Friday, 22 February 2013

Sorrowful Mysteries 2 - The Agony in the Garden


The Mystery of Our Lord's Agony in the Garden is His experience of mental and psychological suffering. He knows what He is about to go through, and, although He is God, at this point His humanity takes the upper hand, and He feels genuine fear and extreme anxiety. His mental anguish is so great that it spills over into the physical and He experiences a rare medical condition called hematidrosis, where blood exudes from the pores of His skin. This condition is documented as associeted with the most extreme of stress. Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, the apostles who have accompanied Him, not fully appreciating the situation, and probably tired and sated from the Passover meal they have eaten, fall asleep.

Living as we do in a world where the pace and complexity of life mean that every day is prone to stress and worry, a world where depression and mental illness seem to be on the increase, it is important for Christains to recall that Jesus did suffer these mental pains. It is also important to recall that, in spite of the agony, He chose to go on inexorably towards the fate that awaited Him, even though He prayed for deliverance from it.

It is interesting to compare this response to what we so often see among those with depression and other mental health issues. Jesus, depite knowing that He will rise again, still fears the death he will undergo, and the human instinct for self-preservation causes Him to pray, "Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me'. He gives Himself voluntarily to death, but does not do so with any enthusiasm. How this contrasts with the behaviour of those who self-harm or tend towards suicide.

Despite what the popular media would have us believe, few people actually have to face the immanent prospect of a violent, brutal and protracted death. True, there are those who suffer the pains of terminal illness, but much is now done to make them more comfortable. It is good to know that Our Lord has been through this most extreme of experiences and triumphed over it. When we experience stress and mental suffering in our lives, this is very real and can seem catastrophic and hopeless. Recalling Our Lord's experiences in the garden of Gethsemane, can put this into perspective, and while not necessaritly making the pain any less real, can show us that we are not alone, and that hope is always there.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especailly those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Post, Matthaeus.

    Thank you for this timely Lenten Series on The Sorrowful Mysteries.


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