EXULT! Christ is Risen!

Every Easter my heart EXULTS!  This traditional Easter sequence,  Victimae Paschali Laudes is most beautiful [translation below]:

Christians, to the Paschal victim

offer your thankful praises!

A lamb the sheep redeemeth:

Christ, who only is sinless,

reconcileth sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended

in that combat stupendous:

the Prince of life, who died,

reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring

what thou sawest, wayfaring:

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,

the glory of Jesus’ resurrection;

“Bright angels attesting,

the shroud and napkin resting.

“Yea, Christ my hope is arisen;

to Galilee he will go before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen,

our new life obtaining;

have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Amen.

Most beautiful is the EASTER PROCLAMATION of Holy Saturday Vigil, the EXULTET:  “Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven.”  This English version, chanted to the Gregorian chant, is lovely.

The same proclamation chanted in Latin in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis in 2015–watch a part of it to get a sense of the majesty of the proclamation:

 

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My Covenant with Love Crucified

On Mar. 12, 2016, [incidentally,  my husband’s birthday,] during our Community retreat, I entered into a long-desired covenant with the Holy Trinity and Love Crucified Community.  LC RETREAT 2016I have referred to our community several times in varied posts, and I have also incorporated reflections of our spirituality in posts, as well.  My call to covenant is a central aspect of this blog.  Let me explain.

After 15 years away from the Church, when I returned in November 2009, God blessed me with many gifts—among them the gift of tears.  I wept for weeks in repentance and gratitude that He had restored my lost faith.  Not only did God restore my faith, He poured graces and many insights upon me—more than I had enjoyed before I left the Church.  Isn’t this so typical of how our good God works—if only we return to Him!  I read voraciously many of the books which I had visited in my youth, especially my beloved ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE by Father Jean-Pierre deCaussade, S.J.  I also discovered many other sources of knowledge of my faith, including the new Catholic Catechism.  I wept my way through the Nicene Creed as presented there, relieved to believe with all my heart in all that the Catholic Church teaches.  I grew in my commitment as my prayer life deepened.

Before my husband died on Dec. 8, 2012, I had already discovered CONCHITA: A MOTHER’S SPIRITUAL DIARY by Marie-Michel Philipon and was drawn to the spirituality of the Cross.  When I discovered that my beloved husband, George, had lung cancer, having fallen utterly in love with the Divine Will, I had no inclination to consider marrying again, but decided that I would devote my life to God after George’s death and began to consider how I would do this.  I began to explore third orders online, the Carmelites, the Dominicans, etc.—so many beautiful communities.  Yet none of them resonated with me.  I suddenly realized that I needed to find out if Conchita—who had established an order of priests and sisters—might have a third order.  I therefore googled “Conchita” + “victim souls” and the Love Crucified website emerged with Father Jordi’s article: “Victim of Love.”

As I read about this community, I realized quickly that Love Crucified was the object of my loving search. On the website I read:  “Our vocation is summed up in His call: “Suffer all with Me, no longer two but one, in My sacrifice of love” (Cf. Eph 2:13-14).

I contacted Father Jordi Rivero, talked at length with him and with Lourdes (together, they founded the community).   I was drawn to the community in so many ways.  One little phrase which appeared on one of the pages of the website explained “domestic monastery”—here I found in the words of Father Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I.:

What is a monastery? A monastery is a place consecrated to God, a place to live in silence, to allow God to speak, and to bring us to intimate union Him; a place where time is not ours; a place where we live for others. Monasteries may be inhabited by celibates. There are also domestic monasteries where this is lived secretly, caring for noisy children and doing house chores. Yet this kind of “monk” finds, in the inner silence of the heart,  union with the interior martyrdom of Christ, which creates the necessary rhythm to find God in the daily routines.” 

I was amazed.  Though I had briefly even entertained the thought that I could enter a religious order, I realized that at my age, I would not likely be accepted; so I had determined to remain at home and make my home my monastery where I could live as a contemplative and victim soul.  These were my precise thoughts, in so many words.

Love Crucified Covenant Community accepted me as an aspirant, and I began “Accompaniment,” our term for intimate sharing and mentoring, with Maria, one of the anointed leaders of our community.  I read and reflected deeply on our manual,  SIMPLE PATH TO UNION WITH GOD, Formation Book for Christ’s Martyrs of Love, and discovered and either read or reread other classics of our community, including the words of Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez, who was Conchita’s spiritual director for the last decade/s of her life.  My beloved Archbishop is probably best known for his book on the Holy Spirit, THE SANCTIFIER, the central work on the Holy Spirit in the Church, one which reflects more deeply on His role as the Sanctifier of souls.  Other works cherished by our community may be found here:  BOOKS RECOMMENDED.  [Note that many of these resources are in Spanish as well as English.]

As I grew in understanding, I committed to daily Mass, to an hour daily of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, to the daily Rosary, to the Liturgy of the Hours (at least one of the hours daily) and to other recommended practices, all in my domestic monastery!  I participated eagerly in our little Cenacle online each Thursday night.

I had already, in the fall of 2013, begun sharing with a small group of women at my church, St. Paul the Apostle, in my little  SOUL FOOD MINISTRY.  As this time of sharing phased out, I started my blog:  SOUL FOOD MINISTRIES – food for the journey in January 2015.  All of my original talks, called SOUL FOOD TALKS, I posted to the blog on their own pages, then began new posts incorporating the beautiful sharing with which the Holy Spirit gifted me during adoration, many based on the incredible readings and accompaniment of my community.

Although I wrote my autobiography [and my husband’s biography] in the fall of 2013, although it was published in July 2015 by Pelican Publishing company, although a movie is in development based on the book and I am a co-producer—nothing has deterred me from my Covenant with Love Crucified.

What I felt as I proclaimed my Covenant with God and community, witnessed by many community members, even 14 new aspirants who joined us from Colombia, and signed by me, Father Jordi, and Lourdes, was supreme joy and thanksgiving! I have come so far in Christ.  Years ago as a young girl I was an aspirant seeking entrance into the School Sisters of Notre Dame—yet even after nine years with them, four in high school, then a year as a postulant, a year as a novice, and three years professed, I left the convent, and eventually left the Church.  I felt that I had come full circle through grace, through the pure gift of God.

In the ceremony itself, after the LC cross transp smallCovenant Prayer, Lourdes placed our Love Crucified icon or cross around my neck—[shown here].

Then I received the symbolic chalice [which I had purchased for this purpose] which Father had consecrated and which had held the Precious Blood in the Mass—the chalice which represents the Mother of the Cross, the living chalice which I would become, filled with the blood, the tears, the Divine Mercy that I collect through the prayers, sacrifices, and union of my life with Christ, a chalice spilling over onto my territory of souls, all the precious souls who enter my life, especially all priests and seminarians.

When I came home with my chalice, I framed my Covenant prayer and hung it over the shelf where I placed the paten (which came with the chalice) and the chalice itself.  I wondered,  “What will I do with the paten?  It’s meant to hold the host—the Body of Christ. Transformed by the Holy Spirit into Christ, I am the living host.  That’s why my LC cross has no corpus—I am meant to be the corpus.” Therefore, on the paten, I placed my LC cross.

Then I began to cut, one by one, petals from a silk rose, and to write on them one by one, “my territory of souls” and the specific names of groups or individuals whom I then placed in the chalice.

As part of my Morning Prayer, I stand before the chalice, the paten, and my Covenant and as I lift my cross, I kiss it, I put it on, saying:  “Jesus, my Love Crucified, transform me into Your living host to all the souls precious to Your Sacred Heart. “SDC10886

Then I lift my chalice, saying:  “Transform my heart into Your living chalice. For all my territory of souls, let me suffer all with You, no longer two but One, in Your sacrifice of love.”

[To read more about our beautiful emblematic cross, which our covenanted members wear, see the page on our website:  SYMBOLISM OF LOVE CRUCIFIED CROSS ]

 

“Love itself is the priest that offers us” –Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez

Love itself is the priest

“Love itself is the priest that offers us:
keen and penetrating as a two-edged sword,
it pierces to where we would never be able to penetrate;
it sinks its burning and painful darts
into the deepest recesses of the soul,
into regions that we did not even suspect existed in our being.
And there it burns,
and there it cuts,
and there it plucks out
and leaves on all sides
the sharpest traces of an unknown sorrow.
And it establishes everywhere
the immense and ineffable solitude of love”

[Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez–p. 74, Worshipping a Hidden God]

The Loneliness of Love

sorrowful christI have been meditating on my post, “For love of God, willingly bear exile of heart.” Thomas a Kempis describes with this one phrase, “exile of heart” the terrible ache of the heart. We learn from our beloved Archbishop Martinez that it is in such sharp sorrow and exile of heart that our love is purified.         https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/for-love-of-god-willingly-bear-exile-of-heart-thomas-a-kempis/

Today, I began to focus on the exile of heart which Jesus experienced throughout His entire life—beginning with the Incarnation, according to Ven. Conchita. In her diary, she reports that Jesus told her:
“I wish that above all, there be honored the interior sufferings of My Heart, sufferings undergone from My Incarnation to the Cross and which are mystically prolonged in My Eucharist. These sufferings are still unsuspected by the world. Nonetheless I declare to you that, from the first moment of my Incarnation, the Cross already planted in My Heart, overburdened Me and the thorns penetrated it.”

As vicious as were the physical assaults on His sacred person, as stupendous the level of pain and suffering, it cannot be only the physical sufferings to which He refers, but to the mental and emotional pain as well. The Divine Word was always united, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit throughout His human life, but the manhood of Christ also knew from the beginning of His human existence, exile of heart, the unbearable ache, the torturing thirst, the loneliness of being alone in the fullness of His love and longing for the Father and for us, His bride. Mary, His mother, could empathize, could begin to appreciate the sensitive longing of her son, but could never truly fathom His loneliness in love. This aching longing, this unquenchable thirst would cry out in the end of His life: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

To enter deeply the journey into union is to face unrelieved loneliness in love. On a human level, we can share, laugh, enjoy companionship, but in our heart of hearts, no one can enter—can begin to appreciate, assume, or grasp the height, the depth, the width of the soul thirsting for union because to thirst for union with the Beloved is to long for the unfathomable God. Such a thirst plummets to depths beyond human reach, such a sorrow is bottomless, as unfathomable as the God in Whom the soul has lost itself. How intense the loneliness in the heart of Jesus in His constant stretch to bridge the chasm between Himself as man—between us and the Father.

When as a 12 year old, Jesus disappeared for three days and was found in the temple, I cannot help but feel that He was struggling to be in a place where He could feel closer to His Father—He was lonely in love. The doctors and teachers could not begin to fathom His young thirsting Heart.

As he entered His ministry, imagine His suffering when even those closest to Him continually misinterpreted what He was about, failing to understand His mission. When He went off by Himself to pray, don’t imagine that He spent the long hours in ecstasy, but in darkness, in longing, in the exile of His Heart. How He longed to cast His fire, and how He wept when Jerusalem would not be gathered in the folds of His loving arms.

Jesus endured for many years a martyrdom of desire, a martyrdom which He began to quench, finally, in His physical passion, which for Him was a relief from the inner martyrdom. Only the Cross and His crucifixion could salve such a thirst.

When Thomas a Kempis tells us, “Willingly bear exile of heart,” he renders to us the greatest compliment and hope—it is only with the dearest beloved of His Heart, His bride, that the God-man shares His thirst, His loneliness in love, the exile of His Heart in the journey to Union with the Trinity.