[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….”
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.