Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Applying the Sorrowful Mysteries

The Sorrowful Mysteries

1. The Agony in the Garden

2. The Scourging at the Pilar

3. The Crowing with Thorns

4. The Carrying of the Cross

5. The Crucifixion

Yesterday I mentioned that I had two "buttons" that the enemy kept pushing. How do you know when it's the enemy? If the resulting worry, stress, or anger keeps distracting you from trusting in Jesus, you can bet there's a certain prideful angel behind it, because that's his goal. Per my spiritual directors instructions, I looked for the answers in the Sorrowful Mysteries.

The first thought I had was that the other Mysteries--the Nativity, the Visitation, Finding Jesus in the Temple, etc.-- are gifts from Jesus to us. The Sorrowful Mysteries give us a chance to give back. 

The Agony in the Garden

Can you imagine the most painful, embarrassing, or lonely moment in your life? Were you alone? Completely and utterly abandoned?  No one to email or call? 

That's what it was like for Jesus in the garden. His friends fell asleep, leaving Him to go through tortuous prayer, doubts, and fear all alone. When I contemplate this Mystery, I can be there for Him. I can keep Him company. Not only that, I can bring Him joy.

Joy seemed to be the key word. Christians are meant for joy, and when we are joyful, even in our trials, that makes Jesus happy. But as long as I'm focused on those buttons I mentioned, I'm distracted and can't give Jesus my full attention. I can't give Him the love he deserves. And if I'm worried about them, it means I haven't handed them over to Him. And He wants it all.

Columnist and author Teresa Tomeo said, "If God is your copilot, you need to change seats."  I need (and want) to do His will, not mine, and that means taking my control freak fingers off the steering wheel.

So the mystery behind the Mystery, when applied to my problems, is to approach them with joy, and that joy comes from complete trust in Him. 

The Scourging at the Pilar 

Life isn't fair. The scourging started Jesus on his path to death, as the internal injuries left Him weak and bleeding. He gave us everything, and we gave Him death. The ultimate not fair.

When I have problems in my life, I tend to look for the fairness. Why should I go through this? Why is that happening? Never mind that many trials are of my own making. It doesn't feel fair. 

And wouldn't it be more fair if I responded to bad things with anger or depression? That seems logical, until I remember that my reward isn't in this life. This is a damaged world. It seems like a big sacrifice to respond to troubles with joy. Sacrifice is never fair. 

The mystery behind this Mystery is to stop looking for fair, because it isn't there. 

The Crowning with Thorns

When the Roman soldiers crowned Jesus with thorns, they were mocking Him. Did He react with pride? Zap them into Hades? Make fun of the Son of God, will ya? BAM!  No. That's how I want to react. (It's that fairness thing again.)  

When you stand up for what's right, which isn't very popular these days, you will be mocked. It may come as gentle ribbing or outright sarcasm. It may be a passive aggressive response or plain anger. Just look in the comment sections of Christian blogs. There are some pretty horrible comments. 

Even worse, when I accept the mistakes I've made and try to fix them, there is an internal mocking from the enemy. Who are you to think you can fix this? You deserve your sadness because you really blew it. Take your medicine. OR Don't you deserve to get angry about this? Are you a wimp? 

When I see it written here, it seems so obvious, but that train of thought can be pretty damaging. 

The mystery behind this Mystery is to know that whatever my mistakes, however big I think my problems are, when I hand them over to Jesus and trust in His love and His mercy, I can move on.

Carrying the Cross

This one smacked me up the side of the head. We're going to have to do some actual work. While God could miraculously fix everything that's wrong in my life, that wouldn't be very loving. Good parents let their kids go through trials so they can learn coping skills and know that mistakes and bad things aren't the end of the world. 

When I have problems, I need to look for the solutions, and I shouldn't expect the answers to be easy. But they're doable. I just have to do them. 

There is a story about a man in a flood. He climbs to the top of his roof and prays to be rescued. Then he trusts in God. A passing canoeist offers him a ride. He declines. God will save him. Then another boat comes to him and offers to take him to safety. He declines. God will save him. Then a helicopter hovers overhead and offers him a ladder. He declines. God will save him. When it's apparent that he's going to drown, he rages against God. I trusted you! You said you would save me! And God responds, "I tried three times." The guy drowns.

The mystery behind this Mystery is that, after I hand my worries over to God and trust in Him, I'm going to have to roll up my sleeves and do some work. 

The Crucifixion

Jesus died on the cross for us. Death is usually the ultimate fear, and He took away our reason to fear death. He opened the gates of Heaven so we could be with Him forever. The Baltimore Catechism answered the question Why did God make me? with  (and I'm paraphrasing) "To know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life so I can be with Him forever in the next life." That's a pretty good reason for joy.  

It puts my problems into perspective. They are temporary. Everything that God allows in this life is to bring me closer to Him.  How can I use my problem to get closer to Him? 

If it's financial, maybe I need to reevaluate my relationship with money. Am I in difficulties because I'm too caught up in buying stuff? Am I remembering to tithe and trust? Or if it's relational, am I approaching those relationships with love? Even if it's not reciprocated? (And I don't mean stalking. Stalking's bad.)

The mystery behind this Mystery is that Jesus died on the cross and took away my reasons to fear. Problems are just part of life. Deal with them with trust in Him, dignity, and love.  That's the best I can do. 

After I went through these Mysteries, I decided to go through the Glorious, Joyful, and Luminous Mysteries with the same intention--to apply them to my problems right now. I'll post my discoveries as I go. 

I hope this encourages you to see the Rosary as a modern day prayer--not something rooted in the past, but something present, something that you can apply to what's happening in your life today. 

Try it, and then let me know how it went. 

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