Agony in the garden: Obedience by Cassandra Poppe

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“We offer Thee, O Lord Jesus, this sixth decade in honor of Thy mortal Agony in the Garden of Olives, and we ask of Thee, through this Mystery and through the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, perfect sorrow for our sins and the virtue of perfect obedience to Thy Holy Will.”

Our hearts have already turned to Him in perfect sorrow for our sins.  With so much to atone for, we now look to Our Lord to show us how to keep from falling again.  Jesus, knowing what was about to happen, goes to the garden to pray.  “… when He was gone forward a little, He fell flat on the ground; and He prayed, that if it might be, the hour might pass from Him.  And He said: ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.’ ”  (Mark 14:35-36)

Taunted with visions of the souls who would refuse His teachings and sacrifice, and of the horrific events about to take place, Jesus cried out to the Father to relieve Him of His burden.  Yet in the same breath He bowed in total obedience to God’s will.

And as Jesus submitted to the Father’s holy will, God received from Jesus what He also desires most from us: complete abandonment and obedience out of love – a complete gift of self.

St. Gregory confirms this is the greatest gift we can give to God.  “By the other virtues we give to God what belongs to us; by obedience we give Him ourselves.”  While giving up material goods and comforts for the love of Him may be holy and good, making an offering of our very wills pleases Him most.  He has given us free will to choose for ourselves whom we will serve and ultimately die for.

How pleasing it must be to Him when His love is returned through obedience!  Yet this very virtue is often scoffed at in this world, viewed as a sign of weakness and only for the simple minded.

Before you yourself might be tempted to write obedience off as a lesser virtue, lets take a closer look at the power behind the human will.

All that we do throughout a regular day is subject to our will.  Our wills determine everything, from what we have for breakfast to whether we pray before bed or not.  It is the driving force behind our parenting styles, our work habits when no one is looking, and how we treat others around us.  Our will determines each decision we make, whether we will serve God or self in everything we choose to do or leave undone.

And don’t think that our prayers and penances are free from this scrutiny.  Those who perform pious acts for the sake of their own spiritual satisfaction are not heeding God’s call, whereas those who perform their daily duties within their given vocations are worthy of heavenly praise.

St. Alphonsus Liguori says, ” An apparent good work, but one not in accordance with the rule, is not acceptable to God, and is only an obstacle to our striving after perfection.”  A truly obedient heart would never choose to perform extra prayers and penances if the pious acts cause him to neglect his daily duties.

Obedient hearts also look to those whom Our Lord has placed in authority above them and obey their superiors.  Be it a parent, a boss or a spiritual director, as long as we are under that person’s authority, we are to obey all lawful commands made of us in a prompt and cheerful manner, as though it were Christ Himself making the request.  “Obey, not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing to men, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”  (Eph 6:6)

Be assured, this is the best way of knowing you are doing His will, for He Himself has said to those in charge of others, “He who heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.”  (Luke 10:16).

Pray the Agony in the Garden for an obedient heart, placed securely in the hands of those in authority over you.  Pray that any rebellion you may harbor in your heart be set free and replaced with the humility and meekness required to make your obedience sincere.  And pray for the strength to relinquish your will, for it is a powerful foe, capable of driving you far from God if you cater to it, or delivering you to Heaven’s gate if only you learn to let it go.

“Grace of Our Lord’s Agony, come down into my soul and make me truly contrite and perfectly obedient to Thy Will.”

Copyright 2010 Cassandra Poppe

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