Praying in Holy Week

Jesus at Prayer 

by Morgan Weistling

“This painting is a portrait of prayer,” says artist Morgan Weistling, “and its title comes from that moment in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:39), hours before his crucifixion. “I was inspired to paint this by the number of times the Bible refers to Christ going off alone to pray to his Father, for example in Luke 5:16: ‘But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’ “I wanted the viewer to imagine how Jesus would look if you were to come upon him in a private moment of prayer. 
The painting emphasizes his strong carpenter’s hands, clasped in prayer, representing his communion with the Father.  As I painted it I also thought about the importance of praying not only in times of need but often, and thoughtfully, just as Christ did.”

Click here for a wonderful painting of Christ praying in Gethsemane by artist Tracey  Clarke. I can't embed it for copyright reasons, and also check out her painting of Christ In The Wilderness. 

Of her paintings she says :

"I really wanted to capture the humanity of Christ. He experienced the same emotions that I do and He struggles, as I do. It awes me that God Himself chose to become as we are, to reach us. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin."

Catherine de Hueck Doherty wrote,

 " But in the depths of every heart there is a garden enclosed.

This garden is Gethsemane, and the enclosure is a meeting place for the Beloved, God. 

If you enter into this garden, you will hear the incredible sounds that Jesus heard:
the heartbeats of God.

 God put loneliness in your heart so that you would hunger for Him, and learn that unity with Him brings unity with all.

Jean Vanier On The Passage of Prayer

 Prayer for Holy Week

As the light trembles and dims and the darkness of this week takes hold, Lord let me stay with you.
When you walk into the garden at Gethsemane for your last night on earth, let me be close to you.
When you become distressed and agitated , when you shake with fear as you feel the power and stench of evil descending into the starkness of betrayal, let me be close to you and not fall asleep.

Click on image below for depiction of a miniature frieze of the Stations of the Cross.

This week Jesus takes the loneliest journey of His life. The Way of The Cross along the Via Crucis may be a short journey in terms of physical distance, yet every step was filled with pain and agony and I know I will never fully take in the anguish Jesus must have experienced, but maybe I can get some understanding of what he may have felt like from the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux. 

  As a young girl, she didn't see much of the outside world and didn't travel. But yet she was able to write about an interior journey, a Story Of The Soul. She wrote of her “Little Way.”She wrote about souls who are the “little flowers” in a garden that were often dominated by more beautiful, stately roses.

“Striking deeds are forbidden me. I cannot preach the gospel; I cannot shed my blood, but what matter? My brothers do it for me, while I, a little child, stay close beside the royal throne and love for those who are fighting.”
St. Therese couldn’t read theology very well, she fell asleep at prayers and often performed the most basic boring duties at the convent of Carmel.  

She was tortured by periods of darkness and silence. She heard demonic voices asking her how she knew God loved her:

“When, weary of being enveloped by nothing but darkness, I try to comfort and encourage myself with the thought of eternal life to come, it only makes matters worse. The very darkness seems to echo the voices of those who do not believe and mocks at me: ‘You dream of light and of a fragrant land; you dream that the Creator of this loveliness will be your own for all eternity; you dream of escaping one day from these mists in which you languish! Dream on, welcome death: it will not bring you what you hope; it will bring an even darker night, the night of nothingness!"

Fr. Ron Rolheiser has a great reflection here on the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. titled Prayer in A Crisis. He highlights seven elements, each of which has something to teach us in terms of how to pray in our darkest times.

From The Abbey of Gethsemani
The late Fr. Matthew Kelty -Thoughts On Forgiveness
 Part One
The reflections on forgiveness come at about 7 mins into the video, 
after the poetry.

Part Two

Image source Tumblr

So now it becomes articulate, specific, absolute
Now the fogs and mist rise
and in the clarity of the morning sun all is clear.
Now the new day begins
and a life becomes a beauty
it was meant to be.
When grace answers grace,
when gift answers gift.
Happens all the time.
Out of the blue,
subtle hints
“There is more than this.”
There sure is.
Father Matthew Kelty

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