…just as no one knows the Father except the Son

Holytrinity

‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.’

When I was in formation for First Promises in the Discalced Secular Carmelites, my formation teacher taught our little group to be aware of words, thoughts, ideas, etc., which seemed to recur throughout the days and weeks.  This could happen in a book or through something we were listening to or watching or in a friendly conversation, but most importantly, especially during prayer.  She instructed us to write down these “coincidences,” and to look for a pattern, because God often communicates with us in this way.

I remembered this little exercise when over the past couple of Sundays at Mass, the phrase, Son of the Father, from the beautiful song of praise, the Gloria, caught my attention.  How many times have I heard these words, and yet suddenly they were impressed deeply upon my heart.

Monday morning, when I tuned in to Women of Grace on EWTN, Johnette’s guest for the week was Father George Montague,SM who has recently written a book entitled: Living in the Father’s Embrace.  If I were still keeping my little notebook, I would have had much to write.

As though I needed more encouragement, the patron Saint chosen for this week’s Women of Grace series was St. Therese, described as  “a patron for loving the Father.”

Lord, what does all of this mean?  I whispered.  I thought perhaps it would please Jesus if I began calling Him Son of the Father more often…not just at Mass.

Then I turned to the Scriptures and recalled the words of Jesus:  “Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  Matthew 11:27 (NJB)

On Johnette’s programs this week, one theme has been how so many view the Father as the God of the Old Testament.  Many people fear thunderbolts and severity if they draw too near to God the Father.  Yet, Who is Jesus but the perfect Image of the Father?  All of the tenderness, mercy and love we are attracted to in Jesus dwell in the Heart of the Father as well.

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In the introduction to his book, Father Montague writes:  “…if we really want to know Jesus, we had better ask the Father to show us who Jesus really is.  And by the same token, to know the Father as Jesus knows him…and that is the only way…Jesus must give us the gift of his own experience of the Father.”

I am excited and humbled that Jesus is calling me, and surely you as well, to better know His Father as He knows Him, and in turn, to know Jesus as only the Father knows the Son.

To know God more is to love Him more!  Let us enter deeply into this revelation which Jesus, Son of the Father, desires to share with us.  Surely His Sacred Heart burns for us to love His Father with the greatest affection and trust.

St. Therese, whose confidence in God knew no bounds, spoke of playing on the “lap” of God in Heaven.  Surely she will indeed be a patron for us in learning to love God the Father.

 

Father Montague gives us this lovely prayer in the introduction to his book:

Jesus, lay your hands upon my head at this
moment and send me the Holy Spirit to teach me to
know the Father as you know him, to call him
“Abba.” As I read, may your Spirit breathe upon
my heart and enlighten my mind to this mystery of
Trinitarian LOVE.  

Quotations by Father George Montague, SM are from his book:
Living in the Father’s Embrace
Experiencing the Love at the Heart of the Trinity
Introduction: Invitation
Publisher: The Word Among Us Press
Copyright 2014 by George T. Montague, SM

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Souls are more different than faces….

St. Therese had a saying, “Souls are more different than faces.”

I heard something similar growing up in Catholic school, under the wise and devoted instruction of glowing nuns in flowing habits who appeared to have vast insights into the mysteries of God.  I listened intently, but found it difficult to believe that each of the billions of people God had created was absolutely unique and unrepeatable.  But the nuns said it was true.

My friends and I seemed pretty similar as far as I could tell.  We might have looked different, but I didn’t see how our souls could be all that unique.  In fact, my best friend and I thought we were just about exactly alike.

But the nuns taught that each soul was created to reflect one of the Infinite Perfections of God with such beauty and intensity that even the angels would be in awe.  And they went on to say that no other soul created before or afterward could possess the same splendor reserved for that particular soul by God….not ever.

But, I was looking at faces.  And faces weren’t all that dazzlingly different, and some were almost identical…like twins.  So, what was up with all these billions of souls being so individually precious and so beautiful that even God was madly in love with them…with all of them?

First I had to get to know the Lover.  Then He began to teach me to look beyond the faces and to see His Beauty in my brothers and sisters.  And Therese and the nuns were right.  I began to see first the tremendous dignity of each person God has created, and then the fragile loveliness of a soul…more delicate than a butterfly’s wing, and I understood how terrible a thing it is to wound such a creature….one who bears the very Image of God.

And yes, they are all different from one another….so very different.  Many people are kind, but they express it in a myriad of ways and degrees..  It is the same with all the other virtues and attributes of God.  Each person is a unique and exquisite constellation of Our Father’s Image, imprinted on that soul alone….for all time.

Therese knew this, and that is why she always treated everyone alike, aspiring to have no favorites.  Her blood sisters in the convent often complained that she seemed to love the other nuns more than she loved them.  But that wasn’t true.  She felt great natural affection and familial love for her own sisters, but she knew how to look beyond such human affection, and to love others as God loved them.

When faced with difficult people, it can be helpful to stop and contemplate how much God loves that person.  He is truly looking at us and longing for us to gaze in admiration on His beloved creation….to see the potential He sees in them.  He desires that we do all in our power to help everyone He places in our path to become the fullness of His Image within them.

Whenever Therese saw another nun committing what appeared to be a “fault,” Therese would remind herself of all the good deeds the offending nun had accomplished, which Therese had not been privileged to see.

Blogging is an excellent venue in which the uniqueness of souls is able to shine, because there are no faces, no gestures, no audible voices.  There are only ideas, words, sharing, caring…..things of the spirit, rather than the flesh.

And here, we begin to see that bloggers….like snowflakes, are delightfully different from one another.  As I click around and read my favorite blogs and then check out a new blog or two, I am always amazed at the endless variety of expression….even though the bloggers I follow are very much in agreement with one another on matters of Faith and family.  Yet, each has a niche.  Each has a beauty found nowhere else.

And here in the blogging world, there is the rare opportunity of being able to admire souls, without being distracted by faces.

On those rare occasions in my parish when a baby is baptized during Sunday Mass, the cantor sings a song which begins, “You are God’s work of art…..”

You are!  We all are!  Like the song says, “There will never be another you…..”  God loves you so much, for you resemble Him in a way that no one else ever can.  You are so precious to Him that He is waiting to give you a new name in Heaven….a “secret” name, known only to you and to Him.

Just imagine…. all the beauty of creation from its dawn until its end someday is nothing compared to you, for you bear the very Image of God.  Truly you are God’s work of art!

Father, grant that we may not hinder your work in our souls, or in the souls of our brothers and sisters, as You, with Divine Love, Wisdom, Goodness and Power are at each moment refining Your Very Image within us.  We thank You that we are Your children, destined for Glory in the Kingdom of so Great a Father, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

…..to those who prove victorious I will give some hidden manna and a white stone, with a new name written on it, known only to the person who receives it.  (Rev. 2:17) NJB

Father, I thank You….

Some years ago when my husband and I visited Germany, we spent a couple of days in the charming medieval town of Dinkelsbühl.  But although there are two large cathedrals there, one on the Protestant side of the street and one on the Catholic side of the same street, that’s not really what I remember about Dinkelsbühl.

What I have never forgotten is the tiny chapel which we came upon unexpectedly.  It was so small that it might have been a private chapel at one time…or perhaps belonged to a small congregation of monks or nuns. 

What struck me immediately upon entering was a fresco behind the altar. The painting was similar to the one posted above, an artist’s rendering of the moment of the Incarnation.  But in this particular painting, the artist had imparted to the face of God the Father, a most tender, almost concerned expression.  As He gazed down at the Holy Spirit descending to overshadow Mary, He appeared touchingly vulnerable.  I could imagine Him whispering to this young girl,  “Take care of Him….Cherish Him…He is My Only Begotten Son…and now, I have given Him to the world…..I entrust Him to you…Love Him…Oh Love Him, Mary!”

I was really moved to tears.  What must that moment have been like for Our Heavenly Father….a moment when everything changed forever, as His Son became now also the Son of Man.

I am grateful for that graced encounter with a painting which caused me to think, perhaps for the very first time, about how Our Father in Heaven must long for us to thank Him for the Incomparable Gift of His Beloved Son.  I would think that He would never tire of hearing us tell Him how much we love Jesus, and how grateful we are that the He deigned to send Him to us.

Similarly, I recall how much Jesus loves His Abba, and how while on earth, He seemed to wish to do nothing without referring all of the Glory to His Eternal Father. Surely His Sacred Heart is greatly consoled to see us remembering to thank the Father for the Gift of His Son.

Especially during this season of Lent, it seems most appropriate to express exceeding gratitude to Our Heavenly Father for loving us so much that He would sacrifice His Only Begotten Son for us.  It is truly a Love the depths of which eternity will not be long enough to reveal.

Perhaps it was that very Sacrifice which was on the mind of the artist who painted such touching concern into the Face on his fresco…..I am only grateful to God that a chance encounter moved my own heart to try to remember to pray often:

Thank You, Father.  I love You, and I love Jesus with all of my heart.  Please help me to love Him more each day, and to pray that others may love Him, for although He gave His Life, You gave Your Son.  May You be forever thanked and praised for such unfathomable Love!