Jesus Prays in the Garden
Spiritual Fruit: God’s Will Be Done
It can often be tempting to assume, when one hears a story of an individual who has performed an act of heroic virtue, that the individual in question was somehow immune to the fear and human weakness that makes such actions so rare. Perhaps some people are simply different — and if that is the case, perhaps we might not even be capable of the same sort of heroism.
Meditating on Jesus’ Agony in the Garden can serve as a powerful corrective to this kind of thinking. Our Lord himself — fully human yet fully divine — suffered from the same sorts of fear and human weakness that we face even before He was subjected to any physical mistreatment. Jesus’ agony was so great, in fact, that he sweat drops of blood.
And yet, in spite of that unimaginable agony, in spite of His desperate desire for the cup of suffering to pass from Him, Jesus’ ultimate prayer was one of submission to His Father’s will — “Thy will be done.”
As members of the Legion of Mary, we seek to imitate Jesus in offering this prayer, no matter how difficult it may be. We understand that the works we undertake can sometimes be difficult and discouraging, but we continue to persevere knowing that what truly matters is that God’s will be done in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Jesus Is Scourged at the Pillar
Spiritual Fruit: Purity
The connection between purity and the vicious Roman scourging endured by Our Lord might not seem immediately obvious. One may, perhaps, consider that corrective lashes have sometimes been used to punish sins of impurity… and yet, a Roman scourging had a very different purpose.
The scourge used on Jesus was an instrument of torture, not of correction. It consisted of heavy metal pieces on the end of leather thongs, wickedly designed to tear flesh and break bone. How could such cruelty — committed against an innocent, no less! — possibly be necessary to satisfy for sins of the flesh?
As members of the Legion of Mary, we understand that it is still the innocent who suffer most from sins of impurity. Through our pro-life ministry, we seek to create a world in which the flesh of the innocent is no longer torn by those seeking to satisfy the desires of their own flesh without consequence.
Jesus is Crowned with Thorns
Spiritual Fruit: Reign of Christ in Our Hearts
Jesus’ crowning with thorns was one of the great ironies of His life. The Roman soldiers who wove the crown intended it as a painful mockery of a pretender to an earthly throne, and yet it became a symbol of the self-sacrificial kingship of God.
Even today, the world often responds to the love of God with mockery. The image of Jesus crowned with thorns reminds us, however, that Jesus remains King even in the midst of humiliation.
As members of the Legion of Mary, we seek to promote the reign of Christ in the hearts of the faithful through Sacred Heart enthronements. The image of the Sacred Heart bears a special relationship to the crowning with thorns, as it reflects the sacrificial kingship of Jesus through the presence of the crown of thorns itself. By enthroning it in our houses, we remind ourselves that Jesus truly is the king of our own hearts, regardless of the mockery of the world.
Jesus Carries His Cross
Spiritual Fruit: Patient Bearing of Trials
Even before His Passion, Jesus taught His disciples that they needed to take up their crosses and follow him. The burdens we are tasked with bearing on a daily basis often seem like heavy crosses to bear. Meditation on Jesus’ carrying of His own Cross, however, can help to put the weight of our daily crosses in perspective.
Already weak from beatings and from a scourging, Jesus was forced to carry a heavy wooden cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha. The weight of this cross, in fact, was so overwhelming that it caused Him to fall three times and eventually grew too heavy for him to bear alone. Even the Son of God sought help from Simon of Cyrene in carrying His Cross.
As members of the Legion of Mary, we seek to be Simon of Cyrene to those who are struggling to carry crosses of their own. We bring Jesus to those who are suffering through prayers in hopes that His love and the hope of Eternal Life will lighten their burdens. Every time we visit the residents of a nursing home or bring supplies to those who are homebound, we enter into the trials of others to help them bear those trials more patiently.
Jesus Dies on the Cross
Spiritual Fruit: Pardoning of Injuries
It is hard to imagine any crime less deserving of forgiveness than the Crucifixion of Jesus. Not only was Jesus truly innocent of the crime for which He was executed, the method of His execution was almost unimaginably cruel. His hands and His feet were pierced with thick iron nails, and he was suspended above the ground so His entire weight would need to be supported by them. Even breathing would have been excruciating, as He would have to drag His back across splintered wood to lift Himself into a position where breathing would be possible.
And yet, in His last moments, Jesus used what little breath He had to pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There is even a tradition in which the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus’ heart to confirm His death was healed by the blood which flowed from Jesus’ side.
As members of the Legion of Mary, we seek to offer the forgiveness of God to those around us, both through general evangelization and through the work we do with those who are considering abortion and may have previously procured an abortion. We also seek to live the forgiveness of God in our own lives and in our relationships with our fellow Legionaries.