Holy Thursday – Agony

How are we to understand the Agony in the Garden?  Sweating drops of blood is beyond the ordinary experience of the sinner or saint.  Look at those who suffer well for a glimpse into the mystery.

St. Therese of Lisieux experienced her first hemorrhage on Holy Thursday 1896.  In her Story of a Soul we read something of her agony:

For several days, during the month of August, Therese remained, so to speak, beside herself, and implored that prayers might be offered for her. She had never before been seen in this state, and in her inexpressible anguish she kept repeating: “Oh! how necessary it is to pray for the agonising! If one only knew!” One night she entreated the Infirmarian to sprinkle her bed with Holy Water, saying: “I am besieged by the devil. I do not see him, but I feel him; he torments me and holds me with a grip of iron, that I may not find one crumb of comfort; he augments my woes, that I may be driven to despair. . . . And I cannot pray. I can only look at Our Blessed Lady and say: ‘Jesus!’ How needful is that prayer we use at Compline: ‘Procul recedant somnia et noctium phantasmata!’ (‘Free us from the phantoms of the night.’) Something mysterious is happening within me. I am not suffering for myself, but for some other soul, and satan is angry.” The Infirmarian, startled, lighted a blessed candle, and the spirit of darkness fled, never to return; but the sufferer remained to the end in a state of extreme anguish. One day, while she was contemplating the beautiful heavens, some one said to her: “soon your home will be there, beyond the blue sky. How lovingly you gaze at it!” She only smiled, but afterwards she said to the Mother Prioress: “Dear Mother, the Sisters do not realise my sufferings. Just now, when looking at the sky, I merely admired the beauty of the material heaven–the true Heaven seems more than ever closed against me. At first their words troubled me, but an interior voice whispered: ‘Yes, you were looking to Heaven out of love. Since your soul is entirely delivered up to love, all your actions, even the most indifferent, are marked with this divine seal.’ At once I was consoled.”

Holy Thursday – Pope Benedict XVI

In this day of “turning the Bible on its head by such influential entities as National Geographic Society and Newsweek, it is good to remember what actual scholars who care about Truth have taught us.  Pope Benedict XVI reacting to a misleading 3rd century coptic text on display by the National Geographic Society in 2006, as covered by Cindy Wooden of Catholic New Service, corrected:

Judas was a greedy liar who put his desire for money ahead of his relationship with Jesus and his love for God, Pope Benedict XVI said…

But during his April 13 (2006) homily at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Pope Benedict said Judas is the clearest example Christians have of someone who refuses God’s saving love.

For Judas, the pope said, “only power and success are real; love does not count.”

“And he is greedy: Money is more important than communion with Jesus, more important than God and his love. He also becomes a liar, a double-crosser who breaks with the truth,” Pope Benedict said.

Purposefully ignoring the truth, he said, Judas “hardens, becoming incapable of conversion … and throws away his destroyed life.”

The next day, the pope’s preacher also weighed in against the recent wave of “pseudohistorical literature” gaining popularity as well as the soon-to-be-released film, “The Da Vinci Code.”

In his April 14 [2006] homily during the Good Friday liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said that millions of people today were being “crassly manipulated by the media,” which is more interested in touting the newest fad or insight rather than the truth and, as a consequence, turning a pretty penny for it.

“There is much talk about Judas’ betrayal without realizing that it is being repeated” today, he said during his homily given before the pope and hundreds of people in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Christ is being sold again,” he said, but this time “to publishers and booksellers” for billions of dollars.

People seem to be always itching for something new, and there are those who take advantage of that by carrying out or promoting “the clever rewriting of ancient legends,” he said.

The fantasies and speculation will only “flare up with the imminent release of a certain film,” the Capuchin friar said, in reference to the movie “The Da Vinci Code,” based on the novel by Dan Brown.

The preacher of the papal household said he felt it was his duty to address the current swirl of controversy surrounding the many interpretations of the life and death of Jesus because “we cannot allow the silence of believers to be mistaken for embarrassment” nor allow the media to manipulate the truth about Christ’s life, his death on the cross and his resurrection.”

Zenit.org reports Fr. Cantalamessa’s closing remark:

The “fantasies” mentioned have an explanation, concluded the Pontifical Household preacher: “We are in the age of the media and the media are more interested in novelty than in truth.”

Words of St. Paul:

“The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then they will shut their ears to the truth and will turn to myths.”