As we begin the Lenten Season we once again start with the Sorrowful Mysteries. The first is the Agony in the Garden it can be found in all the Gospels in different ways. Since the events covered are from the end of Last Supper and the Arrest of Jesus. The Fruit of the mystery is Sorrow for Sin as Uniformity to God’s Will.
When the Last Supper was ended Jesus took a walk to pray, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives with his apostles/disciples to pray. Peter, James and John were there and Jesus asked them to stay awake for an hour and pray with him. Jesus went off and prayed to the Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. I don’t want to take this poison. Going back to the apostles he finds them asleep and wakes them saying couldn’t you stay up just an hour. While Jesus was praying his sweat was blood and he ended his prayer by accepting it” If the cup can’t pass by let me drink of it your will be done.” After all of this Jesus recognizes that his hour to be betrayed has come.
Let us remember this during Lent we are offered several opportunities for other religious activities confession and stations of the cross seem to be at least a weekly thing along with a fish fry on Fridays during the season. If you have some time take it and go to one of these events or whatever else is offered in our local church.
The final sorrowful mystery is the Crucifixion and death of Our Lord. The fruit of this mystery is Perseverance in faith, grace for a holy death and Forgiveness. This story is found in all the Gospels and if you can’t find it it’s rather easy and throughout the epistles it is mentioned as well. We are all well aware of this story or you could check out the film mother! if you need a refresher (please don’t). Jesus is crucified between two thieves one berates him to “He helped other but can’t save himself” the other asks “Don’t you fear God, for we are all suffering the same fate although we have been fairly judges for the crimes we’ve done this man (Jesus) did nothing.” He continues to Jesus saying “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replies “Today you will be with me in paradise.” This is what is so special about our faith not matter when or where if you but ask it shall be given unto you. Forgiveness is a huge topic and even Pope Francis talked about it this past Sunday’s Angelus (17 Sept) where he said “Forgiveness does not deny the injustice one has been subjected to, but it acknowledges the fact that the human being, created in the image of God, is always superior to the wrong that is committed.” This is what we need to keep in mind for even in the Our Father we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” the second part is the important one.
The fourth sorrowful mystery we focus on the carrying of the cross. It is mentioned in passing in all the Gospels and is the entirety of the Stations of the Cross. The fruit of this mystery is patience. Carrying the cross is a task that we are all called to do and it take patience. Jesus calls us all in the Gospel “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” This is difficult for many of us to do denying ourselves and then taking up a cross to follow Jesus. So many of us struggle with both or either one, we need to be willing to risk everything. Pope John Paul II has a wonderful message on this for the 16th World Youth Day back in 2001 in which he reflects on this quote. John Paul breaks it down into easy pieces to deny oneself giving up one’s own plans that are trite while accepting God’s plan. He continues talking about taking up our crosses doesn’t have to mean a physical thing that leads to death but it is the ultimate sign of love that is the cross that we should bear. There is nothing else of more importance beside love and it is a lasting thing as well unlike the ephemeral nature of everything with instant gratification especially with all the social media where things don’t mean anything. As St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (13:4-8) “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” This is how we should be living our lives, I hope that we can all strive for this simple little thing.
The third sorrowful mystery is the Crowning with Thorns it really isn’t that big of a thing in the Gospels it is mentioned in passing in Matthew, Mark and John around the scourging which were mentioned last week. There are a bunch of relics which are thorns from the crown around the world so If you want to go see one you are in luck, Notre Dame in Paris has a portion which they bring every first Friday during the year and all Fridays in Lent. The fruit of this mystery is Contempt of the World (moral courage). This is a difficult fruit since it seems like it’s going against the world itself but it is more about the things of the world that we get all caught up in. We need to be able to separate ourselves from the things of the world, since we cannot serve both God and mammon. Sure the idea is simple and sure is a place where many people want to be especially with the world currently. However we need to be humble all too often in the world today that is obsessed with what people have done more than the person themselves, yet we read in the Bible “whomever exalts themselves will be humbled and whomever humbles themselves will be exalted”. Let us all try to be more humble in general.
The second Sorrowful Mystery is the Flagellation of Christ, the Scourging at the pillar is one of the early parts of the Passion Narrative. The fruit of the mystery is Purity and mortification.
This is the sixth station is the Scriptural Stations of the Cross and the fourth of the New Stations of the Cross used in the Philippines which is also based on the Scriptures but I’ll get to these during Lent. The event appears in all the Gospels but in different ways Mark and Luke have it taking place with the High Priest guards blindfolding and spitting on Jesus asking “Who hit you?”, while Matthew and John have it take place after Pilate had Jesus who had him flogged. This happens immediately before the next mystery with the Crowing with Thorns. It’s more about looking inward than outward we’ve got to forget about the things of this world as Louis de Montfort put it we need “to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite”. Sure we in general are good at doing this in Lent with our fasting and giving something up but perhaps we should be doing this more often. Most of the time when you hear mortification your mind turns to the extremes the lashing oneself and wearing a hairshirt, yet there is joy in suffering as John Paul II points out Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow, it is supposed to be struggle. Let us all reflect on how we struggle at carrying our crosses and what we can do to try and lead a more pure life.
We’ve reached the Sorrowful mysteries this time around. These chronicle the events of the Passion of Jesus. These can be found in all the Gospels but the synoptic ones (Mark, Luke, Matthew) have a more agony since in John’s Gospel Judas was there soon after they arrived. The fruit of this decade is uniformity to the will of God and Sorrow for sin, as the disciple couldn’t stay awake for an hour while Jesus prayed that the cup would pass him by. The Agony is often depicted in art but has also made it into the musical Jesus Christ Superstar with a whole song, and Beethoveen also wrote an oratorio about this event in opus 85 Christus am Ölberge (Christ on the Mount of Olives). It is Beethoven’s only oratorio. If you have about an hour take a listen to the oratorio. Let us all try to stay bound to the will of God and remember to go to confession.
Laetitae Sanctae is another one of Leo XIII encyclical on the Rosary it is like several of the others which are implore the praying of the rosary in October. Pope Leo notes that the praying of the rosary devoutly not only helps the individual but also but society as a whole as well. His holiness goes on to say that there are three obstacles that arise in the world “first, the distaste for a simple and labourious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life.” These are tied to the mysteries of the Rosary.
The first, the distaste for poverty relates to the joyful mysteries where we focus on Christ as a child. So much of society says that we need to amass riches so we can buy this or that to become a better person and we should “work smarter not hard”. However it takes hard work to get rich. As we look at these mysteries we see “simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love – not of the false and fleeting kind – but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness of service.” This is what we need to bring into the world.
The second, repugnance to suffering relates to the sorrowful mysteries where we focus on the Passion of Christ. It is sad that violence has become so pervasive that in just about every movie it seem features some horrible act of violence, or really just turning on the news we hear of some murder. Society as a whole has become desensitized to it even when most of us haven’t seen it in person we’ve all seen it in the movie and television programs we watch. Sure we understand that violence is bad but we often forget about the suffering and grief left behind. Yet we must remember the actions of Jesus and follow in his footsteps, as St. Thomas says in the gospel “Let us also go, that we might die with him” (John 11:16)
The third and last one, forgetfulness of the future relates to the glorious mysteries where the focus turns to the resurrection and life in heaven. All too often we look to the future and our own personal safety with a mix of materialism and nationalism. Here is where the problem arises the militarization of individuals to serve their nation, but at the neglect of the world as a whole. We are all in the same boat and the more people rocking it the sooner we will capsize. Pope Leo put is as we may doubt if “God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.” Let us remember the eternal banquet that awaits us all.
Pope Leo then talks a bit about Rosary confraternities calling them the battalions who fight the battle of Christ under the direction of the Virgin Mother noting the victory at Lepanto. This, the rosary, is the Hope of the Church. Let us all take some time and pull out a rosary and pray it.
The fruit of this mystery is Salvation and Forgiveness.
This is the final Sorrowful Mystery and the fruits are apt. With his death leading us all to salvation as St. Paul says it is through the death of Jesus that leads us to life eternal. This is the turning point in Salvation History we are living in the aftermath of this as we try to build the kingdom here on earth. Forgiveness is another thing that stems from the death of Christ. As we inch closer to the end of the season of Lent if you have the chance to go to Confession by all means go and do it. Let us also take some ownership in building up the kingdom by making the world a better place.
The fruit of this mystery is Patience.
This is one of the things that we all could ask for more of. Patience is a virtue it’s also one of the fruits of the Spirit. Of all the virtues and fruits of the spirit this is the one that it would be nice if we could have more in the world. For many of us living in a world surrounded by instant gratification and doing multiple things at the same time patience can seem like a bizarre concept. Francis de Sales once wrote “Be patient with everyone but especially with yourself; I mean that you should not be troubled about your imperfections and that you should always have courage to pick yourself up afterwards.” Let us keep this in mind as we anxiously await the end of the season of Lent, and just in general.
The fruit of this mystery is Contempt of the world and Courage.
This is a rather difficult fruit for most people to comprehend Contempt of the world. We all live in the world some more so than other but it’s a constant struggle for us to forget about Worldly Concerns as we are surrounded by them constantly. Yet, looking at this fruit it’s much more about living a contemplative life. As we read in Ecclesiastes “Vanity of vanities all is vanity” this is basically saying that sure the world exists but it doesn’t really matter there are more important things to focus on. This is takes the average person great courage to turn away for the excesses and splendors of this world. If we could all take some time as we continue through this Lenten season to just take a little break from our technology put down the tablets, phones and computers and pick up a book or take to a person in real life check out your neighborhood, visit a friend. We all need to take little breaks from our regular lives and refocus.