Above all seek the prayers of the saints

A “bonus” post today–from today’s Office of Readings.  A selection by St. Bernard, an encouragement to aim high, as did the saints who have gone before us:

Come, brothers [and sisters], let us at length spur ourselves on.  We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven.  Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. . . . That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints.  Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.

Friends in high places

It’s good to remember that we have friends in high places.

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A quote from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast it is today:

. . . we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven.  Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. . . . we must above all seek the prayers of the saints.  Thus, what is beyond our powers to attain [the blessedness of being with Christ] will be granted through their intercession.

It’s good to remember that we have friends in high places.

His wounds that speak more loudly than words

Jesus “always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7.25).

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Here is a major reason for you to have hope: Jesus “always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7.25).  He continually stands before the Father showing Him His wounds that speak more loudly than words, the wounds He gained by the passion of His love for you and that He chose to maintain in His flesh after His resurrection.  Think about that: He wanted to keep His wounds.  St. Bernard says: “Thy Heart has been wounded so that the visible wound should make us know the invisible wound of love.”  Another place he says: “The iron has pierced His soul and has touched His heart, so that He might know how to be compassionate to our infirmities.  The body’s wounds betray the secret of the heart and disclose a great mystery of love, the merciful goodness of God Who came from heaven to visit us.” That’s how much He loves us–how much He loves you.  And He continuously stands before the Father displaying His unfathomable love for you.

This ongoing prayer is the most important thing in the world, the only thing in the entire universe that carries real weight.  It is the prayer of a human being who is God, this God who became human but who returned to his Father to present the universe to him for all eternity. (Andre Louf, Mercy in Weakness)

So when you start thinking, “No one ever prays for me.  I’m all alone,” stop and remember “he always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7.25)–always lives to make intercession for you.

The Wounded Heart of Jesus

Christ’s Heart was wounded that we might know the depths of His love.

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Since it’s such a wonderful Feast today, I can’t help but post a bonus.  The hard part is choosing which quote to post–I have too many. . .  I began to discover the profundity of the pierced Heart of Jesus about five years ago . . .  and am still discovering.  Perhaps one of the most powerful things I read at that time was by Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, the founder of the Community of St. John–I can’t remember which book at the moment.  He was writing about Jesus’ cry on the cross, “I thirst!”, and that that was an expression of Christ’s desire to give more to us  than He was able to do humanly by His death.  We are all limited in our human nature, and so was Christ in His. He went on to say that the piercing of Christ’s Heart after His death was a further expression of this desire to give of Himself, to open wide His Heart to us even after His death.  I’m sure you can all recall that scene from The Passion where the soldier who pierced His Heart with the lance is showered with His blood–a very graphic picture of the very thing Fr. Philippe is speaking about.

There is such a rich, rich tradition of writing in the Catholic Church on this.  Just a smattering:

Thy Heart has been wounded so that the visible wound should make us know the invisible wound of love.(St. Bernard)

Thus he was wrong who said: ‘My sin is greater than may be forgiven,’ unless it be that he was not one of Christ’s members, and had no share in Christ’s merits that he might claim them and call them his own, as a member may use what belongs to the head. But as for me, I shall take to myself what is lacking to me from the Heart of the Lord, for mercy flows from it, nor are there wanting openings through which it may flow. They dug His hands and His feet; they opened His side with a lance. And through these clefts I may suck honey from the rock and oil from the hard stone; that is, I may taste and see that the Lord is sweet. … The iron pierced His soul, and His heart has drawn near to us, that no longer should He not know how to compassionate my woes. The secrets of His Heart lie open to me through the cloven body; that mighty sacrament of love lies open, viscera misericordia Dei nostri, in which the Orient from on high has visited us. Why should not the Heart lie open through the wounds? For what shines out more surely from Thy wounds but the truth that ‘the Lord is sweet and merciful and full of pity’? For greater mercy than this no man hath, that he lay down his life not for his friends but for his foes, men doomed to death….(St. Bernard)

Consider, O man, how much I have suffered for you. My head was crowned with thorns, My feet and hands pierced, My blood shed. I have opened My side to you and given you to drink the precious blood that flows from it! What more can you desire? (St. Augustine)

In his human heart Jesus expresses this thirst–hence his extreme desire–to love the Father (in his human heart) beyond the offering of his life, beyond the work of the Cross. Over and above this work, there is a call of pure love for the Father. In his human heart he thirsts for the Father’s love, and he thirsts to love him always more. (Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P.)

The heart of Jesus is an open heart. Spend your time there. (Bl. Teresa of Calcutta)

The lance in the hand of Longinus went beyond Christ’s heart; it opened God; it pierced the very bosom of the Trinity. This is ‘the Lamb that was slain’ (Rev 13:8). That foundation in the Word is one with eternity. ‘Knock, and it will be opened to you’, Christ said. Very well, we have knocked, and it has been opened to us. It was for this that God became flesh, for this that he procured a heart with the help of the Virgin. We have placed a seal on him, a stigmata. The crucifix has been added to the Trinity–not just a scar, however resplendent, but an open wound. ‘For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness’, says St. Paul (Heb 4:15). Indeed, there is no quality on which Scripture insists more strongly than that of mercy. (Paul Claudel)

In the pierced heart of the Crucified, God’s own heart is opened up–here we see who God is and what he is like. Heaven is no longer locked up. God has stepped out of his hiddenness. (J. Cardinal Ratzinger)