16 June 2009

The Sweat of Blood

Dom Antonio de Molina is the next author of the continuing reflections on the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the Carthusian Order. He was a Carthusian of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and Prior of the monastery at Miraflores. He first was a Superior for the Order of Augustinian Hermits in Spain where he taught theology. He joined the Carthusians to fulfill a desire for a stricter observance of ascetical discipline. He wrote in the Spanish language and authored a few works on ascetics designed especially for priests. His best known work is titled: “Instruccion de Sacerdotes, en que se dá doctrina muy importante para conocer la alteza del sagrado oficio Sacerdotal, y para exercitarle debidamente.” Here is his Sacred Heart reflection:

His sweat became as drops of blood. (Saint Luke 22:44)

Consider how our Lord in His agony gives us a proof of His having taken our human nature. He Who but lately consoled His disciples and concealed from them His own sadness, is now so forsaken and deprived of all aid, that He reveals His sorrows to the Apostles. He comes to them for consolation, and asks for their assistance, saying: "Stay you here, and watch with Me" (Saint Matthew 26:38). The Heart of Jesus was certainly weighed down by excessive anguish when He pronounced these words, and as this suffering of His Heart was all within, and was not apparent, He wished to make it known to us. Indeed, it was not fitting that so great a sorrow, and one so worthy of our gratitude, should remain unknown. For the same reason, when hanging on the Cross, He cried out: "I thirst" (Saint John 19:28), thus manifesting the kind of suffering He endured, which we could learn only from His own Lips. Understand then how bitter were the pangs that tortured the Heart of Jesus!

Our Lord received consolation when the Angel appeared to Him, but seeing that His Passion was irrevocably determined, the anguish of His Soul was so acute that He suffered a deadly agony, and drops of Blood issued in abundance from His whole Body, that they wetted the ground. Contemplate with loving and sincere compassion your most amiable Redeemer, plunged into such sorrow, the deep sighs heaving from His Breast. But what of His most afflicted Soul while from His feeble and tender Body this extraordinary sweat poured out? His Heart was cruelly strained between the weight of natural fear of the torments of His Passion, and the desire to accomplish His Father's will, and thus to procure the salvation of men. The will and superior part of the soul did great violence to the sensitive part, so that it might be wholly conformed to the divine will, and say: "Non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat -- Not My will, but Yours be done" (Saint Luke 22:42). All this so oppressed the Heart of Jesus that every pore opened and the Blood gushed out. In time of great suffering, the blood is concentrated in the heart in order to strengthen the principal member -- hence the exterior parts of the body become pale -- but in this exceptional case, strength of mind so forcibly overcame natural weakness that it refused this aid, and sent back the Blood to the outside as a sign of its readiness to be spilt without waiting for the hand of the executioner to shed it by force. In this way, the most perfect charity of Jesus Christ and His will were the executioners that tortured His most holy Body, even to the shedding of His Blood.

This extraordinary agony and sweat of Blood were also caused by the clear and distinct knowledge our Lord then had of all the sins of the world, past, present, and future. He had taken upon Himself to answer for us before the Eternal Father, and to expiate our sins in our stead; God then showed them all to Him distinctly and separately, and put their load on the shoulders of our most innocent Redeemer. The weight of this burden made Him sweat Blood from His whole Body.

Let us observe, by the way, that the Saints tell us that mortal sin is so horrible and such an insult to the Divine Majesty, that if a man could understand the enormity of those of which he is guilty, he would be unable to bear the pain he would feel. He would either break his heart with grief, or lose his reason. Now, our Lord, seeing and knowing the sins of all men, and knowing the depth of their hideousness, felt as great sorrow as if He had really committed them. It was then a miracle that His Heart did not break. He preserved His life to be able to suffer all that He still had to endure in His Passion. Nevertheless He wept bitterly. From His Eyes and His whole Body He shed tears of Blood, and consumed with zeal for God's honor, instead of tearing His clothes like the Jews when they heard blasphemy, He rent His whole Body, and poured out His Blood on all sides.