Into His Marvelous Light (through Mary’s Seven Sorrows)
“…that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
“…a sinner on whom the Lord has turned His gaze.”
After writing my last chapter, I decided that this chapter needs to be a balm to soothe the soreness of my heart, and maybe those reading my book will also need a balm at this point.
Today, when I was meditating and contemplating the fourth Sorrow of Mary, I was able to connect Heart to heart with Jesus, to feel His longing to be comforted by His Mother when they met on the Way to Calvary. And I believe that I also connected with our Sorrowful Mother’s painful longing to take her Son into her arms, to take Him away from the pain of His Passion. I expressed to Jesus my deep desire to comfort Him, and He showed me in a very clear way that, in the writing of this book, in my willingness to let my pain and misery surface and to share it with others, He is deeply comforted. He revealed to me in a profound way that this book is a sharing of my pain with Him, and, in that way, I become His Simon of Cyrene, helping Him to carry His Cross, lightening His burden a tiny amount—but that tiny amount is a great comfort, because of the love in it. I know that this is true, though I cannot adequately explain this mystery. Thanks be to God our Father for this great privilege! I am deeply comforted in knowing that I comfort Jesus.
“For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Cor. 1:5)
I found another source of comfort today in reading the interview of Pope Francis that has caused such a stir, by an Italian Jesuit priest. In a portion of the interview I found some words from the Pope with which I can deeply identify:
...but when I had to come to Rome, I always stayed in [the neighborhood of] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of ‘The Calling of St. Matthew,’ by Caravaggio.
“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.” Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned His gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.” Then the pope whispers in Latin: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”
If by unlikely chance I ever had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis, I would not want to kiss his ring. It’s not that I don’t profoundly respect him. It’s that I feel in a deep way that he is my brother, and I would want to hug him tightly and say, “My brother, I too am a sinner on whom the Lord has turned His gaze. I, too, trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and without His infinite mercy, I would be lost.”
My reaction to the Lord’s gaze is similar to Matthew’s, except that it’s not money that I want to hold onto. It is my closed heart, “secure” from the view of those from whom I fear condemnation. I want to hold onto the respect and even admiration of others, which I fear losing when they know all of the shameful things I did in my past. It is a false image of who I am.
But I give my fear, shame, and false self image to Jesus over and over again, because, I am Yours, O my sweet Jesus, and all that I have is Yours, through Mary, Your Holy Mother and mine.
At the beginning of each chapter, as I reflect on what I am going to write, I go through the same intense, painful struggle, as I feel the Lord’s gaze upon me, and I feel in an unspoken way: “No, not me! Why me? Why do I have to be so vulnerable? No, my heart is mine; my reputation is mine.” But I always begin again when I realize again that I am compelled, not only through obedience, but also through profound love for the Savior who gave even the last drop of blood for my salvation. I accept in a spirit of penance, in atonement for my sins, and for the sins of the whole world!
Thanks be to God!