Resting with Jesus

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+JMJ

Sometimes life can get very busy. Besides work, duties, vocal prayers that I need to finish somewhere in between, – it’s so easy to forget to just BE with Jesus.

Yet I think this is something so healing, and something that He really wishes for.

I have been thinking recently, what are the desires of His Heart.. Fears and anxieties can be very paralysing yet God doesn’t intend for us to live that way. Though we have crosses to carry, I believe He wants us to carry them with trust and abandonment to His Will, not stopping at resignation.

Yet sometimes, a mere effort of the will isn’t enough to receive this grace. We need to spend time with Jesus and let Him work in our hearts and help us to open up to Him. Time spent in mental prayer or Adoration can be a chance to just rest with Jesus and let the transforming radiance of His light and love permeate our souls. Is this not the meaning of contemplation – to forget all else except Jesus, look upon Him and love Him. I’m sure if we could see Him with our eyes, we would not ever want to look away!

What does Jesus want?

Often I want to give something beautiful to God. But in certain moments I feel I have nothing really to give. We can give Him that nothing… And one thing I’m beginning to realise is that in that moment, Jesus delights in GIVING to us.

Its a great mercy from God when He receives our little gifts. What must be the Mercy of His Heart when He simply gives to a soul who has nothing? In those times we feel we have only sins, failures and anxieties, but we no longer pretend.

And what’s even more amazing is that Jesus doesn’t only generously give to us, but inexpressibly DELIGHTS in that!

In those moments when He just wants us to forget all things and love Him (is His desire for every moment to be like that?) am I still clinging to my anxieties, attempts at vocal prayers, or trying to prove my worth to Him? Yes there is a time to give to Jesus, to prove our love. Yet even in this, we need Him, we need grace.

Maybe Jesus just wishes I would let go and not escape His embrace any longer. He wants a time of nothing but love between Him and my heart – a time that would allow Him to act freely.

As I consider that this is a time of great consolation and delight to Jesus, I wonder how much have I understood His Heart? How can it be that God would have such joy not just when we give to Him, but when He gives of Himself to our poor little souls? Do I ever delight with Him about my nothingness, or complain about it?

It astounds me to think that Jesus isn’t only the “beggar of love” as some have called Him. His humility is so deep that He begs TO love. It is rest to us, and to Him. And He knows that in our pride, distrust, or fear – we may still say no to this greatest and most free gift.

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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Your Kingdom Come

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+JMJ

This is another song that I wrote, but the words just sort of came during prayer so I don’t really take credit for it. Fiat+

Words from Jesus to Sr Josefa Menendez:

“I love those who after a first fall come to Me for pardon . . . I love them still more when they beg pardon for their second sin, and should this happen again, I do not say a million times but a million million times, I still love them and pardon them, and I will wash in My Blood their last as fully as their first sin. Never shall I weary of repentant sinners, nor cease from hoping for their return, and the greater their distress, the greater My welcome.” (Jesus’ words to Sr Josefa Menendez, “Way of Divine Love”, TAN books)

From a thousand follies

You have raised me into light

And brought the gift of healing

To a weak and broken heart

You set my heart on fire

And like the blaze of midday sun

You entered

And conquered

And took me by surprise

(Chorus)

O Love so unknown

Who forgives “not a million

but a million million times”

Come and overcome this world

And let Your Will reign

On earth as in Heaven

And Your Kingdom come

O let Your Kingdom come

In eternal glory

Beyond the reach of sinful ways

Countless Angels adoring

Saints falling before Your Holy Face

Embraced in Your Heart

So resplendent with love

Consumed,

They rejoice

In Your mansions above

(Chorus)

Come and show us Your Heart

As we call on Your Name

Receive the incense of our praise

How can it be, that the King of all Kings

Would give His life for me

(repeat last two lines)

Come and show us Your Will

As we seek for Your Face

And receive all that we have…

How can it be that the Lord of all Lords

Would long this much for me

(repeat last two lines)

You are more than the world to me

You are more than the world to me

(Chorus)

(In quotation marks: quote from “Way of Divine Love”, Sr Josefa Menendez, TAN books.)

Come to My Arms

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+JMJ

This is a song that I wrote, based on some words that Jesus inspired me with during a difficult time.

Why do you fear

When you are before Me?

Why do you weep

and turn from My Face?

I see your pain

Your sins and your weakness,

Come to My arms

Run to My embrace

For you I suffered

Hours of anguish,

For you I died,

All to gain your love

My Heart was crushed

By measureless sorrow

For you My Head

Was pierced with the thorns.

Will you then trust Me,

And call Me your Saviour

Will you let Me take you

To Heaven above?

Have I disappointed?

Have I ever left you?

My child, believe Me

Entrust Me your soul

This cross is too heavy

For your weary shoulders

But closer together

We’ll bear it all

Your Shepherd is gentle

He knows your pain

He’ll guide you to pastures

And endless delight

Do not fear trials

The path that is narrow,

The rocks and the cliffs

That hide Me from sight

Beyond them I’m standing

Yet I’m also with you

I am the way

I’ll watch from above

Will you then trust Me?

And follow Me always

And close your eyes

As I carry you there

Let me hold you

And carry you there

The Garden (an allegory)

+JMJ

Inspired by the writings of St Therese of Lisieux

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily

do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.

If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” ― St Thérèse of Lisieux

228

Day after day, enormous azure waves crashed against a towering cliff that overlooked the sea. The sea shone with bright turquoise and gold under the sun. The cliff was white and dazzling as it rose from the waters. At first, nothing particular could be seen on the cliff except a flat, barren plateau of rocks. Yet if one were to look very closely and in just the right place, they would happen to see a tiny flower growing in a bit of soil between the rocks. It was light blue and it often felt forgotten and alone, because there were no other flowers on the cliff.

On the other side of the cliff, there could be seen a fragrant green valley with many wondrous gardens and meadows. The little flower spent its days gazing at the valley and watching the other plants. It could see towering trees with their many branches swaying in the wind and their leaves casting intricate patterns of sunlight and shade on the ground. The flowers it could not count, for they were as numerous as the stars in the sky. Thousands of them could be seen, interweaved in a dazzling mosaic of blue, yellow, lilac, crimson, and other vibrant colours. Bright streams ran through the valley providing it with water, colourful butterflies fluttered above the meadows, and mountains with their glimmering peaks shone in the distance. A soft breeze brushed through the valley, rustled the leaves, and carried a lovely fragrance to the top of the cliff.

Captivated by all this beauty, the little flower gazed on the valley, but there was Someone dearer than all others that it eagerly awaited to see each morning. With each sunrise, shining with light more radiant than the rays of the sun, the Lord and Creator of the garden would walk through His creation. In fact, He had made everything that there was, but the little flower did not know this. All throughout the night, the little flower awaited His coming. Upon seeing Him, its little heart was pierced by both joy and sorrow. How kind and tender He looked! Longingly, it wished that He would visit it too, but this was not to be… The cliff was very far from the valley and very high up. Often, the little flower wondered why it was created to be so lonely and placed so far away from the other plants. It could see other little blue flowers that grew in cheerful little groups, but it was all alone, surrounded only by sharp rocks. It had no one with whom to share its pain and it spent its days and nights hoping for the Lord to come and visit it and this was the greatest happiness that it could imagine.

The little flower watched the Lord as He walked among His flowers in the most beautiful garden. It was filled with magnificent roses, lilies, lilacs, tulips and magnolias. The apple orchard was in full bloom and its little white blossoms filled the air with a light fragrance. The Lord delighted in these flowers, and held the delicate roses in His hands and they scattered their petals before Him on the path where He walked. The path was strewn with beautiful red, rose, white, and yellow petals. How the little flower wished to scatter its little petals on the path, even to give all its petals, though they were so few, just to see the Lord smile and delight in its love! It thought it could surely love just as much as the tall gorgeous roses and the pure white lilies. Then, more than ever, it grieved to remain on the rocky cliff. Sometimes, one of its little blue petals would fall on the ground, and the little flower wished for the wind to catch it and carry it to Him. It watched as the Lord then walked to the lilies and rejoiced in their purity and innocence. They bent to the ground before Him and He blessed them.

The little flower observed the Lord walk among His other plants. The tall majestic cedars offered Him their shade, and as He lay on the grass in the meadow, the little violets and daisies delighted Him. Again the little flower wished to give such comfort and love to Him but it could only send its love from afar. Did Jesus hear it at all? Did He know about this little flower, all alone on the cliff, hoping against all hope to be one of the flowers in the valley? It watched as the Lord smiled at the flowers and longed so much to be among them that its heart almost broke.

During the nights when a piercing cold wind blew from the sea and stars could be seen sparkling in the heavens, the little flower would ask the birds that perched on the tall rocks to fly into the valley as it lay shrouded in twilight and describe what they saw. Eagerly, it awaited to hear about the Lord, but when the birds returned, they only described the sleeping flowers and the silent, tall trees.

Sometimes, a deep mist covered the cliff and isolated it entirely from the valley and even the sea. Then the little flower was tossed about and torn in the wind, often covered with dirt and mud, and could not even see through the mist to watch its Beloved Lord. At these times, it was no longer sure if it had ever seen Him or if it was only a very beautiful dream. Sadly, it wondered if it had ever seen anything other than this dense darkness surrounding it. It hoped that at least the Lord had been real, and it no longer even cared if the valley had been imagined, as long as He really existed. Sometimes it was tempted to think that the Lord did not care or love the little flower, and in these desolate times, it could not figure out why it had been placed in this distant, lonely place. It tried to imagine Him as He was, walking through the valley in His white robe, with a radiant crown of light on His Head, smiling and blessing the flowers as they bowed before Him. Most of all it tried to remember His kind eyes and tried to imagine what it must be like to look into them. Thus day after day, year after year, the little flower remained alone, feeling forsaken under the deep night sky and cold distant stars, shivering in the freezing wind that came from the sea, and exhausted from struggling against the storms that tore its little petals.

One evening, the little flower was thinking of the Lord as it did always, and being deep in thought, it did not notice the lonely figure walking on the plateau towards it. The figure was bowed down as in grief, and did not look at the evening sunlight glimmering on the sea, or the birds flying overhead, or the valley. The figure was that of a man, and he barely walked but had nothing to help or support him. He stumbled over the rocks and the sharp stones pierced his feet painfully. As the man came closer, the little flower was shocked to realize that his whole body was covered with wounds and blood ran from his head which was pierced with sharp thorns. The blood had soaked his garment and hair and was dripping on the rocks as he walked. Tired and worn out from the journey, the man collapsed on a rock right near the little flower. He was barely moving but his hands were shaking. The little flower felt such sorrow for this man and wished with all its heart that it could help him. But what could it do, being so tiny? It raised itself a little to look at the man’s face, and as it did so, it felt as if the world had stopped…

The man’s face was covered with blood and dirt, but as the little flower looked at his eyes, it recognized the unmistakeable eyes of the Lord it had so often watched in the valley. Its little heart fluttered so quickly that it could not speak. It was truly Him! It would surely know His eyes anywhere.

Now, tears fell from His eyes to the ground, but they were still just as kind and beautiful as when He had blessed the flowers. As the little flower was contemplating this, one of His large tears fell on its petals. Then, drops of His blood began falling on the flower. Yet the whole time, it was only glad to see Him, though overcome by sorrow and helplessness. It saw as one of its petals fell right near the Lord. It was no longer blue and looked very tattered, as the little flower had endured a terrible storm the night before. But with all its heart, it offered this little petal to Him and wished that like a tree, it could offer its leaves to wipe the blood from His face and cover the hard rocks on which He lay. It thought of the other flowers in the valley, and how they probably did not know what had happened to the Lord and how they would have wanted to comfort Him if they only knew. Why was He here, on this desolate cliff, all alone?

Suddenly, the Lord looked at the little petal, picked it up and laid it on His hand. The little flower saw that both of His hands were pierced through. The petal covered one of the wounds on His hand. The Lord turned then and looked at the little flower. He looked upon it with such compassion and love, and despite His pain, He was smiling. “Thank you”, He whispered.

The little flower did not at first understand. “Dear Lord, for what do You thank me? If I had been like one of the roses or the beautiful flowers in the valley, I could have done so much more to help You”. And the little flower bowed down sadly until it touched the ground.

“My very little one.. Do you know why I have placed you here? I know you often felt so forgotten and alone. But I never stopped thinking of you and supported you when you knew it least. And now you have consoled Me.”

The little flower still could not understand. What has it ever done? How had it ever consoled Him? It raised itself to look into His eyes.  He looked back with immeasurable kindness yet did not at first answer. The little flower gazed at the wounds on the hands that were stretched towards it. It thought of His weariness and loneliness as He was walking on the cliff, as if carrying the weight of the world. Then, it remembered… the cold, the storms, all the nights of wishing to see Him, wishing that He would visit the cliff. Oh, what were these sufferings compared to His? And yet only on this cliff and only through these nights, could it know and experience for itself at least a part of His pain. With Him, it had suffered and loved…

The little flower could not speak. In its amazement, gratitude, surprise and joy, it almost did not realize as the Lord picked it up with its roots and held it in His hands. “Share now in the joy of your Master”, He said. Amazing, beautiful rays of light came from His Heart and fell upon the little flower. It felt immersed in an infinite ocean of love and light, and completely overwhelmed with joy. His eyes were so kind, shining with such compassion and tenderness, that it wanted to be lost in Him forever. Somehow, without words, it understood that He wanted its love too, that He desired and longed for it, even more than it had longed for His love. It could almost not believe that this was happening. In this unspeakable joy, the Lord held the little flower in His wounded hands and carried it to His most beautiful garden.

She who loved much

meditate meditate

+JMJ

“And one of the Pharisees desired him to eat with him. And he went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee’ s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. A certain creditor had two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon: 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 her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. And he said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.” (Luke 7, Douay-Rheims)

This is one of my favourite parts of the Gospels. It is so beautiful. I wonder how this woman felt.. was she afraid to come uninvited like this, to boldly kiss Our Lord’s feet and pour the perfume on them? She must have realized that others knew about her life, and that she might not be welcomed… but love overcame any fear. She came to Jesus with such gratitude and perhaps forgot everything else. She had believed in Him.. even though she lived a sinful life, she reached out to Jesus, not only to ask for forgiveness, but to show Him her love.

At times, I come to Jesus, so unworthy and sinful, and – how can anything we give be enough? But Jesus in His great Mercy accepts it. Even if our love is only so small. If we have an intention to love Him, He receives this intention. St Gertrude wished to suffer for Jesus till the end of the world: and even though this did not happen, He told her that He accepted her intention as if it had happened. How many treasures are there in our good intentions!

The story of the “sinful woman with the perfume jar” is one of the most moving stories I have ever read. I sometimes imagine how it happened, and how this woman felt, and how it must have been for her when her worship was accepted by Jesus. Though she had lived a sinful life, I imagine Jesus looking at her so kindly, because she was repentant and loved Him so sincerely.

Our Lord is so gentle and compassionate, and this story can give courage to sinful souls to approach Him with confidence, and not be afraid to ask for forgiveness and open up to His love. Maybe sometimes, people don’t repent because they are despairing, or maybe afraid of facing their sins? Jesus longs to forgive them; He stands with arms outstretched, calling them to His embrace.

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