Saturday, March 19, 2011

  On Saturday mornings we go to the 7:00am Latin Mass.  During the week I'm not able to get to Mass unless one is offered at night, which right now my parish is doing, 7:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays during Lent.  I've only been to one, after our shortened Knight of Columbus meeting.  Right now, in this time of my life, if I have the choice, I do not attend a Norvus Ordo Mass.  Believe me, not attending Mass is not easy for me, as it is not easy for any of you.  But this night, that is not what I'm writing about.  Whatever Mass we attend is our own business.  In the end it is between us and God, and only he knows where we've been on our journey to Him.  This morning, before Mass, during my Rosary, He made His presence very known to me, really for the first time during my Rosary.  I would have to describe my spiritual life as quiet; mostly me speaking to Him, or to His Son, or to our Blessed Mother.  More to Her, lately, as we finish our consecration. Me speaking, and they listening.  But really, it is , the desert.  And that's ok, I understand that, I really do.  He gives me many insights, answers to questions I don't even ask.  And yes, every once in awhile He does make His presence known in a big way, but very rarely.  This morning, He came.  As I began my Rosary in the early morning darkness of the Church it was as if He were next to me in the pew, saying the Rosary with me.  St. Martha's has a Crucifixion scene set up near the communion rail, off to one side.  Beautiful statues in bright colors, depicting the death of Our Lord.  The soldiers, Mary Magdalen, weeping on the ground, Blessed Mary, supported by John, his head covered by his hooded cloak.  Jesus, between the two thieves, His eyes aimed to heaven.  But what struck me, what burned into my mind was the thoughts that had to be going through the minds of the people there that loved Jesus dearly, to see Him hanging from the cross after all that had happened to him since His arrest.  The anguish, the confusion, the sorrow in their hearts.  I knew as I said each Hail Mary that Jesus Himself, although scourged, beaten, crowned with thorns and hanging from a tree, He knew what was happening.  It was all Him and the Father by then.  But the pain felt by the one's who loved Him I felt, really, for the first time.  The Father, for whatever reason, turned my stony heart to a loving heart.  For the first time in my life I truly and honestly loved Our Lord Jesus Christ.  How would you feel if that was your good friend hanging on that cross?  Somebody you loved beyond all telling?  And this happened to him?  In an instant the door was opened just a crack, and He gave me a peek, and a peek was all I could handle.  It was if a stopper had been pulled out.  So many unspoken thoughts made sense.  Unspoken and unwritable here.  And then, not one revelation but another, as I knelt, beads in hand.  A scene of our elderly, perhaps of some I know, but it didn't matter.  The intense loneliness of some of those men and women, who had lived good productive lives, then retired.  Perhaps they lost a spouse, and their children cooked for them then.  Still love and family there.  But later, as they get older, probably a nursing home.  No more home cooked meals by a daughter or daughter in law.  Unknown food cooked by unknown hands. That is were my vision started and ended, in a flash. Why I was given that, I don't know.  Why did He show this to me now?  I will pray about these two startling gifts that He gave me today, graces poured out by the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I will pray about that unbelievably strong yearning of love that I felt this morning, and why do I have such a stony heart.  I will pray to God to allow our Mother to tear me down to nothing, to the nothing that I really am, to strip me of every vicious excess.  I will let the vision of the elderly linger with me, for that is what it should do, because for some reason, unknown to me, the two scenes He pointed out to me this morning, in the silence of His church, mean something more than what I can understand now.  He may do something for nothing, but I don't think  He ever does anything without a reason.

 Oh Lord, hear my cry
deep in this desert. 
You, who in so many words, said,
"Come, follow me," stretch out Your hand
to us who yearn for light.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wash me first

The last few weeks have been the Season of Septuagesima, which is the three Sundays leading up to Ash Wednesday.  This is used in the Traditional Latin Mass.  We haven't been going steady to the Latin Mass for even a year yet, so we are still learning all the differences that exist between the L.M. and the Norvus Ordo.  These three Sundays are used to prepare for the Lenten season.  A good idea, I think.  For me, the season of Lent was a lot more cut and dried; one gave up something for forty days, and then began again after.  The whole event was forgotten about after Easter.  That was before God called...
Now, things have changed, and for me, Lent has become much more serious, as well it should be.  It seems like my life for the last five years has been one type of fast or another, or a time of penance for a decision that must be made. Ash Wednesday is nearly here and I'm no closer to my Lenten observance than I was three weeks ago.....
  Well, Ash Wednesday has come and gone, and God, in His mercy, has shown us a path, a way to begin our journey through Lent.  Lately it always seems to do with food and H and I are brought even closer together by sharing in this Lenten discipline, as we do all things.  Coffee one year, (a rough one, that), desserts another, (not so bad, but bad enough), but in hindsight these abstinence's were only small things, stuff even.  H and I have been looking into the Third Order Franciscans, which is very different from our Secular Franciscans.  A bit more stricter.  More devoted to the Latin Mass.  This way of living, Franciscan-wise, seems to fit our spirituality and gives us a deeper sense of peace and purpose than the Rule of the modern day Seculars.  But we are only exploring these options.  We are praying about it.  But we have adopted some of the fasts and abstinence rules that they use for our Lenten fast.  These include no breakfast, Monday thru Saturday.  No meat Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and of course, Friday, but milk and dairy is allowed.  On top of our Fasting on bread and water on Wed. and Fri. it makes for an interesting week.  I'd never known how much food is such a intrusive part of my life.  I can tend toward gluttony at times if I don't watch out.  How heavy-feeling I can become when I eat three decent meals a day.  With the discipline of Lent that has all changed.  With no breakfast I go from 5:30 in the evening until 12:30 the next day, which is lunch without eating.  A long time for me to go with only a couple of cups of coffee in between.  But something does happen during that long stretch, especially in the morning.  Is it me;  no, I am nothing, I know that.  I feel it is the Holy Spirit, moving in where the tendencies toward my over-indulging were.  We are called to God for a reason and He gives us the means to get there, we just have to make use of those ways.  Fasting is one way.  Instead of being unknowingly dependent of our food, we become more dependent on God.  It's like our bodies, no our souls know that,  and in turn we search and yearn for Him.  The turning inward, the turning inward with love.  The Ancient Fathers in the Old Testament knew the power of fasting.  Fasting and Prayer.  
  The clong of the heavy wind chime fills the silence of night.  I think of what I just wrote, and how it really doesn't tell the whole story, not even close.  How can I explain the quietness that fills me up even in the middle of a crazy workday?  How even now, in the semi-silence of the night, how His presence is here, closer than ever.  How to explain the unexplainable?  How to listen and respond, how to write about that.  I cannot.  And so begins the journey through the desert, following Our Lord Jesus.  A good way to live one's life, in the desert, with Our Lord.

Oh Lord Jesus, 
you but command and I come.
I will help carry your cross
but wash me first,
cleanse me in the 
discipline of Lent
then lead me down the path
less known.