Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday: Sorrowful unto death

Lord Jesus Christ, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, I bless and thank you for the sorrowful beginning of your most bitter Passion, for your extreme sadness of soul, and for the anguish and dread you felt in your weak human nature, which you willingly assumed for our sake. When the hour of your betrayal was at hand you were filled with sadness and fear.

You were not ashamed to express that sadness openly in the presence of the apostles, saying: My soul is sorrowful unto death. O wondrous dispensation of God! Lord of power, who shortly before had fortified your disciples for the combat, now you appear as one enfeebled, totally devoid of strength and courage.

You generously uttered that statement in order to comfort us, who are weak and cowardly, lest one of us, being severely tempted, despair of forgiveness and salvation. For if someone were to feel less than cheerful in bearing his suffering or in experiencing certain weaknesses of his flesh, then he can repeat in his fear and sadness what we read that you yourself had said: Nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.

I ask you, most loving Jesus, my only hope in every difficulty and trial, to permit me to enter with a compassionate heart into the sorrowful beginnings of your most blessed Passion, and from there to rise little by little to the contemplation of its more bitter elements, so that in following you in every step of your sorrows I may find a healing remedy for my soul.

Grant me, for the glory of your name, the patience to suffer whatever trials may come my way, and that, when faced with many afflictions, I may never yield to despair but wholly resign myself to the good pleasure of your eternal will.

-Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) from On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists

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