Friday, January 2, 2015

Willed to be overwhelmed with grief

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Dear Daughters,

You desire to understand the sacrifices you are to make as a Spiritual Mother and the nature of the sacrifices of those for whom you pray.  You have asked: "As a spiritual mother, I want to know where my child suffers. Where is my child strong? Where is my child weak? What does the ideal priest look like? (besides Jesus) What does this mean for the priesthood? How can I learn to imitate the Blessed Mother so that I may model my motherhood after her? Priests are her beloved sons - we are helping her bring them to Jesus! How do we help?!?!"  

This is a good and holy desire and questions that I would hope would begin to emerge from your hearts.  Yet, they are not light things that you seek and you must ask God to prepare your hearts both for the fulfillment of your desires and to receive the answer to your questions.  The starting point is always Christ, the Priest and Victim.  Here is where you will be shown what God desires of those who serve at his altar and those who pray for them.  You must linger long at the foot of the Cross in prayer and daily take up the crosses that Christ will entrust to you over time for those he has called you to serve.  It is nothing less than a complete oblation and one that will take on the particular shape of the needs of the priests to whom He has united you.  

Below I share with you a reflection on the love into which who have been drawn:      

No one need wonder why Christ so often of His hour, the hour of His Passion, His great hour. Divine Providence had infallible determined it from all eternity, and before it came His enemies could do nothing against Him. He spoke of it as an approaching certainty which in no way violated or necessitated either His own freedom or that of His executioners. The near this hour approached, the more urgent became His warnings to His disciples. At Gethsemane "He took Peter and James and Johnn with Him and He began to fear and to be heavy. And He said to them: 'My soul is sorrowful unto death.'"

No contradiction lies in this. Our Lord did not negate His ardent desire to suffer for us and to accomplish perfectly His mission as victim. He was not just a little inferior to those martyrs who have experienced no equal sadness in the face of death: like St. Ignatius of Antioch for example, who longed to be ground by the teeth of beasts that he might become the whet of Christ. After the holy ardor of His oblation, our Savior willed to be overwhelmed with grief, and, that He might offer a perfect sacrifice, to suffer for our sakes that mortal sadness and terror a man naturally experiences in the face of such a death. He also willed to leave us an example for our own hours of overwhelming sorrow. His sadness was not an emotion which preceded and troubled the judgment of right reason and the consent of the will; on the contrary, He willed to become sorrowful that His holocaust might be perfect. Instead of hardening Himself stoically against suffering and proudly denying its existence, Christ surrendered Himself to it voluntarily for our salvation. Of His life He says: "No man takes it away from Me; but I lay it down of Myself. And I have power to lay it down; and I have power to take it up again."

He willed each and all of His sufferings, the crowning with thorns, the scourging, which reduced His whole body to one great wound, the torture when His robe was put on Him again and adhered to His wounds, the flaming of His whole body into vivid pain when the soldiers tore it off for the crucifixion.  Being offered as a holocaust for us, He willed, too, to be nailed to the cross, to suffer from the priests of the Synagogue whose mission it was to recognize the coming of the Messiah, to suffer from Judas, who betrayed Him, to suffer from His people, who acclaimed Him on Palm Sunday and forsook Him so shortly after, to suffer from Peter, who denied Him, the disciples, who deserted Him, the crowd that mocked and blasphemed Him.

He willed to go still farther.  After taking our sins upon Himself, He willed to suffer in our stead the curse due to sin; becoming as St. Paul says, "a curse for us."  An expiatory victim, He felt the terrible justice of God weighing upon Him.  Isaiah, contemplating the Passion with the very eyes of God, prophetically foretold: "But he was wounded for our iniquities; He was bruised for our sins.  The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His bruises we are healed . . . . And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all . . . .And the Lord was pleased to bruise Him in infirmity.  If He shall lay down His life for sin, He shall see a long-lived seed; and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in His hand."

Our Lord's fullness of grace brought Him even to this extremity that His mission as Redeemer and Victim might be realized.  If almost all the saints have desired martyrdom, if St. Ignatius of Antioch longed to be ground by the teeth of beasts, what must have been Christ's desire for the cross!  He willed not only to experience through grace a holy enthusiasm for His oblation, but also, a victim literally bruised in our stead, to know mortal sadness and anguish, offering it all for us with a love so pure and intense that it could be found nowhere else but in the heart of God.  "Surely, He hath born our infirmities and carried our sorrows."
 

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

The Love of God and the Cross of Jesus