Tuesday Adoration….what’s so bad about hell?

Jesusfalls

Getting into my car after Eucharisitc Adoration this evening, I switched on the radio and heard a man express an interesting concern:

I worry about sinning because I don’t want to go to hell, rather than because I love God. 

The good nuns who taught me in Catholic grammar school would have called this “imperfect contrition.”  Perfect contrition is when your motive for sorrow is your love for God.

But this sincere and honest man is on the path to Heaven.  God is so good and merciful that He will accept even imperfect contrition as sufficient sorrow for the forgiveness of sins.

But what about hell anyway?  I used to think of hell when I had a really bad migraine headache. My head would hurt so much that the pain alone consumed me.  I would imagine hell as something like a migraine that would never end. Often, the only thing that makes pain bearable is that we know it will eventually end, in this life anyway.

But hell never ends. Many of us have read stories from the lives of the Saints about their visions of hell as a dark, hideous place filled with a horrible stench and populated with monstrous demons who delight in torturing their victims.

But what about hell really? Can it ever be described as it truly is?  Aren’t all of our ideas about hell actually metaphors? Just as we cannot possibly imagine Heaven, neither can we really understand what hell will be like.

But one day, I forgot about the lake of fire, the demons, the stench. I forgot about all of this because I suddenly realized that even if they are real, they are the wrong things to fear.

The one truth we do know about hell is that if we go there, we will be completely separated from God, Who is all Love, Goodness, Light, Wisdom, Joy, and Beauty, revealing Himself to us in a Life united to Him in unending Beatitude.  The Beatific Vision.

This Merciful and Loving God became Man, was crucified and died for our sins, and rose again, gifting us with eternal life.  He has accompanied us throughout our lives, feeding us with His Most Precious Body and Blood, begging us to repent, giving us countless opportunities, offering us all the graces and time necessary.  He has thirsted for our love and we have so often chosen sin…. over Him.

This God Who loves us so much, will be totally absent from us in hell. He will give us what we desire.  Hell will be completely our own choice, and we will know this, and our misery will bring us to the depths of despair, but we will still refuse to love Him.

We will also clearly see that we were made only for God, to be loved by Him forever and to share in the ecstasy of His Own Divine Life.  Every cell of our being will burn to be filled with the only One Who can truly make us happy, the One Who created us for Himself… but it will be too late.

What else about hell could possibly matter? What will the burning fire be to our bodies when our souls are empty of the God they were made for? Will demons add much to our suffering when we are screaming in agony over what we ourselves have refused…the destiny for which we were created.

Yet, if we find ourselves there, we won’t repent. We won’t be sorry for our sins, only for ourselves. Once we die, we are confirmed in our sin, our rejection of God is fixed for all eternity.

Having to exist forever without God, for Whose Heart we were made, eclipses any other possible torment of hell. Whatever else there may be in that dreadful place, nothing else really matters except that He won’t be there.

But no one wants us to be in Heaven more than He does.  He died for us.  We are still breathing.  There is yet hope.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on me, a sinner.  Jesus, I trust in You!

Thou hast made us for Thyself O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. (St. Augustine)

Mary of the morning glories…..

(In tribute to the loveliest Mother of all…a favorite post from the archives.)
Happy Mother’s Day, Sweet Mary!

The above statue of Our Lady has accompanied my husband and me throughout almost our entire life together.

He surprised me with it at our first real home in Greenville, NC, three years after we were wed. He placed it on a pedestal beneath a large maple tree in the backyard. Then he planted a vine of large blue morning glories at the base of the tree. It quickly took root and wound gracefully around the trunk, creating a blanket of blue each morning behind Mary’s statue.

I loved looking out of my kitchen window, sipping my first morning cup of tea and seeing morning glories and Mary. As the day wore on, the warmth of the sun would cause the flowers to fade and by afternoon, their beauty was gone. But each morning, they returned, glorious, with the dawn.

During those happy days, I never imagined how much Mary and the morning glories would soon come to mean to me. Only a year after she took her place beneath the maple tree, I was diagnosed with the cancer which destroyed all of our dreams of having babies…an unexpected tragic end to four years of trying to conceive.

I packed a small statue of Mary to take to the hospital with me, and placed her upon the window sill where I could glance at her comforting presence. But there were no morning glories for me, and I felt that there never would be again.

Eventually, I came home, and I would sit on the backyard swing, near Mary’s tree and pray my rosary..over and over. I prayed to live, and I prayed for some relief from the unbearable pain of losing children I had never even known. And Mary listened, and the morning glories brought beauty into an otherwise barren, thirsting, aching season of my life.

We moved back to our home state in the deep South a year later. My husband could not get morning glories to grow in our sunny yard which had no mature trees. So, he placed Mary’s statue in front of the rose garden he had planted. And she reigned there for twenty years.

She smiled, I know, on the day we brought home our adopted infant son. And as he played in the yard as a little boy, I imagined Mary watching over him. When he was old enough, we sometimes had May crownings with his friends who lived next door. And when he became a teenager, I would run sobbing to the rose garden and unburden my heart to Mary…just as I had years before with the cancer. Only this time I was too distraught to even say my rosary. But I knew she understood.

Now, it is just my husband and I again, and we have moved to yet another home. As you can see, Mary’s garden is now filled with lilies and roses and other assorted flowers which change with the seasons. Right across from her statue, there is a garden bench, a place where one can sit and pray or simply enjoy the sounds of the birds and squirrels playing. Often my husband will relax there with a beer, after cutting the lawn. Sometimes, I pray my Divine Office or a rosary in this shady spot. Glancing at Mary’s statue, I feel a certain peace. She is still with us, and we have survived the many crosses which have fallen upon us since Mary of the morning glories first took her place beneath the maple tree.

Her statue reveals the toll of decades spent in the sun, wind and rain. The surface is no longer a smooth gray color, and her features have been worn down from their original loveliness. She, like my husband and me, reflects the passage of time. Yet we would never dream of replacing our precious statue with a new one. She has watched over us all these years…through all the joys and sorrows life brings. And we want her with us until the last page of our lives has been written.

The blows of life have buffeted and scarred us as well. But they have taught us to depend on God alone and to put all of our faith in Him. Gone from this life forever are those carefree morning glory days of youth …now we dream of the glory of Heaven. There we hope to see, no longer a faded statue, but our Most Beloved Mother in all of her eternal beauty….

Thank you, Mary, for accompanying us with your living presence, throughout our lifetime together. I know you have held us when we were broken with sorrow and that you have rejoiced with us in the good times. What a comfort to know that you will always be with us until that day when at last we behold Your Divine Son Jesus in Glory.

Stay near, dearest Mother, until the morning glories bloom again….forever.  I love you!

The wrappings of a soul….

wrappingsThere are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (emphasis mine)

I was in line for confession one Saturday when he entered.  He was bent at almost a 90 degree angle, slowly pushing his walker over to the the long line of waiting penitents, who quickly made space for him at the front..

His hair was snow white, and I thought he must be at least 90 years old, or close to it.  As I watched him shuffle into the reconciliation room, I marveled at such a sight.  I couldn’t help but imagine that a most beautiful soul was “wrapped up” in that very broken and frail body.  Here he was, making such a valiant effort to confess his sins.  I was humbled by this man’s act, which made him so beautiful to me, in spite of his outward appearance.

I often ponder the “wrappings” of souls.  There was a time when I simply imagined that a soul filled one’s body.  But of course, a soul is a spirit and takes up no space.  It does not have a location in the body, but in some mysterious way, inhabits it, or rather is united to it in forming one being.

God is much more interested in the soul, than in the body, and He has many ways of wrapping up these precious souls which bear His Own Image and Likeness.

We, more often than not, first look at the wrapping.  Some souls are wrapped beautifully, but others are plain or even revolting.  The worldly quickly fall in love with the beautiful wrappings while often ignoring what lies beneath.

Every person we see is a mystery, a gift, an immortal being.  Each one is so loved by God that He thirsts for them as if their were no others.  Jesus would have died for only you….or me.  If we want to measure the worth of a soul, we need only to look at a crucifix.

I love the quote above by C.S. Lewis.  I am delighted to look around a crowd of people and realize that I am among immortal beings infinitely loved by God.  I do not know who is the greater or the lesser in His eyes.  The wrappings don’t tell.  I only know that I am called to love and cherish each one of them, because He loves them so.

It is a terrible thing to hurt another human being:  to inflict the pain of a cruel remark, to ignore them, reject them, take them for granted.  The world is full of wounded people because we can be so careless, so mean.  As Lewis says above, these are “possible gods and goddesses.”  And it is so true.  They are already the children of God, so beloved by Him.

I confess that it helps me to love others when I see them in this light.  I am moved to respect them more when I realize that they are indeed immortal beings, destined for greatness, for Heaven, for a participation in God’s Own Life.

You are all beautiful!  You are all possessed of great dignity!  You are all worthy of respect, love, and kindness. You will live forever.  

No matter how God has wrapped us, one day we will be unveiled and our true beauty will be revealed, and that beauty will reflect only one thing:  how much we have loved.  And immortal beings that we are, we shall wear that wrapping….the one love wove for us for all eternity,.

My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love each other.  No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love each other God remains in us and his love comes to its perfection in us.  (I John 4:11-12)

Mad with Love…..

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You, Jesus Christ become Man; You, bread! Oh, to annihilate oneself, how little that would be! If you had left us a relic of Yourself it would be a sign of love worthy of our veneration, but you yourself remain knowing that you would be the object of profanation, sacrilege and ingratitude, abandoned. Are you, Lord, mad with love?”         (St.Teresa of the Andes OCD)

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To Jesus with love…..

jesus-resurrection-mary-tomb

To Jesus on the Feast of His Resurrection

Longing, longing for You
my Beautiful One,
yet not ready for our
Face to face encounter.
I have only just begun
to love You.

This time on earth is
so precious.
Aching for You,
yet delighting in
Seeking
Your Hidden Presence

Weary of suffering,
but treasuring the privilege
of offering it all up to You,
in total trust of
Your Faithfulness
Your Goodness
Your Love.

It seems all I have
to give You.
And what shall I do
when it all comes to an end –
this life in the darkness?

Ah, but I know the answer:
It is to trust again
that You Yourself
will choose
the perfect moment of our meeting,
when all will be prepared
and all will be well.

At last I shall behold
the Beauty
that I have long known

in shadows,
and which has so
enraptured my heart.

To encounter You in Glory
Your Face unveiled at last-
Kneeling in Your splendor
will be
Easter morning eternally.

What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

holy-face3What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

We know that on that first Good Friday, He was mocked, beaten, tortured, nailed to a cross, and gave up His Life…after shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for our salvation.

Only a single apostle of the twelve remained with His Mother and the holy women, to witness His agonizing death.

But now, it is 2000 years later.  What will Good Friday be like for Jesus?  Will hundreds of millions of Catholics and other Christians fast and abstain?  Will our churches be crowded to overflowing with loving souls who have come to remember, to express gratitude for His Sacrifice, to receive Him adoringly in Holy Communion?

Was Jesus sustained in His suffering by the awareness that all He did would not be in vain?  When He Who is Love Itself freely handed over His entire Being to the torturers, was He comforted by the anticipation of all the love which would flow back to Him from myriads of souls in the ages to come?

Did He, Who so loved to call Himself the “Son of man,” clasp to His Sacred Heart the Divine dream that all men would accept the Infinite Mercy which flowed from His Wounds?

 What will this Good Friday really be like for Jesus?

On Palm Sunday, our priest told us that extra parking had been arranged with a school down the street for the overflow crowds at the Easter Sunday Masses.  Then he added wistfully, “Please try to attend some of the Easter Triduum services.  The church is always half empty.  Please come…”

Jesus is God.  He knew it would be so….even 2000 years ago.  Even as He suffered as no man has ever suffered, He saw the empty churches, the people celebrating with friends on their “holiday.”  He saw “spring break.”  He saw the indifference, the ingratitude, even the hateful blasphemies.

But He saw you too.  He saw you on your knees, waiting to reverence the wood of the Cross.  He saw you approaching to receive Him in Holy Communion.   You comforted Him.  Your love made all the difference.

And He knows you won’t forget about those who don’t understand yet.  He hasn’t given up on them either.  He won’t force them to accept Him, but He will accept your prayers on their behalf.  In the Divine Economy of Love, He gives us His hands to unbind.  Our love, prayers and sacrifices can merit graces which sweetly and mysteriously move hearts, while free will remains intact.

What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

The Savior of the world, burning up with Love, which is constantly rejected and trampled upon, sometimes pierces the veil between Heaven and earth to beg love from his creatures.

“Behold this Heart which has so loved men, but which is loved so little in return.”  He sadly revealed to St. Margaret Mary.

To St. Faustina, He brought extraordinary promises of Divine Mercy to anyone who calls upon Him.  “The flames of Mercy are burning Me….”

The Divine treasuries are empty now, it would seem.   What else do you give, when you have given Your Only Begotten Son, the Beloved Son in Whom You are well pleased?  What else do you do when You have watched Him being tortured to death by creatures who could not draw one breath without You?  What do You do when You have come over and over again to the Saints, begging that they tell the world of Your Love?

What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

Let us make it a day of consolation for Him.  Let us join our Blessed Mother at the Cross, and fall on our knees in adoration of her Divine Son.  Let us slake His thirst for Love with grateful remembrance of all that He suffered for our sake.  And let us tell Him what He most longs to hear:  Jesus, I love You!  Let us say it from the depths of our hearts, over and over again.  Jesus, I love You!

And, Jesus gives wondrous gifts to those who come to the Cross!  To His executioners, He gave forgiveness and begged His Father to pardon them.  To the good thief, He promised Paradise.  And to the faithful Apostle John, He entrusted His precious Mother.

He will not forget that we have come.  On our last day, as we lie upon our final cross, He will come to us.  He will hold us close and cover us with Love and Mercy.  He will receive our last breath, our last word of love, and carry us away to His Father’s Kingdom.

What are you (and I) doing this Good Friday?

(First posted March 27, 2013)

Jesus thirsts for you….

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There is no one who thirsts for love more than Jesus.

There is no one who is more rejected than Jesus.

There is no one who is more hated than Jesus.

He told us so from the Cross: “I thirst.” And it was not for water that He burned with thirst, but for the love of those He was dying for….you and me

But, how loved is Jesus? Out of seven billion people in the world, how many of us utter His Name with love, reverence or affection on a typical day?

Recalling the crowds which followed Him while He was on earth, we know that only a handful were there at the Cross. The rest seemingly abandoned Him, including most of His apostles. Can we imagine that His followers are more faithful today?

But when the Son of Man comes again, will He find any faith on earth?  Luke 18:8 (NJB)

What can we do for Jesus this week? We can be with Him. We can be His companions on the road to Calvary and at the foot of the Cross. We can pause to tell Him that we love Him throughout the day. Let us not forget Him, especially this week…this holiest of weeks.

St Therese wrote: “Since the age of three, I have never gone more than three minutes without thinking of God.”

Can you imagine if we all strived for such a precious goal in life…to immerse ourselves in God minute by minute? We have only to look at Him, to smile at Him; words are unnecessary. We need not interrupt our duties to whisper, “I love You.”

I will be trying harder this week to do better, to be a true companion to Jesus. Please pray for me, and I will pray for you, that Jesus will be more loved this Holy Week than ever before.

Imagine His Joy!

“I thirst, and with a thirst so ardent to be loved by men in the Blessed Sacrament that this thirst consumes me, and I find no one who, in accordance with my desire, strives to quench it, by giving some return of my love.” (Words of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

Love drew Him to earth…..

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  

John 1:14

Annunciation, 1914, John William Waterhouse

“The Blessed Sacrament is the magnet of souls. There is a mutual attraction between Jesus and the souls of men. Mary drew Him down from heaven.  Our nature attracted Him rather than the nature of angels.  Our misery caused Him to stoop to our lowness.  Even our sins had a sort of attraction for the abundance of His mercy and the predilection of His grace.  Our repentance wins Him to us.  Our love makes earth a paradise to Him; and our souls lure Him as gold lures the miser, with irresistible fascination.” (Fr Frederick William Faber)

Prayer request…please

sinus

Hi dear friends….thanks for stopping by. I have a favor to ask. I am having sinus surgery today, and so I would truly appreciate your prayers for a safe and successful procedure and a speedy recovery.

I’ll be back soon. In fact, I had a post ready to go up yesterday, but forgot to hit the “save changes” button and so now I have to go back and do the rewrite again. Oh, the travails of Lent! ;)

I hope all of you are having a very holy Lenten season. I think of you as dear friends, and you are in my prayers.

You might enjoy this post from 2013, written when I was down with the dreaded shingles virus! I especially like the picture.

https://theholyfaceofjesus.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/suffering-on-a-silver-platter-please/

Blessings to all! Thanks in advance for your prayers! Love, Patricia

Come walk with Jesus…

Let us walk with Jesus on this Lenten journey.  He is, after all, the Way, and there is no other way to Eternal Life.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word  was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him, nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14) NAB

jesus-looking-from-sky

I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE