Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In all—His words, actions, silence, miracles—Jesus serves as the best Model for us to study, meditate, contemplate, and of course imitate.
JESUS AT PRAYER. A good part of His private life, which lasted a good thirty years as the son of a carpenter at Nazareth were absorbed in prayer. At the moment of His Baptism, Saint Luke presents Jesus absorbed in prayer. Before choosing the 12 Apostles who would carry out His mission, Jesus spent the whole night in communion with the heavenly Father, once again, in prayer.
JESUS AS MODEL OF PRAYER IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE. The essence of this short essay will be to show Jesus’ deep, filial, fervent, humble, and you might even say heart-rending prayer that Holy Thursday night, shortly after the Last Supper, in the Garden of Olives. Let us step back and calmly contemplate all of the elements of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Olives, also called the Garden of Gethsemane. May this be an inspiring lesson for us so that we will strive with all the fiber of our being to upgrade, improve, and motivate our own personal prayer life.
1. PRAYER. Jesus habitually would go to the Garden of Olives where He would dedicate prolonged periods of silence to prayer and immerse Himself in a profound dialogue with Abba—Father! Likewise, we should have some specific place that is propitious for prayer, a place that fosters deep recollection and union with our Heavenly Father. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen found his prayer-abode in Church in front of the Blessed Sacrament. If this is not possible for you, at least find a place where there is silence. Why? God speaks most eloquently when we are not bombarded by noise-pollution. With the young Samuel we can listen and respond: Speak O Lord, for your servant is listening!
2. PROSTRATION. In the Garden, Jesus prostrated Himself on the ground. Abram did this and God spoke to him. The Magi prostrated themselves before the Infant King Jesus and gave Him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Finally, at Fatima in 1916, the Angels taught the children—Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta—to kneel and prostrate themselves, and then address their prayers to God. The bodily posture of prostration is very deep in symbolism. It means humility, subjection to God, and penance in recognition of our nature as sinners. God loves a humble heart; He wants us to submit our wills to His will; and He wants us to humbly beg pardon for our many sins!
3. FILIAL PRAYER. By filial we mean a prayer of loving trust and confidence between Father and Son. Jesus calls His Father Abba—which loosely translated is Daddy! Like Jesus our prayer must be one of loving trust in our Heavenly Father who loves us infinitely and cares for us so much that He even knows how many hairs we have on our head and even when one hair falls to the ground.
4. SUBMISSION TO GOD. In this same heart-rending prayer Jesus knows that His Passion, suffering, and death is looming before Him and He asks God to remove the chalice of suffering from Him, but He ends with a total submission to His Heavenly Father: Father, not my will but yours be done! Our sanctification, growth in holiness, and perseverance depends in large part on assuming this attitude of Jesus—submitting our will to the will of the Heavenly Father. We reiterate this same interior disposition of heart in the Our Father: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
5. PERSEVERANCE IN PRAYER. A very interesting highlight of the model-prayer of Jesus in the Garden is that Jesus says this prayer three times: Father, if it be possible remove this chalice from me; nevertheless, not my will but your will be done. The lesson? We must persevere in our prayer life to the very end. The message of the insistent widow clamoring for justice to the unjust judge is simply this: we must keep praying and never give up. Saint Teresa of Avila expressed it in these words: We must have a determined determination to never give up prayer.
6. PRAYER COMPANIONSHIP AND FRIENDSHIP. In His humanity, Jesus desired His friends to stay with Him and pray in this critical moment. For this reason He took with Him His three best friends—Peter, James and John. However, this companionship in prayer proved to be a total failure as His three chosen friends fell asleep, and more than once, when Jesus needed them most. Thus they failed Him. There is a key lesson here for all of us. If we do not propose to pray well, pray fervently, and pray with trust, then like the Apostles, it is more than likely that we will succumb to temptation and give in to sin. Jesus left us with these poignant words: Stay awake and pray because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. May we propose to be faithful to the Lord in good times and bad, health and sickness, riches and poverty, until the end of our lives! Spouses promise faithfulness to each other; so should we promise faithfulness to Jesus!
7. JESUS SWEATS BLOOD. According to Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the suffering of Jesus was so intense that He sweat His Precious Blood for these reasons. All of the sins of humanity were descending upon Him like a torrential downpour—the sins of Adam and Eve, your sins and mine, and all sins even up to the last generation and last person in the world. However, that which caused Jesus to suffer most was the cruel reality that many people, despite the intense suffering of Jesus, would willfully decide to reject His redemptive act and choose to live and die in their sins totally unrepentant. Due to this, they would willfully lose their soul and be eternally damned. This reality of Jesus’ loving sacrifice being rejected was what caused Jesus to suffer most and to sweat large drops of His Precious Blood. This bloody and anguished prayer of Jesus should motivate us to recognize our sins, and make a firm purpose to renounce them and all that leads to sin in any size, form, or type!
8. PRAYER OF REPARATION. Of course the shedding of the Blood of Jesus and His anguish of heart should challenge us to offer frequent reparation for our sins and those of the whole world. In the words of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy: “Have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
9. THE ANGEL OF CONSOLATION. Immersed in the most profound state of desolation, God the Father consoles Jesus by sending an angel to Him, The Angel of Consolation. Exactly what went on in this encounter, we will know only in eternity. However, the most immediate interpretation and application should be the transference of the Angel of Consolation in the Garden to our own relationship to Jesus. Yes! You and I are called to be the present and active Angel of Consolation in the life of Jesus and His Mystical Body that we call the Catholic Church. Why not try to make an effort to console the Wounded Sacred Heart of Jesus with your prayers of consolation and reparation? There are so many sins that need to be repaired for today, and today more than ever! Abortions, the practice of homosexuality, contraception, euthanasia, despair, and an overall religious indifference that is downright appalling! These sins and countless others need to be objects of our fervent prayer of reparation so as to be the modern Angel of Consolation in the life of Jesus!
10. OUR LADY OF SORROWS. In all of our meditations on the Passion of Jesus, most specifically the Agony in the Garden, which is the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, we want to ask Our Lady of Sorrows to pray with us and to pray for us so that our prayer might be transformed into a fragrant aroma of incense that ascends on high to the heavenly heights! May Our Lady of Sorrows’ fervent prayers and our prayers result in consoling the wounded Heart of Jesus and the salvation of countless souls!