I've been Catholic for the entirety of my 26 years of life - and yet, Mother Church is so rich to the point that I will never be able to fully comprehend nor appreciate the vast beauty and truth that lies within Her.
Drake and I were at daily mass last week, and, in preparation for the Triduum, I tried to pay more careful attention (as much attention as I could muster with two small children). I found myself completely in awe of one small part of the Eucharistic prayer. Never before had this struck me in such a profound way -- "Before He was given up to death, a death He freely accepted, He took bread and gave You thanks."
I was honestly so taken aback that I focused on this phrase alone for the duration of mass and for days thereafter. I don't claim to be a theologian by any means, nor do I ever do an adequate job of describing just how deeply and beautifully the Lord speaks to me and touches my inmost being. But one especially obvious blessing for me during the latter half of the Lenten liturgical season was inspiration drawn from the agony in the garden in combination with this part of Eucharistic Prayer II.
Death can be such an intimidating event - most of us are frightened, intimidated, downright terrified at the thought of losing our own lives. But the Lord implores us to lay down our lives for the sake of others and gave us the most poignant example of death to self. He has conquered death! Alleluia!
But, how willing was He to do this?
It honestly gives me a great deal of comfort that Jesus wasn't jumping up and down in a tizzy to undergo all that Calvary would have in store for Him. I'm gladdened by the fact that He didn't give his Father a wink and a big thumbs up when God asked Him to endure the greatest physical pain known to humankind. And I'm happy, perhaps in a selfish way, that Christ actually did plead with God to "let this cup pass from Me." I can't help but think about the infinite number of times that I beg and plead with God to take away circumstances in my life that I know are sure to bring suffering. It's a bit embarrassing how often I desire to do away with anything that's going to bring me discomfort (physical, mental, emotional, you name it). I'm a big wimp. But I'm a wimp who loves the Lord. That's gotta count for something, right?
I'm inspired by the fact that Jesus did not allow his human desires to take precedence over what the Father asked of Him. It almost seems to me as if Jesus wanted to be absolutely sure that God was truly asking Him to suffer and DIE for the sins committed by the human race. It's not called the agony in the garden for nothing. Jesus was truly distraught over the idea, but ultimately desired to do the will of His Father. That took precedence over everything, and, in our "my-own-comfort-first" society today, suffering is seen as negative and something that should be eradicated, done away with, and all together avoided whenever possible. Saying, "yes" to something that would likely bring about some type of suffering (or lots of types of suffering) is counter-cultural at best.
But Jesus freely accepted His death - freely accepted it!
And so, I'm called (and you, too, but that's beside the point) to take up my own crosses. I'm asked to trust in the Lord so completely that I would do anything to show my love for Him. I'm asked to accept the pain and suffering that I encounter in this life. Why? Because the Lord knows my heart and desires that I draw closer to Him with each passing moment. And He knows that the crosses chosen specifically for me are the ones that will lead directly to greater sanctification of myself and consequently my family and those with whom I interact. Seems that I can learn a thing or two (or two thousand) from the Lord's example of faithfulness to His Father's will.