The Eternal Mode of Prayer

sorrowswtheotokos (460x600)In our last reflection on “The Cross & the Mystic Mass of the Bride,” we saw how the soul-bride lives the perfect sacrifice of her personal cross every day:   “… it [the soul] rests in perfect happiness [in the bridal chamber of the cross] and offers in its intimate sanctuary the mystic Mass of its loving sacrifice to ‘fill up what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ .” 

What she brings to the Church and to souls is incalculable because if she lives, indeed, in union with Christ completely abandoned to the Will of God in the Holy Spirit, she is living in the “eternal mode of prayer.” What does this mean?

In New and Divine: the Holiness of the Third Christian Millennium, by Hugh Owen, we learn from Venerable Luis Martinez, Blessed Dina Belanger, St. Theresa, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Blessed Conchita, St. Maximillian Kolbe and others of a new and divine level of holiness available to us, a way to live and pray “in the eternal mode.” Furthermore, this level of holiness and prayer is available to all who desire it and who actively seek it.

Let me cite some quotations here to make “the eternal mode” more clear. Owen tells us, “In the lives and writings of the exemplars, Jesus shows his willingness to open his Heart completely to all who abandon themselves to the reign of the Father’s Will through the Holy Spirit….On several occasions, Our Lord told the exemplars of the ‘new holiness’ that He had given them, the ability to do God’s will as He did it, in time and in eternity–‘on earth as in Heaven.’” [pp. 28, 31]

Owen: “Jesus told Blessed Dina Belanger that by abandoning herself to the Father’s Will through the Holy Spirit, she would allow Him to operate freely in her and with her, in eternity. In the “eternal mode,” she [and others] would be able to do those acts perfectly that Jesus had prepared for her with the Father and the Spirit before the creation of the world. Thus, they would be present to all souls, past, present, and future in all of their acts. Their smallest actions, performed together for the glory of the Father and for the good of all creatures, would influence all souls for good.” [p.36-37]

“Jesus told Blessed Dina: ‘I am letting you see the whole multitude of consecrated souls to the end of time, so that you will understand how even one soul completely given over to me can radiate on all the other souls. You can see that, through it, my rays reach out into the distance, far into the distance, to the furthest end, meaning that I am doing good until the end of time….If all consecrated souls refused me nothing, if they allowed me to act freely in them all the time, all other souls would be saved. Yes, all other souls would be saved.’ [p. 37]

It’s not clear what Dina or Jesus means by ‘consecrated souls,’ perhaps consecrated religious, because Dina was a member of a religious order; however, any soul which consecrates itself in union with Jesus to full abandonment to the Father’s Will in the Holy Spirit is actually and really consecrated. Consider any one of the varied Acts of Consecration, ”Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart,” “Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit,” etc., available in the rich tradition of the Church—all of which set aside as holy, as sacred to the use of God the soul consecrated in that act. While desirable, vows are not necessary for such a consecration. Venerable Conchita herself was a wife and mother, not a religious. So this level of consecration is clearly available to all.

“Blessed Dina explained that when He spoke of all souls Jesus usually showed her ‘all created souls, without distinction between the past, the present and the future, just as the Heart of Jesus saw them, since everything is present to Him.’ Through Blessed Dina’s writings, Jesus invites all souls to allow Him to act in and through them, universally.” [p.38]

Jesus also told Blessed Dina, “In consecrated souls in whom my hands are bound by threads, in whom consequently my Heart is wounded, my rays reach only some souls living in the world at the same time. In consecrated souls who refuse me only small things, you can see that my rays reach many other souls in the world and extend further. In consecrated souls that have abandoned themselves totally to me, in whom I can act freely, see how my rays reach all souls, even to the end of time.” [p.49]

We see here that what is most essential to the eternal mode of prayer [in addition to the actual consecration itself] is the sincere willingness of the soul to relinquish all unnecessary attachments, worldly or even spiritual. Not a thread should connect the soul to anything other than the pure Will of God in one’s life. Our obligations remain if we are wife, husband, mother, but the attachments do not. After all, the obligations of our states of life, our duties revealed in the sacrament of the moment, are themselves the flow of God’s Will in our individual lives.

The varied blesseds refer to a person living this state of life and prayer as a “living host”: “When a soul abandons herself to the Will of the Father through the Holy Spirit and shares in the eternally-present sufferings of Jesus, she becomes a ‘living host.’ Moreover, when she performs with Jesus the good acts He has prepared for her to walk in—in eternity, with the same universal intention that He had—that soul becomes a ‘living host,’ a ‘walking Eucharist’ [another Christ].” [p. 38] [Notice also that we do not just offer up, but suffer with.]

Venerable Conchita and Venerable Luis Martinez described this state as ”mystical incarnation.” Blessed Dina referred to it as “divine substitution.” Another definition: “United with Jesus in the Eucharist, the soul in the Divine Substitution becomes a ‘living host’ whose thoughts, words, and actions are offered to the Father together with those of Jesus, for the good of all souls, past, present, and future. As a ‘living host,’ the soul acts ‘in eternity’ so as to be able to enter into the actual sufferings of Jesus (rather than the pious remembrance or imitation of them), thus influencing souls at any point in time or space.” [p. 48]

Hugh Owen explains it this way, “Just as the Divine Will reigns in the consecrated Host—which nevertheless retains the accidental properties of bread–in a similar way, the Divine Will reigns in the soul who has received the Gift of the Mystical Incarnation or Divine Substitution, although the soul preserves her own human faculties. In the Eucharistic Host, the Divine Will and the human will of Jesus coexist. Through the Gift of the Mystical Incarnation or Divine Substitution, the Divine Will cooperates with the human will in the soul of a human being, in the same kind of way that it did in the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “ [p. 46]

Hugh Owens comments that this level of union is probably “the fruitful stage” of the Mystical Marriage, where the bride-soul enters in the activity of the Bridegroom, Jesus, through a permanent union of wills.  It is in the arms of her Bridegroom, from the bridal chamber of the cross, that the the soul-bride lives and prays in the eternal mode.

Prayer of Oblation to the Divine Will in the Holy Spirit of Venerable [Archbishop] Luis Martinez:
“’Oh Holy Father, oh Adorable Father,
through the immaculate hands of Mary, the Most Holy Virgin, my Mother,
under the impulse of the Holy Spirit,
and intimately united to Jesus, Your Son, Immortal Victim,
I give to You today the total gift, and the absolute oblation of myself,
abandoning all to Your sovereign Will,
in order that this Divine Will, without asking my opinion,
without taking me into account,
might do with me and with all that is mine, whatever it pleases…
My only support in making this oblation is Your strength,
upon which my nothingness rests….
I give You that which I can now give You:
my will, sincere and complete,
and I cast myself into Your sovereign Will.’
” I experienced something most profound, most strange, as if for my soul there began a new stage; as if in those moments I was given to the Holy Spirit, that He might ravish my soul and give it to Jesus. I understood that by this union, the Holy Spirit, as an impetuous wind, was to carry away my soul, stripping it of everything and plunging it into the bosom of God.” [p.28]

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IMPLICATIONS OF PRAYER IN THE “ETERNAL MODE”?
Our spiritual lives have much deeper and more extensive power and influence than we ever dreamed.

Through the writings of Blessed Dina, we know that if we abandon ourselves fully in the Holy Spirit to the Divine Will, we can actually transcend time and space, living, sacrificing, and praying in the eternal mode in which we can touch and radiate all souls, past, present, and future. Because Jesus lives in the Eternal Now, united to His Sacred Heart, we live and work in Him in the Eternal Now.

Jesus told Venerable Conchita: “Know that in God there is no succession of acts. He operates eternally in one only act of His Will which covers all times and eternity, and all creations, all things in one only instant, the eternal instant of Unity in which is reflected and exists always present, past, and future….You must live in this essential Unity, in this Unique God, bringing together your spiritual life in one only Love: Him; in one only Will: His. In this capital point of unity of wills consists the perfection of this Unity.“ [p. 32]

The least thread of attachment lessens the effectiveness of our prayers and sacrifices.

Living our daily, ordinary lives with complete love and abandonment to God’s Will can make us holy beyond our wildest hopes. We can save thousands of souls for Christ without leaving our homes and families.

Finally, as Hugh Owens explains, “In the lives and writings of the exemplars, Jesus invites us to renounce the independent use of our human will and to ask the Holy Spirit to consecrate us into living hosts. Then the Holy Spirit will inspire us to do those acts of perfect love that Jesus has prepared for us in the secret recesses of his Heart. And if we allow Him a free reign, He may bring us to the point where we will always be doing the perfects acts of love that Jesus has prepared for us. Thus, we may become a ‘real presence’ of Jesus in the world, a ‘living Eucharist.’” [p.166]

In this Mystic Mass of the soul-bride, what is the offering?  What is the sacrifice offered in the eternal mode?  We may as well ask what is the Will of God for us.   All that we are and all that we have in our ordinary life.  The flow of duties of our state of life in the sacrament of every moment.  It is the Hidden life:  His hidden life in the Eucharist, and our hidden life every day.  It is the little way of St. Theresa, doing all the little things with great love.  In Love Crucified, A Simple Path to Union tells us:  ” Through Me, with Me, and in Me your most ordinary life is the power of God.”    

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The Cross & the Mystic Mass of the Bride

For the last couple of days I have been immersed in Venerable Archbishop Luis Martinez’ book, THE SANCTIFIER, “one of the most formidable books on the Holy Spirit ever written,” according to the forward. I would have to agree. Archbishop Martinez “focuses on the role of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of the individual believer.” [He does not go into biblical theology or the ecclesial dimension of the Holy Spirit.] His amazing teachings thrill the soul. It is not my goal here to review the book, but to visit one or more insights from the last two days, insights which have inflamed my heart and truly fed me.

Chapter 18: “Our Response to Christ Crucified” builds on preceding chapters, but led me to a deeper understanding and love for the cross. Archbishop Martinez describes the finding of the true cross by St. Helena and tells us: “In the same way each soul should celebrate its personal discovery of the cross….when God permits it [the soul] the celebration of this feast, it rests in perfect happiness and offers in its intimate sanctuary the mystic Mass of its loving sacrifice to ‘fill up what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ [ 124]’”

This last quotation has occupied my mind and heart for two days now, and I am not finished. I will try to explore for you and with you some of the astounding beauty which I find here. First: “each soul should celebrate its personal discovery of the cross.” We have been hearing about the cross all of our lives, generally associating it with the instrument by which Jesus died for us, and surely, it is that. We revere the cross, it is an icon of our faith, a most valuable one since it associates us with all of Christianity. We know and often reflect on what Jesus tells us about the cross: “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt. 16, 24). Jesus is referring here to our personal cross which each one of us must pick up and carry daily. Furthermore, this act is sacrificial since it requires that the bearer first deny himself.

However, I was more drawn to the idea of the soul’s celebrating its personal discovery of the cross, which is not the same thing. We have bought in to the Church’s discovery of the cross with all its richness of meaning, but have we discovered it for ourselves, personally? My exploration of the cross has led me in many directions. My Love Crucified community emphasizes that we must not just offer up, but suffer with Jesus [A Simple Path to Union, Ch.3,1].

Father Jordi Rivero shared with us that Brant Pitre’s book, Jesus the Bridegroom,  reveals that the crossJESUS THE BRIDEGROOM is the bridal chamber, the spousal bed where union with the bride-soul takes place. In my continual desire for union with the Beloved, and with the understanding that the cross is, indeed, the bridal chamber, I find myself looking for a way to say to Christ, “I lay myself down on the Cross with You. Let me be nailed with You, hold me in Your crucified arms, let me press my heart to Your pierced Heart and be pierced according to the Father’s Will.”  I don’t think this is sentimentality; my mother always told me, “However you make your bed—you will have to lie in it.” Yes, precisely. I will make my bed the cross and I will lie in it, come what may.

Next, Archbishop Martinez explains, “when God permits it [the soul] the celebration of this feast, it rests in perfect happiness.” Dare I say it, the soul has its true place of repose, the cross which is at once the cross of the Beloved, and one’s own personal cross. In the cross of Christ is contained the personal cross of every beloved soul—the cross is multi-dimensional; and every soul, whatever its dimension, finds perfect repose there.

Jesus, Himself, “carried in his heart for thirty-three years the cruel, torturing martyrdom of longing for sacrifice and of waiting for the hour appointed by the heavenly Father….The devotion to the Father that filled the soul of Jesus, that soul great beyond measure, had the cross for its terminus. Only on the cross was his longing to glorify the Father satisfied, his immense hunger for doing the will of the Father appeased. Only there did his infinite love attain rest [ 121, 122].”  His utter fulfillment and joy lay only in His cross, and so is it with us, if we only realized it. If we see the cross only as pain, aggravation, denial, then we haven’t yet discovered the celebration of this feast!

In the beginning of chapter 18, Archbishop Martinez explains: “…the center of Catholic worship—which in the Church is the devotion of Jesus to the Father in the Holy Spirit—is the Mass; and the center of Christian life—which is this same devotion in souls—is the mystic participation in the sacrifice of Jesus by each soul [123].”

Later, he enters more deeply into this idea: “…it [the soul] rests in perfect happiness [on the cross] and offers in its intimate sanctuary the mystic Mass of its loving sacrifice to ‘fill up what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ.’”
I was enchanted by Archbishop Martinez’ phrase “offers in its intimate sanctuary”. What is this intimate sanctuary of the soul? Of course, is is the inner room, the inner chamber of the heart; but it is also the Bridal chamber of the cross, the soul’s unique, personal participation in the cross of Christ, its personal cross. It is only in the arms of the Bridegroom that the bride [the soul] reposes in perfect happiness while at the same time offering—offering what? “the mystic Mass of its loving sacrifice”. Thus does the soul celebrate daily the Mass which is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus to the Father in the Holy Spirit, on a personal, mystic level. To “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus everyday” is to offer, from within the arms of the Bridegroom, from the bridal bed, from the intimate sanctuary, the mystic Mass of your loving sacrifice. One of the prayers of our Love Crucified covenant community is this central one: “Let me suffer all with You, no longer two but one, in Your sacrifice of love.”

What is the purpose of offering the mystic Mass of its loving sacrifice? “to fill up what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ.” This is what St. Paul boldly tells us in Col. 1:24. This is the true Bride, who says with Christ: “Let me suffer all with You, no longer two but one, in Your sacrifice of love.” Theologically, if Christ is our Head, then the body must follow the head, in suffering, in glory. But in her passion of love, the Bride must follow the Bridegroom wherever He goes.

Archbishop Martinez tells us: “…every soul should aspire to martyrdom. The cross should be the center of its life, the goal of all its aspirations. It is the cross that satisfies the Father completely and it is his crucified Son that he longs to behold in each soul. What complacency [REPOSE] is his when he beholds the sacrifice of Jesus in that ‘clean Oblation’ which is immolated and offered ‘in every place’ (Mal. 1:11). And how he is pleased by those personal hosts that pure and loving souls ceaselessly offer to him! [125]”

To live fully in the Holy Spirit, to follow Jesus, to carry our cross means that every day we celebrate a personal, mystic Mass. The Bride is the Church, but she is also the soul, man or woman. The Bridal chamber is the cross of Christ and our personal cross, the place where our union is accomplished in the fire of the Holy Spirit in a “clean Oblation” to the Father.

[See earlier post:  https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/god-is-in-love-with-us-and-we-are-his-love-dream-pope-francis/

The Oil in my Lamp

For the last couple of weeks, I flampsind myself in what I call my “holding pattern”—here I stay, like one of the wise virgins, waiting at midnight, my lamp trimmed and ready, filled with oil. I certainly hope so. Yes, I even know so! I am reminded of Mark Mallett’s “Warnings in the Wind” in which he tells us of a recent call to a priest friend of his: “Fr. Scott McCaig… mentioned that many of the priests of his order were getting a common word to “remain vigilant.” So here we remain, vigilant, waiting for the sky to fall, as it were.

In the meanwhile, to continue to fill my lamp with oil, I have been digging deeply into the most meaningful readings which I have discovered over the last few years, especially in the last couple of weeks, “A Simple Path to Union”—document of Love Crucified Community, Father Jordi’s article about being a victim of love, and Venerable Conchita’s revelations of Jesus’ words on being a victim with the Victim. These are the wells of living water where I drink repeatedly.

First, Father Jordi explains “victim of love” in light of the Church’s teaching and the understanding of the saints. For the entire article see this link: http://lovecrucified.com/victim/victim.html

In the Liturgy of the Hours we find these beautiful reflections of St. John Chrysologus:

“How marvelous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering. He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself. The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same. Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill. Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed. 

“The Apostle says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. Brethren, this sacrifice follows the pattern of Christ’s sacrifice by which he gave his body as a living immolation for the life of the world. He really made his body a living sacrifice, because, though slain, he continues to live. In such a victim death receives its ransom, but the victim remains alive. Death itself suffers the punishment. This is why death for the martyrs is actually a birth, and their end a beginning. Their execution is the door to life, and those who were thought to have been blotted out from the earth shine brilliantly in heaven.

“Paul says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy. The prophet said the same thing: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me. Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest. Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you. Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity. Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice. God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.”

In The Simple Path to Union, see Chapter 6, VICTIM WITH THE VICTIM, [http://www.lovecrucified.com/about_us/simple_path.html which explains St. Theresa of Lisieux’s concept of “victim of love”:

“Saint Therese of Lisieux saw that Jesus desires to love and to be loved, but that He finds very few who respond. As a result, His love must remain pent up within His Heart. Moved by the Holy Spirit, she offered herself as an “Oblation to Merciful Love”. Her dream was to become a true “victim holocaust” of Divine Love, being burned within the flames of Christ’s torrent of love. She wanted thus to be “consumed unceasingly”, and become “a martyr to Your Love, O my God!”  She understood that by her offering she relieved the suffering of the Lord.”

In the  last section of Chapter 6, VICTIM WITH THE VICTIM, the Path explains:

“WE GO TO MASS TO BECOME VICTIMS WITH THE VICTIM
As Catholics we know that Mass is the sacrifice of Christ who offers Himself to the Father as a Victim of love, but few realize that, in order to participate fully in His sacrifice of love, we must respond by offering ourselves, ONE with Him, victims with the Victim.”

We read also these words from Christ to a Mother of the Cross:

“All Christians are called to be victim souls. Only God is holy,therefore, to be holy means to be transformed into the One you receive in Holy Communion, to become One with Me. Perfect love on earth is expressed by laying down your life for the salvation of your brother and sister. It is your “yes” to give the oblation of your life that “stirs into flame” the graces of your Baptism and you receive the power and fire of the Holy Spirit. It is then, in this way, that your life possesses the ‘power of God.’

“That is why I desire many victim souls, for it is only the power of pure love that will pierce the darkness that is seeping into the hearts and minds of My people. Bring Me victim souls My little one. Do not be afraid (1/29/11).”

And finally, also in the Path:   “A time of great destruction is coming to the world; it is My hidden martyrs of love that the Father will use to aid many to the Light. It is My hidden martyrs of love that possess the power to raise up My army of holy priests needed for the decisive battle that is at hand.”

One of the most powerful parts of Chapter 6 is this one, recounting the words of Jesus to Venerable Conchita:
“All the victims united with the great Victim. …One Host, one Victim, one priest that immolates himself and immolates Me in your heart on behalf of the world. The Father will receive with pleasure this offering presented by the Holy Spirit and the graces of heaven will descend as rain on the earth.

This is the nucleus, the global, the concrete ensemble and essence of perfection in my Works of the Cross. Clearly, my immolation suffices and more than suffices to appease the divine justice of God. But true Christianity, the flower of the Gospel, is it anything else or does it aim at anything other than uniting all victims into ONE, all sufferings, virtues and merits into the ONE that I am, so that all these may be of worth and obtain graces?

What does the Holy Spirit intend in My Church save to form in Me
the unity of wills, of sufferings and of hearts in My Heart? What was the desire of My Heart throughout My life, but to bring about that ONENESS with Me by charity, by love? Why did the Word descend into this world save to form with His immaculate Flesh and His most pure Blood, one blood to expiate and to win souls? Has the Eucharist any other purpose than to unite bodies and souls with Me,  transforming them and divinizing them?

And not only on altars of stone, but in hearts, living temples of the Holy Spirit, is the Victim to be offered to heaven. In doing so the souls become with Him hosts and victims… God will be thereby profoundly touched.”

Two years ago I wrote Soul Food Talk #7: “The Christian: Priest & Victim” and used many of these same passages. Over the years I continue to chew over these beautiful words again and again, trying to enter more and more deeply into their reality.  [https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/soul-food-talk-7-the-christian-priest-and-victim/ ]

What has sustained me for many years, and still does is Father John de Caussade’s ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE, and I wrote Soul Food Talk # 5 summarizing this book. How I love his concept of abandonment, “sacrament of the moment,” and the flow of God’s will for us moment by moment.[https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/soul-food-talk-5-abandonment-to-divine-providence/ ]

Let us spend quality time with God. Steep ourselves in what best feeds us. Fill our lamps with oil till we are brimming. Stir into flame the Holy Spirit and the graces of our baptism.

I also read in the Path these words of encouragement: “I bring you news of great joy: God is here. You are beloved. This stands firm forever.”

NOTE:  Find the pic and a wonderful article on the Ten virgins and their lamps here, especially on the meaning of the OIL [be sure to go far enough down the page to see the wonderful discussions]:  http://endtimepilgrim.org/tenvirg.htm