Well after the end of the fourth week of the Ignatian Exercises, my spiritual director, who is fantastic, and worth coming to Malta for yearly, has sent me back to the beginning of Week Two.
The reasons have to do with understanding the Agony in the Garden. Of course, I was stuck on the meditation, wondering at Christ trying three times to obtain the support of His apostles, which He did not get, when I read in my Lectio Divina today, the answer to the reason why Father sent me back.
Let Garrigou-Lagrange sum this up.
Pascal in his Pensees gives similar expression to our Lord’s simplicity, the purest image of the simplicity of God:
Jesus Christ, without wealth or fortune or display of scientific knowledge, is in an order of holiness all His own. He was neither an inventor nor a monarch; but He was humble, patient, holy, holy to God, free from all sin. To those loving eyes that perceive the wisdom in Him, with what stupendous magnificence He came!… Never had man such repute, never did man incur greater ignominy…. From whom did the Evangelists learn the qualities of a supremely heroic soul, that they picture it so perfectly in Jesus Christ? Why did they make Him weak in His agony? Did they not know how to picture a death borne with constancy? Yes indeed, for the same St. Luke pictures the death of St. Stephen as more bravely born than that of Jesus Christ. They make Him susceptible of fear before the necessity of dying arose, but full of fortitude thereafter. When therefore they portray Him as being so sorrowful, it is because in that hour His sorrow is self-inflicted (desiring to experience the crushing burden of anguish in order to suffer even that for us) ; but, when He is afflicted by men, it is then His fortitude is supreme, with that strength which is their salvation.
In other words, the fake trial of Christ, His being abused by the Sandhedrin, His scourging, His crown of thorns, His carrying of the Cross, and His agony on the Cross, were all inflicted by men on the exterior, on the outside, in the society, in the court, in the army and so on. When Christ faced those people, He was strong and serene.
But, in the agony of the garden, Christ chose this interior suffering of the mind and spirit. He chose to identify with our many agonies, our anxieties, our depressions, our fears. Because Christ loved us so much He wanted to identify with us and our trials. He joined His mind and nerves, His body and blood to our experiences willingly and fully in the garden.
When He asked God to remove the chalice, it was not the chalice of His coming sacrifice, which is misunderstood, but the immediate chalice of His experiencing the pain of all humans, the pain of commiting sin, and having sin committed against us.
Christ knew what He was going to endure before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate, before Herod, and on the Cross. But, He wanted to experience our pain, our agonies, such as fallen away siblings, fallen away children, difficult marriages, ill-health, abandonment, the fear of dying and so on.
Therefore, He took on Himself, He “self-inflicted” these horrors on His own person, interiorly, in the Garden.
I thank both my spiritual director and Garrgiou-Lagrange for bringing me to this insight.