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Facing Our Own Gethsemane
By Susan Hines-Brigger


Easter People
Facing Your Own Issues
For Teens: Let It Out
For Kids: Make Your Own Cross

Three years ago I began my own “Agony in the Garden.” It began when my doctor said the words “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, I have known fear, doubt, sadness and sometimes peace.

Three years later I’m still in that garden. Some days I staunchly pronounce, “Your will be done.” Others I beg “that this cup pass without my drinking it.” Most days I’m somewhere in the middle.

As a lifelong Catholic, I’ve always been well aware of Jesus’ Agony in the Garden. I have heard it proclaimed each year during Holy Week. I have studied it during 16 years of Catholic education. But I never really “got” it until I was there myself.

But I get it now when Jesus wonders how the disciples can sleep when he’s being weighed down by such a heavy burden. And I know what it’s like to have those surrounding you lash out in helplessness, denial or anger against what is oppressing you—just like Peter and the disciple who struck the high priest’s servant (Luke 22:50-62).


Easter People

At some point in our lives we will all experience our own personal Gethsemane. It might be an illness, a troubled relationship, a death, personal problem or some other difficult situation in our lives. The key, however, is how we face this struggle. Granted, none of us will be faced with a situation quite like that of Christ. But we can look at his situation as an example of how to face our own troubles.

And this means that, just as we do every Easter season, it is important for us to look toward the Resurrection and the hope that it brings. We are, after all, an Easter people.

Facing Your Own Issues

This month, as we remember Christ’s crucifixion and rejoice in his resurrection, make an effort to confront your own personal Holy Week and find ways to rejoice in your Easter moments.

Recognize your own Gethsemane issues. We all have our own agonies in the garden with which we struggle. There are those things we encounter that we would much rather not face. What are those issues for you? How are you dealing with them? Do you need someone’s help to deal with those issues? ¦

Share your story. The thing that has helped me most is talking to other people who are going through the same thing. I have also taken comfort in sharing my experience.

Get it out. If you’re struggling with a particular problem, write down what that problem is and all the ways you can face it. Sometimes getting it out and down on paper can be very therapeutic. If you’re still having trouble, talk to someone. It could be a spouse, friend, sister or brother or your parish priest. Or ask your doctor to recommend someone for you to talk with.

Rejoice in the Resurrection. Keep reminding yourself that, despite the horror of Christ’s crucifixion, it was followed by his Resurrection. Keep your eyes on the prize. Look for the hope in your own life and situations. And rejoice in those resurrection moments, be they a positive medical report, an unexpected opportunity or a sense of peace and acceptance of a certain situation.

Stick with it. There’s a reason why we celebrate Easter every year. It serves as a constant reminder for us. Therefore, realize that many struggles are ongoing. As I said before, three years later I’m still struggling to come to peace with my situation. The key is to have hope. And that is always possible. Jesus showed us how.

Next Month: Show Off Your Faith


For Teens: Let It Out

One of my favorite recent commercials is the Kleenex commercial where a big blue couch is placed in a very public place and people are invited to sit down and talk about their joys, anger, frustrations, sadnesses, etc. Of course, most of the time people end up needing Kleenex.

The point of the ad campaign, though, which is continuing on the Web at, is that people shouldn’t keep things locked up inside. They should get them out by talking—and sometimes crying. That’s a very good message.

When I was in high school, I was part of a peer counseling group. Our sole purpose was to serve as a listening ear to those who needed to talk. For more serious matters, like depression, we were trained to alert qualified adults who could handle the situation. But most of the time, all that people wanted was someone to listen and allow them to “vent.” So make an effort to be a listening ear for your friends and others so they can “let it out,” like the Kleenex commercial suggests. You might even want to suggest to someone at your school or parish to start a peer counseling group. Or you can help plan a retreat for your parish’s youth group, focusing on issues with which participants are struggling.

For Kids: Make Your Own Cross

One of the most prominent symbols of our faith, especially at this time of year, is the cross. You probably see them all over at your church and maybe even in your home. Have you noticed that some crosses are plain and others have Jesus on them? Those are called crucifixes. Try making yourself a cross for this Easter season—and the whole year.

Take two popsicle sticks, tongue depressors or sticks from your yard and glue them together in the shape of the cross. (You might want to ask an adult to use a hot glue gun.) Insert your cross into a piece of foam so that it can stand. You can then decorate your cross however you choose, such as surrounding its base with rocks or gluing moss on the foam. You might even ask your mom or grandma if they have any purple, black or white fabric. Cut it in strips and place it on the cross at the appropriate times during Holy Week. For instance, on Good Friday you can drape the black fabric on the cross, only to be replaced by the white on Easter Sunday.

Even after Easter is over, you will have your own special cross to place in your home or room.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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