God of my fathers, Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your word and in your wisdom have established man to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and justice, and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, and reject me not from among your children: for I am your servant, the son of your handmaid, a man weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws.
Indeed, though one be perfect among the sons of men, if Wisdom, who comes from you, be not with him, he shall be held in no esteem.
Now with you is Wisdom who knows your works and was present when you made the world; who understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is conformable with your commands.
Send her forth from your holy heavens and from your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is your pleasure.
For she knows and understands all things, and will guide me discreetly in my affairs and safeguard me by her glory.” (Wisdom 9:1-6, 9-11)
St. Joseph I can only imagine how overwhelming the prospect of being a father to Jesus the Son of God would have been for you. And Mary would have said, ”Joey you were made for this! God will give you everything you need!” And you believed. You were a strong good and kind man, humble and wise. Wisdom was with you, beautiful father. All the love and the example you gave Jesus made him able to do what he came to do and be what he came to be. Today we ask you also to be a father to each of us. And we thank you for every hug, every talk, every lesson, every game you played with Jesus when he was growing up, and most of all for just being there and filling his life with your love.
I’ve been following Leticia Ochoa Adams, one of my favorite Catholic writers, for years on social media and I’ve loved reading her blog posts. She has always said what I wished someone would say even though I didn’t know I wished that until she made me laugh out loud or feel totally seen by a Catholic writer in a way I had not felt before. I admire her fearless and thorough self assessments, her frank story telling. There is a freedom that inspires in the way she manages to be rigorously honest about herself without sounding self absorbed or over dramatic. Reading her writing feels like sitting at The Kettle late at night with a comfortable friend who still surprises with her stories and insights.
So when I saw she had a book coming out I couldn’t wait to read it. It’s called Our Lady of Hot Messes from Ave Maria Press. It is the author’s spiritual memoir; the story of her life, a record of her conversion, an experience of her spirituality, the lessons she has learned, her observations about the world, her commentary on the times we are living through.
Leticia Ochoa Adams is not shy. Thank goodness because the world needs her voice, the voice of a Tejano daughter of a single mother who has endured more than her share of trauma and tragedy. Most recently she has survived the suicide of her son, Anthony. She is able to talk about this and the abuse she experienced as a child without being either lurid or glib. She makes it easy to learn from what she has been through and in sharing these things she lights the way for others.
She writes about the ways she, and we, numb ourselves, attaching ourselves to activities and material things that keep us from being with God as fully as we could be like “doom scrolling,” on social media and even more innocent things we become inordinately attached to. She examines the mixed motivations she and we often have with a disarming simplicity and clarity.
She reminds us we should just be ourselves. The most important thing to her is being real. I think she has accomplished that with a strength and self possession that might make you raise your eyebrows a little as you read.
One of her chapters is called “Cussing is Normal” in which she challenges us to consider if it’s really enough to use words like “dumb bunny” instead of cuss words when we have the same amount of malice in our hearts when we say them to someone.
I enjoyed her passages about finding God among people. She saw how Christ-like bar flies can be when they care for one another having witnessed the lives and friendships of the men who hung out in the dive bar where she was once a bartender. She learned the Ten Commandments and honorable conduct as part of a community from the “G Code” at the majority black high school she attended long before she learned these things in church. God had been teaching her all along through the events and people in her life. Jesus had been there.
Jesus is real and immediate to her. He’s watching TV with her on the couch. He’s funny, he makes her laugh sometimes and he loves her. She tells him everything. I appreciate the way she shares how that relationship has grown throughout her life, through grief and love and her search for truth.
She wants us to know she doesn’t have it all together, that we are at home in the Church whether we feel we have the perfect Catholic life or not.
It’s funny that she asked such hostile questions at the first RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) class she went to, she got kicked out. She only went to get her boyfriend to marry her, she says. She had been taught at a different church growing up that Catholics were idol worshipers and that the rosary was witchcraft. She was ready to be hostile again on her second try at the class but she was so blown away by the explanation of John chapter 6 she forgot to be mad when they got to the Virgin Mary and the rosary because she was still thinking about the Eucharist.
“The thing I love most about being Catholic is that I have found a place that hasn’t gotten tired of my questions. I can ask them without fear of being kicked out. Having a relationship with God and his mother does not mean that I know everything. It does not mean that I do not question why things are the way they are. But it does mean that I get to show up as me, even if that means I fall asleep when I try to pray my rosary at bed time.”
Her chapter on the rosary is my favorite one. “Praying the Rosary Like a Loser.”
“I also consider that Hail Marys are what make up the Rosary and each one is a rose laid at her feet. So when I don’t have time to pray the Rosary I just try to lay spiritual roses at her feet like not cussing out a coworker or not flipping off someone in traffic or paying for someone’s lunch. Those are all just as valid as roses to her. And that, my friends, is how to pray the Rosary like a loser when you do not have your life together. You just try not to be a jerk to others, and you think about those moments as roses laid at the feet of Our Lady. And you know that you are loved.”
It’s a bit of a struggle. Some days are better than others. I noticed this summer that I was more emotionally fragile than I normally am. The anniversary of my brother’s death causes me grief but it hit me harder than usual this August. After it was over I didn’t feel all that much better. I had days I wondered what was going on with me this summer. When I start to feel alienated, withdrawn and broken I have to stop and sort out what it could be.
It could be regular old depression. It could be a stressor in my life. Or ten stressors. It could be that weird wiring I have from my Complex PTSS (formerly called PTSD). It could be grief issues coming up again for some reason. It could be more traumatic memories trying to surface – a process I particularly hate.
In any case I try to accept myself as God accepts me. Someone I like asked on social media whether God is with us in depression. It’s one thing to know the truth of his presence intellectually and quite another for our hearts, for our souls to know it. Of course he is with us.
Over the years when I am in this state that sometimes feels like a darkness and exhaustion, sometimes like broken-ness, sometimes like a crushing weight, I know he is with me, taking care of me, helping me bear this little cross of mine until I feel better.
It’s hard not to feel guilty when I’m depressed. Sometimes I need a walk or to pray. Other times I just need to hide in my room with a book. That last feels like I am being lazy and I feel bad. Jesus doesn’t want me to feel bad about what I need to do to get through depression. It’s hard for me to take care of myself when I am like this. It’s something I have to do for Jesus. “Eat a sandwich for me. Drink some water.” I tend to not only forget to eat when I am running rough, sometimes I feel angry about having to eat. So he says sweetly, “Eat something for me because I love you and I want you to.” And I will for him.
I’m so tired. I have this feeling of wanting to go home but I don’t know where I’m supposed to go. Even Heaven sounds exhausting.
Some afternoons are crushingly tough. Depression can be gray and tiring. Other times it can be a ferocious attack tearing me apart.
I’m impatient with my family, or irritable and I have to apologize.
This time around my depression seems like an agitated depression I have never had before. That scares me because my brother got like that before his suicide, though his was certainly more extreme. I think of this as a mild depression in comparison to what I saw my brother go through and not make it out of.
I am doing all the things I need to do. That in itself is a good sign. I even talked to my doctor; something I tend to avoid if at all possible. I try everything else first that I know to try. I look at my diet, stress, circumstances. I start taking B-Complex at my hardest time of day which tends to be the afternoon.
I look at the roses in the catalog. (I love looking at roses). I blow bubbles. I pet my cat.
I tell God, “I am depressed right now and I’m not sure what to do anymore. I’m so glad you are with me.”
Always I know it is temporary. I will get better. I imagine feeling better, sun on my face, feeling peaceful.
Now it is the holidays which are hard for my family and me, and maybe for you too. However I also know we will get through it, we all will.
If you are wondering if you should be “too blessed to be stressed” or something, (what nonsense), or if you are like me during depression and feel guilty about everything all the time every day, if you don’t know why your heart feels like it’s bleeding, and why you don’t have more faith, (you have plenty!) well I welcome you, and God does too.
Every second, love surrounds you, helping you along. This too shall pass, and once you have done all you can, and gotten the help you need, (I did, please don’t be ashamed about that) the rest is up to the Lord. Your job is to get through the day with his help.
Another thing I do is offer up my anguish to God with Mary, as she asked at Fatima, for the souls of others.
Oh Jesus, it is for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against your Sacred Heart and against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and, (I add), for everyone who suffers sorrow anywhere in the world today.”
I say to Jesus and Mary at the end of the day that I made it and thank you and also I add that I love sleeping and I’m comfortable and thank you for sleep.
This is a brief guided version of the Prayer of Recollection of St. Teresa of Jesus with some additional preparation to help you relax and get centered at the beginning. There is a lot of room in this prayer for us to “look” at the Lord in the way that works best for us. It is supremely simple in structure, leaving room for conversation with God, imaginative prayer, or interior silent communion with Christ, whatever way helps you keep the eyes of your soul on the Lord and attentive to him. I used the simple structure St. Teresa outlined in The Way of Perfection, Chapter 26. As an anchor to keep us focussed on God’s presence I suggest mentally praying the Name of Jesus to gently bring our minds back when they wander.
I went to see Fr. Cassian Sibley to discuss Prayer of the Heart in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The sign on the house read, Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring Russian Orthodox Church. That has to be the coolest church name I have ever heard in my life. I told Fr. Cassian so when he opened the door. He is a cheerful man with a kind face and a big bushy beard. He offered me coffee and showed me an assortment of beautiful prayer ropes, or “chotki” used for the meditative repetition of the “Jesus Prayer,” (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”) which is at the core of Prayer of theHeart. Some of the chotkis were made with beads, some with knots in the shape of crosses. Some were quite long, and some were tiny, designed to fit on a baby’s wrist.
He explains that the simple repetition of the Jesus Prayer is the most common use for lay people, in order to pray without ceasing as they go about their busy lives. I am familiar with this because of one of my favorite spiritual books, The Way of the Pilgrim/The Pilgrim Continues His Way. The pilgrim wanders across Russia praying the Jesus Prayer until his heart prays it continually without effort. The book charts his travel, conversations and spiritual growth in the prayer.
Fr. Cassian points out that by replacing the “me” in the prayer with the name of someone else, one can use the prayer as an intercessory prayer – while warning that one does not use the phrase “a sinner” while doing so, since a Christian has no authority or right to judge another.
I had brought a rose for Mother Mary which he put in the chapel. Then I followed him into a pleasant sitting room filled with morning light, and comfortable furniture, lined with books. A parrotlet sang from a nearby cage. I got out my notebook but the conversation was so interesting and lively that I hardly took any notes. I couldn’t have been more content. I was sitting in a cozy chair conversing with an extremely intelligent and deeply spiritual person in a relaxed and friendly way, neither of us hurried. Priests are busy people so I was aware of what a gift his time was.
Fr. Cassian grew up Southern Baptist but was, as an early teen drawn to the Anglican Church and was preparing to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. As he studied theology though, he became more and more sympathetic to the Orthodox Church, and as a teen, he had read the J.D. Salinger novella, Franny and Zooey, and been introduced to the Jesus Prayer and The Way of the Pilgrim. Eventually he converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and ultimately was ordained as an Orthodox priest.
I told him my story of being tricked by Mother Mary into falling for Jesus and the Catholic Church after having grown up without religion. He chuckled knowingly and we talked about Mary in both our traditions. I really like the Orthodox title for her, “The Theotokos,” meaning “God-bearer.”
Our discussion turned to the life of prayer as experienced and expressed in each of our faiths’ contemplative traditions. We have so much in common. There are some interesting differences in our mystical theology, and in our ideas about the experience of Heaven. The Orthodox regard heaven as a continuous free growth of divinization -as an “ever moving rest” – which the Orthodox feel is in contradiction to the experience of what the Western Church calls the Beatific Vision. I said that St. Therese is busy “spending [her] Heaven doing good on earth,” so maybe we’re not so different there after all.
We discussed Confession, local events and world news, Church history, the degrees of union with God, the differences between praying with the chotki and the rosary, (for instance we use imaginative prayer and the Orthodox strongly caution against it).
We talked about the importance of being willing to know Jesus as he is, being ready to shed our own ideas and misconceptions and our lamentable tendency to only accept the aspects of the Lord that we are comfortable with.
I learned some Greek words and heard a few Russian ones I would be unable to reproduce.
Eventually we came to the point of my visit, the practice of Hesychasm (the path of deep prayer and living the life of prayer in the Orthodox tradition) and the practice of Prayer of the Heart.
Before Fr. Cassian gives me practical instructions, he cautions that if one desires to enter into this practice, a spiritual guide, teacher or spiritual director is extremely helpful – which is why the more mystical and non-verbal use of the Jesus prayer is more common, in Orthodoxy, amongst monastics and those with a monastic spiritual father or mother.
He goes on to say that today in Western Society we think of ourselves as centered in the brain, the mind, and that we tend to pray from there. Biblically, however, the heart is seen as the center of the person where both thoughts and spiritual movements occur. In Orthodox prayer, the pray-er seeks to redirect his or her awareness from the head down into the heart. Fr. Cassian touches his heart often as he speaks, seemingly unconsciously, closing his eyes when he does so. It seems to me that when he does this, a switch is flipped somewhere, a “peace switch” that visibly changes his entire demeanor. Maybe it is a breaker switch because I feel it too!
Practical Instructions for Prayer of the Heart
Stand or sit comfortably with your back relatively straight, in silence, solitude and stillness.
Breathe in, and allow one’s conscious awareness to follow that breath as one prays, silently, “Lord Jesus Christ”
Exhale slowly, maintaining, if possible, one’s conscious awareness in the heart, as one prays silently, “Son of God,”
Inhale, as before, while silently praying “have mercy on me”
Breathe out slowly and prayerfully acknowledge that one is “a sinner.”
Slowly repeat this cycle again and again.
Continually bring your awareness into your heart, bringing Jesus’ Name, his presence into it. Eventually it will be the heart that keeps time, so to speak, and the heart that speaks. After that, everything is up to God, and God alone.
The true Prayer of the Heart as he describes it sounds like what a Carmelite would call the grace of infused contemplation, where it is God who acts within us, and we are drawn into union with him.
We talk about the traditional understanding of the progress of the soul through the Purgative Way (purification), the Illuminative Way (the growing knowledge of God and his ways) and finally the Unitive Way (one-ness with God).
Before I leave, Fr. gives me a copy of his wife’s new book of poetry, Zoom and the Neanderthal Girl by Olympia Sibley, (I highly recommend it!) and I give him a copy of my book, Come to Mary’s House; Spending Time with Our Blessed Mother. (Release date September 26)
He invites me to come again, perhaps for dinner with his wife and him. I say that would be great.
I had set out today to write about the Prayer of the Heart but I can’t help but feel that perhaps Fr. Cassian and I have begun to do our part in healing the Great Schism one conversation, one prayer, one friendship at a time.
*My thanks to Fr. Cassian Sibley for his assistance with this piece.
What is Christian love? After my conversion to Catholicism (quite a leap from the way I was raised which was without religion,) my family had adjusting to do. My brother was the person I was closest to. We were symbiotic and as my mom said, “joined at the hip.” For me to make such a radical change in my world view seemed like a kind of betrayal by me. In the beginning we argued. I would say I loved him, which wasn’t especially well received when he was mad. Once he said, “I don’t want your ‘Christian love.‘ I just want you and YOUR love.” This upset me. I thought “What’s the difference?”
Pondering this interaction on the drive home, I realized what he meant and what his fear was. When we were kids my parents were very young, idealistic and nonconformist. We looked different. Our Hippie family was ill treated in the small Texas town my parents had moved to for school in 1968. It was a college town, yes, but unbelievably conservative. They did not allow women into the University unless they were married to a male student until 1972.
A lot of people who said they were Christian didn’t let us play with their kids, talked mess about our parents right in front of us, were harsh and cold with my brother and me and we didn’t understand why. We saw them as alienating people with fake smiles, and vacant eyes who were prone to heartlessness. When they said anything about loving us for Jesus’ sake it just sounded like they didn’t want to “love us” (whatever that meant) but Jesus wanted them to play nice. Which they didn’t.
My brother was afraid I would now love him in some generalized fake way, judging him as a person the whole time. It took him time and experience with me as a Catholic to disabuse him of that notion.
What does Christian love really mean? What does it mean to love someone for Jesus’ sake? I do think sometimes people don’t go very far with this. Maybe sometimes we do think it means to play nice.
Someone on social media told me he was tired of the Church being “the Church of nice.” I said I knew we weren’t supposed to be “the Church of Nice.” No we are supposed to be the Church of radical love.
I’m still working this out. All of us are, as my granny used to say, “full of prunes.” We don’t know what we’re talking about and we think we do. We think better of ourselves sometimes than we really are. We can wake up feeling like we love everybody and we hate everybody by 2 O’clock, or at least we hate several people. Some people. I’m no different. Sometimes I tell Jesus, “I know I’m not allowed to hate that guy. I know you love him, I know.” I tell him all about it. Then there is a glimmer, a hint, of what Jesus feels for that person, and I can’t go on with my tirade or hot headed attitude. I can perceive my self both as the fool I am and the affection and love God has for me. Most of the time peace comes to me pretty quickly if I’m willing. Life is so hard and I don’t know why it has to be so hard. It just is.
In that glimmer of understanding and touch of peace, I think lies the answer of the beginning of Christian love, real love, personal love for a unique and unrepeatable human being we may not know as well as we could, or a transformed love for someone we know as we know ourselves.
He has put into my heart a marvelous love
– Psalm 16:3a
Christian love comes from union with Christ, the transforming love of “putting on the new self.” (Eph. 4:24. This is how we begin to love others as Jesus loves us. (See Jn. 13:34.) I don’t think this ability comes from baptism alone. I think it comes from prayer and time spent consciously in God’s presence. It is prayer that taught me how to love more fully, to examine my inner motivations and attitudes toward others and myself. Prayer and fledgling love of God inspired me to own up to my character defects and wrongheaded, prideful or selfish way of loving- even my brother.
With prayer and being with God we receive a new clarity and freedom of heart. This doesn’t happen right away. It takes so much time that often I get frustrated with myself. I have to remember that God will “complete the good work he has begun in [me.]”
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.
Teresa of Avila wrote about detachment in relationships, especially in Chapter 7 on spiritual friendship in her book The Way of Perfection. “Detachment” sounds cold to us today. Based on my own experience I think I know what she means a little bit that we can apply here. This doesn’t mean less love for someone! It really means a detachment from self, from selfishness in our relationships.
How do we do that? Admittedly I don’t have this figured out yet. However, there is a lot of mystery involved so I don’t blame myself for that!
Similar to our efforts and experience of prayer there is an active part to this new kind of human love, and a mystical part.
The active part is more obvious. We decide to be more self aware to notice what to let go of in our ways of relating. Some of this is simple. Let’s have a look at my brother and me. When he went to rehab at age 16, we learned from the staff there how to better communicate. At first we felt silly like we had to learn to talk all over again and we would get tired of it sometimes and revert to old ways. Or we lost our tempers and had outbursts. We talked about this. We decided to see our progress. The progress was we noticed what we were doing wrong. Then with practice we got where we noticed even before we were mean and stopped ourselves. Then later, we didn’t even think about being mean anymore. Or controlling. Or selfish anymore. This is basic stuff for some people but to us it was a whole new fish bowl.
In the mean time I was learning to pray. I must have been quite an emergency to God because he set about teaching me what real love felt like right away. It was the way he loved me, and the way I learned to love him back. His love is simple and tender and clear. It stops the thoughts and worries running through your mind and you don’t even think “Hey I’m being loved.” It just is.
My own love started to simplify itself, both my love for God and my love and regard for other people. I learned to listen to people in the same way I was learning to listen to God. This took work and came from an urging I think was from him, that I do so. But the transformation took time.
My brother decided I was still me and that he didn’t have to worry about me turning into someone else or loving him in some impersonal creepily fake way. He noticed me growing as a person and that he could translate my new language of spirituality into his own understandings about life and his pragmatic view of spiritual things. He noticed I judged him less, not more. Sometimes, like his early sober days, we reverted to old fears in our relationship, both of us afraid of not being accepted as were were. We both learned, we both grew. We learned to accept one another.
And that’s how it is. What do you know? When we are able to love someone in a Christly way, they don’t just experience Jesus through us, we experience Jesus through them as well, whether they are Christian or not. We want to know a person better when we meet them and we know that every one of them belongs. We may not know how we know, but we know.
And pretty soon the whole thing gets out of control and our way of loving grows a new dimension. The world opens up and the possibilities are endless.
What does God say about this?
Beloved, we are God’s children now. What we shall be has not yet been revealed. However, we do know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he really is.
Applied to learning to love others, I take this to mean in this case that we are already God’s children, but we ourselves are a mystery unfolding, known only to God. The closer we get to the Lord, the more we are transformed as we come to know him and love him as he is, which is for himself; the way he loves us. We will not be perfect at this in this life. However we can cultivate God’s kind of love through prayer, self awareness, God awareness, and the service he inspires. In his mysterious way he will work his beautiful will in us all our lives more and more in pathways of love.
And then we have so much to look forward to: the absolute fullness of love, the fullness of God and union with him.
All Easter day Jesus was playing hide and seek, surprising different disciples in different places and in different ways, all of these encounters beyond anything they ever thought they would see and know. It had been an overwhelming day, a world inside out day.
They had denied, laughed, and no doubt cried. They experienced impossible things they could hardly process. It was too astonishing to make sense.
By Easter evening, they were settled for the time being, and they said, “Stay with us Lord, for evening draws near.” (Lk. 24:29)
They got to be with him for forty more undoubtedly beautiful days.
It must have been hard to stop looking at him, hard to stop hugging him, hard to calm down and just be with him. Maybe it was easier in the glow of the fire to relax in his presence, to enjoy his tenderness and love for them, to truly believe in his reality.
He had shown the disciples his wounds, invited them to touch him, eat and drink with him. He wanted them to know he wasn’t a ghost, of course. But I also think he wanted to reiterate something of the utmost importance in the spiritual life of a Christian; that Our Lord is a real person. After the resurrection, he is still as real as before, the same man they experienced and traveled with during his ministry… except for that walking through locked doors thing, and that rising from the dead part… still their same holy Friend.
His disciples are not having a vision, but actual contact.
There is always the temptation among people of prayer over the centuries of Christianity, to relate to Jesus as only spirit. St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) saw this and the Doctor of Prayer made sure we understood that the only way to true intimacy with the Lord is through his Sacred Humanity. We are not angel spirits, but human beings, and that is our way to him who became incarnate for us.
He still is incarnate for us.
It is amazing to me that this Teacher who tended to buck religious regulations, customs and rituals if they got in the way of necessity, or especially, the obedience of the love of God and the pre-eminence of charity, to suddenly, at the end of his earthly life, give us the Eucharist and make it a permanent ritual sacrament for all time. In the Eucharist, we will always have his physical presence with us as well as his divine presence. We will always be able to eat and drink with him (and of him) at mass.
We can sit with him in Adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, as a real and accessible person.
He said, “I will be with you always until the end of the age.” Mtt. 28:20
Sometimes we forget the Treasure we have in the Eucharist.
Because he is a real person, but also divine, we can take him home with us, too, and say, “Stay with us, Lord.”
He said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (Jn. 14:20) This isn’t just a nice thought. His presence in us is so real that that is exactly how our bodies will rise from death on the last day.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8:11) How real can he get?
And also, St. Paul asks, “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5b)
Jesus is real and he is within us as real.
St. Teresa would add “and we should not leave him there alone!”
He said, “No longer do I call you servants but friends.” (Jn. 15:15a)
We can’t be friends with an idea. We can’t fall in love with a vision or a ghost.
But Jesus with his dirty feet and rough calloused hands, Jesus the real person, we definitely can.
We can love him and see him the way he wants to be seen and loved: as real! (Jn. 20:27)
St. Teresa said that interior prayer and being with Jesus is “nothing else but falling in love with Christ, frequently conversing in secret with him who we know loves us.” (translation, Fr. Otillio Rodrigues, O.C.D.)
The Christian life is a life of friendship with Jesus in his Sacred Humanity, with a real and accessible, truly present and incomprehensibly humble Lord who is truly in and with us.
We too should look at him, touch him, peek in at him when he is sleeping to make sure he is still there, hear his voice as alive and active, ask him, “Stay with us Lord.”
Some types of darkness are so complete I wonder what I was calling darkness before. Fiddling with the scree at the bottom of the cave floor I am sitting on, my hand bumps into the most unlikely thing in the world… flowers? They are not dried flowers but living ones. I can feel their soft petals. I sense him smiling in the dark.
“What are we doing?” I ask Jesus. He doesn’t say anything so I take his cue and don’t say anything either.
It never occurred to me that the Risen Lord might have wanted to sit and reflect before he came out of the tomb but it makes sense. Before I take a big step that turns the world upside down that is what I do too.
And then I think that it would have been possible for him not to tell anyone that he had risen from the dead. He could have just done it in the secret of the tomb and ascended without an audience. The victory would still have been won. But Jesus isn’t like that. He wants to bring us all in, share everything with us. He wants us to choose him and engage with him in life. Even the work of bringing all the world in on this most mind boggling gift he doesn’t keep to himself.
He wants us to share in the power flowing from his resurrection and to shine out for everyone.
He wanted us to know what he was doing for us not when we got to Heaven but right away, and to act on it in this life.
I wonder what he is thinking about over there.
I want to be closer to him so I start edging toward where I think I may have heard him scratching around. I keep bumping into waxy plants of some kind. Going over them with my hands I realize they are lilies. They smell like lilies; that mild, sweet fragrance they have.
“What are you thinking about?” I ask him. “Everything,” he says, and I am at his side.
“Things that have happened? Things that will happen?” I ask.
He chuckles which makes me laugh too, so glad to be in this moment with him.
We stand together and I do my best to follow him. It must be time.
We pause and I feel a roundish jagged rock in front of me. It is so strange that it is covered with a wild tangle of roses. I know they are roses because of their beautiful and unmistakable scent.
I never know what is going to happen around him but I do know it will always be life, life and more life!
I am almost giggling thinking of how surprised Mary Magdalene is going to be when she sees him. I am so happy I will get to see this.
“Are you ready?” he asks. “This is where things get really crazy.”.
I don’t know what to say. Why is he asking me if I’m ready?
“I’ve been waiting for you, Lord.” I say.
“For me?” he asks.
Something about the way he says it causes my understanding to shift. With amazement I realize this is my tomb, not his. It is I who am about to rise with him and go out from here as something or someone I am not sure I will recognize. Also he said things were about to get crazy so … I hesitate.
He seems to think this is great fun however, and I can’t help but be infected with his joyous excitement; his happiness because he loves me and he came that I might live, and live to the full and forever with him.
I embrace Jesus and I tell him I am ready. We step back and we count together, “1…. 2….3!”
And what about you?
Hey, COME OUT OF THERE!
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14
Have you ever wanted to witness a living miracle? The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in Mexico City and is one of the most-visited holy sites in the world. This is an opportunity to visit with others from the Diocese of Austin and led by clergy that knows the story and culture… [Read More]
JOIN US FOR A 9-DAY PILGRIMAGE (SEPT. 12-20,2021) TO THE SHRINES OF MEXICO! The pilgrimage will be led by Fr Juan Carlos López and Deacon Guadalupe Rodriguez Lady of Guadalupe also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City…. [Read More]
Excerpts on St. Michael the Archangel, Conductor of Souls were taken from the messages from a Soul in Purgatory [Sister M.G.] to Sister M. de L. C. who was under the care of a spiritual director (priest) when receiving the messages. The messages were published in a book called: AN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT ON PURGATORY The… [Read More]
One of my favorite sections in the book “CONSECRATION TO ST. JOSEPH, THE WONDERS OF OUR SPIRITUAL FATHER” by Fr. Donald Calloway is Day 21 – St. Joseph Most Faithful, Pray for Us. This section and meditation show St. Joseph’s faithfulness in rescuing Jesus and Mary in different life and death circumstances (Mat. 2:13 &… [Read More]
One of my favorite parts in the book Consecration to St. Joseph, The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Fr. Donald Calloway is Day 29 – St. Joseph, Hope of the Sick, Pray for Us. This is and was a powerful part of the book during the consecration because it covers the miraculous physical healings… [Read More]