Posted tagged ‘Passion’

I Prefer You

April 18, 2012

I stumbled on an immense treasure last week.
Holy Card Heaven and the accompanying sites are just incredible!

I printed a handful to carry with me for my prayer time
and they’ve already borne more fruit than I have time to post,
but here’s a sample:

Characteristics of Divine Love
Reverent Love
I leave everything
for the One I prefer
above all things 

The dove symbolizes the soul.
Her earthly attractions are either burning
or being washed downstream
as she flies to the Lord with flaming heart.

I prefer You above all things

In prayer I “heard” the divine reply:
“I prefer you above all things.”

What I leave behind for God will perish anyway–
things that can never satisfy.
I’ll tire of them or they’ll break–
even if they’re exactly what I hoped for,
I’ll find myself wanting something more, something better, something…?
It only makes sense for me to prefer God
–fully satisfying forever Love–
over these transitory trinkets.

But Jesus…!

He left behind Heaven!

For me.

He emptied Himself of eternal treasure, of lasting happiness,
of glory and splendor and power

…all because He preferred…

me.

He lived a tedious hidden life of monotonous drudgery for 30 years.

For me.

He suffered the ungrateful “what’s in it for me” of the crowds,
the weariness and homelessness of continual travel,
the thick-headedness of His apostles,
and being hunted by the religious leaders
for the three years of His public ministry.

For me.

He made Himself vulnerable
to the most excruciating sufferings we experience as men–
the crushing weight of our guilt, betrayal, desertion,
being taken by force, unjust accusation and condemnation,
exposure, mockery, physical torture, searing cramping,
suffocation, agonizing thirst,
watching His loved ones suffer, and feeling forsaken by God.

For me.

“I prefer you.”

As I prayed the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary,
the theme re-echoed in each decade:
“I prefer to go through this rather than to lose you.”

What tenderness!

What ardor!

What strength beyond imagining!

This came to mind:

Except Jesus is saying,
“She’s not heavy–she’s My bride!”
…under the weight of the cross.

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel
and they seemed to him but a few days
because of the love he had for her.
-Genesis 29:20

(and then he served seven more years for her
after his father-in-law tricked him into marrying her older sister first!)

Our divine Bridegroom will not be outdone in Love
by any mere mortal!

for the sake of the joy that was set before Him
[Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame
-Hebrews 12:2

That’s talking about me!
I am His joy!

My mind boggles…

This isn’t just for me.

Jesus is gazing penetratingly, passionately at you.
He knows you through and through–the good, the bad and the ugly–
He knows what it will cost Him to win you…
much more than it cost Jacob to win Rachel!
But His voice is firm and powerful…and full of joy!

“I prefer you!”

I aspire to live this holy card,
flying to those open arms, with heart aflame
with love.

Stations of the Cross: Sacred Heart Theme

March 16, 2012

This is what came as I prayed the Stations of the Cross
for my dying grandmother during Eucharistic Adoration
in the chapel of the school where my prince teaches:

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world
(at this point in each Station, I kiss the ground,
as I would if I were in Jerusalem, walking the Via Dolorosa–
which is what the Stations are meant to represent)

“Ecce homo”
“Behold the man”
My Lord, Virgin-born,
the only Man not deserving of condemnation,
I see in You a mirror of what I am–
ripped open by sin,
crowned by my own pride,
condemned with none to take my part–
save You.
Save only You.
Sacred Heart enkindled with love for me…

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

2nd Station: Jesus takes up His Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

You only had thorns.
Now there’s a log on the fire.
How it blazes!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

As logs burn
they fall in great showers of sparks.
Love blazes on

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

4th Station: Jesus meets His mother
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart, Hearts afire-
how the flames mingle and rise higher!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

5th Station: Simon of Cyrene is forced to help Jesus carry the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Wet wood.
It needs to be dried out before it can catch–but it will…
It cannot stay that close to the fire
without being transformed, however reluctantly.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

6th Station: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

The smallest response to Love fans the flames,
leaves its mark.
Love finds relief in loving,
even more than in the service received.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

7th Station: Jesus falls a second time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

As the flames rise, the fuel falls.
It is meant to be consumed.
Se are we–
until all is fire.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

8th Station: Jesus meets the weeping women of Jerusalem
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

If this is the way it is when the wood is green,
what will it be when it’s dry?
If this is the fate of good,
what will be the fate of evil?
Weep not for those who suffer only in this life,
but for those headed for eternal suffering in the next!
Let love ignite your heart now
that you may escape the eternal flames!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

9th Station: Jesus falls a third time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

In the end, the fire dies to embers.
That’s where the heat resides,
the heart of the fire,
which can do the most good.
Glowing, living, radiant, constant, steady.
The fuel completely transformed into fire.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

10th Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Up to this point the fire’s been enclosed, contained.
The covering is removed.
The whole world exposed to it–to catch fire!
The Blessed Virgin Mary is fanning the flames as they catch!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

11th Station: Jesus is crucified
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Lifted high-
a burning torch of Love to light the way,
light up the world.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

12th Station: Jesus dies on the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

It looks as though the flame has been snuffed.
We didn’t count on trick birthday cake candles!
This fire only appears to go out.
Yet this is true death, not a trick.
The fire passes into the Father’s hands,
descends to Hades
to burst the prison bars and set the captives free

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Remember, man, that you are dust
and to dust you shall return (see Genesis 3:19)
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
Cool enough to handle.
We mourn the loss of the light.
The Immaculate Heart burns on in sorrow…
Blood and water gush forth
from this once-burning Heart
to quench the fires of hell, lust, temptation, anger, greed (etc.)

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Love goes underground,
like the sacred fire hidden by Jeremiah at the time of the exile
(see 2 Maccabees 1:18-35).
The grain of wheat has died, has fallen to the ground,
has been planted.
The earth cannot contain it for long.
It will have a time of dormancy,
but very soon, germination and reproduction.
From a single grain come many grains,
which in turn will fall and die and multiply.
(and ash makes the earth fruitful!)

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
make my heart like unto Thine!
Let us come back from that sacred table
like lions breathing out fire!

Let us, then, come back from that table [the Eucharist]
like lions breathing out fire,
thus becoming terrifying to the Devil,
and remaining mindful of our Head
and of the love he has shown for us. . .
This Blood, when worthily received,
drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us,
and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . .
This Blood, poured out in abundance,
has washed the whole world clean. . .
This is the price of the world;
by it Christ purchased the Church…
This thought will check in us unruly passions.
How long, in truth,
shall we be attached to present things?
How long shall we remain asleep?
How long shall we not take thought
for our own salvation?
Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us,
let us give thanks, let us glorify him,
not only by faith, but also by our very works.
-St. John Chrysostom, Homily 46,
Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

“Take It On”

July 29, 2011

The phrase “offer it up” has been around for a long time. Properly understood, it’s a powerful way of turning “trash” into spiritual treasure, cooperating with God in His mission to make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). To “offer it up,” is to unite my sufferings with Jesus’ sufferings on the Cross, especially in the Mass, which is a participation in Jesus’ eternal sacrifice–the only sacrifice with supernatural saving power. By uniting my sufferings to Jesus’ I participate in the release of grace into the world, in the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of souls. That’s powerful! And it gives my suffering meaning and purpose.

Without disparaging any of that, my reading and pondering our identity as members of the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12, among others) has suggested an additional perspective.

In the Passion, Jesus’ Body suffered. His back was scourged, His shoulder bore the weight of the cross, His hands and feet were pierced, His Heart was thrust through. As a member of Jesus’ Body, I can expect to share His suffering. Perhaps today I’m His shoulder, weighed down by a heavy burden. Or maybe I’m His hand, pierced and bleeding. Whatever the case, if I am to remain in union with Him I need to “take it on”.

When we suffer, there’s a sense in which we’re like Simon of Cyrene, forced to pick up a cross. We can do so unwillingly, or we can choose to “take it on.”

There is a natural human response to want to absorb the suffering of one we love. “Oh, if only I could take that suffering for you.” Jesus fulfills that longing. He doesn’t leave us as helpless spectators on the outside looking in. No, we can’t substitute for Christ. But we can unite with Him. We can suffer in Him and with Him as members of His Body in communion with Him.

The sense in which we “offer it up” is the sense in which we realize that it’s not our suffering, but His. The sense in which we “take it on” is the sense in which we take our place as members of the Body of Christ in His Passion.

This ties in directly with the distinction between
a “replacement sacrifice” versus a “representative sacrifice”:

The history of man and his religion
is the story of his efforts to reunite himself with the divine.
To bring about this reunion, man offers a gift to the gods,
but in the end realizes that nothing less
than the gift of himself will suffice.
And insofar as man is not usually willing
to offer his complete self to the deity,
he searches to find a gift, an offering,
a sacrifice that “represents” himself.
A true representative gift
is one in which the giver is in some way present in his gift;
in this way the gift truly represents man
in his attempt to give himself to God.
Not all gifts, however, can be classified in this way,
for in some gifts man is not present in the offering.
These gifts are called by Cardinal Ratzinger
“replacement gifts,”
where the offerer is not present in his gift,
even though on the surface he believes himself to be
(Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p36).
The distinction, then, is this:
the “representative sacrifice”
truly symbolizes man’s genuine and heartfelt desire
to give himself over, to unite himself to God,
to divinize himself:  in a word, to “sacrifice.”
The “replacement sacrifice,” on the contrary,
is a mere empty sign or gesture
of man’s supposed desire for reunion;
the replacement sacrifice is a replacement of man,
and “worship with replacement
turns out to be a replacement for worship.
Somehow the real thing is missing”
(Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p36).
It is these latter sacrifices
that the prophets seek to correct.
-Christopher Carstens & Douglas Martis,
Mystical Body, Mystical Voice:
Encountering Christ
in the Words of the Mass, p21

When we “take on” suffering as members of the Body of Christ,
we are present in our sacrifice,
in our offering to God.
It brings us into communion with Him,
the union with the divine for which we were created.
It fulfills our destiny.

In addition, it builds up the Body of Christ.
We are not only united to the Head (Jesus–see Ephesians 5:23), but to all the other members as well, throughout time and eternity. When we “take it on,” we never suffer alone, nor are the effects of our suffering limited to ourselves. A “great cloud of witnesses” cheers us on (see Hebrews 12:1).

In my own sufferings (small and not so small),
I’m learning to both “offer it up”, and “take it on.”


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