We all have obstacles preventing us from fully receiving the love God wants to give us, sins that block the flow of grace to us. The life of a Christian is one long process of restoration. Our Father constantly invites us to give every part of our lives over to Jesus so He can redeem our brokenness, every wound, every sin, and transform us into Himself. The process is long and often painful. We need to learn to trust Him with the parts of our hearts that have been trampled on, hoping that His promises are true… That He is the way and the life, that He is the Truth, and that the TRUTH will set us free.
When we tell God, “please come into my life, please take away this sin that is hurting me, that is hurting those I love,” He comes right up to that wall we spent so much time building up, that wall that is keeping us from feeling the pain we are not ready to deal with…and he knocks. We hear Him calling; we want to let Him in, but we cannot find a door. There was a door there once, but we sealed it shut. In trying to keep the pain away, what we did is block ourselves from receiving the only thing that can heal us…the love of God.
This encounter with Truth is a moment of tension. On one side of the wall, we are trapped, oppressed, burdened by our sin. On the other side is God, calling us to come to Him, asking us to let Him break down the wall. But we are attached to the wall. It has become our comfort, our support. And even though it hurts us, it is scary to think it won’t be there anymore. What will happen to the parts of us that are attached to the wall? How will we get through the pain of that separation, of that stripping away of all the things we placed as substitutes for God? So God patiently waits and lets us wrestle with Him until we reach the point of surrender and finally say,
Mary, who had no walls between her and God, silently offers these words with every breath of her life. Never is that silence more eloquent than when her heart speaks them at the foot of the Cross. It is there that her Immaculate Heart is pierced open with pain for each one of us, her children. It is there where she brings us when we hold her hand in prayer, to a place of encounter with Her Son.
Today, as we begin the month of May, the Church invites us to walk with Mary, “our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” It also lifts our eyes to St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse. Pondering on this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we see that the rest found in God is not one of inactivity but one of life and creativity. We find rest when we take up His yoke. We find rest when we surrender to God.
With Mary, at the foot of the Cross, we find the strength and courage to surrender. It is there where we find our rest. This rest is not something we can provide for ourselves; it is the gift He wants to give us. And, although we live in the hope that one day we will be in a place of eternal rest in Heaven, where there will be no more sorrow or pain, we can experience His peace while we are still in this valley of tears. At the Last Supper, Jesus says:
What did Jesus leave us during the Last Supper? The Eucharist, the gift of Himself …His Body broken for us… His Blood poured out for us…
We know how the story ends, so we give thanks. We know the promises are fulfilled; we know the tears are wiped. When we look at the Cross and see the price paid for us, we hear Him say to each one of us:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
There is no reason to despair; no part of you is broken beyond repair.
You are worthy of restoration. “Come to me… and I will give you rest.”
“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17)
Jesus was on His way to the Father when He suddenly felt a tug in His heart. It was Mary Magdalene looking for him, weeping.
“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” (v.13)
As her tears fell to the ground, her hemorrhaging heart pulled the tassel of his cloak and held him back. The sound of her cry pierced through eternity and compelled Him to stay for a moment in time.
“Woman, why are you weeping?”(v.15)
Her eyes, blinded by grief, could not see Him, could not recognize. At the sound of his voice, the veil lifted, wiping away her tears. When she heard her name, recognition came.
“I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go.” (Song of Songs 3:4)
But He still had other plans, which she did not need to understand.
“Stop holding on to me.” (John 20:17)
Let go. …but why? Why would Jesus ask her to let Him go?
“I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (v.17)
Mary is stuck in her grief. She is holding on, not to the hope of what is to come, but to the pain of what is gone. Yet, in her pain, Mary cries out.
“The righteous cry out, the LORD hears, and he rescues them from all their afflictions.” (Psalm 34:18)
Just like He delivered her before from seven demons, he now frees her from the claws of death.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Her love is transformed the moment she lets go.
“Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
It is when she is willing to let go and trust that she is free to live. And from that place of freedom, she can then accept her mission.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
How many times are we stuck in grief, holding on to the past? The rug gets pulled from under our feet, and we fall; we do not know which way to go. Our plans are no more. We close our eyes to the possibilities that God has something better in store for us.
We will suffer in this life, but we are not meant to stay stuck in grief. Every moment of life is transformed through the Cross of Our Lord. The Paschal Mystery is always in movement, from the Passion, through the Death, into the Resurrection and Ascension. It is in this continual offering of Jesus to the Father that we are meant to live. Through Him, with Him and in Him, caught in the embrace of love, we go from mourning to dancing, from grief to joy.
When we find ourselves in darkness, let us never tire of crying out to God, for He will leave the ninety-nine and come running back for us. Jesus will tell the Father in Heaven, “Give me a moment, for I hear my beloved looking for me, and my heart is moved with love.”
My friends, this is Divine Mercy; this is Divine Love. Trust in Him and seek Him; you will always find Him ready to embrace you and welcome you home.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“Saint Joseph is the patron and model of interior souls; his life has been spent in obscurity, the Scripture does not mention any of his words. We have to imitate him, to love the silence and seclusion, to maintain within us the fire, whose flames will then show and illuminate all our actions.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
“We have to love the silence.” So, what is silence? The dictionary defines it as “complete absence of sound,” “stillness.” It comes from the Latin silentium/sileo, which denotes a state of being, “I am silent.” I find this interesting because it immediately brings to mind the words from Psalm 46:
“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm v.11)
God, the great I AM, tells us that we have to be still for us to know who HE IS. We have to BE silent. We have to empty ourselves from all sound so that His Word can enter in.
“For when peaceful stillness encompassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word from heaven’s royal throne leapt into the doomed land” (Wisdom 18:14-15).
Think about the moment before a masterful orchestra begins to play; there is silence. No one dares speak a word; no one dares to cough. Any sound would ruin the moment. The emptiness of sound makes room for the beauty that is about to fill it.
“Aspire to the spiritual repose of recollection at the feet of your good Master; the silence of love is perfect love.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
Expectation, our capacity to receive, grows in the silence. Many of us have experienced the sublimeness of being lost in the eyes of our beloved. In that moment of silence, we hear the sound of two hearts speaking.
It is the same in our relationship with God. He is our beloved; we are His beloved. All He wants is for us to get lost in His gaze. It is at those moments, though, when the enemy of our souls will ramp up the storm.
The moment we try to BE silent, a million distractions usually jump at us. It is then the unclean spirits will whisper lies and tell us we must hide from our God. It is at that moment that we need to make a choice.
If we truly want to BE with God, then we let Jesus take care of the distractions. If we let Him, He will silence the unclean spirit and will quiet down the storm.
“Do not fear! Stand your ground and see the victory the LORD will win for you today. For these Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
A friend, who is studying to become a priest, wrote to me earlier today. He had just finished an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and he wrote: “Not every silence produces the same sound. He was silent but effective. Wishing you a Happy Feast of St. Joseph. May our man of honor continue to intercede for us.”
After I read his message, I couldn’t tell if he was speaking of the silence of Jesus in the Eucharist or the silence of St. Joseph. And then I realized there was no difference; they are both the same silence.
No wonder St. Joseph was so silent; in his house, there were no unclean spirits; in his house, there were no storms. There was no need to rebuke, for his house was full of love. “The silence of love is perfect love.”
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Jesus brings His peace; He brings His love. He tells us to BE still, to listen only to His voice. God wants to BE with us, to BE in us, to become one with us. He speaks most eloquently from the silence of the Cross.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
In a letter to Mme Tholin-Bost, dated October 22, 1851, St. Peter Julian Eymard writes:
St. Peter Julian wrote about this “universal indifference taking hold of many Catholics” back in 1851, which he described as happening “in a frightening way”. I wonder what words he would choose to describe the level of indifference we see today. Yet, as tempting as it is for me to look out and see how “other people” are suffering from this indifference, the call is always to look within. Is there any part of me that has grown numb to the suffering of another? Is there any part of me that is choosing not to love?
Once I heard someone say that they were not going to visit a loved one who was dying because they didn’t want to remember them that way. They didn’t want to deal with the reality of suffering, the reality of death. Visiting the sick is a challenging act of mercy. It requires something of us. When you truly look in the eyes of someone when they are suffering, you cannot be indifferent. Once you open your eyes and look with love, their suffering becomes yours. “Of you my heart has spoken, Seek his face. It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face from me” (Psalm 26:8-9). He does not hide His face from us, it is us who choose to turn away when that looks brings us pain.
We are in the season of Lent, a time when we are invited to be transformed, to change. Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving awaken our dulled senses to the reality around us, lifting the veil of indifference that keeps us separate from one another. When we first hear that the remedy for the universal indifference is love for Jesus Eucharistic, some might wonder how this might be. What does receiving the Eucharist or spending time in Eucharistic Adoration have to do with caring for the suffering or tending to the poor? Everything! When you fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, you will then recognize Him anywhere, especially in the face of the poor, the suffering, the lonely. These are the faces that most resemble Him while hanging on the Cross. It is when we look in those eyes that we hear Him say, “Turn to me and be safe, …for I am God; there is no other!” (Isaiah 45:22). When we look with love into the eyes of suffering, His face might be disfigured, but “faith will tell us Christ is present when our human senses fail” (Tantum Ergo).
Love always seeks to give itself, and Jesus is the great multiplier. An hour adoring Him in the chapel will be multiplied into many hours serving Him in the world. It is then that the fire that He kindled in our hearts will spread and “enkindle the whole world” (Luke 12:49). So let us take this opportunity of grace to look honestly and ask which parts of our hearts have grown cold and need kindling. And then let us turn…turn to Him and listen… “Listen to Him” (Mark 9:7). “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
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