The thick cloud

Yesterday’s post about the pillar of cloud reminded me of something I read recently.  (Sorry, I haven’t been keeping up with my “What I’m Reading” column . . . ) I recently finished a book about Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) and the Jewish Catholics who went to Auschwitz at the same time as she did.  Most them, like Edith, recognized God’s call on them to offer themselves as some sort of sacrifice for their Jewish brethren. Among them was a group of brothers and sisters from the same family, the Löb family, most of them priests and Sisters.  Their memorial card makes reference to the thick cloud that descended that descended upon Mount Sinai when the Lord revealed Himself to the people of Israel.  We, too, experience times when the Lord comes to us in what seems to be a thick cloud.  Let us take courage from the Löb siblings’ ability to recognize God in the one that covered them.

“Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud” (Ex 19.9).

We read these words in the Book of Moses that recounted the Exodus of the Jews.  We can apply these words to these chosen souls, who came from that same people to whom God appeared on the holy mountain. The holy mountain is the contemplative cloister.  On that mountain they were praying during the night, when the cloud descended upon them.  From a purely human perspective, this cloud, ominous and inescapable, would be nothing more than a threat.  From this cloud, however, they heard the voice of God.  Though each had his own path, they were one in their noble surrender to God’s holy will, and they recognized with joy their chosen lot.  And we saw them go.

The pass of suffering

In reading the book by Richard Wurmbrand this past week, it is hard not to think of all those who have gone before us to Christ by the path of martyrdom and the many who tread that path today.  This poem by Emily Dickenson succinctly sums up their secret and is an encouragement to all of us.

Through the straight pass of suffering
The martyrs even trod,
Their feet upon temptation
Their faces upon God.