agony in the Garden.

I had a friend in college who practically dreaded Tuesdays and Fridays because praying through the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary was a depressing and trying experience for him. I, for one, find so much comfort in them that I actually look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays.

Recently, when I am praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, I’m struck by the agony in the garden – so much so that I find myself meditating on that particular mystery throughout the rest of the rosary. There is so much comfort in uniting my struggles to Jesus’ as He prayed and struggled in the garden of Gethsemane.

On the first day of the year (a Tuesday!) I decided to offer up my rosary that day for my future husband, and once again I was struck by the poignancy of the agony in the garden, but in a new way. As Jesus prayed in the garden, I imagine He struggled with so much – what God was calling Him to, the fact that His friends fell asleep on Him, and to some degree, the notion that God had forgotten about Him. “Let this cup pass…” sounds to me like a pleading, “Are you there, God? Can you hear me?” Isn’t that how the single life can be? We find ourselves asking, “Let this cup pass from me…” or “What is my vocation?” or even, “Will you just send him to me already?!” We feel perhaps like our friends have fallen asleep, our future spouse has fallen asleep on their journey to find us, and we feel like God has forgotten about us. Is He even hearing our prayers?

Our struggles with the single life are no less real than Jesus’ agony in the garden. All hope may have seemed to vanish in that garden. Could Jesus hear the snores of His friends? Were their snores like mocking? As He prayed with such fervor that His sweat was like drops of blood, did He feel abandoned? Did He fear that God had gone silent? Did He fear the soldiers coming to arrest Him? Did He want to throw the gauntlet down, regardless of whether or not the Father said that the cup could pass?

Do we see the happiness of our married friends? Are their smiles and joys mocking us? Do we feel like our prayers are falling on deaf ears? Do we feel abandoned? Do we feel like the single life is taking us over and we are doomed to the single life forever? Do we want to throw our cup down and seek satisfaction and fulfillment elsewhere?

The Agony in the Garden, c.1590, Ludovico Carracci

The Agony in the Garden, c.1590, Ludovico Carracci

Our struggles and Jesus’ agony are so similar. Even in the agony there is hope. Jesus, burdened with the sacrifice that loomed before Him, was strengthened when the angel appeared from Heaven. Do we always see an angel in our struggles? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, strengthening us in our own agony in the garden. Jesus’ cup did not pass, but as we know, from His great suffering came great hope – a hope we are invited to cling to, even in the darkest hours of our deepest agonies in the garden.

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