Optional Hymn from Today’s Morning Prayer
Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen.
Happy Feast of the Nativity of Mary, everyone! Mama Mary, please pray for me and for all the little musings I post here, that I, like you, can always point to Christ. Keep Him always first in my vision and my mind. Wrap me, those who read this blog, and all your children in your sapphire mantle of protection and peace. Amen.
I heard it said once that if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans. And really, how pretentious are we, to think that we could know what’s best for us better than the God who holds Creation in His hands and knows us better than we know ourselves?
We are not our own. And that’s OK, because we really don’t do such a good job trying to do this thing called life on our own.
It’s amazing really, when you practice a virtue you really don’t want to, and you see no reward from it, and the one thing that makes you want to do it all again is seeing a man hanging on a cross and imagine Him smiling in the midst of His pain.
Ever stop to think about how precious we are in the sight of God, that He has a plan for each and every one of us that leads to us being as happy as we can possibly be, and how far He’s willing to go to get us there? And how cool is it to round a corner that you thought would lead to your dreams, watch them fall apart, and still have a reason to hope and be joyful?
Forgive a man head-over-heels in love; it’s been awhile since I wrote here, and Christ had done so much. And the remarkable thing is that most of the work has been through me losing things rather than gaining them, and instead of feeling jipped and poor, I feel so free that those things don’t matter anymore to me.
Truly, God provides, and where His Holt Spirit is, there is freedom. To be more fully Totus Tuus, Mary, is so painfully hard at first, but so freeing once the bond is broken with those things that really just don’t matter in light of the unfathomable love and mercy of God.
In one sense, it would be incredibly easy to write an “end-of-semester” post. There’s so much I learned, so many ways in which I grew.
But in another, it’s pretty much impossible. Too much goes on in my head in one day; there’s no way to get it all out there.
It’s questionable whether there’s even a point to writing a post like that for this blog. But let me at least say this: For the first time, leaving campus was hard for me. Incredibly hard, actually. And that makes me rather happy, because it means that there was something I had there that meant enough to me that to lose it, even for a seemingly short time, was painful.
For the first time in a long time, I knew I had friends so close that they were practically family.
God works unbelievably slow sometimes, it’s true. I waited years to find friends so close as these. But it happened. God brought these amazing people into my life, and finally convinced me to pry my heart open to them. It’s difficult and painful to not be with them, and even being with them is hard sometimes, but every moment is worth it.
They’ve taught me something, too: that I can do more than just survive the storms of life and the trials I go through, I can actually thrive in them. Even if all I can manage is a smile, I’ve conquered something. I’ve had a little victory I can share with the Lord and Mama Mary. (Seriously, try sharing one of those with them sometime, you will not believe how proud they are of you!!)
And the thing is, even if we’re in the middle of a waking nightmare, the beauty of life, the immensity of God’s love, and the intoxicating preciousness of each and every person walking the face of this earth is untouched. What more reason need we to rejoice?
The sound of tears is only outdone by the shattering of hearts all around. It seems wrong in a way that today should be so beautiful, with a bright, sun-filled sky and flowers beginning to bloom everywhere. Only the leafless trees seem to understand, and even they are putting forth buds.
But they’re right, in another way.
We ought to mourn today. We ought to cry, to grieve, or to sit in silent reflection. Our hearts ought to be broken when we look at the wounds of Christ and hear His prayer for our forgiveness, when we see Mary weep as she kisses the feet of her Son, when we hear the soldier cry out in faith as his heart turns violently in His chest.
And yet, there ought to be just a whisper of a promise echoing still in our hearts, and echo that nature itself seems to speak today.
This is not the end.
It’s a beginning.
Just…Monday? Is that it? Something huge is gonna happen! What’s the big deal?
…really? A lesson in patience? That’s what you’re gonna try to pull on me right now?! PATIENCE?!
Wow. Ok. That’s just–great. I mean, c’mon, nothing? No special commemoration? No big anticipatory thing? Nothing?
Well fine then, it’s not like this wasn’t, like the biggest week of Your life or anything…
What was Your Monday was like?
There was time between coming to Jerusalem and the Passover…You already knew exactly what was gonna be coming. It was going to hit Your hard when You got to the Garden of Gethsemane. Was part of it because You had to go on living, go on teaching, go on serving for another few days?
You were literally born to die. For me. For all of us. What was it like to walk among the people You were about to die for, knowing exactly who was going to stay faithful and who was going to abandon You? To walk the streets You had just been paraded down on a donkey, knowing you’d be staggering down the same way with blood, sweat, and a cross on Your back?
What kind of perseverance did that take?
And how often have I let impatience over something infinitesimally less weighty lead me to sin?
Pay attention. Something huge is about to happen.
It’s already here…the time has crept up so stealthily, it seems. All my hope, all my trust, all my love–it’s all coming to its climax in a week. Easter. Lent makes so much more sense; it’s that bugle cry announcing the Son of David, the voice crying to prepare the way in your life for Christ to enter the Jerusalem of your heart.
Something huge is about to happen.
I didn’t think I’d cry. I’ve been going to Palm Sunday Mass all my life. It was always full of anticipation, but never like this.
It never really hit me that when I say, “Crucify him!’, I’m just doing the same thing I do every time I sin.
I drive the nails into His hands with my own.
I take the whip to his blameless back, as if it weren’t about to carry the weight of the world.
I thrust the cross in His face and mock Him for embracing it.
And all the while, He prays, “Father, forgive them…forgive him…”
And all I can see are the tears streaming down Mary’s face…and I cry because I’m begging her to forgive me for doing this to her Son…
I don’t have much to give you this Lent, Lord. Somehow these weeks seem to have flown by without my noticing; the little I’ve done to prepare feels so ridiculously inadequate now. All I have is this cloak and this palm branch.
So I lay them down now, and ask You to let me walk with You to Your cross.
Pay attention. Something huge is about to happen.
Speak no more, no more, I beg thee;
another weighty word,
another vessel of steel-cased emotion,
and the scales shall tip to fear,
Grant me a moment more
in this comforting caress
of unspoken words, dreams unimagined,
a stream of potentiality on a canvass of silence
painted in tears of love and loss.
Take me not from this sweet hollow
this forgotten corner of creation
that hums yet faintly
with the musical silence of Eden.
I see through the mist
in the panes to your stricken heart.
There is a longing,
a cry to balance the scales
as the words begin to spill from your lips
and down your cheeks.
the words cannot touch my fragile mind;
no, they sink
with heavy weight
to my heart,
and I find there an endless vestibule,
a deep chasm waiting for your words
as they pour but a drop
into the infinite awaiting.
It is no longer mine to listen,
nor was it ever mine to heal.
All falls into the mantle,
and carried to the heart of Christ.
O Mother of Sorrows,
Victorious Queen robed in Eden’s silence,
take me over.
My frail spirit is so little prepared
for all that I must take in.
Take these hands,
take this heart.
Let your Spouse
breathe in me His peace,
that this shuddering frame
may come as Simon to the crosses of others
in holy fear
and loving confidence.
Upon blue velvet yet I weave
a terminal brocade
of golden love and silver pain
with red impatience made,
a tapestry to life and death
in words so soon to fade.
Oh Mother, Queen, all clothed in blue
and bathed in endless light,
within whose womb the Savior slept
and found His true delight,
you weave your love in simple words
that put my speech to flight.
Let me in blue your Son pursue
through you, O Mother kind,
until the day I’m brought away
eternal life to find.
‘Til then, let me your servant be.
To you, my heart I bind.
As I the storms defy and madly leap
upon the screaming seas, upon thy face
what joy is writ! What roaring mountains steep
would I not dare to scale, harrowing race
would I not run for Love, wherein you find
your heart at rest, your strength, and mayhaps mine.
In Mary’s mantle safe, the waves yet grind
upon the spirit drunk on Love’s choice wine.
While yet we stand upon this tilting globe,
our hearts ablaze, our eyelids set to droop,
I choose my fears and follies to subdue.
Big brother, clinging e’er to Mama’s robe,
I swear this shall be true: that as you stoop
to carry me, I’ll rise to carry you.
What is there to give when you’re left holding nothing?
The past few weeks, I have given a lot of myself to hundreds of children and teenagers as I shared the faith with them–my time, my energy, my stories. Now there’s one week left, and I feel as though I have nothing left for even a single child, much less another hundred or so.
Surely, Lord, you didn’t mean to let me run out of gas now? You didn’t mean to leave me with nothing left, only to have to once again cry out, “Totus Tuus”, and completely honestly mean it?
Just this afternoon, during recess time, I sat under a tree and watched a group of the kids play. I had absolutely nothing left–no energy, no fun, no words. I might as well have been a shadow. So I picked up a stick and began to peel off the bark, something a little girl had shown me just the other day.
It wasn’t long before a young child joined me, just having lost a game. I’d been curious about this kid all week, he was in third grade but already had his hair styled into a Mohawk and dyed blue. But he didn’t fit the stereotype; he seemed quiet, and was pretty reluctant to join the kids whenever they were asked to scream or shout or dance wildly. So I was only half-shocked when he asked what I was doing and promptly joined in, striking up a conversation and happily peeling away at another stick.
It was only a few minutes more before there was a solid group of 7 or 8 kids all peeling sticks and stacking them in a pile, happily chatting and trying to decide what to do with them. They loved it, such a simple thing when they had the chance to play sports or games or simply run around crazy. Instead they wanted to peel sticks with me and chat and just smile.
It was one of the best moments of the summer, and yet what had I done? What had I given? Nothing. At least nothing of myself, other than my presence.
What was it that they got?
God works in mysterious ways…He’s completely drained me of everything, so that I can’t give any more of me. The only thing left to give now…is Him. I can only give them His love, His mercy, His joy. I can only go on His strength and grace.
I’ve been completely drained…I’ve become Totus Tuus for the final week. I have nothing, and still You ask me to lay it on the altar. Whatever You have planned, Lord, it must be big.
Help me, Lord, to not get in Your way.
Before the lance had pierced His side,
a sword had pierced her through,
the Mother of Divinity
Who didst the world renew.
What sorrow weighed upon her now,
what grief; ’twas truly meet
that she who loved Him sinlessly
first kissed His bloodied feet.
And oh! what joy, my Mother Sweet,
welled up within your soul
when on those feet He left the grave
your sorrow to console.
Oh Mary, let me join you now
and kiss His holy feet
that, in His boundless love, I may
obtain eternal seat.