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Agony and Absence in the Garden of Gethsemane

It has been my privilege to have made two memorable visits to the Holy Land. Each visit, each place I went, left its mark on my faith, but in both cases, the greatest impact and spiritual intensity came during visits to the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. During my first visit with a group of priests, we spent a holy hour of prayer inside the Church of All Nations. There, before the altar, is the rock on which Jesus fell and endured his agony in the garden on the night before he died. There, according to the Gospels, the Lord asked his closest friends to pray with him as his soul became “sorrowful unto death” (Matt. 26:38). It was here that Jesus experienced that terrible loneliness and the anguish of the human condition. These were my thoughts during that holy hour. My second encounter with Gethsemane was in the company…

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