Isn’t He beautiful?

Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.  Psalm 45:2 (DRB)


image

O Jesus, Your Incomparable Face!
It is my Glory, my Joy, my Fascination.
O how I long to see You!
Promise me that that moment will be ever new
That it will never end;
But always be beginning.
Grant that I may be
Eternally falling in love
With the indescribable Beauty of Your Face.
I felt Its Radiance today,
And I was lost in wonder!
O God of Beauty! I await You!
Reveal Yourself to me.
Show me Your Face,
The Face of Love!

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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)

From the palette of God….

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”   Psalm 14:1

 Lilac breasted Roller in South Africa.

Lilac breasted Roller in South Africa

There is no God? But who could believe such a thing? See the masterpiece I present to you above? A reproduction of a tiny, simple creature whose magnificence puts to shame even the greatest art created by man. For, in nature, this beauteous bird has a beating heart and downy feathers, and his little wings lift him aloft to fly above the treetops. Yet, he knows not where he came from, or even what he is. He simply hatched from an egg and shook out his little body into a cascade of breathtaking colors. See his design? How carefully each grouping of feathers is “painted,” with highlights shimmering in all the perfect places?

If you saw this bird — a splash of painted perfection across a canvas in a museum, you would surely look for the artist’s name….for of necessity, there would be an artist.  Such wonders do not occur when a palette of paints accidentally tumbles onto a canvas.

But if this bird with heart beating, song singing, wings fluttering….if this living, breathing, warm fluff ball of rainbowed loveliness alighted on a branch near you, and cocked its little head, if you are a fool, then you might say, “There is no God.”

And indeed, you would have proved yourself a fool
…………to consider the imitation more needful of a creator than the vibrant reality before you.

God is Beauty, and He has strewn wonders across our world in a super abundant feast to attract us, to fascinate us and to give us enticing glimpses of what awaits us when we at last behold the One Who is all Beauty.

Be a fool no longer!  Seek your Creator, the God of the Universe, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, your Beloved, the Beautiful One.

He longs for you, desires you, above all the beauty of His creation.

He calls to you?  Will you not answer….will you not seek Him and the delights He has prepared for you alone?

You ravish my heart,
my sister, my promised bride,
you ravish my heart
with a single one of your glances,
with a single link of your necklace.
What spells lie in your love,
my sister, my promised bride! 
Song of Songs 4:9-10 (NJB)

(first posted in January 2013)

The beautiful Wounds of Jesus…

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28)

Rembrandt

Rembrandt

That beautiful verse of Scripture is cherished by many of us for the love Jesus shows to “doubting” Thomas, and for His beautiful promise, “Blessed are those who have not seen, but have believed.”  It’s such a rich passage:   the touching, the intimacy Jesus extends to His somewhat bewildered apostle. One can only imagine the awe with which the others present must have looked on.

But this passage is significant for another reason. It clearly reveals to us something perhaps unexpected: Jesus still bears His Wounds upon His Resurrected Body.

But why?  Certainly, God could have removed any sign of the torments inflicted upon His Son’s precious Body. Jesus Christ possesses the most beautiful, most glorious risen Body which even God could create…for Jesus is God, and therefore perfect…even bearing Wounds.

On a retreat I attended several years ago, the priest spoke of the Wounds of Christ, and he said that Our Lord’s Sacred Wounds now shine like splendid rubies in His glorified Body. Far from detracting from the perfection of that Holy Body, they contribute greatly to its Glory. For those Wounds are the Wounds of Love. The very Body of Jesus is imprinted forever with His Love for you and for me.

Jesus is no longer on the Cross, but He would never wish to surrender His Wounds. How He must cherish them…these Sacred Marks upon His Holy flesh which visibly proclaim to all of creation the Love He bears for poor sinners.

And to chosen souls, who love Him greatly, what gift does He sometimes give? The stigmata…wounds of the crucifixion mystically experienced in the bodies of great Saints like Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio, to name a few.

The priest at my retreat went on to suggest that we too may bear wounds in Heaven. Not scars or disfigurement, but our own precious wounds of love. He explained that we should not be surprised to see that what we have suffered in our bodies for Jesus, through sickness, pain, torment, etc., will be manifested one day as great beauty. We too shall be adorned with heavenly jewels….for Jesus counts every tear and measures every pain, storing them all as treasures awaiting us in Heaven.

As I listened to Father, I thought of how Jesus so generously allows us to participate in His Saving Work by redemptive suffering. How like Him to desire that our little wounds of love, willingly suffered for Him, would tell the story of our love for all eternity.

When I allow myself to consider the possibility of Jesus without His Glorious Wounds, I cannot do so for very long. It is too sad…too heartbreaking. Jesus without His pierced hands and feet and His wounded Heart?  That is impossible!  His Love makes it impossible. I hope one day in Heaven to kiss those Precious Wounds, as I have so often kissed them on my little crucifixes. Like Thomas, I want to be able to recognize Jesus by His beautiful Wounds of Love and proclaim, “My Lord and my God!”

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/

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!

The Holy Face of Jesus….

This is a re-blog of a post which I published shortly before The Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus last year. It is such a beautiful feast…especially dear to the hearts of Carmelites. But most of all, the prayers are a much needed act of reparation during this time of so many outrages and blasphemies committed against our Beloved Jesus. Hopefully, we can all find time to console Him this Tuesday….and like Therese prayed: May we one day behold His Glorious Face in Heaven

Aholyface.

Tuesday is the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus.  It always falls on Shrove Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  (Appropriate, considering the grevious sins committed during Mardi Gras.)

Jesus appeared to a Carmelite nun, Sister Mary of St. Peter, in Tours, France during the 1840’s, and requested devotion to His Holy Face in order to make reparation for the blasphemies and outrages committed by unbelievers, and for the profanation of Sundays by Christians.

“Oh, you who are My friends, and My faithful children, look and see if there be any sorrow like mine. Everywhere My enemies despise and insult both my Eternal Father and My Church, the cherished Spouse of My Heart. Will no one rise up to console Me by defending the glory of My Father, and the honor of My Spouse, which has been so cruelly attacked? I can no longer remain in the midst of a people that will continue to be so heedless and so ungrateful. Look at the torrents of tears that stream from My eyes! Can I find no one to wipe away these tears by making reparation to My Father, and imploring forgiveness for the guilty?”

Jesus entrusted to Sister Mary of St. Peter an act of praise and reparation which He called The Golden Arrow, saying that those who would recite this prayer would pierce His Heart delightfully, and heal those other wounds inflicted on Him by the malice of sinners. It is recommended to be prayed on the 33 beads of the Holy Face Chaplet (or rosary beads may be used.)

MAY THE MOST HOLY, MOST SACRED, MOST ADORABLE, MOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE AND UNUTTERABLE NAME OF GOD BE ALWAYS PRAISED, BLESSED, LOVED, ADORED AND GLORIFIED, IN HEAVEN, ON EARTH, AND UNDER THE EARTH, BY ALL THE CREATURES OF GOD, AND BY THE SACRED HEART OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR. AMEN.

_________________________________

Perhaps today, as we prepare for the beginning of Lent, we can console the Heart of Jesus by meditating on His Holy Face, and the sufferings endured by that Divine Countenance….the blows, the spittle, the piercing of thorns, and even the plucking of His beard from His cheeks…as the Scripture tells us.

Oh what cruelties were endured by our Gentle Jesus, who could have annihilated His torturers in an instant, but instead submitted with perfect humility and obedience for love of you….and me.

Let us remember His falls beneath the heavy Cross, which caused His Holy Face to be pressed into dirt and rocks, no doubt causing the agony of additional cuts and bruises.

If we contemplate His Suffering Face, His Wounded and Bleeding Face, His Beaten and Tortured Face here in our exile, surely the day will come when He will reveal to us that Most Beautiful and Glorious Face which will be our Beatitude for all eternity.

__________________________________

O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to behold Thy Glorious Face in Heaven.  (St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face)

Just until glory comes….

A few days ago, I asked Our Blessed Lady to be the mistress of my home, and that I might be her servant girl.  I am in dire need of her loving presence, guidance and wisdom in my vocation as wife, mother and homemaker…and every other aspect of my life as well.

So, I’ve been listening, eager to hear her advice.  Yesterday, I was busy about those boring, mundane chores which most of us have to do on a regular basis.

I get tired of dusting and vacuuming and cleaning out the refrigerator.  Whilst wielding my Swiffer duster, I daydream of doing other things…at least writing a blog post, or maybe even an e-book.  I wish I lived in a bigger city where there were more exciting things to do.  Nothing ever happens here.  I wish I could make a 30 day retreat, or even travel to all the places of pilgrimage in the world or be involved in Catholic radio.  I still have dozens of books left to read, and if I could work on being an Olympic figure skater… I wish…..hmmm.

Yesterday, I washed the kitchen curtains, and as I struggled to slip the rod past the seam, it got hung up, and I tried to be patient as I maneuvered the fabric.

Then I thought of Jesus, working with Joseph in the carpenter shop in Nazareth.  Jesus, laboring by the sweat of His brow, struggling to shape furniture out of wood… He Who twirls the planets and makes the stars twinkle, and fashions each snowflake into a tiny work of art.

Was He bored?  No…because He did everything out of Love (being Love Himself), and in obedience to His Father’s Will.  Who more than the King of Heaven had a right to put down the tools, and with but a mere thought transform the trees of Palestine into acres of woodcraft?  But, He never did.  He never walked away from the hard work.  Just like He didn’t walk away from the Cross.

Love constrained Jesus.  Love of us confined Him to tedious work in a small town for most of His life, and then to traveling with and teaching a rag-tag group of men who deserted Him when He was preparing to lay down His life for them..and for us.

And I am bored?  The rod slipped through to the other end of the curtain.  “Thank you, Mary.”  And thank you for reminding me what Therese knew so well….that the smallest act done out of love can save a soul and bring God so much joy.

Was it Mary who seemed to reply?

It is sometimes a struggle to do these routine tasks, because you were created for greater things….much greater things.  You were born to spend eternity immersed in that Furnace of Love which is the Most Holy Trinity.  You were created to adore the thrice holy God, your whole being trembling with joy.  Your heart and your soul long for this, and you are restless because you cannot yet fulfill your eternal purpose.  You possess the very image of God …you were born for glory.

I love this thought.  I believe it’s true.  We were…all of us, created to be sons and daughters of the Most HIgh God.   Earth is our exile; Heaven is our true home.

I was awakened from my reverie by our cat coughing up two hairballs just as I was preparing to start dinner.  Out came the paper towels and the steam mop….but this time, with a smile.

Yes Mary, I’ll try to serve without complaining…at least most of the time.  You bore the Son of God and yet spent your life doing the most simple but demanding household chores.

But it helps to dream of glory, doesn’t it?  The glory of one day seeing God Face to face….the One Whom St. Augustine called,  “O Beauty ever ancient, ever new…”

Sweet Mary, help us to prepare for that day as Jesus and you did, by doing the Father’s Will in every ordinary moment of our lives…..but please remind us now and then, that it’s just until the glory comes.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee..”   St. Augustine

 

One thing I ask of the Lord…

Adoring Jesus today,
–Gazing into His Holy Face
Bowing before His Majesty
–Lost in wonder at His Love
Slumbering in Divine Caresses
–Rejoicing in the Kiss of God
Smiling at the Glorious One.

I have found Heaven on earth!

 But I in my uprightness will see Your Face,
and when I awake, I shall be filled with the vision of You. (Psalm 17:15) NJB

My Beloved Jesus, how delighted I was when You showed me this Scripture verse in response to my question: “Lord, will I see Your Face when I appear before You for judgment?”

For, even if I must enter into the place of purification for a time, the memory of Your Most Beautiful Countenance will sustain me, and keep my heart burning with love and longing for You.

It will not be in my own “uprightness” that I will see You then, but rather through the Grace and Mercy which You Yourself have won for me, my Adored One.

Here before You in the Most Blessed Sacrament, I behold Your Face, even now. My eyes search for Yours, veiled beneath the white Host. But, through faith, my soul is already filled with the vision of You!

It is a vision so sweet and mysterious, yet wonderfully real, and I know that You are gazing back at me with Infinite Love and Tenderness.

This vision of faith, O My God, is a prelude to that unveiled, heavenly vision, when at last my eyes will truly behold the Most Beautiful of the sons of man.

Jesus, Your Face…my Joy!

When Jesus sleeps…..

When I went to adoration the other day, I found myself fighting sleep.  I had taken an antihistamine, and it might as well have been a sleeping pill.  There I was, all alone in the chapel with Jesus for two hours, and all I could do was struggle to stay awake.

I remembered that I had brought with me a little book titled, When Jesus Sleeps, by dear Archbishop Luis Martinez, who also wrote Secrets of the Interior Life which I chose as one of my three favorite books in a recent meme.

I have always been fascinated by the idea of watching Jesus sleep, and of wondering what He dreamed….just the incomparable beauty and wonder of the God of the Universe fast asleep so delights me.  The charm of God.  The sweet mystery of the God-Man.

But Archbishop Martinez expressed similar ideas in such rapt words:

Jesus was exceedingly beautiful when He spoke words of eternal life, accomplished wonders, looked with love, pardoned with mercy and caressed with tenderness. But I would like to have seen Him while He was sleeping because I could have contemplated Him to my heart’s content, without the fascination of His gaze distracting me, without the perfection of His beauty and the glory of His splendor dazzling my eyes and enrapturing my soul. The beauty of Jesus awake is too great for my smallness. Who could support it? I feel it more suited to me veiled by sleep, as the glory of the sun is more adapted to my eyes when I look at it through a translucent lens……

In the presence of that regal immobility and the divine silence of that most comely body, could one guess the interior glory? Through the delicate, celestial veil of human sleep, could penetrating and loving eyes like those of the Virgin discover the deep secret of the interior joy of Jesus? (pp 6,7,9)

And then, I was awake…my heart stirred by the touching portrait of Jesus, shared above only briefly, sketched by this holy Archbishop.

His little book shall be my companion this Lent. After sharing the magnificence of the Son of God at repose, the book continues on to encourage the soul in desolation by reminding her that Jesus has not departed. He is only sleeping. Gaze upon Him within your soul as He rests in you…as He slept on the boat amidst the stormy sea. He is sleeping? Yes, but not as we sleep.

Jesus says to the soul, “I sleep, but my Heart is awake.” (Song of Songs 5:2) He has not forgotten us. He can never forget. His Love never sleeps. In dryness and darkness and desolation, He is present with us, in all of His Glory.

He is only testing our faith, our trust, our love for Him, just as He tested that of the apostles on the lake. “Why are you so frightened, you who have so little faith?”

Let us not wake Jesus when He desires to sleep in our souls. Let us be brave and trust that He will awake at the perfect moment. Like St. Therese, let us permit Him to rest. She liked Jesus to sleep in “her boat,” because, as she said, so few allow Him any rest.

___________________________________________________________________________

My sleeping Jesus,
You are breathtaking
In Your rest.
Your Peaceful Face
belies the Truth
That You are God
Of all Power and Might
Lord and King
Of The Universe.
But the resting place
You choose
Is my heart,
For more than
All else,
You are
LOVE,
Seeking love
That asks nothing save
Your Presence.