Expressions of gratitude…with those over at A Holy Experience..
97. the pitter-patter of rain drops on the window
98. an unexpected Mother’s Day card from a caring person
99. working in the dirt, preparing the garden
100. the diverse colors of flowers in the nursery greenhouse
102. clean floors
103. grandchildren proudly coloring in coloring books
104. for my children and grandchildren
“Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus…This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self.” (CCC #2715)
The contemplative ponders the mysteries of the life of Christ, gazing at him while he gazes back. “His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men.” (CCC #2715)
Our inherited frail human condition elicited the compassion of Christ towards us. Christ, the Divine Physician, was compassionate toward the sick which was evident by the many cures of every kind through his power. “His compassion towards all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” (CCC #1503)
Christ calls all, particularly the contemplative, to this compassion. There is, however, a difference that exists between feeling compassion and having the strength of will to be compassionate and to act compassionately when this action is called for.
The Blessed Mother, our model of a true disciple of Christ, acted with compassion when she left her home to stay with Elizabeth for three months. Renouncing herself, she fixed her gaze on his truth seeing in her neighbor, Jesus. And again, at the Crucifixion, we see her there with her Son. She, despite the painful difficulty, remained there with him as he suffered; unwilling was she to leave him to do so alone. At the foot of the cross Mary suffered with Jesus. To “suffer with” is the root meaning of compassion.
Our actions of compassion bring comfort to those afflicted and to Christ himself.
The deepest, most spiritual meaning of purity is to “be detached from all creatures, free of a fixation on oneself and on others.” (Edith Stein Collected Works: Woman, p. 203)
This purity is so necessary to attaining union with God. It is a matter of the heart. The heart must not be allowed to be captivated by creatures, no matter how fascinating they may be. The soul longing for union with God will live among creatures and be occupied with them with all charity, but will not allow the heart to become attached to them or seek gratification in them.
The most challenging part of this virtue is the detachment from ‘self’ which we carry around with us all the time and are never wholly free. This detachment requires us to renounce our preoccupation with ourselves: our way, our wants, our comfort, our rights –to name a few.
When we become attached to something it prohibits our ascent to God. It is the virtue of purity that will help us to take flight and reach God.
This is how Mary gave Jesus to the world.
This month is dedicated to Mary. Our devotion to her should consist in imitation of her life and virtues. For Carmelites, she is our teacher and model of the interior life, which is our apostolate. Not to discount or underestimate the exterior apostolate, the interior apostolate consists of prayer, love and sacrifice. The fruitfulness of all exterior activity rests on this interior apostolate.
According to Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D, Mary’s apostolate “was a quiet one, free from ostentation; it was accomplished in the most humble, hidden and silent way.” (Divine Intimacy #184)
Mary shared in the whole life of Jesus, her Son: the daily life of a family, performing household duties, living with difficulties, making sacrifices, enduring trying situations, even sharing in His Passion. In all these ways she shared in the redemptive work of Jesus. His work of redemption still continues and, like Mary, we can share in that work.
During those times when we feel the pressure of the urgency of our works and become tempted to make these exterior activities the net worth of our apostolate, let’s turn to Mary who shows us how to love, pray and make hidden sacrifices – known only to God and are of infinite value – redemptive value.
Counting a thousand gifts with Ann over at A Holy Experience…..
64. a multitude of white fluffy clouds stretching across the sky for miles
65. two small children walking together holding hands and singing
66. freshly tilled earth
67. reading books with the grandchildren
68. crepes filled with yogurt, fruit and nutella
69. long phone conversation with a holy priest friend
70. God’s infinite Mercy
71. the gift of life
72. a hug from a beautiful friend
73. snow covered mountain tops
74. cold breeze chilling fingers
75. little children at church
76. tears of sorrow, healing pain of loss
77. the peace that only the presence of Christ can bring