“Canticle of the Cross” — Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez

Today I was stunned by the profound beauty which I found in UNDER THE GAZE OF THE FATHER, a retreat on the mystical incarnation, which Archbishop Luis Martinez gave in 1935 to Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida, our beloved Conchita.  On the ninth day of her retreat, Archbishop Luis spoke of sacrifice.

Having referred often to the mystical incarnation, living host, as well as a host of other beautiful teachings, I am humbled by the difficulty of explaining or even showing in the remotest way how all of this is related to our life in the Spirit.  It occurs to me that this gift of our baptism, our new life in the Holy Spirit, could be compared to a splendid jewel with thousands of brilliant facets.  Jesus himself compared the Kingdom to the pearl of great price.  I think what I try to do in each post is to explore one tiny facet of this jewel of our spiritual life, yet all remains deepest mystery which we can only touch upon, but never fathom.

In his meditation on sacrifice, our beloved Archbishop explains that Jesus loves Abba so much that He willingly sacrifices Himself on the Cross, but he also explains why the Cross is the ultimate vehicle for that love.  He says,  “…because divine love is infinite, its expression is infinite, its gift is infinite, and its canticle is infinite.  In heaven, in the bosom of God, the expression of love is the ineffable communication of the Divinity in the inscrutable divine processions.” [Under the Gaze, p. 77]

What he means is that divine love in heaven, in the bosom of God, expresses itself in the interplay of the persons of the Trinity, the Father pouring himself wholly and completely into His Word, the love of the Father and the Son expressing through the Holy Spirit—the entire mystery of the Trinity—the uninterrupted outpouring of infinite, eternal  love.

But on earth, in Jesus, now the God/man, how can this “uninterrupted outpouring of infinite, eternal love” hope to express itself in finite flesh?  As Archbishop Luis exclaims,

            “When this love is transplanted on earth, as it was when Jesus appeared on it, what will its expression, gift and canticle be like? What will Jesus, who bears eternal love in His Heart, do in order to tell His Father that He loves Him, in order to intone the full and just canticle to God’s glory?”

             “On earth, there is no infinity! Here all expressions are narrow and all gifts limited, and all canticles are poor in harmony, faded and ephemeral, since they cannot fill the universe with sonority, nor contain in their poor notes the infinite fullness of harmony!”

            “On earth, heavenly love found its expression and canticle in the Cross….  The suffering and death which are symbolized by the Cross are the infinity of earth, the infinity of poverty and misery, but in the end, infinity.”  [ p. 77]

The Cross is the ultimate canticle of the God/man.  In the Cross lies earth’s infinity of suffering, self-giving, and holocaust of love.  If Christ could have given more, He would have.  The very fact that the Cross was the way He chose to express the completeness, the fullness of outpouring of His love for the Father tells us that there was simply no other way to do it.  The Cross is the ultimate kenosis.  No other way for Him.  No other way for us.

Ven. Luis gives us this:

“On earth, the expression of the divine love is the Cross, which is the self-giving of something finite made in an infinite manner and the canticle of this love is the “Consumatum est” of Calvary. It is the voice of the Spirit which cries out, of the blood which is shed, of the water which flows out of the open side.”  [p. 78]

But the Canticle of the Cross is not for Jesus alone.  He speaks to each of His baptized children:  “If you would come after Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”  [Lk. 9:23]       Archbishop Luis adds:

“… in order to show its love for the Father, in order to find its expression and canticle, the soul seeks the mysterious and unspeakable canticle of the Cross. On the Cross, the soul offers Jesus and nails itself to it with Him.”

             I wrote in an earlier post,  “The Cross is the bridal chamber where union takes place in the intimacy of suffering.”  Nailed to the cross with Christ, the victim with the Victim outpours to Abba from a finite little heart the infinity of an eternal Canticle of Love. Here is “the self-giving of something finite made in an infinite manner” of which Archbishop Luis speaks.  St. Theresa understood this kind of canticle, doing the little things with great love.  Like St. Theresa, we are crucified, too, in the ordinary tedium of our little lives.

Most beautiful is the way Archbishop Luis ended his meditation.  After reflecting on the Works of the Cross and those points particular to Conchita, he says:

“…the transformed soul… fused with the Heart of Jesus, sings with Him the canticle of suffering and death to the glory of God on earth.”  [p. 79]

The transformed soul is, of course, the soul which has received the gift of mystical incarnation.    For a long time I wondered if this gift was special, only for Conchita, but Archbishop Luis refers on several occasions to “mystical incarnations.” For example on p. 68-69, he tells Conchita,

“How, without being Jesus, could the soul realize the intimate and fine work of the sacrifice and the intimate priesthood of Jesus?”

And on p. 74:

Being Jesus, the soul loves the Father, reflecting Jesus’ love and seeking His glory as Jesus sought it so that the love, suffering, actions and life of the soul aim with perfect unity and intense concentration at one point, just as all the activities of Jesus’ soul converged to the glory of the Father, the center and crowning of Jesus’ life.”           Don’t we have here in the “love, suffering, actions, and life of the soul,” the Canticle of the Cross?  One Victim, one Song.       

The Holy Spirit transforms the soul, if it is faithful; it is in and through the Holy Spirit that the Canticle of the Cross pours forth to the glory of the Father.   I learned from Archbishop Luis long ago, that “wherever the little Dove nests is the Heart of Jesus.”  When the Holy Spirit nested in the Blessed Virgin, she incarnated the Son of God.  So it is with us.  Only through the power of the Holy Spirit and in our complete abandonment to Him can our hearts be fused to the Heart of Christ and we become one spirit.

It is through the Holy Spirit that we are transformed into His living hosts [which is another way of expressing Conchita’s “mystical incarnation”]. We read in A SIMPLE PATH TO UNION, in message 49 on the Eucharist:

Your ordinary and hidden life through the Cross becomes united to My Eucharistic life. Your hidden life takes on the same power as My hidden life because we are no longer two but ONE. These are My living hosts. In this union of love, you enter and live in the realm of God. Through Me, with Me and in Me your most ordinary life is the power of God. Your thoughts, words, deeds, but most especially your tears and sorrows of heart, possess the power of God to bless the world. Your hidden life not seen by anyone is seen by God; and through Me, with Me and in Me, He blesses many. Your life as ONE with My Eucharistic life moves beyond time and space.” [A SIMPLE PATH TO UNION, P. 162]

             This is the end for which we were created, for which we were baptized.  From the hearts of His living hosts, the Canticle of the Cross rises to the glory of the Father:  “…the transformed soul… fused with the Heart of Jesus, sings with Him the canticle of suffering and death to the glory of God on earth.”

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See also:  “To Be Jesus Crucified,”      “The Cross & the Mystic Mass of the Bride”  and “The Kiss of Jesus.”

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“My little tabernacle of ordinary life…” – from Ammie’s testimony on being a LIVING HOST

[For my sister Monica, a living host whose faithful heart and soul are being stretched in union with Love Crucified upon a most bitter cross…]

Ammie’s revealing testimony was so piercing, so clear in its sorrow and meaning.  Among the many things which she said, was this little phrase, “My little tabernacle of ordinary life,” a phrase which pulled so many feelings and ideas together for me.

Exactly five years ago this July, before my husband died, before I joined Love Crucified, I made what seemed at the time a tremendous commitment:  30 minutes of meditation/ contemplation (if the Lord would grant it) a day.  Then I asked Him,  “What do You want me to do for this 30 minutes?  For the answer, I did something I rarely do—open the Scriptures at random—I was driven to tears when I read:

“My lover has come down to His garden,

   to the beds of spice,

To browse in the garden and to gather lilies.

My lover belongs to me and I to Him;

   He browses among the lilies.”

In the last five years, as my commitment grew to one hour of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and daily Mass, He has driven my naiive heart past the intimacy of the enclosed Garden where He browses among the lilies—the virtues, the lilies which He daily gathers.

Through Ven. Conchita, He has led me to plumb the inner sanctuary of my heart, my “inner cloister of Fiat” in Mother Mary.  It was to Conchita that He first said,  You are to live cloistered in the very inner sanctuary of your soul, for there is where dwells the Holy Spirit. It is in this sanctuary you must live and die. There are your delights, your consolations, your repose. Do not look elsewhere for it, you will never find it. It is for this purpose I have created you specially. From today on, enter into the innermost regions of your soul, into those areas so unknown to so many others but where is found that happiness which I am. Enter into it never to leave it…. The ‘inner cloister’ is essential for the sanctification of the soul wishing to be all Mine. You must never leave this inner sanctuary, even in the midst of your outside obligations.”

The inner cloister is above all hidden, personal—where the presence of the Holy Spirit penetrates through the ordinary, unremarkable days of my life. Often I feel nothing, realize nothing, forget Him, yet He never leaves the inner cloister.—and one turn, one glance, one insignificant act of love in a trite day can draw me back to where He waits.

One of the lovely expressions of Love Crucified Covenant Community is “our domestic monastery”—which, it seems to me, fosters that inner cloister of which He spoke.

In Lourdes’ recent teaching, we visited again one of our central teachings on living hidden lives:  “You will live your hidden lives like me in prayer, sacrifice and suffering. Your hidden lives lived in your domestic monasteries will be a source of grace for the sanctification of priests”[Message 98].

As we reflected on the “Altar of the Cross” Lourdes cautioned us:  “To come to the altar of sacrifice in the Mass without having lived my daily sacrifice in the altar of my home or work, is a sterile sacrifice to the Father. The words of the Mass – through Him, with Him and in Him – must be lived out daily in the ordinary and tediousness of my life, in the sacrament of the moment. It is only in this way that my sacrifice is truly pleasing to God and made perfect in Jesus’ sacrifice of perfect love. “

In part 2 of our Eucharistic reflection, Jesus tells us:  “Your ordinary and hidden life through the Cross becomes united to My Eucharistic life. Your hidden life takes on the same power as My hidden life because we are no longer two but ONE. These are My living hosts. In this union of love, you enter and live in the realm of God. Through Me, with Me and in Me your most ordinary life is the power of God.

Your thoughts, words, deeds, but most especially your tears and sorrows of heart, possess the power of God to bless the world. Your hidden life not seen by anyone is seen by God; and through Me, with Me and in Me, He blesses many. Your life as ONE with My Eucharistic life moves beyond time and space[Message 49].

Intimacy with Jesus, with the Holy Trinity grows and takes place at the same time in the sweet intimacy of the enclosed Garden, in the sanctuary of the heart, in the inner cloister of Fiat where dwells the Holy Spirit, in the simple domestic monastery, in the hidden tabernacle of the Eucharist where Union makes us victim with the Hidden Victim of Love, in the daily, ordinary tedium of our lives as living hosts, one Heart, one Mind, one Will with Love Crucified.

How lovely Ammie’s little phrase, “the little tabernacle of my ordinary life” where sorrow and the bitterness of grievous suffering breaks open the heart and stretches the soul as wide as the altar of the personal cross.

In Under the Gaze of the Father, Ven. Luis Martinez tells Conchita:  “…interior suffering is especially for Him. The intimacy of joy or suffering, of light or darkness, is of little importance, since it will always be love and, in any case, it is intimacy with Jesus who is your Lord, Love and All.”

In her reflection, Ven. Conchita acknowledges the sorrow and bitterness of soul which has grown in her heart year after year:  “I must believe that at the bottom of my bitterness there is love, love which grows each year, and that Jesus unites Himself with my soul in ever closer union.”

Intimacy which begins in sweetness and browsing among the lilies grows with the years into an intimacy of suffering—but “it is of little importance, since it will always be love, and in any case, it is intimacy with Jesus….”

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Ammie, a Mother of the Cross in our community was recently diagnosed with lyme disease, six months after the similar diagnosis of her husband, a Missionary of the Cross. You may find part 2 of Lourdes talk on the Eucharist and Ammie’s testimony here:  TESTIMONY.  Part 1, the Eucharist:  LOURDES’ TALK.

RELATED POSTS: 

Hidden Force

The Inner Cloister of Fiat

Altar of the Cross

The Intimacy of SUFFERING WITH

The Kiss of Jesus

The Violence of Sorrow