Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Silent Prophets and Hidden Revolutionaries

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

When Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, published the document Adoration, Reparation and Spiritual Motherhood for Priest in 2007, appealed to all the bishops throughout the world to foster this "vocation within a vocation," and asked for chapels of Perpetual Adoration to be established in every Diocese, his requests went largely unnoticed or were met with indifference.  Few understood or believed that a Church immersed in the mire of scandal and a priesthood wounded beyond recognition could benefit from something often dismissed as the piety of a bygone age.  Yet, among those souls sensitive to the sufferings of the Church and the Heart of their Beloved, so deeply pierced with sorrow over His gift scorned and the charge of the care of His flock neglected, there arose a passionate desire to offer their hearts and their love in reparation.  Their one desire was to console Christ, to remain with Him, especially in His "other selfs", His priests.  

W. H. Auden once wrote, "In the deserts of the heart, Let the healing fountain start."  Their work, and now your own Daughters, is to seek to bring healing to the priesthood, to embrace a spiritual motherhood; as it were, to apply a healing salve of prayer and sacrifice to those wounds and nurture it back to life by cradling it within your hearts quietly before Life Himself in the Eucharist.  Adoration and Reparation must become your way of life.  

Consecrate yourselves to Christ for this purpose where you live and in whatever state you find yourselves.  Such a consecration is not the sole privilege of the religious, as is often thought to be the case.  For, as Fr. Nicholas Buttet writes below, it is your right - indeed it is what you have become by virtue of your baptism - children of God; still more - - Brides of the Heavenly Bridegroom.  A life, a heart consecrated to Christ - a heart that weeps for its own sins and the sins of priests, a heart that adores the Beloved, is a prophetic presence in the world, even though a word may never be spoken.  A Church formed by the world can endlessly labor under the illusion that such fatal wounds can be healed through psychology or education; the nonsense that redemption comes in any other form than the Cross or that healing comes through any other means than selfless love.  Daughters, your lives of adoration must overcome the idolatry of the self that so offends God.  Likewise, you must stand before the precipice of despair that so often envelopes the hearts of priests, sickened as if by the plague of the mockery of the priesthood that they hold so dear.  

"We live in a world that has lost hope and so which has fallen into both serious sins that are the caricatures or the opposite of hope: presumption and despair. Humanity hovers between presumption –wanting to save itself, by succeeding in its science, its technology, in this ideology of perpetual progress, where salvation would be the end of this progress; we lost the radiant future, with globalization remaining with us. It is believed that through this man will succeed in creating a world of happiness and perfection: a tragic mistake –and conversely, despair: a depressive society plagued by non-sense. Standing between them is the crest of hope: Abba, Father, Our Father Who art in heaven. In Eucharistic Adoration, by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that flows from the Eucharistic Heart of Christ, we are called to enter into the mystery of our dignity as children of God –in childlike confidence, in the language of a child, not in words but in the filial attitude towards the Father. We must become what we are due to our Baptism. Therefore we must struggle prophetically against the presumption and despair that plague our society today."
How is this healing of the priesthood accomplished?  First by letting God heal your own hearts.  Daughters, allow yourselves to spend many hours before Christ, placing nothing between yourselves and Him.  Simply let yourselves be gazed upon.  It is here that you will find your true dignity and it is here that the dignity of the priesthood will be restored.  Only when priests once again see themselves through the eyes of Christ the High Priest, perfect and beautiful in His love, will they rediscover the holiness to which they are called.  The darkness of the world's judgment and the tortured and troubled face of the priesthood will be replaced by the face of Christ.  Once you recognize Him Daughters, then you will see and help others see the beauty of the priesthood anew.
"There are two wounds in humanity today. The first is that of not having been looked upon and the second is to refuse to be looked at. The Eucharist can heal both. The first is existential, the second is philosophical and is linked to freedom. It is necessary to let oneself be looked at by God. The Eucharist is the place where God looks at me and gives me my dignity. It’s not a look that stares at me. I can rediscover my self-esteem, because I can look at myself like God looks at me, not as the world looks at me in terms of having, of power, of doing, of knowing, but in being. The Eucharist heals me, ‘He who looks at him will shine without shadow nor troubled face. A poor man cries out and the Lord hears him. He saves him from all his troubles. Taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is he who finds refuge in him’ (Ps. 34). St Ambrose of Milan said about the encounter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene: ‘Who are you looking for?’ asks Christ, ‘But look at me, Mary. As long as you do not look at me, I shall call you woman and as soon as you look at me, I shall call you Mary’."
Daughters, you must also lead the new revolution of our day - the exodus from the bondage to the self to the freedom of the true worship of God.  It is a revolution that must be led by example; by fulfilling the first duty of the human heart to God the Creator.  This is the radical remedy against the idolatry of the past and the present.  In the quiet of the chapel, with hearts fixed silently upon the Eucharistic Face of Christ, lies the source of true spiritual revolution and the restoration of the priesthood.

"Adoration completely reverses the order of the world, or rather puts the world back in order. St Thomas defines sin as ‘turning away from God and towards the creature’. Adoration instils in the soul the exact opposite movement: turning away from creatures to turn towards the Creator. Adoration is at the heart of the world’s redemption –by the Eucharistic Sacrifice, for sure, but I want to emphasize the specificity of Eucharistic Adoration which has not yet been fully developed in the Church. A complete reversal of movement, an ecstasy of man, not an ecstasy in the mystical sense of the term in particular phenomena: a coming out of oneself. Philosophers distinguish two kinds of mystics: inward mysticism which focuses on ourselves, particularly with Buddhism, and that of ecstasy, which turns us towards God. One can live Adoration in a Buddhist way, being a practicing Catholic before the Most Blessed Sacrament and closed in on oneself. It is necessary to come out of oneself, to be in ecstasy in an exodus of self, leaving the land of bondage to go into the Promised Land.
You see, in a world that has forgotten God, to proclaim the moral duty of man to adore God with a no longer interior but exterior gesture, which is manifest in prostrating oneself before the Host, becomes a kind of prophetic revolution. It is necessary to really deepen this mystery of Adoration as an expression of the first duty of the human heart to God the Creator.
I quote here the deeply moving homily of Benedict XVI on the feast of Corpus Christi in 2008: 
Kneeling in adoration before the Lord. Adoring the God of Jesus Christ, who out of love made himself bread broken, is the most effective and radical remedy against the idolatry of the past and of the present. Kneeling before the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: those who bow to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate themselves before any earthly authority, however powerful. We Christians kneel only before God or before the Most Blessed Sacrament because we know and believe that the one true God is present in it, the God who created the world and so loved it that he gave his Only Begotten Son (cf. Jn 3.16). We prostrate ourselves before a God who first bent over man like the Good Samaritan to assist him and restore his life, and who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet. Adoring the Body of Christ, means believing that there, in that piece of Bread, Christ is really there, and gives true sense to life, to the immense universe as to the smallest creature, to the whole of human history as to the most brief existence. 
That’s where I think we find the source of the true revolution against idolatry. The world which is not in Adoration of God is necessarily idolatrous. Man can not help but adore! The Adoration of false gods: ego, money, power, sex, all the idolatries of our modern world, can only be changed by the prophetic Adoration of the true God."

Quotes from Father Nicholas Buttet
The Eucharist, Adoration and Healing

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cast yourself upon the Heart of the Beloved

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You are discovering that all things are a result of God's mercy and in that alone do you find security.  Know that it is pleasing to God that when you see your misery you present it to him.  More and more let the darkness of your trials draw you on to the nuptials of the Beloved that he destines for you.  Hoping against hope in the state of misery and uniting it to his on agony brings immense joy to the Lord.

In your letter there is a phrase which pleases me very much, because I see in it the source of great glory for our Lord. You say, “There is nothing, absolutely nothing in me upon which I can take a little security. Therefore I do not cease to cast myself with confidence into the Heart of my Master.” That, my daughter, is the true way, for all that God does for us is the result of His mercy which is touched by the avowal of this misery; and a soul that sees her misery and presents it continually to the gaze of divine mercy, gives great glory to God by leaving Him the opportunity of communicating His goodness to her. Continue to follow this attraction, and let yourself be led, in the midst of the darkness of trial, to the nuptials of the Lamb to which He destines you.

Our Lord urges me to pray much for you that you may remain with great generosity on the altar of immolation with Jesus. A soul, even a very miserable one, thus united to Jesus in His agony, but like Abraham, “hoping against hope,” gives immense glory to God and helps Jesus in His work in the Church.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Called to live in the nudity of the Cross

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Few in the world and perhaps few in the Church are called to live in the nakedness of the Cross.  But you are called to allow it to shape the contours of your life.  What a precious source of grace this will become for you and for the Church as a whole.  It is upon suffering that God will build a lasting edifice and through your commitment rebuild the priesthood of His Church.  It is through the Cross that he wrought salvation for the world and it is through his Cross that he will sanctify it.

Happy are those souls whom God calls to live only in the nudity of the Cross. It becomes for them an inexhaustible source of precious graces.

Sufferings are the price and the sign of true divine favours. . . . Works and foundations built upon the Cross and upon sufferings are alone lasting.

The sufferings you have endured are for me a sign of the special benediction of the One Who, in His wisdom, chose to found all upon the Cross.

 Blessed Columba Marmion. 

The spirit of abandonment draws down God's grace

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

As frustrating as life's hardships may be, always try to live in a spirit of abandonment.  Your heart may be breaking or confusion may fill your mind, but trust that all things are order by His providence.  In this you will draw down upon yourself his grace; such as will give strength and bring sweetness in the midst of suffering.

God showers singular blessings upon a soul which has the spirit of abandonment. We can never repeat often enough how sovereignly God acts in such a soul and how it advances in holiness. He leads it by sure ways to the height of perfection. Sometimes, it is true, these ways appear to go quite in a contrary direction, but God attains His ends, ordering all things with strength and sweetness: Attingit ergo a fine usque ad finem fortiter, et disponit omnia suaviter. “All things,” said Christ Jesus again to His faithful servant Gertrude, “are ordered by the wisdom of My Providence.”

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

In the Divine Stability

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The commitment to adoration, reparation and spiritual motherhood is not an endless abyss of suffering in isolation or empty silence.  Indeed, to draw close to the Beloved is to share in His pain.  However, it is to share it with Him in such intimacy that He establishes in the depths of the soul His peace.  All the soul's desires become unified and directed toward one thing - establishing within her Christ's kingdom.  

It is not a worldly peace, but what St. Paul describes as a peace that surpasses all understanding and defies expression.  While all might be in chaos around you and in your life, to live in deeper and deeper adoration brings about a participating in the divine stability.  As Dom Marmion eloquently states: "The depths where peace reigns are inaccessible to disturbance. The surface of the sea may be violently agitated by the waves during the tempest; the deep waters remain tranquil. We may be slighted, opposed, persecuted, be unjustly treated, our intentions and deeds may be misunderstood; temptation may shake us, suffering may come suddenly upon us; but there is an inner sanctuary which none can reach; here is the sojourn of our peace, because in this innermost secret of the soul dwell adoration, submission and abandonment to God. 'I love my God,' said St. Augustine, 'no one takes Him from me: no one takes from me what I ought to give Him, for that is enclosed within my heart. . . . O inward riches which no one or anything can take away!'"

When we thus submit ourselves entirely to Christ Jesus, when we abandon ourselves to Him, when our soul only responds, like His own, with a perpetual Amen to all that He asks of us in the name of His Father; when, after His example, we abide in this attitude of adoration before all the manifestations of the divine will, in face of the least permissions of His Providence, then Christ Jesus establishes His peace in us: His peace, not that which the world promises, but the true peace which can only come from Himself: Pacem meam do vobis; non quomodo mundus dat, ego do vobis.
Indeed, such adoration produces in us the unity of all desires. The soul has but one thing in view: the establishing in her of Christ’s kingdom. Christ Jesus, in return, satisfies this desire with magnificent plenitude. The soul possesses the perfect contentment of her deepest tendencies because the satisfaction of her supernatural desires has been reduced to one; she is in the right order of things; she lives in peace.

Happy the soul who has thus understood the order established by the Father, that soul who seeks only to be conformed by love to His admirable order, where all leads up to Christ Jesus: she tastes peace, a peace of which St. Paul says that it surpasses all understanding and defies all expression. Doubtless, here below, peace is not always sensible; upon earth we are in a condition of trial and, most often, peace is won by conflict. Christ has not restored to us that original justice which established harmony in Adam’s soul, but the soul that lays hold on God alone participates in the divine stability; temptations, sufferings, trials touch only the surface of our being; the depths where peace reigns are inaccessible to disturbance. The surface of the sea may be violently agitated by the waves during the tempest; the deep waters remain tranquil. We may be slighted, opposed, persecuted, be unjustly treated, our intentions and deeds may be misunderstood; temptation may shake us, suffering may come suddenly upon us; but there is an inner sanctuary which none can reach; here is the sojourn of our peace, because in this innermost secret of the soul dwell adoration, submission and abandonment to God. “I love my God,” said St. Augustine, “no one takes Him from me: no one takes from me what I ought to give Him, for that is enclosed within my heart. . . . O inward riches which no one or anything can take away!”

In the centre of the soul that loves God there rises up the civitas pacis which no noise of earth can trouble, that no attack can surprise. We may truly say that nothing which is exterior, outside us, can, unless we so will, touch our inward peace: this essentially depends on only one thing, namely, our attitude towards God. It is in Him that we must trust. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” If the wind of temptation and trial arises, I have only to take refuge with Him. “Lord, save me, for without Thee, I perish.” And our Lord, as formerly when in the ship tossed about by the waves, will Himself calm the tempest with a single gesture; and there will come “a great calm”: Et facta est tranquillitas magna.

If we really seek God in everything, by following in the footsteps of Christ, Who is the sole way that leads to the Father; if we strive to be detached from all, that we may only desire the Master’s good pleasure; if, when the Spirit of Jesus speaks to us, there is in us no inflexibility of soul, no resistance to His inspirations, but only docility and adoration, we may be assured that peace, deep and abundant, will reign in us; for, O Lord, “much peace have they that love Thy law”: Pax multa diligentibus legem tuam.

Blessed Columba Marmion.