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tion with God, and becomes a true feast, if God makes Himself known to us. Wise, then, are they who place themselves low down on the last seat at the beginning of their prayer.
(c) If we find ourselves discontented because we have no sensible consolation, is not this a sign that we took too high a position when we began prayer ?
(d) How came the pagan centurion to say so wisely: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter into my house? If we have abused many great graces we have more cause than this centurion had to humble ourselves exceedingly.
(e) How did St. Peter so soon, in the beginning of his training, learn to say so becomingly : Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man ?
(f) Preparing for prayer, and still more for Holy Communion, should we not make time to say attentively and earnestly and perseveringly : Whence is this to me that my Lord should come to me ? and converse with me?
2. He saith : Abba, Pater. Holy Job, when suffering desolation, said : 0 God, I cry to Thee and Thou hearest me not. I stand up, and Thou dost not regard me.
Thou art changed to be cruel towards me, and in the hardness of Thy hand Thou art against me (c. xxx.). These words give us only a faint idea of the weight of God's displeasure under which the desolate Soul of Jesus lies crushed; and yet all the while hope and confidence is unshaken. Abba, Father ! is the cry of His Heart. The firm assurance that God Who is chastising Him is His most loving Father, never wanes, never grows dim.
(a) So must we come to prayer with great hope. If any man want wisdom, let him ask : but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
(6) Prayer ought to ascend like a sweet-smelling incense. Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight (Psalm cxl.). If hope is wanting, dark smoke remains, but the fragrance is gone.
(c) Above all things God wants us to believe that He is a true Father. To the stiff-necked Jews, ever rebellious, He says: Therefore at the least from this time call to Me, Thou art my Father (Jerem. iii.)
We cannot too earnestly, or too often, cry from our hearts: Our Father, hallowed be Thy Name. May we all believe much more vividly in Thy Name of Father."
(d) And surely we ought also to find time to say: “ Lord Jesus, hallowed be Thy name of Saviour and Redeemer. May we all have grace to believe firmly that Thy Sacred Wounds cry louder than our sins.”
(e) St. Chrysostom would have the poor sinner say to God, “My Father, I have cast away all the feelings of a son; but Thou canst not cast away the thoughts of a Father".
3. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou.
This word is omnipotent in prayer. When from our hearts we wish God's will to be done rather than ours, we fill Him with a grateful and intense desire to do our will if it may be.
(a) We take delight in the Lord when we make such a prayer lovingly: and His promise is, Take delight in the Lord and He will give thee the requests of thy heart. Commit thy way to the Lord, and trust in Him, and He will do it (Psalm xxxvi.).
4. And being in an agony, He prayed the longer.
In how many different ways has our Lord impressed upon us that we must persevere in prayer? Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his impor. tunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say to you : Ask, and it shall be given you : seek, and you shall find : knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh receiveth : and he that seeketh findeth ; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (St. Luke xi.).
THE STONE BY THE GROTTO.
THE THREE DISCIPLES.
OUR LORD'S FIRST VISIT TO THEM.
And He cometh to His disciples and findeth them asleep (St.
Matt. xxvi.). And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow (St. Luke xxii.).
A. Our Lord has trained His disciples to do for God what so many men do for the world, that is, to walk hard ways; to toil by day and watch by night. They are not men clothed in soft garments and feasting sumptuously every day.
The fulness of the rich, the Holy Spirit tells us, will not suffer him to sleep. But, “ Sleep is sweet to the labouring man”. These disciples are men of labour, who are weary at night and ready for sleep. But now, moreover, weariness of soul is added to fatigue of body. He found them sleeping for sorrow. For nature is glad to forget her troubles for a while in sleep, and awakes with a heavy heart when a day of sorrow is coming.
B. When He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples.
Contemplate our Blessed Saviour interrupting His earnest prayer, raising up His wasted and weary Body slowly and with difficulty from the ground. Follow Him in spirit as He walks feebly and with uncertain steps up the incline to the mouth of the Grotto, and then up the steep, rough path towards the stony bed where His disciples are sleeping. Pale, very pale, is His sacred face. His aspect is hidden. The grace and beauty that was there till now is hidden under haggard disfigurement. We wonder as we watch Him making this effort when so exhausted.
Alas! how often has a small measure of fatigue hindered us from going to converse with God in prayer, or to do
some work for Him! But weariness does not hinder God from coming to man to care for him.
C. He rose up from prayer.
We are surprised, too, to see Him break off His prayer—such a prayer, on which so much depends, and at such an hour, too, when help from Heaven is so sorely needed.
But does He interrupt His prayer ? How can He, if He teaches us to pray always ?
But even if He did, what wonder were it that He Who has come out from the bosom of His Father to be with men, breaks off converse with His Father to go to men, to take care of His weak disciples, as a mother would rise at night to nurse her sick child !
D. He cometh to His disciples.
An hour ago ! Oh, what an hour! For them it has been a short hour. But for Him, which of us can measure the long minutes of that hour ? St. Peter tells us what was revealed to him concerning time. Of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years. The sorrows, the sadness, the heaviness of heart, the desolation of many generations to come have been crowded into that hour in the Grotto. He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him (Isaias liii.).
And as, a few days ago, He came to the fig-tree, hoping, as it were, against hope, in His extreme exhaustion, to find a little refreshment there, so now He comes, bowed down with sorrow, carrying upon Him the sins of the world, and hoping against hope to find a little solace from the compassion of His chosen disciples; and oh, how grateful would He be to those beloved ones if He had found them watching and remembering Him! Contemplate Him as He stands looking down on the sleepers, His sensitive Heart feeling most keenly His disappointment. For weeping He hath wept in the night, and His tears are on His cheeks; there is none to comfort Him among all that were dear to Him (Lament. i.).
E. He found them sleeping.
Disappointed He is, but not angry. When all shall be ended, He shall judge these three disciples, and He will not remember that they slept during His trouble; He will only remember that they remained with Him in His temptation, and that, if they slept, it was through sorrow caused by following Him.
STATION II. And He saith to Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? What, couldst
thou not watch one hour with Me? (St. Matt. xxvi. ; St. Mark xiv.).
A. Simon, sleepest thou ? “ Hast thou forgotten how one hour ago thy love was so strong that thou couldst go to prison with Me and thou couldst die with Me? Canst thou, then, even now sleep, during My Agony, when My need is so great ? ”
B. Simon, sleepest thou ?
“ After My warning that Satan is desiring to riddle thee, canst thou sleep quietly in presence of such an adversary?”
C. Simon, sleepest thou?
“ After thou hast heard from My lips that thou shalt be scandalised in Me this night? When all our close intimacy and loving friendship is about to be shaken, and dashed to pieces, canst thou sleep so deep a sleep?”
D. Simon, sleepest thou ?
“ Hadst thou no ears to hear when I said to thee once and again : This night before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice ?
“ After such a foretelling, was there no need of thought and prayer to avert such ruin? Was there nothing to do but to sleep?"
All this and more our Saviour might with justice have