Monday, February 27, 2012

Lent: Sorrowful Tuesdays

Lent: Sorrowful Tuesday

This is the second installment of my Lenten series on the Mysteries of the Rosary.

On Tuesdays we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries. The first of these is the Agony in the Garden. Sorrow for sin is the fruit of this Mystery. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why. Jesus was sinless. Yet, He willingly took our sins upon Himself out of love for His people. Luke (22:44) tells us, "In His anguish He prayed with all the greater intensity, and His sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground." Medically speaking, (Luke was a doctor in his day) to sweat blood is not only possible, but also caused the skin to be more sensitive to pain. A terrible condition for one in Christ's position.

Jesus's anguish was so strong that He sweat blood; and then He returned to His most loved disciples, they were asleep. So not only did He know He was to be betrayed by Judas (whom Satan had already claimed -- Luke 22:2), His closest friends could not keep watch and pray with Him. Some have inferred that they were under the influence of the devil. The devil is a real participant in the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ. It is the devil that gives human nature the desire to take the easy road, just as Christ asked for this cup to pass. Jesus was well aware of Satan's influence, shortly before the Last Supper refers to Simon Peter as Satan for tempting Him to avoid His fate (Mark 8:33). Jesus was very familiar with Satan and his works, and for that He suffered greatly.

Jesus was fully God, but also fully man. His Divine nature knew what would happen. His human nature was, just like ours, weak and wished for "this cup to pass". He took upon His body immense suffering for us. His anguish was not simply that He knew the cruelty of His fate; it was compounded by knowing we would repeatedly disregard His great sacrifice in our selfishness.

As a Catholic, one of the greatest mysteries of the Faith is that Christ's sacrifice is inexplicably tied to the sacrifice of the Mass. During the Consecration, the veil between past, present, and future is lifted. At every Mass, we join in Christ's sacrifice. It is not a recreation or a re-living of the crucifixion of our Lord, it IS that ultimate sacrifice. That means that during the Confeitor, our sins are added as blows to Christ's vulnerable body, for Him to expiate. That is why, if we are truly sorry for our venial sins (whether proclaimed aloud or not), we leave Mass cleansed of them. Jesus wasn't sorry for His sins; He had none. He was sorry for our sins. Now it is up to us, to be sorry for them just a fraction as much as Christ was.

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