We lack words

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Let us look with eyes of faith at the paschal events which begin today, during the Last Supper.

We lack words to express the depth of the mystery which opens up before us.

St. John Paul II

My Jesus I love Thee

My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

William Ralph Featherston, 1864

He thirsts for our thirst

Jesus & the woman at the well

From the beginning of , Amazing Nearness, by the author of The Gift of Faith, Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer:

In my daily life, I am constantly getting lost. Yet that means He can constantly find me.  The more I need Him, the closer He is.  I can ceaselessly discover that in weariness He sought me.  This means loving until weary.  Because of Original Sin He constantly searches for us to the point of weariness and exhaustion, humanly speaking.

In the Eucharistic encounter, Jesus regularly finds me quite lost.   Yet, I am normally lost, needing to be found.  So no need for regrets.  If I am lost I can only be found in Eucharistic love.  He can only find me when I am lost and beginning to search for Him.  Love needs two.  It is a grace always given to me to seek Him through faith, hope, and love.

Fr. Dajczer is here making a reference to the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4.  “Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well.”  Augustine points out that Jesus is weary because He is on a journey to seek us each out.  He is thirsty for our faith.  He knows that we are lost and constantly sets out to find us.  If you feel lost today, take heart that He is seeking you and looking for you.  Let yourself be found by Him.

Thy Mercy Free

Out of the depths we cry to thee.
Lord, hear us, we implore thee.
Bend down thy gracious ear to us.
Let our prayer come before thee!
On our misdeeds in mercy look
O deign to blot them from thy book,
And let us come before thee.

Thy sov’reign grace and boundless love
Show thee, O Lord, forgiving.
Our purest thoughts and deeds but prove
Sin in our hearts is living.
None guiltless in thy sight appear.
All who approach thy throne must fear,
And humbly trust thy mercy.

Thou canst be merciful while just.
This is our hope’s foundation.
In thy redeeming grace we trust.
O grant us thy salvation.
Upheld by thee we stand secure.
Thy word is firm, thy promise sure,
And we rely upon thee.

Like those who watch for midnight’s hour
To hail the dawning morrow,
We wait for thee, we trust thy pow’r,
Unmoved by doubt or sorrow.
So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous.

Martin Luther

When you fail

“When you fail to measure up to your Christian privilege, be not discouraged for discouragement is a form of pride. The reason you are sad is because you looked to yourself and not to God; to your failings not to His love. You will shake off your faults more readily when you love God than when you criticize yourself. God is more lenient than you because he is perfectly good and therefore loves you more. Be bold enough then to believe that God is on your side, even when you forget to be on His.” ~ Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Preface to Religion)

“Each of us is a person”

I haven’t reposted anything lately from Restoration, Madonna House’s monthly publication.  I was quite moved by this piece from their January issue.  Each of us has such a deep longing to be known for who we are.  Steve Heroux shares his perspective:

Each of Us Is a Person

by Steve Héroux.

A number of years ago, a friend of mine said that if Christ were not in me, it would not be worth his while loving me. What an interesting comment to offer a friend!

Of course one could hear this in a number of different ways. I suppose I could have answered with “thank you very much,” or entered into some sort of theological discussion about it all. But when it comes to being loved, somehow theological discussions don’t seem to cut it.

I couldn’t help but think that something very precious was lacking in his outlook, and I was deeply saddened. My gut reaction was: “Please do not make of me an object of your love for Jesus.”

Of course, it is likely that I misinterpreted his intentions and misunderstood what he was trying to say.

Nonetheless, making someone into an object of our love for God is not something impossible to do. And it is likely not much better than making an object out of a person for any other reason. Something very sad indeed.

I heard it said that here at the Marian Centre, we give people an opportunity to touch the poor and that that is a good thing to do! I must admit that I struggle with this as well, possibly for the same reasons.

I would not like to be a poor person going somewhere to give someone else a chance to touch me or serve me in order that he or she might get something out of it, out of me. Even if that something were noble feelings or a broadening of horizons or of the heart, or even perhaps conversion of heart—or worst of all—a good conscience.

I would feel like someone was taking advantage of my situation for their own “noble” gain. I simply want to be seen and treated as… well… me!

You can read the rest here.

The wonderful love story

I just began reading this wonderful book, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones & illustrated by Jago.  Those of you with kids are probably familiar with it.  I learned a long time ago that a lot of kids’ books aren’t just for kids–and this is one of them.  Here are a favorite couple of pages:

(Pssst.  If you click on the picture, you can view it enlarged.)

in-the-beginning1

The man Pope Francis kissed is all of us

Reblogging from Elizabeth Scalia:

“I am not contagious”: Vinicio Riva on Francis’ Kiss

November 18, 2013 By  

Everyone remembers this gentleman, and this beautiful moment, one that has lingered in our awareness so well that weeks later, we are still reading, writing and talking about it,still processing it:

When these pictures burst upon the scene, Max Lindenman, in a thoughtful post, wondered (worried?) whether the man’s anonymity might tempt us to dismiss his human reality.

But I do wish I knew more about him — his name, his nationality, his employment history, how faith and doubt play out in his life, any detail that tends to mark him as an individual. Through no fault of his own, he comes off in its absence like a prop, a flat character in a story called How Francis Transformed the Papacy.

In the story, his purpose, his job, is to be merely pitiable — or worse. The Kindness Blog’s headline refers to him as “Horribly Disfigured Man”; to UCatholic, he’s “Severely Disfigured Man.” Vatican Insider’s copy is a little more delicate, bumping up his status to “man plagued with neurofibromatosis.” But the line following the photo — “Pope Francis’ humanity shone [sic] through once again as he kissed a man’s disfigured face” — gives the game away. And it’s the same old game. We’re meant to understand that nobody but a saint would touch the guy with a ten-foot pole.

Finally, we know his name, and it all becomes even more real.

Vinicio Riva, whose head and neck are covered with tumors due to a rare disease, told an Italian magazine that his disfigured appearance has led to a lifetime of living on the margins. [...]

Riva, who lives in Vicenza in northern Italy, said he suffers from neurofibromatosis Type 1, which causes painful tumors to grow throughout his body. His younger sisters and late mother also suffered from the rare disease, Riva told Panorama.

The first signs of the disease began when he was 15, Riva said, and since then, he has often felt ostracized because of his unusual appearance.

But the Pope showed no sign of discomfort as he approached, said Riva. Instead, the pontiff’s face broke into a calm smile.

“But what most astonished me is that he didn’t think twice on embracing me,” Riva said. “I’m not contagious, but he didn’t know. He just did it; he caressed all my face, and while he was doing that, I felt only love.”

Vinicio Riva has been marginalized for much of his life, because of his appearance; now he is celebrated and made known. In one of those great paradoxes of faith, the very malady that had pushed him to the edges of society was the thing that brought him into contact with the great, unnerving, liberating mystery that is love unnarrowed and unleashed, and all in the sight of the whole world.

Rather than instinctively looking away from Vinicio Riva; we now can’t take our eyes off of him, so fascinated are we by the revelation of love’s awe-full beauty, and the way it renders adorable what had previously seemed unlovable. Though we are afraid, we want it, too.

Pondering of all of this in the light of our broken, disfigured souls, we may literally tremble. I know I do. As physically unattractive as I am, it is my interior ugliness that often makes me feel repellent — to myself, to God, to the world — and it is the greater weight I drag as I wander the peripheries and wonder how much love I dare lay claim to.

And yet. . .here is hope, even for one as damaged and ghastly as I, in all my dark sins. This moment between Francis and Vinicio is just a small revelation of the love we are promised in the light of Christ. If this tiny apocalypse of pure love has us entranced and moved, what might the whole glory of it be were we to permit an unrestricted Christ-kiss to our souls?

We can’t even imagine it without becoming a little breathless, and yes, overwhelmed. It is promised to us. Dare we believe that with our whole hearts, and let it draw us into revelation?

Vinicio Riva is not contagious, but I really hope the love unleashed in that stark moment in Saint Peter’s Square becomes a kind of viral contagion — one that makes us so “sick with love” that we are (again, in divine paradox) cleansed, healed and made whole; slower to reject others, and faster to respect them; tempering our own harsh sell-assessments with a prudent, not indulgent, measure of mercy.