Dictionaries define agony as extreme mental or physical suffering, struggle and to agonize is to writhe in anguish, to wrestle.
In the Garden, more than any human being ever in history, past, present, future, Jesus embraced all aspects of agony and anguish, taking upon Himself the greatest portion of all agony/anguish any human being ever has, or will, endure – indeed taking it on for each of us as an individual and for all humanity collectively.
Therefore when we are in the seemingly bottomless abyss of agony we should know that we are not alone.
However most of us have experienced, at some point in our lives, such immense agony that the cacophony of our raw emotions screaming their apparently never to end pain deafens the ears of our hearts.
At such times because hyena that he is, preying on the wounded and weakened by agony, the evil one adds his own howl of despair so that noise engulfs us, a noise of helplessness– sometimes to the very edge of the abyss.
When that happens, when agony morphs into depression/despair, when the person has become so overwhelmed with anguish the necessary strength to wrestle with demons seems to have evaporated, either they suffer a complete breakdown or worse, seeking to end the pain, take their own lives.
In my experience as chaplain in hospitals with psychiatric wards, listening to people suffering depression and those who had attempted suicide I was struck by a common denominator: a profound desire to no longer be in anguish, to end the pain of the agony.
I have never met anyone who wanted to stop living.
I met people who simply no longer wanted to hurt.
Yesterday through the night, and today, I have spent in prayer for the soul of yet another priest who took his own life, supposing thereby that his agony would be over.
Had I written yesterday these pages would have been filled with fury directed towards the unknown bishop[s] who abandoned him, the unknown persons who, for whatever reason, failed to see how much pain the priest was in.
There is another type of agony/anguish described by the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, and so while begging prayer for the souls of all priests who commit suicide, for healing for all priests in despair, and for an end to all forms of abuse and the healing of the victims, I end with these words from Catherine, for how urgently must we call cry out so none believe they are alone or without hope:
“There is an agony that cannot be told in writing or in words. It is the agony of soul and heart of a person in love with God, one who stands at the corner of streets and thoroughfares, in big cities and little towns, begging, imploring, cajoling, crying out: ‘Listen to me! Listen to the words that come through my heart. They are not my words. They are the words of God. He wants to be loved. He came into this world to redeem it, to make us love one another. He died on the cross out of love for us.’” [cf. Urodivoi – 3rd edition, p. 23 – Madonna House Publications]