The Fourth meditation of the First Prayer Of ChristAnd going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Mt.xxvi.
Consider first the ceremony which Christ used in this prayer: For he knelled down on the ground, as one guilty of death for thy sins; he fell down upon the earth, prostrating himself, to be sacrificed for thy salvation, & representing whose person e had now taken upon him) the most abject estate of sinners, who as they are unworthy to look up to Heaven, so laying upon the earth with the weight of their sins, they are worthy to be trodden & trampled upon by all men.
Consider secondly his wonderful affection in this prayer, and the force of every word, (My Father) that is, I am thy Son, that must suffer most bitter pains for most wild men: O father, wilt thou not spare me thy only begotten Son? (If it may be) he understandeth that saving Gods justice, there was no redeeming of man-kind, but only by the death of the son of God.
Consider here in thy mind the love of God, who spared not his own Son, that he might spare thee. (Let pass from me) This prayer was to escape so cruel a kind of death. Yet in these words there lyeth hidden some secret meaning, as if he should say, I would not that this affliction should remain in me, but that the fruit thereof may pass unto all Christians: I will drink, and they shall be satisfied: (This Cup) he calleth his passion a cup, as that which containeth the cause of all our joy. And even as those torments made Christ as it were drunk with the greatness of his love, so all just men are made drunk with the heat of the love of God through the mediation an merit of the passion of Christ.
In this place we may call to mind the qualities of excellent wine, when men drink plentifully thereof: for by wine the inward parts of man are warmed, it maketh men merry, it causeth sleep, it lifteth up the heart, it maketh men eloquent, & it is drunk with ease and pleasure.
Apply all these things to the passion of our Lord, which Christ began with great charity, sustained with cheerfulness, & as one besides himself became foolish to the Gentiles, & scandal to the Jews, and so his charity was not only diminished by his pains (as in men it often happeneth) but rather inflamed, even as stones by rubbing was hot: And to be brief, our Lord was laid asleep in death. If thou, when suffereth any thing for Christs sake, doth feel the like affections in thy self: be thou assured that the passion of Christ shall bring much profit unto thee.
Consider thirdly the forsaking his own will in so hard a case, and offer thyself ready for all things, and desire of God to grant thee a will indifferent in all occasions.
And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? Mk.xiv.
Consider first: Christ was troubled, & his disciples slept, the Church suffereth, and we grieve not thereat. Thou also how slack art thou often times in the service of God, & how earnest in thy private business.
Consider secondly that after a short prayer, our Lord sod presently up, as if for grief of mind he could not stay long in one place, desirous to have some comfort , sometimes of his Father, and sometimes from his disciples. Every word spoken unto Peter hath force: (Simon) he saith not, Peter, which new name signifieth constancy, but Simon, his auntient name: So in every Christian may be found a new name of the sons of God, with which being endued they sin not; and a name of nature, by which they are accounted frail men, and subject to many vices. ( Dost thou sleep?) Peter is reprehended, not for any great fault, but because he slept: and believe thou, that God valueth much the least faults, which thou dost commit. (Couldest thou not?) he teacheth us to labor, & be diligent in doing good works though they be hard, seeing that temptations, infirmity of nature, and such like, which we pretend for excuses, shall not excuse us. (One hour) he toucheth the shortness of time, wherein we must labor: And where he saith (watch) he sheweth the easiness of the service of God, in which is only required of thee, that thou shalt watch, that is, that thou best watchful in all thy actions, to wit, that in all thy senses thou best careful, and watchful, lest the Devil creep into thy mind: (with me) that is, not alone, but having me for thy guide.
Here examine thy conscience what hetherto thou hast done for Christ, and what labors thou hast taken for the world, and now at the lest refer all things to the glory of God, which thou dost for the world, and pray him that he will be thy guide in thy spiritual warfare.
Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak Mk.xxiv.
Consider first the sharp reprehension of the disciples after the admonition of Peter: for thou shalt not therefore be excused, because thou dost offend in imitation of the Superior.
Consider secondly that thou must watch & pray, for except thou dost work with God, and God with thee, thou shalt do nothing.
Consider thirdly what that spirit is which is said to be ready, and how the flesh is weak; First the spirit, that is the will of a good man is ready, and doth often apprehend very notable things. Secondly, the holy Spirit is prompt and ready, but men being allured by the pleasures of he flesh do not always follow and obey it. Thirdly, the evil spirit is always busy and ready to hurt; but we are weak to make resistance.
These things may worthily move thee to watch and pray, for it is a matter of great moment not to be dejected in time of adversity.
Pray unto Christ to give thee not only a ready and willing desire; but also power to effect, and to grant unto the whatsoever he commandeth, and command what he will.
Fr. Francis Costerus S.J. 1616