Hours of the Passion
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church
From 9 P.M. to 10 P.M.
The first hour of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
My afflicted Jesus, I feel drawn into this garden as if by an electric current. I understand that you, powerful magnet of my wounded heart, call me. And I run, thinking to myself: What are these attractions of love which I feel in myself? Oh, perhaps my persecuted Jesus is in such a state of bitterness that he feels the need for my company. And I fly. But I don't believe it. I am terrified as I enter this garden.
The darkness of the night, the intensity of the cold, the slow movement of the leaves—as mournful voices—announce pains, sadness and death for my sorrowful Jesus. The gentle twinkling of the stars—which, as crying eyes, are watching attentively and echoing Jesus' tears—reproach me for my ingratitude. I tremble; and groping about, searching for him, I call him: “Jesus, where are you? You call me but don't show yourself? You call me, and then hide?” Everything is terrifying and frightening, and deeply silent. But, straining my ears I hear a labored breath: it is Jesus himself whom I find.
But what a woeful change! It is no longer the gentle Jesus of the Eucharistic Supper, on whose face there shone a dazzling and enrapturing beauty. Instead, it is sad, with a mortal sadness that disfigures his natural beauty. He is already agonizing, and I feel troubled thinking that maybe I won't hear his voice again, because it seems like he is dying. So I embrace his feet. I become more daring and go up to his arms and put my hand on his forehead to support it. Then whispering, I call him: “Jesus, Jesus.”
Shaken by my voice, he looks at me and says:
“My child, are you here? I was waiting for you, since this is the sadness which most oppressed me: the total abandonment of everyone. I was waiting for you to make you the spectator of my pains, and to have you drink together with me the chalice of the bitterness which my heavenly Father will soon send me by means of an angel. We will sip from it together, because it will not be a chalice of comfort, but of intense bitternesses, and I feel the need of a few loving souls who would drink at least a few drops of it. This is why I have called you: to accept it, to share my pains with me, and to assure me that you will not leave me alone in complete abandonment.”
Yes, my anguished Jesus, we will drink the chalice of your bitterness together, we will suffer your pains [together], and I will never leave your side.
So, assured by me, saddened Jesus enters into mortal agony, and suffers pains unheard of, pains never before seen. Unable to bear it, and wanting to sympathize with him and comfort him, I say to him:
“Tell me, why are you so sad, afflicted, and alone in this garden and on this night? It is the last night of your life on earth; only a few hours remain before your passion begins. I thought that I would at least find your heavenly mother, beloved Mary Magdalene, and the faithful apostles here. Instead, I find you all alone, and overwhelmed by a sadness which gives you cruel death, without making you die. O my good and my all, won't you answer me? Speak to me!”
But it seems you cannot talk, oppressed as you are by such sadness. But, oh my Jesus, that gaze of yours, full of light, yes, but afflicted and searching, such that it seems to be looking for help; your pale face, your lips parched with love, your Divine Person, trembling from head to foot, your Heart, beating so intensely — and those heartbeats search for souls and cause You such labor that it seems that, any moment now, You are about to breathe your last — everything tells me that You are alone, and therefore You want my company.
Here I am, O Jesus, together with You. But I don’t have the heart to see You cast on the ground. I take You in my arms, I press You to my heart. One by one, I want to number your pains; and one by one, the sins which present themselves before you. I want to give you relief for everything, reparation for everything, and at least an act of compassion for everything.
O my Jesus, while I am holding you in my arms, your sufferings increase. O my life, I feel a fire flowing in your veins; I feel your blood boiling, and that it wants to burst your veins and run out. Tell me, my Love, what is it? I see neither whips, nor thorns, neither nails, nor a cross. Yet, as I rest my head on your Heart, I feel cruel thorns piercing it. I feel cruel whips that spare no part of your sacred Humanity, neither inside nor out. I see your hands contracted and contorted, worse than if they were nailed. Tell me, my sweet Good, who has so much power, also in your interior, as to torment You and make You suffer as many deaths for as many torments as he gives You?
Oh, it seems that blessed Jesus opens His lips, faint and dying, and says to me:
“My child, do you want to know what it is that torments Me more than the very executioners? Rather, those are nothing compared to this! It is the Eternal Love, which, wanting primacy in everything, is making Me suffer, all at once and in the most intimate parts, what the executioners will make Me suffer little by little. Ah, my child, it is Love which prevails in everything, over Me and within Me. Love is nail for Me, Love is scourge, Love is crown of thorns – Love is everything for Me. Love is my perennial passion, while that of men is in time. Ah, my child, enter into my Heart, come to be dissolved in my love, and only in my love will you comprehend how much I suffered and how much I loved you, and you will learn to love Me and to suffer only out of love.”
O my Jesus, since You call me into your Heart to show me what love made You suffer, I enter into It. But as I enter, I see the portents of love, which crowns your head, not with material thorns, but with thorns of fire; which scourges You, not with lashes of ropes, but with lashes of fire; which crucifies You with nails, not made of iron, but of fire. Everything is fire, which penetrates deep into your bones and into your very marrow; and distilling all of your Most Holy Humanity into fire, it gives You mortal pains, certainly greater than the very Passion, and prepares a bath of love for all the souls who will want to be washed of any stain and acquire the right of children of love.
O Love without end, I feel overwhelmed before such an immensity of Love. I see that to enter into Love and to understand it, I should be all Love. O my Jesus, I am not! But, since you want my company, and want me to enter into you, I pray you to make me become all love. So, I beg you to crown my head and every thought of mine with the crown of love. I beseech you, O Jesus, to whip me with the whip of love. Let my soul, my body, my powers, my sentiments, my desires, my affections, in a word, everything, be scourged and sealed by love. O love without end, let there be nothing in me which does not receive its life from love.
O Jesus, center of all loves, I beg you to nail my hands and my feet with the nails of love, so that entirely nailed by love, I may become love, understand love, dress myself with love, nourish myself with love. May love keep me all nailed in you, so that nothing inside or outside of me dare to pull me away and distract me from love, O Jesus!
Reflections and Practices.
Abandoned in this hour by his eternal Father, Jesus Christ suffered such a blaze of fiery love, that he could destroy all sins, even possible and imaginable ones. He could inflame with his love all creatures of millions and millions of worlds, and all the damned in hell, if they weren't eternally fixed in their wickedness.
Let us enter into Jesus, and after penetrating into the most intimate parts of his whole interior, into those heartbeats of fire, into his intelligence (which was, as it were, inflamed), let us take this love and dress ourselves inside and out, with the fire that inflamed Jesus. Then, going out of him, and pouring ourselves into his Will, we will find all creatures. Let us give the love of Jesus to each, and retouching their hearts and their minds with this love, let us try to transform them all into love. Then, with the desires, the heartbeats and the thoughts of Jesus, let us form him in the heart of every creature.
After this, we will bring all creatures to him with Jesus in their heart, and we will place them around him, saying: “Jesus, we bring you all creatures with Jesus in the heart of each, to give you comfort and relief. We don't have any other way to relieve your love than to bring all creatures into your heart!” With this, we will give true relief to Jesus, for the flames that burn him are so many, that he is continually repeating, “I am burning, and there is no one to take my love. Please, relieve me: take my love and give me love!” To conform to Jesus in everything, we must go back into ourselves and apply these reflections to ourselves.
In all that we do, can be say that it is a continual flowing of love between God and ourselves? Our life is a continual flow of love which we receive from God: if we think, it is a flow of love; if we work, it is a flow of love; the word is love; our heartbeat is love. We receive everything from God. But do all our actions run toward God with love? Does Jesus find in us the sweet enchantment of his love which flows to him, so that, enraptured by this enchantment, he may lavish more abundant love on us?
If, in all that we have done, we did not made the intention of running together in the love of Jesus, let us enter into ourselves and ask his forgiveness for having made him lose the sweet enchantment of his love toward us.
Do we let ourselves be modeled by the divine hands, like the humanity of Jesus Christ did? With the exception of sin, we must receive everything that happens in us as the divine doings. Otherwise, we deny the Father his glory, we let the divine life escape us, and we lose holiness. Everything we feel within ourselves inspirations, mortifications, graces is nothing other than a crafting of love. Do we take them in the way God wants us to? Do we leave Jesus free to work in us? Or, by taking everything in a human sense and as indifferent things, do we reject the divine action and force Jesus to cross his arms? Do we abandon ourselves in his arms as if we were dead, to receive all those blows which our Lord disposes for our sanctification?
My love and my all, let your love flood me on all sides and burn everything in me which is not yours. And make my love always flow toward you to burn everything that could sadden your heart.