Friday, April 3, 2015

Spirituality: “The Agony in the Garden” By Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

Suddenly, I was consoled by thoughts of our Lord and his agony in the garden. “Father,” he had said, “if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me.” In the Garden of Olives, he too knew the feeling of fear and weakness in his human nature as he faced suffering and death. Not once but three times did he ask to have his ordeal removed or somehow modified. Yet each time he concluded with an act of total abandonment and submission to the Father’s will. “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” It was not just conformity to the will of God; it was total self-surrender, a stripping away of all human fears, of all doubts about his own abilities to withstand the passion, of every last shred of self-including self-doubt.

What a wonderful treasure and source of strength and consolation our Lord’s agony in the garden became for me from that moment on. I saw clearly exactly what I must do. I can only call it a conversion experience, and I can only tell you frankly that my life was changed from that moment on. If my moment of despair had been a moment of total blackness, then this was an experience of blinding light. I knew immediately what I must do, what I would do, and somehow I knew that I could do it. I knew that I must abandon myself entirely to the will of the Father and live from now on in this spirit of self-abandonment to God. And I did it. I can only describe the experience as a sense of “letting go,” giving over totally my last effort or even any will to guide the reins of my own life. It is all too simply said, yet that one decision has affected every subsequent moment of my life. I have to call it a conversion.