Our Lady

+JMJ

This is a recent picture of Our Lady. I’m sure she is more beautiful in reality.. I don’t want to take credit for drawing it because I believe Our Lady helped somehow, so the credit goes to her 🙂

The words are “Ecce ancilla Domini, Fiat mihi secundum verbum Tuum”. They are from the Angelus and the translation is “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word”. These are the words that Our Lady spoke as she accepted God’s Will unreservedly and with great trust, and at her Fiat, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate to save us.

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Canticle to the Holy Face

HE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER

Another beautiful poem by St Therese – this time on the Holy Face of Jesus. (In public domain)

Canticle to the Holy Face.

“Dear Jesus! tis Thy Holy Face
Is here the start that guides my way;
They countenance, so full of grace,
Is heaven on earth, for me, to-day.
And love finds holy charms for me
In Thy sweet eyes with tear-drops wet;
Through mine own tears I smile at Thee,
And in Thy griefs my pains forget.
How gladly would I live unknown,
Thus to console Thy aching heart.
Thy veiled beauty, it is shown
To those who live from earth apart.
I long to fly to Thee alone!
Thy Face is now my fatherland, —
The radiant sunshine of my days, —
My realm of love, my sunlit land,
Where, all life long, I sing Thy praise;
It is the lily of the vale,
Whose mystic perfume, freely given,
Brings comfort, when I faint and fail,
And makes me taste the peace of heaven.
Thy face, in its unearthly grace,
Is like the divinest myrrh to me,
That on my heart I gladly place;
It is my lyre of melody;
My rest — my comfort — is Thy Face.
My only wealth, Lord! is thy Face;
I ask naught else than this from Thee;
Hid in the secret of that Face,
The more I shall resemble Thee!
Oh, leave on me some impress faint
Of Thy sweet, humble, patient Face,
And soon I shall become a saint,
And draw men to Thy saving grace.
So, in the secret of Thy Face,
Oh! hide me, hide me, Jesus blest!
There let me find its hidden grace,
Its holy fires, and, in heaven’s rest,
Its rapturous kiss, in Thy embrace!”
August 12, 1895.

(image credit: http://holycardheaven.blogspot.ca/

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To live of Love – St Therese of Lisieux

I am the way, the truth and the life - Saintin

I was struck today by the concepts in St Therese’s poem To Live of Love. It is a translation from the original French and it’s one of those times I wish I could read the original.

To love God so ardently! I will quote two stanzas – one of living for Love, and one of dying for Love.

“To live of love, ’tis by Thy life to live,

O glorious King, my chosen, sole Delight!

Hid in the Host, how often Thou dost give

Thyself to those who seek Thy radiant light.

Then hid shall be my life, unmarked, unknown,

That I may have Thee heart to heart with me;

For loving souls desire to be alone,

With love, and Thee!”

“To die of love, O martyrdom most blest!

For this I long, this is my heart’s desire;

My exile ends; I soon will be at rest.

Ye Cherubim, lend, lend to me your lyre!

O dart of Seraphim, O flame of love,

Consume me wholly; hear my ardent cry!

Jesu, make real my dream! Come Holy Dove!

Of love I die!”

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She who loved much: Mary Magdalene’s example

The Vine of God's own Heart Desires and implores The Sun_ It expects everything FROM HIM ___ Nothing has meaning WITHOUT HIM, seeks HIM ONLY_ _Fervent Com

+JMJ

She who loved much

If you are anything like me, maybe words like these have crossed your mind at some point:

Does God actually want me?

If this person knew my past, they probably wouldn’t be my friend anymore.

I’m not worthy of any vocation so I doubt I have one

We are called to be saints but is it too late for me?

Such thoughts may happen if like me, you have a past. I wasn’t always a practising Christian and at some point lived a very different life. Though I went to Confession and knew I was forgiven, I still felt – different, stained, forever ‘ruined’ somehow. I had a chance to make the right choices and I didn’t. God forgave me, but would I ever forget them?

I looked at the “good Catholic girl” persona I built up for myself. I wear a crucifix and try to dress the way I should. I’m involved at my parish. However, the person next to me at Mass has no idea that the girl next to them who prays and maybe “looks Catholic” has lived a very sinful life. Most of my friends don’t even know. What would happen to our friendship if they found out – everything? They are good people and they’d probably just be glad I found God eventually. Yet sometimes there’s this nagging doubt – if people knew, would they reject me?

One day I came across the Gospel passage about the “sinful woman” with the perfume. I was touched to the depth of my heart by what Jesus did for her. Most Catholic scholars consider her to be St Mary Magdalene. So I imagined her… Everyone knew she had a sinful past. She must have been constantly reminded of it, and didn’t feel worthy of anything. Maybe she struggled fiercely to overcome her sins, because of a look Jesus gave her as He walked past, and some words she heard Him say of God’s longing for her soul. She heard Jesus would be at this house; she came there, and there He was! She wanted to run up to Him right then. Yet there were people all around Him… important people like the Pharisees. They would only throw her out. If she could reach Him, she would thank Him from her heart.

However, these other people – they weren’t thanking Him.. they were involved in their own conversation and they didn’t wash His feet, or treat Him like an honoured guest. He had done so much for them, cured the sick, and showed them such compassion – and no one did anything for Him. So then she forgot all her fear of these people, and what they would think, and took the most expensive perfume she owned. She entered the room and went right up to Jesus. He was at the table with the really important people, but she no longer saw them. She no longer saw anyone except her beloved Savior.

He must have felt tired from so much walking and caring for these souls… She bent low at His feet and tears streamed from her eyes. She was overcome with gratitude and contrition. The tears fell over His feet and she took her long dark hair, and wiped them. She covered His feet with her kisses and cried. She poured the perfume over His feet and its fragrance filled the whole room. It was like she was pouring her whole heart before Him.

But what would He say? Perhaps she wondered.. These things she was doing were so bold. They were too bold. She was afraid to look around because doubtless, the people around her and all the Pharisees were staring at her. They were probably talking about her too, and about how she is not supposed to be there.. Fear filled her – would Jesus send her away too? She knelt to the ground by His feet. If He tells me to go, she thought, I’d have no where else to go, and there would be no hope for me at all.

She looked up at Him very quickly… would He look angry, or repulsed? She was a sinner, and so she should not have been touching Him at all. Especially not Jesus, who is so holy. Yet she saw only love in His beautiful eyes, and heard the words:

“Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she with tears hath washed my feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest me no kiss; but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed my feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less” (Luke 7: 44-47, D-R)

Then, He turned to her and said, “Thy sins are forgiven”. “Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace”.

No matter how sinful we feel our past is, we don’t need to be afraid to love Jesus. Any sins we have committed in the past, are not only forgiven when we confess them, but forgotten. We can love Him greatly, even like the Saints. I’ll borrow an idea from St. John of Avila: Jesus did not turn away from His executioners as they nailed His hands and feet to the Cross. He looked at them with infinite compassion and prayed to the Father to forgive them. If He showed only endless love to those who killed Him, what would His response be to someone who comes to love Him in return? For example, someone who comes to visit Him when He’s all alone in the Tabernacle, forgotten by most of the world. This person comes and says something that Our Lord desires to hear from each soul – “I love You Jesus”. Would He truly turn them away?

A priest once asked me – if I could see Jesus, how do I think He would look at me? I tried to imagine this many times since then. I’m sure when I’ll actually see Him someday, I’ll realize that all my imagination completely falls short. Yet thinking of this can be very healing. This look of perfect love that we long for in the deepest part of our souls, is the same look that He gives us in the Eucharist, and from the Cross. We only have to come to Mass to meet Him. I believe He wants us to give Him this fear, and with trust abandon ourselves to His embrace.

Also posted at Made4More

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Arise!

“After these things was a festival day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered; waiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole, of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. And there was a certain man there, that had been eight and thirty years under his infirmity. When Jesus had seen him lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, he saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole? The infirm man answered him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me. Jesus saith to him: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole: and he took up his bed, and walked. And it was the sabbath that day. The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed” (John 5: 1-10, Douay-Rheims).

This Bible passage has been on my heart after trying to deal with some feelings of loneliness. I wanted to explore the message that Jesus was trying to articulate. Once I did I realized that I, too, am ‘the man who cannot walk’. I am crippled by my own human weakness, events in the past that continue to affect me, and most of all a seeming impossibility of solving the problem myself. Sometimes we go through things that we don’t know how to explain to another person and experience a type of loneliness in suffering. Thankfully, Jesus does not wait for us to become strong enough by ourselves, and wants us to turn to Him as the source our healing and strength.

Just like this man, sometimes we come to a place where we feel completely alone. It doesn’t even have to be something exterior like an illness. It can be an internal trial that we feel we can’t share with others, and wonder if anyone would really understand. Or it may be a mental illness, like depression, anorexia or bipolar disorder that can be misunderstood by others – this can bring much loneliness and feelings of being judged and uncared for.

One Sunday, as I thought about this Gospel passage at Mass, I realized some things about this man that I didn’t notice before. He was in a place with a lot of other sick people. Yet for such a long time (38 years!) he couldn’t receive the healing that he longed for. He was so close! He was right beside the pond, and all he had to do was go into it, but he couldn’t even do that. Was he tempted to believe that God had forgotten him? That He didn’t care? After all, it was God’s Angel who brought the healing – why to everyone else and not to him? Maybe if there was someone to help him get into the pond, he could be healed. But he didn’t even have that. No one would take pity on him and do the simple act of carrying him into a pond that was so near. Every time he tried, he didn’t have enough time and someone else always got there first. How frustrating and discouraging that must be!

I don’t know for sure what it was like for this man, but he must have felt forgotten, alone and like no one cared enough to help him. It was like he was the smallest, most forgotten person in society. Even in his need, no one took pity. There are many people like this and how does Jesus respond to them? How does He see the poor old woman wearing a curtain for a skirt, that I saw one day in the city? Or the man on the street who feels ignored by everyone as he begs for a few cents? Or people who try really hard but feel cast aside by society, and someone always gets ahead of them? Maybe we are not in such situations but there are times we can feel very helpless too – when we can’t help ourselves, and we wonder if others understand. As a young girl, I struggled with feelings of loneliness and didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know how. Sometimes I can still feel like that little girl despite being grown up now. Little sufferings compared to these others, but even the littleness of them could be discouraging – “no one would understand why this is a big deal to me, but it is, so I’ll stay silent”. How much in us always stays in our heart, unknown to all others? Maybe you can relate.

What is Jesus’ response to all this? Is it the response we fear from the rest of the world? “It is not a big deal. Deal with it”. Or just blind indifference? Does He see the depth of the heart that we can’t communicate to others, – the part of the heart that no one will ever know? It’s so comforting to read this passage because we see that He does care. He understood everything about this man. He saw him as a priceless person whom He created and gave an immortal soul to. He saw the hope He has for this man – a life of eternal glory and the beatific vision of God in Heaven. He saw his childhood and his whole life, all his experience of life that remained unknown to others. He saw his sins. He saw his anguish at being near this pond for thirty eight years, not being able to enter there on time and having no one to help him.

And He came to the man Himself. He didn’t just ask another person to help him and carry him to the pond. He didn’t see all the other people first. He came to the MOST helpless man there, almost like He sought him out, and came to that place just for him! Though this man was forgotten by everyone else, He was the one Jesus chose. Our Lord healed him simply by willing it – “Arise, take up thy bed, and walk”. If you feel like you are alone, dealing with a situation that you can’t easily talk about or express and if you feel like you don’t have a friend to help you or if you feel overcome with unworthiness and too sinful to approach God, remember that there is never such fear with Jesus. He looks deep into our hearts and understands everything in an instant. He hears our prayers when we don’t have words to express what we need. And even for the most miserable person in the whole world – Jesus would seek them out.

Comment from Made4More blog: “If you know someone struggling with depression or a crippling illness, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and offer love and support. The gift of your presence is enough, you don’t need to go out of your way to do huge gestures of love, start with the small things (sending a care package, visiting them, taking them out for a coffee). These gestures widen our capacity to love others more deeply.”

Also posted at Made4More