The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Anticipating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I revisited this morning in adoration a talk/reflection which I wrote in 2014—I was amazed at the scope of this post.  It covers the history of the devotion with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque [1600’s];  St. John Chrysostom (born. c. 347); St. Bonaventure, 1221-1274;  St. Gertrude the Great, b. 1256; the founding of the feast with Pope Innocent VI [1353]; a Eucharistic miracle which our present Pope Francis had as Cardinal in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Much of the talk then reflects on sections of Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez’ book ONLY JESUS—bringing us deep into the interior martyrdom of the Sacred Heart.  You will find substantial material for adoration and private meditation.  Please find it here:  THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS.

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“To be a Living Host”

Here it is, 5:00 in the morning and the Holy Spirit will not let me sleep. I have been rereading once more UNDER THE GAZE OF THE FATHER—Conchita’s [Ven. Conception Cabrera de Armida’s] retreat on “mystical incarnation.”  In our Love Crucified community, we refer to this grace as “living host.”  Every time I read of it in Archbishop Martinez’ reflections, I wonder, “Can this be for me?  Does Christ call me to this—or am I only daring to dream that this is the grace of my life?”

In Conchita’s reflection on the Third Day, she recounts how this grace gradually became the totality of her spirituality, beginning with “The Father is gazing upon you”:

He [Jesus] tells me that in that gaze of the divine Father, the germ of the mystical incarnation was communicated to me.”

 Later, in Mexico City she heard:  “The Divine Word is pursuing you.”  How can these graces apply to me?  Conchita could hardly believe that they applied to her!

Later she explains:  “Jesus explained to me that the goal of the Chain of Love should be the offering, this ongoing offering of the Divine Word to the Father in union with the Word, entirely lost in Him.” Then I thought to myself, “But that is what I do every day—it is what I live for!” In Conchita’s Diary we read also:  [Jesus to Conchita]  “The Word became flesh and becomes flesh again in souls only to be crucified. It is the purpose of all mystical incarnationsYour Word has just become flesh mystically in your heart… in order to be constantly sacrificed there not on an altar of stone, but in a living temple of the Holy Spirit, by a priest and victim who, by an inconceivable grace, received the power to participate in the love of the Father.”  [Diary, p. 120]

In Dec. 2016, in Mexico City, as I prayed at the tomb of Conchita, meditating for several days on the mystical incarnation in her Diary, I read and reflected repeatedly:

“The mystical incarnation,’ the Lord has stated, ‘has as its object the offering of Myself in your heart, as an expiatory victim, checking at each moment divine justice and obtaining heavenly graces'” (Diary, Feb. 2, 1911) [p.160].

“’The principal object of this grace is a transformation which unites what you will to what I will, your will to Mine, your immolation to Mine. Wholly pure and sacrificed in your body and in your soul, you must offer yourself and offer Me to the heavenly Father at each instant, at each breath…[for the Church, for souls](Diary 160).

This is My Body, this My Blood. I say this again to the eternal Father, at each instant, on the altars. Make yourself worthy, as much as possible, to offer your body, your blood, your soul and all that you are, as I have told you, in union with this continual immolation on behalf of the world” (Diary 160).

“The purpose of the mystical incarnation is the fusion of My life in you, according to its development on earth. ‘Be yourself…’” (Diary 161).

I want you to be My host and have the intention, renewed as often as possible day and night, of offering yourself with Me on all the patens on earth. I want you, transformed in Me by suffering, by love and by the practice of all the virtues, to raise heavenward this cry of your soul in union with Me: ‘This is My Body, This is My Blood’”  (Diary 161).

“’Be yourself,’ I told you one day, and today I tell you again: ‘Let Me come to you, and be one with Me and transform yourself through the instrumentality of My divine life in your heart. Let Me possess you, simplify you in God, in Our indivisible unity through the Holy Spirit’” (Diary 161).

“You must transform yourself into charity, that is, into Me, who am all Love, killing the old man, making with Me but one single heart, and one single will’” (Diary 160).

Here, again, in the impassioned words of Jesus himself, is the objective:  …one only Host, one only Victim, one only Priest immolating Himself and immolating Me in your heart on behalf of the whole world. The Father pleased, will receive this offering presented through the Holy Spirit, and the graces of heaven will descend as rain on the earth” (Diary 162).

Jesus told her, “Be yourself.”  Although I know I am no Conchita, I thought this also.  I am unique on the face of the earth, so the way that I live and breathe the mystical incarnation, as His living host, will therefore be different from the way anyone else lives it.  Conchita’s intensity is of Conchita.  I may be a lesser soul, [for every soul is different and unique], but I have my own spiritual intensity—my intensity is of Kathy.

How can this be?  “Be yourself.”  I know that the Father is gazing on me, for I read in Eph. 1:4 that “He chose me in Christ before the foundations of the world that I should be holy and blameless before him.” In Psalm 139:13, I read that He “knit me in my mother’s womb“ and that “I am fearfully, wonderfully made,” a unique creature drawn through the Divine Word from one unique time, place, culture, family, history in all the universe, [in whatever pain, weakness, suffering, or shame inherent there], distinct and particular in the gaze of the Father, an intense pinpoint of reflected light designed uniquely to glorify the Blessed Trinity as has never before me been accomplished, or ever after will be accomplished.  All this—if only I can “Be myself.”  In this does my intensity of holiness consist; “Be yourself,” the living host in which the Father is well pleased.

Then, seeking confirmation, [I am always seeking confirmation!] I went to The Simple Path to Union, and here I read:

#49  “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.”

[See “The Eternal Mode of Prayer,” https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/the-eternal-mode-of-prayer/ ]

#51  “Trust and place all your confidence in the power of the hidden life being revealed to you now in My Eucharistic presence. I am the power of the hidden life. I want to possess you with My hidden life, which is the Eucharist, transforming you into living hosts. This transformation will take place as you live your hidden and interior life united to My interior crucifixion, suffering all with Me and in Me. In this way, the power of the hidden force will intensify with the fire of the Holy Spirit…”

#52  “The Eucharist is the power of God in the world, and God desires to make you living Hosts.”

Lourdes tells us in the chapter on Living Hosts:  When a soul, filled with the Holy Spirit, is united to Jesus so profoundly as to share His sufferings and joys, in total abandonment to the Father, she is a “living host.”

Archbishop Martinez also saw that this also was required of the living host:  that a human being—priest, religious, or lay— make the “marvelous exchange” of his independent human will for the Divine Will by allowing the Holy Spirit to unite him to Jesus in all of his acts.”

Finally, I read in # 57 of Simple Path:  “The purpose of the Path is to make all of you My living hosts.”

It is perfectly clear to me that my vocation is to be a Mother of the Cross in Love Crucified community, that I have been accepted by the community in this vocation, and that I have made my covenant and strive to live it daily—so I am a living host.  This is my unique spirituality—in every sense of the word, in every aspect.

I meditated a long time also on these words in #57 of the Simple Path:  Allow Me to possess you with My life. Ponder every relationship and situation in your lives where you are not loving with Me, through Me and in Me.”

In the section on prophecy, I read:  Our Lord wants us to be living hosts, blessed, broken and given to many” (Simple Path, p. 172).

Yet nothing is possible without the Holy Spirit.  During this Pentecost season, I have reflected so much on the Holy Spirit, struggling to be completely docile to Him, completely abandoned to Him—and not only this, but to completely sever any attachments which keep me from yielding totally to Him.  Only in docility to the movements of the Holy Spirit, in conceding total control to Him, can I live Christ as His living host, loving with, through, and for Him—being “blessed, broken and given to many.”

Archbishop Martinez explains this so well, as I cited in the Rosary of the Holy Spirit:

During these days, [these days of spiritual warfare] you should be the faithful and loving bride of the Holy Spirit. Let Him possess you without obstacles or reserve, with perfect self-abandonment and love.

Let the Holy Spirit do with you as He wills. Let Him envelop you in silence, or lull you with heavenly harmony. Let Him console or immolate you. Let Him penetrate you to the inmost recesses of your soul. Let Him fashion you as He pleases, and shake you with His powerful action, and permeate you with His victorious love.”  [Under the Gaze of the Father, p. 34]

Pray with me the beginning prayer in the Rosary of the Holy Spirit:

“…we plead with You, little Dove of Conchita, Holy Spirit of the Father and of our beloved Jesus, come make your nest in our hearts.  Groan, Little Dove, groan with the thirst that we be one. Come, overshadow all of us and create in us a New Pentecost.  Fill us with Your precious gifts and fruits, fill us with the gaze of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the gaze of our Abba. We abandon ourselves completely to Your Divine Fire of Love.”

+++++++++++

See also:    A Simple Path to Union  and   “Become a Living Holocaust for His Glory”

 

 

 

 

 

HUMILITY

Over the last few weeks I have been tested, leaving me in some desolation of spirit, but mostly stripping me of my self-confidence.  I have been on a steep learning curve which shocked and confused me.  Then this week everything which comes before me is about humility—confirming the whole point of my hard lessons.

Powerful words came to me from my spiritual mother, Lourdes, in a teaching which she sent to our whole community.  What especially struck me were these two passages from The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena:

“For one does not arrive at virtue except through knowledge of self, and knowledge of Me, which knowledge is more perfectly acquired in the time of temptation, because then man knows himself to be nothing, being unable to lift off himself the pains and vexations which he would flee…”

Then this one:

“…in order to exercise them in virtue and raise them above their imperfection, I withdraw from their minds My consolation and allow them to fall into battles and perplexities.  This I do so that, coming to perfect self-knowledge, they may know that of themselves they are nothing and have no grace, and accordingly in time of battle fly to Me, as their Benefactor, seeking me alone, with true humility…”

These passages tell me that God permits, even takes care to design, pains, vexations, battles, and perplexities specifically to teach me humility, my powerlessness, my utter inability to help myself, that I may fly to Him.  Yes, this is exactly where I have been in the last few weeks.

How kind the Holy Spirit—all this week He has brought all manner of teaching about humility to my face, reinforcing what I learned with great pains in the battles.

In the meditation today in DIVINE INTIMACY by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D., I read:  “We must humble ourselves …under the mighty hand of God, sincerely recognize our nothingness, take account of our poverty; and if we wish to glorify ourselves, we must glory, like St. Paul, solely in our infirmities. It is only in our weakness, humbly acknowledged, that grace and divine virtue work and triumph…[God] stoops only to the humble; the more lowly He finds a soul, the closer He draws it to Himself.  Humility deepens the soul’s capacity to receive the fullness of divine gifts.” [#106]

How long have I known this?  For years.  In how many battles has God permitted me to learn this? I cannot begin to estimate.  Why am I so hard-headed?  Yet to know this in an intellectual way is to remain ignorant still.

We have to experience the full frustration of deception by the evil one, perplexities, vexations, and spiritual pain—to endure a real beating sometimes—to gain the experience of our nothingness.  And then to repeat the whole process often at a later time!  What miserable children we are!

I also found in ROSARY TO THE INTERIOR [http://rosarytotheinterior.com/the-first-joyful-mystery-the-annunciation/ ] this passage from the reflection on the Annunciation/Incarnation:

“The one truth regarding Our Lord’s Incarnation which is totally inexplicable, and therefore truly does make it the ‘most hidden’ of all of the mysteries of Christ is offered to us in a passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians:

For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” (2: 5-8).

“ It is the humility of Christ in the Incarnation which is the ‘least understood’ of all the mysteries of Our Lord. It can make no rational sense to us as to why an Eternal and Infinitely Perfect God should lower himself to be united in human nature with men who are nothing in themselves; that He should then voluntarily suffer the most ignominious and cruel death at the hands of men – that He should be spat upon, scourged, mockingly tortured with a crown of cruel thorns, forced to bear His own Cross, and Crucified – in order to merit the grace of their salvation; and then still be rejected by the vast majority of mankind.”

If He emptied Himself, how can I not empty myself?  In DIVINE INTIMACY, same meditation, St. Therese exclaims: “O Divine Guest, You know my misery; that is why You come to me in the hope of finding an empty tabernacle, a heart wholly emptied of self.  This is all You ask.”

Finally, last night I was deeply touched by Mark Mallett’s post, “On True Humility.”  I have read repeatedly the wonderful poem and part of his post which I cite here:

“Humility is perpetual quietness of heart.
It is to have no trouble.
It is never to be fretted, vexed, irritated,  sore, or disappointed.
It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing  that is done to me,
to feel nothing done against me.
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me,
and when I am blamed and despised.
It is to have a blessed home in myself,  where I can go in,
shut the door, kneel to my God in secret, 
and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness
when all around and above is troubled.
(Author Unknown) 

“Finally, a soul is abiding in true humility when it embraces all of the above—but resists any kind of self-satisfaction—as if to say, “Ah, I am finally getting it; I’ve got it figured out; I’ve arrived… etc.” St. Pio warned of this most subtle enemy:

“Let us always be on the alert and not let this very formidable enemy [of self-satisfaction] penetrate our minds and hearts, because, once it enters, it ravages every virtue, mars every holiness, and corrupts everything that is good and beautiful. —from Padre Pio’s Spiritual Direction for Every Day, edited by Gianluigi Pasquale, Servant Books; Feb. 25th

“Whatever is good is God’s—the rest is mine. If my life bears good fruit, it is because He who is Good is working in me. For Jesus said, “without me, you can do nothing.” [3]

“Repent of pride, rest in God’s will, and relinquish any self-satisfaction, and you will discover the sweetness of the Cross. For the Divine Will is the seed of true joy and real peace. It is food for the humble.”

I don’t know where Mark found this little poem, but how amazing it is.  How amazing that the Holy Spirit constantly supports us with every grace for union with God—whatever we need. This Lent is a time of immense grace and gratitude for me—I hope it is the same for you.

“REMAIN With Me” — Reflections by Lourdes Pinto

A couple of weeks ago, our spiritual mother, Lourdes, sent a beautiful reflection on the Joyful Mysteries to our community, “Remain with Me.”  I have been praying the rosary, meditating on the main ideas; but what stays with me are the beginning and part of the meditation on the Presentation. This I have entered deeply, or it has penetrated my mind and my heart in a way it never has before:

 “…REMAIN with Me as I continue to shed tears for Jerusalem… remain with Me in My continuous agony for souls, to participate with Me in the salvation of the world, as you choose daily to receive the brokenness of the souls I have placed in your lives and to suffer with Me for them.” [Emphasis mine]

 Also, during this time I have been watching some videos on GMO’s, [genetically modified organisms] which pervade our food, and fluoride, a toxic additive in much of the water in the United States.  [See also The Real Truth about GMO’s and Seeds of Death.] How are these two activities related?  Watching the videos, surveying the health damage to so many lives, the genetic destruction of creation, the animals and plants, my heart was pierced with sorrow, great heaviness hanging over me till I had to cry,  “My Lord, what have they done to You?” In her contemplation of Christ’s Passion, St. Faustina cried out:  “O eternal and infinite God, what has love done to You?….” [Diary of St. Faustina, #267]

Not only all of humanity, but all of creation suffers in agony and anguish from sin, since greed and corruption strike not only the people, all people whom God loves so much, but also His creation.  How can the Lord of all creation not groan when He sees what is happening?  St. Paul tells us:  “For in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth…all things were created through Him and for Him…and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1: 16-17). And also, St. Paul tells us further in Romans 8: 20-22 that creation is a slave to corruption and “all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.

I can’t help but realize that Christ is weeping over Jerusalem, over His people, His whole creation now, every day; and that His suffering in us intensifies daily as even creation waits for its liberation and “we wait for the redemption of our bodies.”

The teaching from the reflection on the Presentation is this:       Remain with Jesus as our hearts are pierced. How? By REMAINING IN THE PAIN….enter, through deep contemplation, the sorrows of the brokenness of the souls we live amongst. This deep and hidden pain must consume the heart of a hidden victim soul so that we live more-and-more consumed in the pain and love of the Sacred Heart, until that subtle transformation is accomplished in us – no longer I live, but Christ’s pain and love lives in me.

            Remaining in the sorrows of Christ becomes our means to ‘pray without ceasing’!”

 Our community teaches us that we first have to enter our own wounds, core wounds, mother/father wounds, etc. To peel back the layers with which we have buried them, running away from them, denying them.  To cleanse from the wounds the lies with which Satan has infested them, the lies which led us into disordered reactions, defensive devices, even sinful ones.  First we must cleanse our personal  wounds through pure repentence and abandonment of our wounds to Christ.  Then only can we enter the pain and suffering of Christ. First, we must fully experience our own pain and suffering. We must remain in the pain.  Not block it, dodge it, or deny it. And we must continue to do this daily as we are wounded daily in so many ways.

To touch the wounds of Christ with our wounds is to touch His love. To enter the wounds of Christ through our wounds is to suffer as One with Him,  creating intimacy, Union.  We read in The Path:  “Lived this way, our wounds become a passage into His Sacred Heart.” [Simple Path, 3-A-1, p. 94]

I was amazed to realize that the sorrow and great heaviness that I felt on watching these videos indicated new personal wounds, and like all our personal wounds, I needed to enter through them into the suffering of Christ.

Through the intimacy of suffering with Christ, our personal pain is transformed into the pain of Christ for his beloved souls and for creation.

 It is, as Lourdes explains to us, that we must “enter, through deep contemplation, the sorrows of the brokenness of the souls we live amongst.” Truly, as soon as we become consumed by the pain and agony of the Sacred Heart, we become consumed by the brokenness of the souls who are the focus of His anguish.

 What to do with this pain?  REMAIN in the suffering of Christ.  For “Remaining in the sorrows of Christ becomes our means to ‘pray without ceasing’!”

St. Paul tells us in Rom. 8:17 that if we suffer with Him, then we will be glorified with Him.  The point is that we must suffer with Him first.

Lourdes refers also to St. Paul’s beautiful scripture in Galatians 2:19-20:  “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”  What she actually says is this:  …”no longer I live but Christ’s pain and love lives in me.” What has happened in the process of taking my wound to the wounds of Christ is transformation:  “we live more-and-more consumed in the pain and love of the Sacred Heart, until that subtle transformation is accomplished in us: no longer I live but Christ’s pain and love lives in me.”

Through this transformation into the Heart of Christ, we become His living hosts, suffering and praying ceaselessly for His entire creation, assuaging His anguish for the souls He so loves.

Faith through Persecution – SILENCE, directed by Martin Scorsese

Flowing from the manger in Bethlehem and the radiance of the Christ Child, we have today the feast of the first martyr, St. Stephen—in true counterpoint.  I could not help but think of the film which I watched recently on Amazon prime, director Martin Scorcese’s SILENCE, 28 years in the making, his great passion and dream.

      This heart-piercing, soul-rending film explores in great depth the persecution of the faith, of both Christians and Catholics in Japan in 1633.  Purportedly about the apostate priests of the time, to me it renders better what faith is, the suffering and perseverance of these great martyrs, as well as the cunning cruelty of those who persecuted them, who used every trickery especially to make the priests, themselves, apostasize.  The film will stay with you long after you watch it.  It is most humbling.

 See also Scorsese’s dramatic interview on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbYiGdinejU

CANTICLE of CANTICLES–St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Sermons

Just a few days ago, I found a treasure online, a profound work by St. Bernard which I had never seen before.  However, the format of the files was so difficult to read that I was moved immediately to edit it myself, making it user friendly and scaled to fit on phone or tablet.  The Table of Contents is on p.. 16.  Pages are designated in blue; find titles in bold red.  Enjoy!

B-_ST_BERNARD_-Canticle_of_Canticles_Sermons

“The Root of Spiritual Self-Love” – St. Catherine of Siena

Before Hurricane Harvey, before Irma, I wrote in my journal:  For the last few weeks I have been in somewhat of a spiritual Limbo—going to Adoration and Mass, yes, but rather dry, tired mostly from continuing insomnia.  I have felt myself pulling back. I don’t know how else to say it.  It was not from choice, but from feeling; I was, at best, only half conscious of this, but it grieved me.  I felt I was being unfaithful. 

            Then, this week, while trying to walk in the mall for exercise, I made an unwise purchase, a vanity purchase, a frivolous act which is truly not in character for me; and it distresses me, pushes me to repentance.  I ask myself and Jesus:  “What is happening here?”

            This dryness has physical cause, I know, the insomnia—but how did I come to this frivolous act so unlike me?  I say with the Gospel:  “An enemy has done this!”

            I am little and weak, Lord.  As with David, give me five stones for my slingshot:  humily, purity, simplicity, trust, and courage

            Mother, help me to live always in the inner chamber of Fiat.

Trying to work myself through this strange ennui, still confused about what I had done and why I had done it, I returned to a continual meditation on FIAT, reading and reflecting on this little paragraph which I wrote last spring on HARDNESS OF HEART:  “Mary’s FIAT was the unqualified, open response of a heart utterly divested of design, plan, or expectation–a heart free to receive the completely unexpected….” And also on THE INNER CLOISTER OF FIAT, Jesus tells Blessed Conchita:  “You are to live cloistered in the very inner sanctuary of your soul, for there is where dwells the Holy Spirit. …enter into the innermost regions of your soul…. The ‘inner cloister’ is essential for the sanctification of the soul wishing to be all Mine.”  The Holy Spirit then revealed to me:  ““In the perfect FIAT of my Mother, I find my inner cloister.”

I felt I had moved outside of God’s will—outside of FIAT, for as short time as perhaps it had been—that I had been unfaithful, having failed humility, prudence, and charity.  For what I had spent I could have sent much relief to Texas, and now Florida.  I determined that my penance would be to wear the cosmetic products, and every time I did, I would see and feel the humiliation on my very face, the shame, the disgrace I had brought upon myself—so well deserved.

Over the last few years, I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed with Blessed Conchita, her words from a holy hour [which I read and first prayed in Oct. 2014]:  “I want to live and die hidden in a sacrifice…immolation, far away from every human glance, burning myself like incense in the midst of my roughness, with a constant death to all my self-will.  Help me, my Life, to destroy within my heart every self-indulgence, consuming myself silently as the candle flame before your altar.”

Now God had hit me between the eyes with a 2X4, showing me my vanity—very much alive and well, my self-will, self-love, self-indulgence.              I have been humbled, so very humbled.

Then today the Holy Spirit led me to a little book, Rev. Garrigou-Lagrange’s book PROVIDENCE, largely based on Father de Caussade’s classic.  I came upon this quotation by St. Catherine of Siena:  If My servants are confused at the knowledge of their imperfection, if they give themselves up to the love of virtue, if they dig up with hatred the root of spiritual self-love… they will be so pleasing to Me… that I will manifest Myself to them…. My charity is manifested in two ways; first, in general, to ordinary people. The second mode of manifestation… is peculiar to those who have become My friends…. When I reveal Myself to her it makes itself felt in the very depths of the soul, by which such souls taste, know, prove and feel it”.

God consoles.  Yes, this servant is confused by the knowledge of my imperfection despite my love of virtue, and oh yes—I am digging with hatred the root of spiritual self-love…. Yet He promises to reveal Himself to me: “to those who have become My friends…. When I reveal Myself to her it makes itself felt in the very depths of the soul, by which such souls taste, know, prove and feel it.”

Certainly it is this root of spiritual self-love, self-indulgence or vanity on the sensual level, that trips us up and makes us fall.  I have crawled back into my little inner cloister of FIAT humbled and grateful to my Consoler. I continue to pray Conchita’s prayer because this love of virtue is the greatest desire of my heart.  The more fiery my desire for virtue, the greater the hatred with which I will attack the root of spiritual self-love. I have my five stones which served David well against Goliath:  humility, purity, simplicity, trust, and courage—and they will also serve me well.

“Suffering the Absences” — Ven. Conchita Cabrera de Armida

           In one of her last retreats with Venerable Archbishop Luis Martinez, Conchita reflects on “Absences”—especially the palpable absence of Jesus in this retreat:  “Lord,” I said to Him with my heart heavy, “why haven’t You let me feel Your presence during this retreat, as in the others? Why does it seem to me that You are veiled and have hidden so as not to let me see You clearly, as on other occasions?”

Conchita uses the plural, “absences” because most of the time in her spiritual life she has enjoyed the delights of His presence as intimacy.  Yet the experience of absence, whenever it occurs, invites her to a deeper level of redemptive suffering for souls and for priests. How appropriate in this retreat which probes the meaning of the mystical carnation, her vocation to be a living host, that she deeply suffers His absence.

Jesus explains to her:  “… if, through My absence, through not letting you experience My sensible presence, other souls and priests give Me glory, then, do you not want it?

            “Is it not true that you willingly and out of pure love for the glory of My Father, do without consolations, caresses, My nearness to your soul, for the sake of priests and especially for the glory of My Father?

“If you only understood what this detachment offered out of pure love is worth in the presence of God!

            “…offer yourself in union with Him, painfully deprived of what you hold most dear: My consolations, apparent absence, veiled presence and the sensible caresses of My pure love.

            “I alone understand the magnitude of this hidden martyrdom; it is the supreme sacrifice of a soul on earth, and what gives My Father the most glory, because it is a loving, motherly sacrifice.

            “How few souls penetrate the secret which I reveal to you today! They see the external, but do not arrive at the very depth of My heroic sacrifice on the Cross. How could I do without the love of My Father, which wrenched a loving groan from My soul full of bitterness, a cry of infinite suffering, because the divinity had hidden itself, in a certain sense, from My sight?”

            Tears came to my eyes and Jesus, so good, gentle and compassionate told me:

            “Weep, weep over this more or less intense apparent separation from what you love most; but even these tears, this very sensitive and holy suffering, unite it to My suffering and offer it exclusively for the glory of My Father. Promise you will do it, won’t you?”

      “For this I brought you here to make you taste this bitterness, to make you know its salvific consequences in all its extension on behalf of so many priests, so that you may sprinkle the Church in her members with your tears” [Under the Gaze of the Father, pp. 85-86].

We read in the New Testament that after the death of Jesus, two of Jesus’ disciples left Jerusalem mourning and confused about the loss of their Lord.  After the Resurrection, He appeared to them on the road to Emmaus, walking and talking with them, finally revealing Himself to them in Emmaus.  As they hurried back to Jerusalem from Emmaus, they said to one another:  “Were our hearts not burning within us?” [Lk 24:32].

The burning of the heart occurs in the conviction of His presence, in the sweetness of intimacy.  The suffering of absence turns this burning into ashes, no longer even warm.  Sometimes it feels as though the intimacy of His presence had never been nor ever will be again. We wonder if we have deluded ourselves, that this burning delight of the heart has been merely a figment of our imagination.

This piercing sorrow of absence has been experienced by many saints, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example.  This dark night of the soul lasted throughout most of her life.  [See “The Kiss of Jesus”: https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-kiss-of-jesus-mther-st-teresa-of-calcutta/

Isn’t this “suffering of absences”  also the essence of the Soledad of our Sorrowful Mother Mary? Father Philipon, the editor of Conchita’s Diary explains soledad in this way:  solitude,” “isolation,” and silent martyrdom in pure faith, in the apparent absence of God…” [Conchita:  A Mother’s Spiritual Diary, p. 172].

He adds further:  “Mary’s solitude is the most perfect association with the redemptive act of Christ. The drama of our salvation is decided at the very moment when Jesus was abandoned mysteriously by His Father, and when He Himself abandoned Himself, in response, with confidence and love, into His hands. It is the consent of a man in supreme agony” [Diary, 177].

            Furthermore, Jesus Himself explains to Conchita:  “You had for long pondered the first solitude of Mary, that is, the exterior solitude, but you had not thought about the cruelest and the bitterest, the interior solitude which tore her to pieces and in which her spirit felt an agony on account of being abandoned.
“The martyrdom of Mary after My Ascension was not caused solely by My material absence. She suffered terrible tests of abandonment like to that I Myself underwent on the Cross. My Father united her to Mine which gained so many graces.
“As co-redemptrix, Mary heard in her soul so wholly pure the echo of all My agonies, humiliations, outrages and tortures, felt the weight of the sins of the world which made My Heart bleed, and the moving sorrow of the abandonment of heaven which obtains graces.
            “You are to be a faithful echo of this Mother of Sorrows. You must experience the pure abandonment, My own abandonment, this desertion which through purification acquires graces.”

            He clarifies for us that this suffering of absence is the abandonment of the “Trinity, which hid itself from her, leaving her in a spiritual and divine abandonment….

             This abandonment of Mary, this vivid and palpitating martyrdom of her solitude, the desolating martyrdom of divine abandonment, which she suffered heroically with loving resignation and sublime surrender to My will, is not honored.

            “Imitate her in your littleness, in your poor capabilities strive with all the strength of your heart: you must do it in order to obtain graces and to purify yourself” [Diary, 177-178].

Christ makes it clear that this abandonment, the suffering of absence, is redemptive:   “It is a great honor for souls when the Father calls them to associate them with Redemption; with the co-redemption uniting them with Me and Mary; with the apostolate of the Cross, that is, with that of innocent suffering, of sorrow full of love and pure, expiatory and salvific sorrow on behalf of the culpable world” (Diary, June 23, 1918) [178-179].           

            Love Crucified pleads with us to “suffer all with Me, no longer two, but one in My sacrifice of love.”  Mary suffers all with Him, including the pinnacle of His passion—the abandonment of the Father—which tears from the humanity and heart of Jesus these words:  “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” Mt. 27:46]. As we suffer with Jesus and Mary the hidden martyrdom of the suffering of absence, we too participate in redemptive love. In the Diary we read:  “Solitude is participation in the inmost Passion of Christ’s Cross and a consequence of the mystical incarnation” [p. 174].

If we are nailed to the Cross with Love Crucified, if we are living hosts, we must also participate in the grievous sorrow of abandonment by the Trinity, the tangible loss of His presence, the cold ashes of the dark night of the soul.  In her last days Conchita wrote in her Diary:

       “Mother of Sorrows whom I love so much, teach me to suffer as You suffered and to love Jesus as You loved Him in your awful solitude” (Oct. 13, 1936). “I promise Him with all my heart to abandon myself in the God who abandons me” (Oct. 6, 1936) [179].

 

 

“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.”

+++++

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

“THE ALTAR OF THE CROSS “- from a teaching by Lourdes Pinto, Love Crucified Covenant Community

In her recent teaching to us on the Eucharist, I was struck by this phrase:  “the altar of the cross,” which Lourdes used.  What made it meaningful to me was the context of the phrase.  What she said was this:

“Wherever our cross is, there is our altar of sacrifice.  There is where our offering during the consecration of the Mass becomes real, our sacrifice as real flesh, the real pain of our suffering WITH Christ’s.” [Emphasis is mine..]

How often have you heard “Live the Mass”? This is the reality which Lourdes addresses.  I have been taught in Love Crucified to enter my sorrows, my pains, my core wounds—not to minimize them, not to gloss over them, not to ignore them.  We have the tendency to distract ourselves from pain.  And often our greatest sufferings are in our relationships with those closest to us, family, friends, co-workers– our altar of the cross.

Here is what is most critical:  “Wherever our cross is, there is our altar of sacrifice.  There is where our offering during the consecration of the Mass becomes real….”

We need to ponder deeply how the cross manifests itself in our lives.  Whoever we may be, single or married, divorced, widowed, rich or poor, one reality is a constant.  To live Christ, to live the Mass is to live in love in our relationships.  In A SIMPLE PATH TO UNION, Christ tells us:  “Ponder every relationship and situation in your lives where you are not loving with Me, through Me and in Me. Ask yourselves, “Why is it so difficult to love this person or to love in these situations?” It is precisely in those situations and with those persons where you need to be purified. It is only in this way that you can become ONE with My Eucharistic life and be transformed into Love”.[#57] For each of us the cross lies in that person in our lives who is most difficult to love.

Even clearer is this explanation:  “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. “

The Mass in my life is my sacrifice of the cross, those difficult relationships “lived out daily in the ordinary and tediousness of my life, in the sacrament of the moment” –this is the Mass which I live in union with my crucified Christ.  If I cannot bring my ordinary life to the cross in this way, my offering of the Mass is not real but insubstantial and shallow.

As our lives change, that difficult person may change, but the cross is a constant.  Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him.  As we struggle to confront that person with gentleness, tenderness, kindness, generosity, we live the Mass.  Our offering is a true holocaust, real, substantial, one with the sacrificial love-offering of Jesus, both on the domestic altar of our home and on the consecrated altar of our parish church.

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