Sunday, November 22, 2015

Defenseless Love

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The following reflection is so full of meaning that I can't bring myself to comment on it. My hope is that you will sit with these words of one who sought in an exemplary manner to draw close to our Eucharistic Lord and for whom this search shaped the contours of his spiritual life. Let the words wash over you gently and prayerfully. They are deceptively rich. Fr. Tadeusz writes in such a simple style but there is something so deep and penetrating about his thought that one can only attribute it to the genuineness of his experience of and love for the Eucharist.  

Jesus in the Eucharist would like me to knock hard.  He wants to provoke my prayer and to be dependent on me, one of little faith.

I am wrapped up in myself.  That is how I like it.  I am standing at the door leading to Your Eucharistic Heart.  It is hard for me to be on the other side.  Teach me to knock hard.  I still want to try.  In fact, I have no hope the door will ever open.  Maybe I don't want it to.

It is not so easy to knock.  Even though it means being in touch with You, I don't know how to do it.  Teach me, hidden Eucharistic One, more and more to expect You and get in touch with You.  A child can knock by kicking at the door, but I am no longer a child.  I don't knock very hard since I only want a certain amount of You.

Eucharistic Jesus, help me see it is so easy to find myself on the other side of the door leading to Your Heart.  If by being small I get needy of You, You are ready to make the first move to open the door wide.  You hurry to open it more than I hurry to enter.

Actually, You have already opened it.  I keep shutting it.  I shut myself behind it, crazily running away.  Only Your Eucharistic presence can teach me how to calm down just for a moment, to listen so that eventually I find myself in your arms, convinced of Your reality.

I want to tell You, Eucharistic Lord,, that I can only knock because You allow it.  I should admit it is You who are constantly knocking.  I am the one who doesn't want to open the door.  It is amazing You want to be dependent on me, a sinner.  Such is my strange behavior.  You are exhausted looking for me, even to the point of the Cross, yet I am so indifferent and distant.  You die for me.  You come on the altar for me, giving me freedom to accept or reject You.  

You have to teach me everything; You have to teach me how to recognize Your defenseless love.  I have still not discovered Your true face.

St. Catherine of Siena tells us that if we were really convinced that God loves us more than we love ourselves, our anxieties would simply wither away.  

In the Mass, I join in those provocative words in the Our Father.  As I pray that most amazing word - Father - I am helped to remember what happens in the Mass.

To become a human father is to assume full dependence on a little child who is utterly dependent on father.  We get "omnipotent" over the father's heart!

We depend so much on people who depend on us.  The strong one is completely defenseless toward the weak.  The weak one trusts him so he can't be left.  To love this small child means to depend on him or her in an unavoidable way.  A child is given enormous power over the father.

With this analogy, I can get a brilliant insight of faith.  I can begin to see how God loves me in this demanding fashion.  He gives me power over Himself.  I am free to respond.  He suffered on the Cross because He loved me and lovingly gave Himself for me.

Faith's insight leads me to recognize the truth that the Eucharistic One is always "weaker" than I.  I can disavow and forget Him but He can't forget me.  I may cease to be a son.  He can't cease to be a Father.  Our Eucharistic Lord is always "weaker" than I because His love is ceaseless.

The ones who love become defenseless toward the ones they love.  By loving, I open myself to possible injury.  I can only be injured by one I love.  The more I love, the more I can be injured.

To understand a little of the greatness of this opening to injury in our Eucharistic Lord, we need to note the fantastic quality of His love.  In this mysterious Sacrament, the greatest love reveals: " . . . Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us 'to the end,' even to offering us His body and His blood."  I will never sufficiently penetrate this love.  I long to gaze onto the Eucharistic species, but the enormity of God's defenseless love open to injury remains a mystery.  Yet the Eucharistic Lamb wants to give me eternity to fathom this infinite love.  Then I will be at the source of eternal admiration and happiness.

If I start here and now, I will let the Eucharist fully operate within me so that His grace permeates me thoroughly.  To some extent I will discover the true face of Jesus, so defenseless and weak.  Perhaps I will be rather like St. Paul.  He the persecutor discovered that Jesus allowed him to persecute Him because His love is defenseless.  He discovered His crazy love.  His discovery of the Lord had him forever trying to communicate it.

"For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" (Acts 9:16).  Yet He also made him an extraordinary pillar of the Church.  Paul couldn't imagine what would follow.  Neither could He wish it.  He had no idea how he would be led to God.

Abraham too had no idea where God would lead him.  It turned out to be better than he imagined  During his life he saw Canaan occupied while still a nomad.  He was however gradually growing to such great faith that he was called the father of faith.  He was maturing in faith when he sacrificed his son in a way many Christians couldn't imitate.  His future was unimaginable and unexpected.  Such a dedicated one is a father of faith.

If I discover just a little of the Eucharistic Jesus's amazing love for me and wish to respond, it will be in a way I can't imagine or expect.  He will finally give me the grace of complete union with Him.  It will be granted in an unimaginable and unexpected way with my own consent and desire.  When we closely take notice of people greatly dedicated to God, the impact of His grace is visible.  Eucharistic graces greatly transform them.  In time of trial we can be greatly disappointed, apostolic efforts can be really unsuccessful on account of intrigue, greed, or meanness.

All these setbacks highlight realities from appearances.  Through the rubble and ruins, in the long, silent prayer of faith, it becomes clear that those setbacks were illusory.

Our unfathomable God on the Cross lost everything humanly.  Yet the regular renewal of this in the sacrificial Mass, compellingly inspires more and more dedication.  New saints appear all the time.  It is apparent that all the setbacks, lack of success, and losses were quite unreal.

We can receive light to understand that everything Jesus wants is best.  It is only self-will that leads to disaster.  We may think we are ruined.  It is not worth one tear.  It is just illusions.

Finally we can discover that our hidden Eucharistic God wanted the uselessness of our needless activity.  He doesn't need our action.  He doesn't wait for our results.  He needs us just to need Him.

Having nothing makes space for God's grace in acts of pure love.  As St. John of the Cross tells us, that means more than all the deeds taken together.

Look, our Eucharistic Lord says, your pride has failed you.  Nobody wants you.  You have no peace or happiness.  You pray with the words: Lord, I have nothing and have done no good in my life.

When I pray like this, our Eucharistic Lord answers by conquering souls in His calm usual way: You are My love and My glory.  You think nobody needs you.  I make you into a likeness of Me.  I look on you with unlimited love.  My crazy, amazing love inspires you in the most extraordinary ways.

Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer
Amazing Nearness

Fr. Tadeusz was a Polish priest and the author of many books that have now been translated into twenty-eight languages.  He died in 2009 after a life dedicated to spreading spiritual life connected with increasing adoration and love toward the Eucharistic Christ.

In many ways this book, Amazing Nearness, is an exceptional commentary on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est.  It explains and helps us understand love in our relationship with the Eucharist.  Indeed, it is exactly here that we experience the affinity, communion, and mutual love that can transform us into This One who has first loved us.

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