Learn from Me….

O THE HUMILITY OF JESUS WHO KNELT TO WASH THE FEET OF HIS APOSTLES –
HIS SACRED HEART AFLAME WITH LOVE AND JOY IN SERVING HIS OWN CREATURES!

Giovanni Stefano Danedi public domain

Giovanni Stefano Danedi
public domain

O my Jesus, when I look at You upon Your knees, how I despise my prideful heart. You are Love poured out, not a drop held back. How beautiful You are, my Jesus! It is no wonder that your Eternal Father let His praise ring out from the Heavens: This is My Beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased…

Jesus, Your Life is the Book I must study. Let me memorize Your every word and deed. All perfection is contained therein.

O Jesus, I believe that You cherished this night of Love which began with You on your knees washing feet like a slave, and ended with You on your knees, sweating Blood in Your Agony.

In the midst of it all, You gave us Your Greatest Gift, Your Own Body and Blood to become our Food and Drink, to sustain us for this journey here on earth. You gave us Your Real Presence, to dwell with us always. And You rejoiced to give away, Your very Flesh and Blood!

IS THIS NOT INFINITE LOVE?

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The truly unbearable Agony of Jesus….

Jesus often complained to Sr. Benigna of the unfathomable sorrow of His Sacred Heart.   “Behold”, said Jesus; “I beg the love of My creatures, who refuse it to Me and squander it upon things which pass away. They do not even think of giving it to Me- if thou knewest, Maria, how painful it is to love so much and not to be loved! I do not grow weary, I am always seeking love and no one gives it to me; not only will they not love Me, but they hate Me. Dost thou know what hinders Me from striking sinners? It is the prayers of the just; they disarm My divine Justice.” (Words of Jesus to Servant of God, Sister Benigna Consolata.)

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667–1740)

My Jesus, why are You crying?  Why do you weep so, upon your knees, here in the Garden?  Is it because your apostles have fallen asleep and left you to suffer alone?

O my Jesus, I hear Your cry to Your Father:  If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, but not as I will but as You will…..

What is this cup that you cannot bear, my Jesus?  Is it the physical pain You are about to undergo in your scourging and crucifixion?  Is it fear of this which has caused sweat to run infused with blood down your most adorable Face?

Yet, you are the bravest, most courageous, strongest and most fearless of all men.  Terrible, excruciating, horrific as your approaching torture may be, You said that it was for “this” that You had come into the world….this baptism which You so desired.  You Who long to give Your Life to save us; You Who cherish within Your Divine Heart the precious Name, Savior.  You could not be trembling in agony over the anticipation of your death.

What then?  What is worse than death?  What has parted the Heavens and moved Your Father to send an angel to comfort You in Your Truly Unbearable Agony?

They will not love Me!

The words echo over and over in Your Mind and the truth of them crushes Your Sacred Heart and more Blood flows….

So few will love Me!

I am God.  I am preparing to die for my creatures that they may become my children.  My Heart longs to undergo the suffering and death which await me so that they can share in my Divine Life and spend eternity with Me in my Kingdom of Love.  I have just given to them my Own Body and Blood to be their Food for the journey, and a foretaste of our union in Heaven.

Still, they will not love Me!

I can bear the scourging because as I watch my Own Blood pouring upon the ground, I will be consoled knowing that It will flow over My children, washing away their sins.

Let the nails fasten Me to the Cross, rendering Me helpless for a time, that the Graces of My Infinite Merits may transform and sanctify My children, infusing them with Divine Life.

I do not fear the sword which will pierce My Heart, for by this Wound,  My Heart shall become for my precious ones, a  Refuge of Peace, an Oasis of Rest, a Fountain of Grace and Mercy.

But, in spite of all of this, so many will hate and despise Me!

This is the pain which even Your God cannot bear.  I am Love.  I do not know how to do anything but Love.  I seek Love.  I hunger for the Love of my creatures.

But, they will not love Me!

The angel from Heaven arrives in the Garden. Suddenly, I do not feel so alone.  I see names and faces.  I see My children kneeling in prayer.  I see hands lifted in praise.  I feel kisses and caresses upon My Face.  I see tears of repentance.  I see hearts eagerly awaiting Me in Holy Communion.  I hear my little ones praying for Mercy for their sisters and brothers.  I hear My Name being called with so much love:  Jesus!  Jesus!  Oh how sweet is this to Me!

I feel My strength returning.  I rise from the ground.  I have not been completely abandoned and rejected.  There are some….some…..who will love Me.

I will not have died in vain.

If only there could be more…….

But for one alone, I would gladly go to the Cross.

I love you so much.

Will you love Me too?

Please give Me a chance to be Your Lord and Savior.

Trust in Me.

I am Jesus.

I am LOVE!

Anoint Him with your love…. First Friday link-up

by Fra Angelico

by Fra Angelico

O Jesus, the Blood is pouring from Your Face, cut by the blows of the soldiers!  Your eyes are swollen and filled with tears… not from physical pain, but from the much greater agony of seeing Your Love rejected.

Precious Jesus, the thorns are piercing Your head, streams of Blood run down into Your Beautiful Eyes.  Your whole Face is red with Your Precious Blood. You can no longer be recognized. You are truly the Man of Sorrows.

O my God, they have even spit in Your Face! What an abomination!  Yet, You endure it for me.  You endure it so that You will not have to spend eternity without me. You are thinking:  Anything, if only she will love Me. No pain is too great, no humiliation too much, only that she may love Me and be Mine forever. I endure all for Love, for I AM LOVE.


+++

The above is true, but it does not even begin to approach the reality of the Love Jesus Christ bears for each one of us.  When we contemplate His Passion, and meditate on the humiliation, suffering, torture, rejection, hatred, physical agony and more that He suffered for us, there is one thing that we can spare Him…..not loving Him in return.

Oh, let us love Him, let us love Him and cling to Him, consoling His Sacred Heart, so that we will know that 2000 years ago when He went to the Cross for us, He Saw Us Loving Him Now, and that is how the angel comforted Him in Gethsemane, and that is why He found the strength to struggle to His feet again after He had fallen. Your love, my love, our love consoled Him long before we were born, for He saw that we would accept His Mercy and allow Him to wash away our sins in the River of Divine Blood that flowed on that Day.

Let us implore His Mercy for those who do not know, do not yet love Him.  Through the intercession of our Sweet Mother of Sorrows, may our number multiply, that Jesus, so long ago may see from His Cross, countless souls standing beneath the Blood and Water which flowed from His Pierced Heart.

He knew us, even as He was dying for our sins.  He knew that we would claim Him as our Savior and King.  He was consoled by our love.

But how much do we love Him?  It is not too late, even now, to tenderly kiss that disfigured Holy Face…..once betrayed by a kiss.  To kiss with love and tenderness the Face of God.

And as He never forgot Mary anointing Him with fragrant perfume, or Veronica wiping His Face with her veil, neither will He forget you.

We are all in that crowd watching.  What will we do?

How much do we dare to love JESUS?

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

The necessary day….


Can you imagine transitioning from the crescendo of grief and sorrow ushered in on Holy Thursday night, which found its full expression in the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and then plunging oneself into the Glory and Joy of Easter the very next day?

Would it not be a shock to leave the foot of the Cross and enter almost immediately into the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, bells ringing, Paschal Candle, Fragrant Lilies, Christ is Risen?

How wise of Our Lord to give us this day of silence. This strangely calm day when the tabernacle is empty, the adoration chapels are closed, our churches are abandoned except for those preparing decorations for Easter splendor tomorrow. In some places, confessions may be heard. But for the most part, all is quiet.

Perhaps in the emptiness, one can better experience the reality of a world without Jesus Christ. He is, after all, lying in the tomb today…not preaching, not suffering, not dying, not rising, not ascending, not yet reigning in Glory. He is essentially absent from our midst. Even yesterday, we could receive Him in Holy Communion. Today, He is not here..something to think about.

Not until sundown tonight, not until Easter Vigil will He once again dwell among us in His Flesh and Blood, His Glorious Humanity.

I have always been delighted that Jesus was not dead for 72 hours or what we consider three full days. Actually, His time in the tomb was much shorter than that. I love to meditate on the idea that He Who is Life could scarcely be held back from rising again, as quickly as possible to His New Life…which He promises to us as well.

But I am grateful for Holy Saturday…..the day of anticipation.

On this “necessary day,” may that anticipation ever rise in our hearts, preparing us for the ecstasy of that soon to come Eucharistic Embrace of our Risen Jesus.

And like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, may our hearts truly burn within us.

But for now, we wait…..

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I would like to wish my dear dad a Happy Birthday today.  He passed on to God three years ago.  He was sometimes blessed with an Easter birthday….and tonight he will be again.

Please say a pray for the repose of his soul.  Thank you!

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I hope you are dwelling in the Eternal Easter!  I love you!

The one agony you alone can spare Jesus…..

O Jesus, the Blood is pouring from Your Face, cut by the blows of the soldiers!  Your
eyes are swollen and filled with tears… not from physical pain, but from the much greater
agony of seeing Your Love rejected.

Precious Jesus, the thorns are piercing Your head, streams of Blood run down into Your Beautiful Eyes.  Your whole Face is red with Your Precious Blood. You can no longer be recognized. You are truly the Man of Sorrows.

O my God, they have even spit in Your Face! What an abomination!  Yet, You endure it for me.  You endure it so that You will not have to spend eternity without me. You are thinking:  Anything, if only she will love Me. No pain is too great, no humiliation too much, only that she may love Me and be Mine forever. I endure all for Love, for I AM LOVE.
____________________________________________________________________________

The above is true, but it does not even begin to approach the reality of the Love Jesus Christ bears for each one of us.  When we contemplate His Passion, and meditate on the humiliation, suffering, torture, rejection, hatred, physical agony and more that He suffered for us, there is one thing that we can spare Him…..not loving Him in return.

Oh, let us love Him, let us love Him and cling to Him this week, so that we will know that 2000 years ago when He went to the Cross for us, He Saw Us Loving Him Now, and that is how the angel comforted Him in Gethsemane, and that is why He found the strength to struggle to His feet again after He had fallen. Your love, my love, our love consoled Him long before we were born, for He saw that we would accept His Mercy and allow Him to wash away our sins in the River of Divine Blood that flowed on that Day.

During this Holy Week, let us implore His Mercy for those who do not know, do not yet love Him.  Through the intercession of our Sweet Mother of Sorrows, may our number multiply, that Jesus, so long ago may see from His Cross, countless souls standing beneath the Blood and Water which flowed from His Side…..

He knew us, even as He was dying for our sins.  He knew that we would claim Him as our Savior and King.  He was consoled by our love.

But how much do we love Him?  It is not too late, even now, to tenderly kiss that disfigured Holy Face…..once betrayed by a kiss.  To kiss with love and tenderness the Face of God.

And as He never forgot Mary anointing Him with fragrant perfume, or Veronica wiping His Face with her veil, neither will He forget you.

We are all in that crowd watching.  What will we do?

How much do we dare to love JESUS?

Love’s photograph…..


Painting by Francisco de Zurbaran

Occasionally, I enter a Catholic church where I can find no visible crucifix.  Instead, there is sometimes displayed the confusing (to me) image of Our Risen Lord on a cross.  And I am saddened.  I need my Crucified Savior.

When I raise my eyes and behold my Crucified Jesus, I am captivated by the look of total peace and submission on His Face.  He is incomparably beautiful in this moment when He drew His last breath to accomplish our salvation.  My heart melts at the sight of the Son of God, so innocent, so pure, and yet completely yielded to the instrument of His torture, because as He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself.”  It is the yearning of His Heart that we would look upon Him and see Love —  Love poured out for us.

In my breviary, I keep a beautiful picture of Jesus Crucified.  I turn to it, especially when I am sad, or worried, or lukewarm in love for Him.  In this little picture, I find an encounter with Jesus.  I love to ponder His Wounds, tracing them with my finger, pausing at each precious One, trying to comprehend what my salvation cost Him.  We seem alone, Jesus and I, in these moments…

I savor the feeling of a devotional sized crucifix in my hands.  While tenderly kissing the wounds of Jesus represented on this sacramental, I never doubt the He, Who so longs to be loved, is consoled by my poor efforts to quench that Divine Thirst.  He is so gracious, that He is grateful for the least sign of affection from His children.

St. Therese had great devotion to the crucifix.  She loved to adorn her personal one with fresh flowers — sometimes plucking them and “wiping” the wounds of Jesus with the petals.

In the monastery garden, she often led the novices in her care, to gather only the freshest rose petals to toss at the large crucifix erected there.

One of my favorite crucifixes is located in the church of my childhood –St. Dominic’s in New Orleans.  It is larger than life, and cast in bronze.  It hangs in the rear of the church, where one can light candles and kneel closely, at length, in prayer and meditation.

Gazing upon this crucifix, I always feel transported back in time to the hill of Calvary.   Because of the size of the corpus, the wounds of Jesus are riveting.  But, it is the expression on His Adorable Face which totally captivates me.  He is exhausted.  The pain is overwhelming.  He has reached the limit of what He can bear.  Yet, His Face is suffused by a look of total surrender, and an ineffable gentleness and goodness.  He is irresistible.

Yet, such beauty is only the work of an artist.  What must have been the breathtaking loveliness of the Divine Countenance as the true Lamb of God approached death!

Behind the altar in my current parish church hangs a beautiful wooden carved crucifix.  On Good Friday, it is carried in procession, and carefully laid on a platform in front of the sanctuary.  Everyone present is then invited to come up, and individually venerate this crucifix which is so especially our own.

The first time this was done, I stood by the statue of Our Lady, watching in awe.  The faithful approached by the hundreds, each expressing their love and tenderness in a personal way.  Many kissed the feet of Jesus.  Others pressed their lips to the wound in His side.  Some kissed or caressed His cheek.  Others kissed the wounds in His hands.

Standing near Mary’s statue, I was reminded of what she endured on that first Good Friday.  I imagined her in my own church now, standing beside the crucifix, witnessing such a very different scene than the one 2000 years ago.  I felt that all of Heaven must have fallen silent to watch these good people come forward in reverence and homage to cover Jesus with a thousand kisses.  They stooped; they knelt; they reached for Him.  They loved Him.

I thank God and the Church for the treasure of the crucifix.  While it is true that Jesus suffers no more, may we never, ever forget the extravagance of His Love for us!  The crucifix is like a photograph of that Love.  If we look upon it, it will remind us of our worth in Our Father’s eyes.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16)

Thank You, Jesus.  We love You, Jesus!

A King’s Ransom……..

In my thanksgiving after Holy Communion today, I found myself consumed with how completely I am owned by God.

The Price He paid overwhelmed me, as I recalled the Stations of the Cross, His Holy Face pressed into the dust and rock as the Cross fell heavily upon His scourged Body. More blows from the soldiers as He struggled first to His knees, and then to His feet….for me.

Before me was the Crucifix where I could see the nails, the nakedness, the agony, the forsakenness. Heart racing, lungs burning, muscles cramping, Blood spilling, cold sweat….Tears.

Within me, the Sacred Host. Jesus dwelling in nothingness, wretchedness, yet robing me in the Grace He had purchased with so much suffering.

I am motionless. How does one move when they contain within their dust not the universe, but the One Who made the universe? Not a pure and sacred thing, but Holiness Itself? Not a king, but a God Who is King of all kings?

How do I breathe? Why am I not annihilated by such Glory, such Majesty, such burning Purity?

“You are Mine,” Jesus said. “I paid the price. I paid more than the cost. I gave Everything. I gave All. Now no one or nothing else can ever claim you, for I gave my last drop of Blood….for you.

No one can pay more. But you can refuse my Love. You are free to love me…or not.”

I am lost in the Love I cannot comprehend, in what He chose to give in exchange for me — not an ocean of precious jewels or a mountain of gold or even a thousand universes! But His Own Blood, His Own Life is what He chose to give.

I am confused by the extravagance of my worth.

Where do I go?

What do I do?

How can I love enough?

The Host rests within me.

We are one.

And Jesus says:

“Do not fear.

My Love has made you worth

everything to Me.

And I will live in you,

And I will love in you,

And together we will go,

When the time comes…

Always together,

For you are Mine.”

His Word….and a kiss

My Eucharistic Jesus,

It is JOY to see only
the appearances of Bread and Wine.

It is GLORIOUS not
to experience Your Presence.

For then, as You give to me
the very Gift of Yourself,

I have something in return
to offer You –
FAITH.

Absolute TRUST in Your Words
and Your PROMISE:

Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood
lives in Me, and I live in him.

O my Faithful One,
should I require anything more than
YOUR WORD?

Father Jacques Daley, OSB, filling in for Mother Angelica one night on EWTN, said something so beautiful that I wrote it down.

In discussing how we are to receive Holy Communion, he said, “I feel Jesus prefers the mouth, because it is more intimate.”

And I thought, “Like a kiss……”

Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth…..  (Song of Songs 1:2)

Suffering — get it while you can

An acquaintance of mine died last week. 

I said a prayer for her when I heard the news, and then I whispered, “Pat, rest in peace. You have finished your work, completed your journey.”

I think about that journey a lot. My friend didn’t make it to the three score and ten mentioned in the Bible. We just never know.

There is something uniquely precious about living in our imperfect world. It is only an instant in even the longest of lives. What are a 100 years compared to eternity?  Yet, we have only this breath, this heartbeat of time in which to determine our eternal destination, and to labor for God’s Glory.

I, who do not relish suffering, still value it and this amazing moment in my existence when it actually costs me to offer something precious to God.

It is quite thrilling to be among the Church Militant, marching through the battlefield of life, buffeted by the blows of pain, loneliness, rejection, grief and a thousand other sufferings which we encounter on our journey.

I think how tenderly Jesus watches over us as we bear our wounds for love of Him.  His eyes never leave us and His Heart almost breaks with compassion.  Yet, when we are brave, and offer up as best we can these trials, surely He is so pleased, so very proud of us.  

We cannot see, but Jesus Himself binds up our wounds with the balm of His Love, measures to perfection all that we are asked to bear, and supports us Himself that we may not be crushed beneath our crosses.

Heaven is our true home, but I find myself pondering how bittersweet it will be to leave this place of exile:  Never again to be able to make an act of faith when all seems lost, to tell God we love Him through tears and sorrow, to endure the battle of temptation and be victorious with His Grace, to do violence to our own will so that we may choose for God, to walk amidst a hurting and confused world and try to be a ray of His Light, to visit a lonely Jesus in His Sacrament of Love and console His Hidden Presence. 

These many treasures are ours for only a moment, and yet I waste an abundance of riches, and neglect the joy I could give to God by seizing every opportunity to cooperate with His Grace.

One day it will all end, and suffering will be no more.  I’m sure much of my Purgatory will be spent in weeping tears for all the times I walked away from the graces God extended to me – times I insisted on my own way, or complained about something trivial or was annoyed with someone else.

Lord, help me to begin again today to be ingenious in finding the jewels you have hidden in every moment of my life.  Those I choose are mine for all eternity.

But much more important: You have chosen to be glorified by the sacrifices lovingly made and offered by your children.

Oh Jesus, help me not to waste the moment this life on earth is, the only moment I will ever have to choose You above all the other distractions and temptations of my world.

In one of Therese’s favorite books, The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, by Father Charles Arminjon, in the chapter on Heaven we read: 

And the grateful God cries out, “Now it is My turn!”

He is so eager to reward us. Indeed the lives of the great mystics indicate that He can hardly restrain His Love, as He pours out upon His holy ones a foretaste of Heavenly bliss.

On our last day, if we had never been able to suffer anything in life, would we really be able to endure Infinite Love pouring into us from His pierced Heart, and the embrace of His crucified hands?