have borne all His sufferings even for one of them. I saw these visions floating above the earth, as they referred to the future.
Vision of His Passion.
But now these visions of consolation disappeared, and representations of His Passion took their place. These latter the pointing angels let glide along close to the ground, as they referred to what was immediately at hand. Many were the angels engaged in this task. The visions were quite close to Him, and I saw them clearly, from the kiss of Judas to His last word on the cross, I saw everything over again, everything I am accustomed to see in my contemplations of the Passion: The treason of Judas, the flight of the Apostles, the derision of Annas and Caiphas, the denial of Peter, the judgment of Pilate, the mockery of Herod, the scourging and crowning with thorns, the sentence of death, the falls under the cross, the meeting with Our Blessed Lady, her collapse and swoon, the insults heaped by the executioners upon her, the veil of Veronica, the cruel nailing to the cross, the elevation of the cross, the revilings of the Pharisees, the sorrows of Magdalen and John, and the opening of His side. In a word everything, every detail of His Passion stood there clearly and distinctly before His soul. All the gestures, all the feeling, all the words of His torturers — I saw and heard Him see and hear them all. He accepted them all, submitted to them all, out of love for man.
What pained Him most was the shameful exposure on the cross to atone for the sins of men against chastity. He begged not to be exposed entirely, to have at least a loin-cloth. And I saw that, not by His crucifiers, but by some good men. His request would be granted.
He further saw and felt what sorrow His Mother was now suffering in the Valley of Josaphat, where out of commiseration for Him she lay unconscious in the arms of the two holy women who accompanied her. When the long vision was over Jesus sank down upon His face like one dying. The angels and the visions disappeared. The sweat of blood burst from Him more violently than before. I saw it oozing through His yellow-tinged garment wherever it lay close to His Body. ’Twas now dark in the cave.
Jesus is Supernaturally Strengthened.
I now saw an angel floating down to Jesus. He was larger than the angels who had been there before, had a more definite form, and seemed in figure more like a man. He was robed like a priest, in a long, floating garment, ornamented with tassels. He carried in His hands before His breast a little vessel, in form like the chalice of the Last Supper. But in the mouth of the chalice there hung a small, thin, red-shining morsel, oblong in shape and about as large as a bean. Floating downwards the angel extended his right hand to help Jesus rise, then put the shining morsel into His mouth and let Him drink out of the chalice of light. Thereupon he disappeared.
Jesus had freely accepted the chalice of suffering and now felt new strength. He remained some moments longer in the cave, absorbed in silent thanksgiving. He was still sad, but so strengthened supernaturally that He could walk towards His disciples with steady step, without any sign of fear or perturbation. His face was still worn and pale, but His gait was upright and determined. With a handkerchief He had wiped His face and smoothed His hair. The latter was still damp with the blood and sweat of His Agony, and hung down tangled and twisted.
When He came forth from the cave I saw that the moon had the same peculiar spot and circle as before, but that neither it nor the stars were shining with the same light as during the anguish of Our Lord. Their light was now more natural.
When Jesus came to His disciples, He found them, as He had found them the first time, alongside the terraced wall asleep, lying on their sides and with their heads muffled. Our Lord said to them that now was no time to sleep. Let them rise up and pray, “for behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us go. Behold, he that will betray Me is at hand. Oh, it were better for him he had never been born!” The ApostIes sprang to their feet and looked around in terror. But scarcely had they grown fully conscious when Peter's impetuosity broke out: “Master, let me call the others and we will defend you.” Jesus pointed out across the valley, where at some distance, still beyond the brook Cedron, a torch-bearing company of armed men were approaching. One of those, He said, had betrayed Him. They however thought this impossible. Quiet and self-possessed He went on talking to them. Once more He enjoined them to console His Mother, and then said: “Let us go to meet them. I will not make any resistance, but will deliver Myself into the hands of My enemies.” To meet the bailiffs He stepped out of the Garden of Olives, into the road that divides the Garden of Olives from the Garden of Gethsemani.
Our Blessed Lady was in the Valley of Josaphat and had swooned in the arms of Magdalen and Salome. When she came to herself, some disciples, who had seen the on-coming crowd of soldiers, came up to them and led them back to the house of Mary of Mark. The band of enemies were approaching by a shorter way than that taken by Jesus from the Supper Room.
The cave where Jesus had been today was not His usual spot for prayer. He usually went to a more distant cavern of the mountain. ’Twas here that, leaning upon a rock and with outstretched arms, He had prayed with such sorrow on the day when He cursed the fig-tree. The marks of His figure and His hands remained ingraved into the rock. They became objects of devotion later, though it was no longer clearly known on what occasion they arose. I have often seen indented into rocks these impressions from the bodies of holy persons: Of the prophets in the Old Testament, of Jesus, of Mary, of some of the Apostles, of St. Catherine of Alexandria (on Mount Sinai), and of some other saints. These indentures are not deep, but blunt and dull, like those made by pressing down on a firm mass of dough.
Taken from: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Revelations of Blessed Anna Catherine Emmerich, translated from the German by a Priest of the Order of St. Benedict. With Ecclesiastical Approbation. Imprimatur. 1914.;
Missal of the Laity, according to the Holy Roman Church, 1846.
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven.”
(St. Matth, vi. 9-10)