Catholics/agony in the garden


Father, the Catholic Church teaches that we should look for Jesus as our role model. Jesus experienced the agony in the garden of Gethsemane. There are many of us people who want friendship. How can the agnony in the garden help us with friendship?

The agony in the garden helps us with friendship because the agony in the garden reveals what real friendship is: a willingness to accept suffering for the sake of the other; a willingness to accept pain and discomfort to make the life of someone else better.  

The agony in the garden also reveals what true love is: a willingness to accept pain and death so that another can have life----and this other does not deserve what you are doing for them--NOR do they CARE!  

In short--it is love to suffer and die for someone you love and who loves you.  A husband who dies protecting his family or a mother who dies so her child can live--these are all examples of love.  HOWEVER an even more powerful love--a Divine love which is revealed in Christ is a willingness to suffer and die so that your ENEMY CAN HAVE LIFE.  

This is why the garden and the whole passion of Christ is so important in Catholicism.  It reveals the true nature of God.  God's love is so powerful that God does not only associate himself and love those who love him, but he most especially loves His enemies and suffers and dies for them.

Why does God love His enemies and teach us to do so?  Because that is the only way to transform our enemy into our friend.  God loves His enemies so he can turn them into His friend. He enters into suffering to accomplish this.  

In answer to your question then, the agony in the garden helps us with friendship because it reveals not only what it means to be someone's friend--but it reveals what it means to truly love as God loves.  God not only loves those who are his friends, but he loves, suffers and dies for His enemies as well.  

Once I was talking to a friend and cohort in ministry.  We were talking about helping the poor. I was lamenting the American entitlement mentality and how I believe that the way some people promote Catholic Social Teaching seems to feed into the entitlement mentality and encourage it.

He told me--ANYONE can help the poor who deserve to be helped.  Only Christians can help people who do not appreciate what has been done for them, expect you to help them, never thank you for the help you gave, then come back and ask for more help!
Now, I am not saying I am always a model priest when it comes to aiding those with entitlement mentalities. My friend and cohort in ministry is correct however. It makes me think twice about how I respond to someone who shows up at the rectory door and treats me as though they are giving ME a GIFT in permitting me to deign to give them some kind of assistance!

THAT is what the garden and in fact the whole passion of Christ reveals--and again why Catholics focus so much on it.

It is through the passion and in particular the cross that life has come to the world.  Thus it should come as no surprise that the Catholic Church holds that up as a model of Christian living.  


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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