When the Light Came Into the World…

mary

We can imagine the joy of Mary when the angel Gabriel revealed to her that she would be the Mother of God!  As we read in the book of the prophet Isaiah: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and they shall call His name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Remembering that “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16) gives us hope in the midst of the storms in our lives.  Mary carried the Light of the World in her womb.  We will recall Jesus as the Light when we celebrate the Easter Vigil.  We carry Jesus within us every time we receive the Holy Eucharist!  We must ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us receive Jesus with a joy like she has!!

As we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation let us reflect on Jesus who is the Light.  In the preface at Mass before we sing the Holy, Holy, Holy prayer (Sanctus) we pray these words about the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“…conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and the glory of her virginity still abiding gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

What beautiful words to ponder on throughout the day!  Truly nothing is impossible for God!  How grateful we are for the “Yes” of Mary!

Please listen to this song: “Lux Aurumque” composed and conducted by Eric Whitacre, who took the words from a poem written by Charles Anthony Silvestri.  I do realize that this is a song more for Christmas time, but it is a good song to listen to as we reflect Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel and how she received the Light in her womb!! Jesus is the Light of the World and we will encounter Him in a special way during the Easter season!

This is the translation of the song:

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.

Here is the link:

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir- “Lux Aurumque”

Lyrics from: https://ericwhitacre.com/music-catalog/lux-aurumque

Image from https://catholicnewstt.com/index.php/2018/12/20/mary-ideal-advent-figure/

Vulnerability and Seeking Light…

28475-Angel appearing to Joseph Champaigne Matthew 1

There was no human being on this earth who loved the Blessed Virgin Mary more than St. Joseph.  He loved her with a love that is beyond words…even when she revealed to him that she was going to have a baby…a baby that was not biologically his, who would be the Messiah. St. Joseph loved her even then.  He could have had her put to death, yet he was a loving and just man and decided to send her away quietly.  He did not want to bring shame or guilt upon her.  He loved Mary, and she loved Him.  We can imagine the intense prayer of St. Joseph at this time…seeking the light of God…and as we know light came!  In a dream, St. Joseph hears: “Joseph. son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20).

It took great courage for Mary to reveal to St. Joseph that she was to be a mother…the mother of the Messiah.  We can imagine the questions and struggle in St. Joseph…he loved Mary yet she was carrying a child that was not biologically his.  We can imagine the sorrow and confusion in the heart of St. Joseph.  Mary had complete and total trust in the Lord.  Mary knew the law…she knew he could have had heard her put to death…yet Mary had complete faith in the Lord and totally surrendered to the will of God.  Even if St. Joseph would reject her, one thing was certain…the Lord would not reject her!  Because of her faith and trust in the Lord, and knowing the love that St. Joseph did have for her, she was able to speak the truth…for Truth was made Incarnate in her womb, and when the time was right, God spoke to St. Joseph and gave him light to see.

Thinking about the love story of Mary and St. Joseph brought something to mind that most people struggle with: sometimes we can live in great fear of being “cast out” from the lives of people who love us if we reveal a part of us that is broken and in need of healing.  Sometimes we can have a fear of being vulnerable and revealing the struggle within.  But this fear of being “cast out” is not living with the mindset and heart that Mary had.  Everyone carries something…some Cross…and sometimes we need the support of others in order to carry it with patience and hope.  Otherwise we can become very fearful and lonely.  We need to be able to share our burdens with people who love us.  Mary shared this truth with St. Joseph…she knew he loved her.  Sometimes we can fear because we do not know right away the response that we will receive from the other person: “Will they still love me if I tell them this?”  “Will they still think that I am a worthy person if I tell them this?”  It is true that we do take a risk revealing a part of ourselves that is painful and in need of healing…but knowing that the person who is listening to you loves you increases faith and trust in the relationship.  We cannot expect people to be perfect and to react to our situations perfectly…that is the reality of life.  However, within ourselves we can maintain a true and lasting peace like Mary had knowing that God would never reject her, even if men do.

There may be times where we need to listen to another’s burdens, struggles and trials.  This is truly honorable, for it is an act of love to listen to another.  Sometimes, people just need to be listened to.  People just need to know that they are loved.  However, sometimes people are weak to reveal themselves…they want to feel safe, secure and accepted.  They want assurance before speaking that you will not cast them out, but that you will receive them, right there in that brokenness.  Being open to listening is a tremendous gift.  Words of compassion can really help the soul feel safe: “You know I love you, and I care about you, and if you ever need to speak to me, I am here for you.”  “If you ever want to talk some time, I would be very happy to talk with you!”  Sometimes beginning with being vulnerable yourself can help another person to open up in their situation…this builds trust and confidence.

Of course, we will not share our struggles, burdens and Crosses with everyone.  We would never start preaching from the street: “Guess what everyone…let me tell you what I am struggling with right now!”  No…don’t do that.  You are a precious treasure created out of love, and so, you want to share those things that are deep and personal with people in your life who love you and who you can trust. Spiritual directors, spouse, parents, close and trustworthy friends, confessors, and even at times counsellors are just a few examples of people who we may need to share our burdens with.  Sometimes others can help shed light on situations and trials…light that we are not able to see yet because of fear.  Of course, before we discuss any sorrow or trial, we need to bring our burdens to the Blessed Sacrament.  We need to go to Jesus and ask the Lord to help the person receive what we say with an understanding heart.  I am sure that our Blessed Mother prayed to the little child in her womb that he would help St. Joseph to understand.  God helped St. Joseph to understand!

St. Joseph pray for us!

Image from Christian Art Website

https://www.christian.art/en/daily-gospel-reading/640

Hungry? Thirsty?

eat_meals_with_others

Do you ever feel hungry…like really hungry?  Or perhaps you have felt thirsty…maybe you are an athlete in training or you like to go on hikes…and you need water!  Hunger and thirst are normal for us…when we are hungry and thirsty it reminds us how much we are in need of God…how much we ought to hunger and thirst for Jesus in the Eucharist!  No five star meal can compare with Jesus in the Eucharist!  He fully and truly satisfies us!  The next few steps of love that we are speaking about are about having this great hunger for God!  So great that we cannot imagine taking a breath without God!!

So, here we are at the fourth step of our journey with God on the ladder of love.  St. John of the Cross speaks of this step as the step in which “love makes all burdensome and heavy things nearly nothing.” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk 2. Ch 19. Par. 3).  At this step, St. John of the Cross says that here souls do not seek satisfaction or consolations in God, but they are seeking to serve God seeing that He deserves our complete and total love.  This soul desires to suffer out of love for God.

At the fifth step, the soul has an impatient desire and longing for God, so much so that St. John of the Cross says, “the soul so feeds on love-for in accord with its hunger is its satisfaction-” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk 2 Ch.19. par 5).  This can be compared to a great hunger…a starvation, not for physical food but to love God.

At the sixth step, to soul is “running swiftly toward God and experiences many touches in Him.” (Bk 2. Ch 19. Par.5)  St. John of the Cross says that at this stage, the “soul’s charity is now highly increased and almost completely purified…” (Book 2. Chapter 20. Par.1). In other words, the heart is now enlarged to a greater degree, and the soul is cooperating with grace.

Image: Canada’s Food Guide Website:

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

 

One Step…Two Step…Three Step…

drop zone

Do you like heights?  Some people get such a thrill going up high off the ground!  Some people get sick just thinking about going up high.  I remember going on a ride at Canada’s Wonderland (the image that you see here is the Drop Zone at Canada’s Wonderland) when I was a teenager called “Drop-Zone” and I remember looking down at the spot where my dad was standing…and he seemed to get smaller and smaller, until eventually I could not see him anymore!  It seemed the higher we went, the smaller everything else became. Perhaps this is a good meditation for the spiritual life: the higher we go in union with God, the smaller everything else becomes, especially the things of the world.

St. John of the Cross speaks about the steps of love in the “mystical ladder of divine love.”    We will speak about these various steps in detail.  He speaks in the first step about a “soul sickness.”  The soul’s sickness comes because of the “heat from above” where “the soul changes the colour of its past life and loses its appetite for things.” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk 2. Chapter 19. Par. 1).

The second step causes a person to search for God without ceasing.  She is looking for her Beloved in all things. In all its thoughts it turn immediately to her Beloved. (Book 2. Chapter 19 par. 2).

The third step involves prompting the soul to the performance of good works giving it fervor to keep going and not fail!  (Dark Night of the Soul Book 2. Chapter 19. Par 3).  The soul believes that the works done for God are small and from this comes a deep sorrow that the soul is not doing enough for God…that everything he does is so little.  What is the effect of this step?  St. John of the Cross says that one effect is that love is teaching him what God deserves.  In this way the soul is removed from vainglory, presumption, and the condemnation of others…” (Bk 2. Chapter 19. Par.3).

The fourth step…well you will find out next week!!!

Image taken from “Canada Alive Website” https://canadaalive.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/canadas-wonderland/