Tuesday adoration….why am I here?

ChildofChrist

Why did God create you?  Do you ever think about that?  I do.

Many years ago while on retreat, I wrote across the top of the first page of my journal:  Dear God, what is my purpose in life?  Who am I supposed to be?

I prayed all weekend for an answer, bringing my question continually before the Lord.  But I never heard an answer…and I was somewhat disappointed.

But, now years later, I realize that I didn’t hear the answer because I was listening for the wrong kind of answer.  I wanted something specific and concrete.  I wanted to leave my retreat with a plan…maybe even a list which I could check off.  Here is what God has sent me to do.  Here is how I will make a difference in the world.   I wanted a mission.

But as the years passed, and life moved on with its sorrows and its joys, I began to hear the answer I sought.  It is always the same, and it takes root deeper and deeper in my heart, and the joy it imparts is a reassuring certainty.

Today, I heard a young woman describe her very first visit to the Eucharistic Adoration chapel in her parish.

She went in, not knowing what to expect.  And to her amazement, she saw a type of vision…one which arose within her imagination.  She saw a large tree and beneath it she was seated with Jesus.  To her great surprise, Jesus carved His initials and hers in the tree, and then He drew a heart around it.

He looked at her so tenderly and told her, “You could never understand how very much I love you.  Fall in love with Me.  I so much want you to fall in love with Me.”

Then she went on to say that God  always knows just what we need to hear, and the way we need to hear it.

And, I understood.  So many times in the adoration chapel, I have had a similar “vision,” only in mine, I am a little girl, all dressed up with ribbons in her hair, and I am snuggled in the arms of Jesus, or sometimes standing on his lap, looking into His eyes, or hugging His neck so tight.  And….I am so very peaceful, both in the scene, and as I quietly sit there being loved.

Getting out of the car, after hearing the young woman’s encounter with Jesus, I looked up at the blue sky and the trees in their tender spring leaves.  I listened to the bird songs of some cardinals nearby.  I gazed at all of this and with wide-eyed wonder, marveled that the God Who had created it all, and Who sustains a world teeming with life and beauty, would so love me, and you….would so love us above all of His material creation combined.  Yet, I know that He does…because He told us so.

This is the answer I have been hearing for so long…in the quiet of the adoration chapel, in the writings of the mystics, in the longing of my heart which nothing on earth can fill.  The answer is the echo in the restlessness of my soul which yearns to be totally accepted, completely understood, unconditionally loved.  The answer is in my quest to rest in ravishing Beauty which will never fade, never end.

Yes, God answered my question on that retreat so long ago, but His answer was too wonderful, too beautiful, too perfect for me to hear at the time.  But He has repeated it over and over until at last I began to listen:

I created you so that I could love you.  And, I made you in My Own Image and Likeness so that your soul would be so beautiful in its resemblance of Me, that I would thirst for you to love Me in return.

It is really that simple.  We were created for Love. God is always loving us, always giving Himself to us, never turning His gaze from His beloved.  And we, at every moment, can be loving Him in return, whether in thought or deed or absence of malice.

And we can grow, moment by moment, in that love for Him…the more we forgive, the more we give, the more we  forget ourselves….always inviting Him to refine His Image more visibly within our souls.

O Jesus, what a glorious “mission!”  What a sublime purpose for my life….to be Your Heart’s desire!   Teach me to surrender myself to Your Love….and grant that I may love You in return by doing all that I can to imitate You.  Amen.

 “Jesus make me resemble You…”  prayed St. Therese.

“For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.  So then, what do you think that abode will be like where a King so powerful, so wise, so pure, so full of all good things takes His delight?  I don’t find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity.  Indeed, out intellects, however keen, can hardly comprehend it, just as they cannot comprehend God; but He Himself says that He created us in His own image and likeness.”

The Interior Castle, Study Edition: pp. 33-34, nos. 83-84.
St. Teresa of Avila
ICS Publications
Washington, DC

(a personal favorite from the archives, as we await Corpus Christi Sunday)

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Tuesday Adoration… embraced by Mercy

Today, I was all alone with Jesus for my entire two hours of Eucharistic Adoration. This is a rare grace for me, although I feel sad when Jesus does not have other visitors.

But, His Love is so great that He is pleased and happy to remain in the monstrance for just one little soul.

When I have Him all to myself, I feel a special kind of joy. I recall St. Jean Marie Vianney’s words, “His eyes are fixed on you alone.” And I know, that if I truly understood that, I would surely die on the spot.

Being alone with Jesus is being like Mary of Bethany, sitting at His feet, fixing a loving gaze upon His Divine Countenance, choosing to do the “one necessary thing.”

I know that wherever Jesus is, all of Heaven dwells, and so I am never truly alone in the chapel. But Jesus doesn’t remain in the Eucharist for the angels and Saints, but for you, and for me…. He waits.

I used to wonder what Jesus does when we visit Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament. How does He greet us?

Once when I was on a women’s retreat, we were kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in a rather large chapel. It was the first night of the retreat, and we were praying the Rosary before dinner.

I was kneeling toward the back praying with the others, when to my great surprise, I saw a beautiful image in my mind. Jesus, clothed in white, was standing in front of the first pew in the chapel. As I watched the scene unfold, I saw Jesus bend over and most lovingly and tenderly caress the face of the lady kneeling nearest to Him. Holding her face in His Sacred Hands, He gently tilted it upward toward His Own. Then He did the same to the lady kneeling beside the first one.

I only saw this for a few moments, but the unforgettable memory of this sweet and tender welcome by Jesus is still with me 20 years later. I know that He greeted each one of us that night with this same most loving and affectionate caress.

And He welcomes you the same way too, whenever you visit Him in any church or chapel where His Eucharistic Presence dwells. Can we ever expect too much from His Love? Just imagine the warmth and the kindness and affection…and the gratitude, pouring out of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ when He beholds us coming into His Presence…longing for Him….loving Him….seeking Him….trusting Him…wanting to spend time with Him. He Who is so often lonely and despised.

You help to quench His Thirst for love, and He gives you His Heart.

We would do Him an injustice if we imagined anything less than the most loving and tender caresses and embraces from the Bridegroom of our souls.

But are we in sin?  Let us come to our Savior.  We know the story of the Prodigal Son. Will Jesus not welcome us back with joy infinite beyond that of the father in that parable? And He will supply much more than a robe and ring and sandals, but rather all the graces needed to confess our sins and be washed in His Most Precious Blood. Then we shall dine not on the fatted calf, but on the Bread of Life.

Today, after telling Jesus everything in my heart, I asked Him what He wanted to talk about. And after a moment, I opened a book and immediately read:  As often as you want to make Me Happy, speak to the world about My great and unfathomable Mercy….

Before I made the world, I loved you with the love your heart is experiencing today and, throughout the centuries, My Love will never change.

Quotations from the book:
Consoling the Heart of Jesus, pp. 263, 275
By Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC

(First published 11/30/2011)

Jesus longs for your gaze….upon Him

holyhour

PSALM 25:15

Permanently my eyes are on Yahweh,
for He will free my feet from the snare. 

 Permanently, unwaveringly, immovably, let my eyes be fixed on You alone, O Most Blessed Jesus! In Your Divinely Beautiful Gaze, I find all love, all peace, all strength, all wisdom, all joy.

Like Peter who was privileged to walk on water, I can do all things in You. It is only when I look away for a moment, that I too begin to perish.

O Eternal Beauty, let no creature, no earthly attraction draw my gaze away from Your Loveliness. But when in my foolishness, I am distracted from the incomparable Glory of Your Face, grant that I may turn again immediately to You, Who have promised to free my feet from the snares of this world.

O my Adorable Jesus, the more I look upon You in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the more intimate this gaze we share becomes. My poor heart is drawn ever deeper into Your Flaming One. In silent adoration, I come to know You, and to experience that I am known and loved beyond my most daring desires.

I make my own the prayer of St. Therese: “Jesus, grant that I may be fascinated by Your Gaze, and be the prey of YOUR LOVE!”

(First published, June 5, 2011)

Tuesday Adoration…Delight of the Father

Today during Eucharistic Adoration, in preparation for the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, (a Solemnity for Carmelites),  I was reading some of her Spiritual Testimonies and received, from the Saint, a beautiful new insight into what transpires during Holy Communion.  Perhaps what St. Teresa reveals will be a blessing to you as well.

 

st-therese-of-avila-5

Once after receiving Communion I was given understanding of how the Father receives within our soul the most holy Body of Christ, and of how I know and have seen that these divine Persons are present, and of how pleasing to the Father this offering of His Son is, because He delights and rejoices with Him here–let us say–on earth.  For His humanity is not present with us in the soul, but His divinity is.  Thus the humanity is so welcome and pleasing to the Father and bestows on us so many favors.  I understood that He also receives this sacrifice from the priest who is in sin, except that He doesn’t grant to his soul the favors He grants to those who are in the state of grace.  But the reason for this isn’t because these influences proceeding from this communication, by which the Father receives this sacrifice, lose their force, but because of a lack on the part of the one receiving it; just as the lack is not on the part of the sun when it fails to shine on a piece of pitch as it does on crystal, but on the part of the pitch.  If I could now describe this, I would give a better explanation, for there are deep interior secrets revealed when one receives Communion.  It is a pity that these bodies of ours do not let us enjoy them.

The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume I
Spiritual Testimonies, No. 52, Deep secrets revealed in Communion
ICS Publications,
Washington, D.C.
(Italics by me)

Adoring the Holy Face of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus.  It always falls on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras.)  I can’t help thinking that this Feast of reparation falls on this day at least partly because of all the sins committed during the Mardi Gras celebrations.  (I grew up in New Orleans, so I know….)

I hope you will visit this link to my post featuring the history of this feast, as well as the Golden Arrow Prayer which Jesus Himself dictated to a Carmelite nun….a prayer to bring delight to His Heart.

But I also wanted to celebrate the Beauty of the Face of Jesus today.  I substituted at Adoration yesterday, and found myself meditating much on His Sacred Humanity, and how irresistible the Face of Jesus must be.

I cannot imagine such love and compassion, such kindness, tenderness, majesty and power, such goodness and glory all shining forth in one Sacred Countenance.  Truly, one could not see Him as He is and live!

I remember the words of St. Faustina:  Jesus, who will paint You as beautiful as You are?

faceofchrist

O Most Beautiful Face
Of my Savior,
I adore Your Divine Beauty,
Hidden from me now,
Yet known somehow
In the depths of my soul.
I sit before You,
Beneath Your Loving Gaze.
I gaze back,
Seeing
Only the Sacred Host,
Yet knowing
That it is into the
Eyes of my Beloved Savior that
I see,
Endlessly.

For an outstanding article on the Holy Face, visit: http://vultus.stblogs.org/index.php/2014/03/look-to-him-and-be-radiant/

Begging for Jesus

I thought I would re-visit this post today, in memory of Sylvia, who passed away about two weeks ago. Sylvia was the coordinator of the Perpetual Adoration chapel at my parish. As such, she was always “begging for Jesus.” It was her responsibility to be sure that each hour at the chapel was filled by a committed adorer or substitute. Sylvia herself regularly substituted for those hard to fill hours between midnight and 6 AM.

A beautiful brunette with a loving husband and family, she went home to the Lord on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I imagine that after years of spending so many hours of making sure that Jesus was never alone, Sylvia surely received a most loving welcome from the King of kings.

As much as Sylvia would be grateful for your prayers for her soul, she would be even more concerned with asking, “Could you not spend one hour with Jesus?”

Eucharistic_Adoration_-_Monstrance

I stopped by the adoration chapel today while I was out running some errands.  A lady came in with a container of books and prayer cards.  The noon hour in our adoration chapel is covered by parishioners who come to spend an hour in prayer for priests, and for an end to abortion.

Assuming that I had come to participate, she greeted me very warmly.  I quietly explained that I had to leave to pick up my husband.  She said, “Oh, I guess it will just be two of us then,”  referring to the other lady who had just arrived.

As I drove away, I couldn’t help reflecting:  Isn’t that how it always is?  So few people show up when prayer is the focus.

We have 3000 families in my parish, but every week the chairperson of our perpetual adoration chapel has to go begging in the bulletin for more committed adorers.  It only takes 168 people to fill all the hours in a week, but there is always a need — even though some adorers commit to more than one hour each week.

People love to drop in when it’s convenient, but most resist signing up for a weekly hour.

I used to be that way too.  For years, I enjoyed the benefits of  perpetual adoration at my former parish, but I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to a specific hour.  Surely other things would always be coming up and I would need to get substitutes and oh well I just don’t think so.

But then, I took the plunge, about 20 years ago.  A slot opened at 1pm on Mondays.  Since at that time I attended the noon Mass, it was easy to run for a bite to eat and make it back to the chapel on time.

Oh how Jesus rewards our little efforts!  Here He waits, the King of kings, the Lord and God of all.  Here He lovingly waits upon us to see if we can fit some time into our schedules for Him.

But when we do, He goes to work on our hearts, and we are never the same.  All the adorers I know are “addicted” for want of a better word.  They anticipate their hours with Jesus with great joy, and regret when they have to miss for a necessary reason.

No matter if we are fighting sleep or distractions or if our hearts are as dry as desert sand, Jesus still works His Divine Charm upon our souls.  And we may not know it at the moment, but we find His handiwork later in the week or month or year as we overcome with ease a previous struggle, or find an insurmountable problem suddenly resolved and on and on.   He is full of surprises.  And He will never be outdone in generosity.

Yet, it is so sad to sit in the chapel alone with Jesus, and hear the distant laughter of hundreds of people at the parish fair.  But, not even one comes to visit the King.  What must He feel?

When we have a “giving tree” in our parish at Christmas, people rush to strip it bare to buy gifts for the needy, but when it is sign-up weekend for adoration, so few stop by the table.

I know that Jesus wants us to buy presents for the poor and raise money at the parish fair, but how much He would love to be included as well.  But He waits, and waits.

Will you come?

“Behold this Heart which has loved man so much, but Which is loved so little in return.”

(Words of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.)

Tuesday adoration….what is love?

Federico Barocci, Insitution of the Eucharist, Rome, S. Maria sopra Minerva, 1608

Federico Barocci, Insitution of the
Eucharist, Rome, S. Maria sopra Minerva,
1608

What is another Name for God?
It is Love.

And what is love?
It is desiring the good of the beloved.
And what does that mean?
We give all that we can
to insure the well-being of our loved one.

And what does God do?
He gives Everything:
His Very Self
His Divine Life
His Human Life, sacrificed for us.
His Precious Body and Blood to be our Food.

As a baby receives milk from its mother,
Can we doubt that God would nourish us too,
would give His entire Self?
Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity,
pouring Himself into us
in a union so profound
that the angels are in awe.

If only we could see,
could realize what is happening:
feel His Sacred Heart
beating within us–
His very Blood
mingling with ours–
His Divinity
filling us–
preparing us to share one day
in His Own Divine Life.

Love so great
Stooping to lowliness–
It is what His Love does
Giving to the least
All
That He is.

O God of Majesty and Glory, we bow before the Mystery of Your Infinite Love for us…we  who are but mere creatures of Your hand, and yet, children of Your Heart!

Heart on Fire….

FF_Link_Up_400

Joining with First Friday link-up at O Most Sacred Heart

sacredheartvision

Gazing at Jesus in the quiet of the Adoration Chapel, I try to comprehend the Love which keeps Him there, a virtual Prisoner…yet, a willing One. I try to grasp a Love which has nothing to gain, and yet gives away all.

My child, you will never comprehend My Love. Take all of the heat and fire from the countless trillions of stars I have fixed in the sky, combine every spark of it, and it will not even amount to the light from one tiny match when compared to the Divine and Infinite Love of My Sacred Heart for each one of you, my precious children.

I am God, and if you could see Me now, you would see neither sun, nor moon and stars, for the white hot intensity of My Love would eclipse them all. And THIS LOVE burns for you, as though for you alone… an unquenchable Fire.

Love gives everything away, My child. From all eternity, I have said: I will be their Father, and they shall be my children. Even though I knew that mankind would fall into sin, and commit all manner of atrocities against Me, I never take back My Love. It leaps from My Heart in endless Flames.

I always knew that I Myself would ransom the souls of My children. If it were possible for Me to wait for anything, how eagerly I would have awaited that day when I would assume your very nature and thus forever raise you to unspeakable heights of glory.

I came to live among My children to teach them the way of holiness. I even gave them My Own Eternal Father to be their Father too, and I poured out My Spirit upon them to comfort and sanctify them. I chose their souls to be My dwelling place…My Heaven. You are My Heaven when you love Me.

The insatiable Love of My Sacred Heart devised a way to nourish you with My Very Own Flesh and Blood, Divine Sustenance transforming you through Grace to more closely resemble My Image.

Then I said: I will lay down My Life to save them from their sins. I will suffer betrayal by My friends, and torture from My enemies. I will endure the heights of pain and suffering which My perfect human nature can tolerate before death.

From the Cross, I will give them My Own Immaculate Mother to be their Mother always.

Then, I will pour out My last drops of Blood for My beloved ones.

And, when I rise in My glorified Body, it will be a promise that they too shall one day rise in glory.

As I live forever, so they too shall live forever. I shall give them My Kingdom and a share in My Own Divine Life, and they shall reign with Me forever and ever.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the uncreated and Almighty God, and I have given away everything, for My Name is Merciful Love.

See how I love you?

Will you accept My Gift?

Can you understand?

I do not know how to limit Love, for I AM LOVE.

My Beautiful One…..

“One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple.” Psalm 27

chalice-host

I am held captive
by Your Beauty,
although You remain
unseen.
Nothing created
could ever enamor
my heart like You.
Yours is an
Indefinable Beauty
Which no words
could describe.
It is the Way You are
It is What You do
It is the Perfection
In all of Your Works.
It is Your
Flawless Wisdom.
Your Beauty is
the Way You Love,
the Way You ARE Love
It is the
Radiance of Your Face.
Awareness of
Divine Beauty
grows ever in my heart
Each of
Your Attributes
appears infused with
Beauty
to me.
Everything
about You
my God
is
Incomparably Beautiful.
And, gazing upon the
Sacred Host
my heart cries out:
How beautiful You are
my Jesus!
You are so
Beautiful!

Lay me down, my Jesus……

I am re-posting this little prayer/poem from two years ago, because I need it this week…just as I did when I wrote it in Adoration a long time ago. Lying down on the Heart of Jesus is sometimes the very best prayer.

Jesus_holds_child

Jesus, my All,
lay me upon Your Heart,
for I am so very weary.
May I rest awhile in You,
in Your Heart so Pure,
in the Shelter of Your Love?

Lay me down my Jesus;
draw me close to You,
where I will find again
all life seems to have
used up in me.

Everything I thought lost
is not really lost at all.
Both my joys and sufferings
Are but instruments for good
in Your Sacred Hands.

Ah, how kind You are,
I know it well.
You are the Love I yearn for.
My poor little life
is precious to You,
and that so charms me,
O King of kings!

I am free and loved,
because there is nothing
I could possibly give
or do for You.
You want only my heart,
my gaze fixed on You.

How Pure is Your Love!
The world tugs and pulls me,
but You gather me up
How sweet and peaceful is Your Love.
I long for You, my unseen,
Beautiful One.

Lay me down upon Your breast,
my sweet Jesus.
Let me pass what remains
of this life
in the safe and loving warmth
of Your embrace.