God Is a Strange Lover

 

Jesus and Mary Magdalene2
Art by Anton Raphael Mengs (1769) at Palacio Real de Madrid, Spain

 

God is the strangest of all lovers; His ways are past explaining.
He sets His heart on a soul; He says to Himself, “Here will I rest My love.”

But He does not woo her with flowers or jewels or words that are set to music,
no names endearing, no kindled praise His heart’s direction prove.

His jealousy is an infinite thing. He stalks the soul with sorrows;
He tramples the bloom; He blots the sun that could make her vision dim.

He robs and breaks and destroys—there is nothing at last but her own shame, her own affliction, and then He comes and there is nothing in the vast world but Him and her love of Him.

Not till the great rebellions die and her will is safe in His hands forever does He open the door of light and His tenderness fall, and then for what is seen in the soul’s virgin places,
for what is heard in the heart, there is no speech at all.

God is a strange lover; the story of His love is most surprising.
There is no proud queen in her cloth of gold; over and over again there is only, deep in the soul, a poor disheveled woman weeping . . .

for us who have need of a picture and words: the Magdalen.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

Christ Is My Utmost Need

 

Christ art by Kristin Miller
Art by Kristin Miller

 

Late, late the mind confessed:
wisdom has not sufficed.
I cannot take one step into the light
without the Christ.

Late , late the heart affirmed:
wild do my heart-beats run
when in the blood-stream sings one wish away
from the Incarnate Son.

Christ is my utmost need.
I lift each breath, each beat for Him to bless,
knowing our language cannot overspeak
our frightening helplessness.

Here where proud morning walks
and we hang wreaths on power and self-command,
I cling with all my strength unto a nail-investigated hand.

Christ is my only trust.
I am my fear since, down the lanes of ill,
my steps surprised a dark Iscariot
plotting in my own will.

Past nature called, I cry
who clutch at fingers and at tunic folds,
“Lay not on me, O Christ, this fastening.
Yours be the hand that holds.”

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

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With a heavy heart, thinking and praying for everyone in France and the whole world today . . .
Notre-Dame de Paris, pray for us!

 

 

 

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

 

yelena-cherkasova-the-entrance-of-the-lord-into-jerusalem-undated
The Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, art by Yelena Cherkasova

 

 

Cycle C: Luke 22: 14 – 23, 56


Today’s gospel is the Passion according to Saint Luke.


 

One of the priests executed during the Mexican Revolution was Miguel Pro. A famous photograph of his execution shows him with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. The government took the photograph, mass produced it, and distributed it among the people as a means of both mocking the Church and showing people who was in charge. But within a year, the government banned the photo because it had become an icon of adoration among the Mexican people.

Where does real power reside? Pilate’s statement, “Do you not know that I have the power to release you, and the power to crucify you” is an illusion, for Jesus laid down his life of his own free will. At times, power seems to lie in the hands of the rulers of this world, but in due time, the truth emerges that it lies in the hands of God.

One of the truths embedded in the Passion of Jesus is that the reality of any given situation comes to light in God’s time. What looked like defeat on Good Friday was disclosed as the triumph of God’s love on Easter Sunday. The import of this truth for our lives is that no act of love is ever wasted. Every time we do the will of God, in spite of all appearances, we contribute to the redemption of the world. We may never see the positive impact of our good deeds; nevertheless, if they are acts of Love they are guaranteed by God.

“Love,” writes Evelyn Underhill, “after all, makes the whole difference between an execution and a martyrdom” (55). If the Crucifixion had not been an act of Divine Love, it would have been no more than a routine execution in a remote corner of the Roman Empire.

The same is true with us. Because we are members of the Body of Christ, whenever we unite our actions with Christ upon the Cross, they are redemptive. Love transforms the banal actions of daily life into divine deeds that plant the seeds of God’s transforming love in our world.

 

~ A Meditation by Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

 

The Sign of the Cross

The lovers of Christ lift out their hands to
the great gift of suffering.
For how could they seek to be warmed and clothed
and delicately fed,
to wallow in praise and to drink deep draughts
of an underserved affection,
have castle for home and a silken couch for bed,
when He the worthy went forth, wounded and hated,
and grudged of even a place to lay His head?

This is the badge of the friends of the Man of Sorrows:
the mark of the cross, faint replica of His,
become ubiquitous now; it spreads like a wild blossom
on the mountains of time and in each of the crevices.
Oh, seek that land where it grows in a rich abundance
with its thorny stem and its scent like bitter wine,
for wherever Christ walks He casts its seed
and He scatters its purple petals.
It is the flower of His marked elect, and the fruit
it bears is divine.

Choose it, my heart. It is a beautiful sign.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D. 

 

 

cross and purple roses
By artist Debi Coules

 

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Holy Week!

 

 

 

Michael

 

Saint Michael unknown artist
Saint Michael the Archangel, art source unknown

 

Michael is a prince of God and page of Mary.
He stands beside the tall throne of his Queen.
He is the warrior who made peace in heaven
and keeps the earth serene.

Then why should I take fright when foes or demons
assail me with their treacheries or wrath,
when I have knowledge that the Queen’s archangel
is keeper of my path?

O heart, believe. The great winged prince of heaven
watches the Queen’s child with a warrior’s eye
and lifts his flaming spear and comes like lightning
at the first cry.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

 

“I have great reverence for Saint Michael the Archangel; he had no example to follow in doing the will of God, and yet he fulfilled God’s will faithfully.”
~ St. Faustina Kowalska

 

“O glorious prince Saint Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts, guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits, servant in the house of the Divine King and our admirable conductor, you who shine with excellence and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil, who turn to you with confidence and enable us by your gracious protection to serve God more and more faithfully every day. Amen!”

Not Garden Any More

 

Jesus art by daniel bonnell
Art by Daniel Bonnell

 

God is not garden any more, to satiate the sense
with the luxuriance of full exotic wilderness.
Now multiple is magnified to less.
God has become as desert now, a vast unknown Sahara
voicing its desert cry.
My soul has been arrested by the sound
of a divine tremendous loneliness.

I write anathema on pool, on streams of racing water.
I bid the shoot, the leaf, the bloom no longer to intrude.
Beyond green growth I find this great good,
a motionless immensity of oneness.
And Him I praise Who lured me to this edge
of uncreation where His secrets brood,
Who seared the earth that I might hear in silence
this infinite outcry of His solitude.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

 

“Listen to God’s speech in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all-embracing silence.”
Catherine Doherty
 
 

Find the Silence

 

poustinik2
Photo source unknown

 

We are besieged with endless babbling, and we become too weary to listen; we need to set aside a time to encounter the Lord. He can be encountered in many places, but one way is to find him in the poustinia (the Russian word for “desert”).

A poustinia can be a room or a small cabin—simple, even stark, so that nothing takes away from meeting God there. It has plain walls, a crucifix without a corpus, a table, a chair, a Bible, paper and pen, a loaf of bread and a thermos of coffee or tea, or simply water. The bed will be hard, for anyone who wants to follow Christ into the desert needs to do some penance; prayer and penance are two arms one simultaneously lifts up to Christ.

The poustinia is a place of solitude and peace, exterior and also interior. Everything needs to “quiet down”: the wings of the intellect are folded so that speculation and intellectual evaluation are quiescent. The head enters the heart, and both are silent.

The Bible is the only book found in the poustinia. The Scriptures become a million love letters from God, to be savored and meditated upon, absorbed so that you almost become one with those eternal, fiery, yet gentle words. Reading Scripture is a conversation with God.

When you enter the poustinia, you take humanity with you. You lift everyone before God, with their pain, sorrows, joy. The poustinik walks immersed in the silence of God. Our life of service and love to our fellow men is simply the echo of this silence, this solitude.

Then your own heart becomes a poustinia. You are there when you are travelling the subway and hanging onto a strap with your arms full. You go to a dance and you are in a poustinia. You play cards, wash dishes, you talk to people. That does not interfere with your poustinia, because the poustinia is the secret place where the Lover meets his beloved. God meets man!

~ A Reflection by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

 

Counsel for Silence

Go without ceremony of departure
and shade no subtlest word with your farewell.
Let the air speak the mystery of your absence,
and the discerning have their minor feast
on savory possible or probable.
Seeing the body present, they will wonder
where went the secret soul, by then secure
out past your grief beside some torrent’s pure
refreshment. Do not wait to copy down
the name, much less the address, of who might need you.
Here you are pilgrim with no ties of earth.
Walk out alone and make the never-told
your healing distance and your anchorhold.
And let the ravens feed you.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

Meeting

 

praying3

 

How can you define prayer, except by saying it is love? It is love expressed in speech, and love expressed in silence. To put it another way, prayer is the meeting of two loves: the love of God for man, and that of man for his God.

~ By Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

“We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”
~ 1 John 4:16

Prayer: A Progression

You came by night, harsh with the need of grace,
into the dubious presence of your Maker.
You combed a small and pre-elected acre
for some bright word of Him, or any trace.
Past the great judgment growths of thistle and thorn
and past the thicket of self you bore your yearning
till lo, you saw a pure white blossom burning 
in glimmer, then, light, then unimpeded more!

Now the flower God-is-Love gives ceaseless glow;
now all your thoughts feast on its mystery,
but when love mounts through knowledge and goes free,
then will the sated thinker arise and go
and brave the deserts of the soul to give
the flower he found to the contemplative.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers) O.C.D.