Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chez Thérèse

Since Easter Sunday I’d been feeling compelled to spend some time with Saint Thérèse, so on Thursday afternoon I made my way to a little shrine nearby.

I have visited this place before and last spring spent nine consecutive days there praying a novena.

One morning, an elderly man entered and gave me a card with this prayer written by the saint:

Lord grant that I may always allow myself to be guided by you, always follow your plans, and perfectly accomplish your holy will. Grant that in all things, great and small, today and all the days of my life, I may do whatever you may require of me. Help me to respond to the slightest prompting of your grace, so that I may be your trustworthy instrument. May your will be done in time and eternity, by me, in me, and through me. Amen.

And this became a part of the dialogue, a response of sorts to what I had been praying about.

Since then a lot has happened and I continue to see the unfolding of God’s plan for me daily, in response to this prayer. I encourage anyone in transition to spend some time with Saint Thèrése, brave warrior of the desert, otherwise known diminutively as the Little Flower. But don’t let the nickname fool you. She's a powerful ally. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

Some people pray only the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary during Lent. Some pray them every day during Holy Week, and some would be inclined for that reason to pray them today, a Saturday, when we would otherwise be praying the Joyful Mysteries. Yet I propose for today a different kind of meditation, combining the mysteries of the rosary, both joyful and sorrowful, as I imagine Mary herself did this day in her time of mourning, the day after seeing her Son crucified and entombed. I imagine her sitting with the apostle John who stood with her beneath the cross, John to whom our Lord entrusted the care of His Mother. I imagine Mary sitting in John’s house, remembering to herself the events of her Son’s life, beginning with the day the angel came to her.

Her first meditation would be upon a memory of that encounter with the messenger of heaven who heralded the great gift God was pleased to endow to humanity. She would recall the descent of the Holy Spirit upon her and the conception of Christ in her womb. She would remember the feeling of carrying God in her womb, that closeness of her heart to His heart, infinite yet pressed into a tiny muscle pulsing within His little breast, within her, the heart through which her own blood would course. That blood, once hers, would then be formed in beads upon the skin of her Son as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane the night before last to His heavenly Father that His will be done, the blood running in rivulets over his body, from the duress of His knowing every sin for which He would be offered.

Then, Mary would remember her journey to the hill country where Elizabeth would be found full with child, and the greeting, the recognition of John in the womb of Elizabeth for Jesus in the womb of Mary, the Spirit blowing through and tumbling the little ones with joy in their wombs. And Elizabeth would be moved to proclaim, blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb! Elizabeth and John recognized Mary and Jesus. And yet, they were unknown by those who would surround them yesterday. Unknown by those who would take her Son and nail Him to a cross, taunting and mocking Him before her eyes, spitting upon His open wounds bleeding the blood that was hers, striking the body that had been formed in her womb, killing the child to whom she had given birth.  

She would remember the birth… being turned away at the inn. And she would recall Joseph, his distress over having to lay his wife in a stable to give birth amidst the dung of livestock. Then the wise men came with strange gifts and the shepherds of the fields came with their flocks to kneel and honor and adore the little One wrapped in swaddling clothes, resting in the trough where the animals would take their food. And Mary would nurse the child whose body would become bread for the world. The body that would be offered in sacrifice for the salvation of all people of all times, the body that was torn with its flesh in ribbons by scourging, that laid the wood of the cross upon its back and carried the burden of all humanity up the hill of Golgotha.

She would remember carrying that child in her own arms to the temple with Joseph to offer Him there to God. The words of Simeon would burn in her memory as she would recall him saying, this child is destined to be a sign that will be opposed, and a sword will pierce your own heart. Indeed, it was the sword that opened the side of her Jesus, the lance thrust through His precious heart that pierced hers, for He was already gone in death when it occurred. He had been stripped and His clothes divided among the wicked, a crown of thorns pressed into His skull, His hands and feet ripped open by spikes, His heart broken by the desolation of humankind in this hour, but the lance was reserved for Mary.   

Then His body would be reposed from the cross and laid limp in her lap. He would be taken from her arms and entombed by another Joseph, not her husband, for she was a widow. He would be put into the tomb and lost to her for three days, as He was as a child lost to her and Joseph when He stayed behind at the temple in Jerusalem. Mary would recall how she and Joseph looked everywhere for their missing child and the pain of not knowing where or in what condition He would be found. Was He safe? Was He hungry? Was He hurt? And now, He was gone away from her in death, to plumb the depths of hell to retrieve all good souls who had gone before Him in death. He would see Joseph there, and His cousin, John, she would think, and then be distracted by the John with whom Jesus left her, John holding out to her a cup of tea. Please Mary, he would say, dabbing a tear from her cheek.

Friday, April 6, 2012