Into His Marvelous Light
(through Mary’s Seven Sorrows)
One morning I got up at 5:00 to pray, and in that prayer I met Jesus, in my heart, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had been directing me to get up at 5:00 for some time, and every morning my alarm would ring at 5:00, and I would have some excuse to remain in bed for an hour or so longer. They were “good” excuses, I thought; like, “I was up very late the night before, and I need to be rested to care for my disabled daughter. Still, Jesus kept asking me to get up at 5:00.(I guess He didn’t understand my “need” for sleep.) “I am your strength, your energy, and your life,” He would say to me.
Anyway, when I got up at 5:00 that morning, I was eager to finally experience the Lord’s Heart in that Garden, and I did. What I experienced was that, in spite of my presence with Him, His Heart was painfully alone, as His Heart had been when He went through His Agony. But I was eager to comfort Him and, maybe, to relieve the guilt I felt about leaving Him alone so many mornings.
“I am waiting with You, Lord,” I said. Jesus responded: “It is I who wait with you.” And His words called forth reflections of the many times in my life that (I now know) Jesus waited with (and for) me. The longest period was between the ages of 20 and 32—a period in which I had rejected Jesus, with whom I had had a close relationship since early childhood. It was during that 12-year period that I was sexually promiscuous and had four abortions. I didn’t know it then, but I now believe with certainty that Jesus waited with (and for) me for that entire period.
I have a beautiful memory of my First Holy Communion at the age of seven—a memory that came to me soon after I returned to the Catholic Church. I had thought that it was a memory of the actual physical circumstances of that First Communion, but now I realize that it is an image, that the Holy Spirit “painted” in my soul, of my spiritual experience of that Communion—and in a larger sense, of Communion with Jesus. In the image I am dressed in an immaculately white, lacey dress, with a crown of white flowers, and a white veil that covers my face until the moment when I receive the white Host. I receive the Host like a kiss from my Prince, my Bridegroom. I experience the love and peace of Christ penetrating my heart and soul.
After my First Communion, whenever I entered a Catholic church I experienced the holy Presence of Jesus, and each Communion was special. That holy Presence was my refuge. Whenever I walked into a Catholic church I felt at home and safe. Even during the period when I had rejected Christ and Christianity, and even a belief in the existence of God, I would occasionally have a dream of being in a Catholic church, and always there was a sense of something lost, though, as an agnostic, I could no longer remember what that “something” was.
When I began to hunger to recover the faith that I had thrown away, one of the first things that I did was to go during my lunch hour to a Catholic church near the office where I worked. I just sat there. I never spoke any words to the God that I wasn’t sure existed, but now I know that my silent presence in that church was a more profound, powerful prayer than words could express—a prayer that I would experience His Presence again.
Recently it occurred to me that God gave me that special experience of my First Holy Communion in order to strengthen and comfort me in preparation for the abuse that I suffered at home and elsewhere. It occurred to me that it was like when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. I believe that one of His reasons for celebrating that Supper was in order to give his friends the strength and comfort that they would need in facing His Crucifixion and death.
Since I resolved to write this book that the Lord has, for many years, been calling me to write, I have been pondering the question: “What is Your marvelous light, Jesus, that You have called me into?” Yes, I know that Jesus is the light, as the Apostle John says repeatedly in Chapter 1 of his Gospel. Still, I have had a deep sense that the Lord wants to give me a deeper knowledge and understanding of His marvelous light, and to share that knowledge and understanding with the readers of this book.
One morning in prayer about the book, I became aware that I was embarrassed at the thought of sharing my intimate relationship with the Lord through this book. I asked the Lord to give me a healing “word” about that, and a beautiful image came of Jesus and His Heavenly Father gazing at each other with love, and then the image changed to Jesus and I gazing at each other with longing, and then love (longing fulfilled). Then Jesus said, “It is what the world is longing for.” He shared with me His intense desire to share this gift with the world. I was so touched by His words and His fervent desire to bless all of His brothers and sisters—sons and daughters. I deeply desire, with Jesus, to share with the world the marvelous light of a face to Face relationship with Him. It is a relationship that I am still coming into, still longing to come into more fully.
So, where do Mary’s Seven Sorrows come into this picture? I thought I was ready to write this introduction when Mary added those words in parentheses—that is, of course, she clearly communicated to me that part of the title. And she communicated to me to divide the book into sections, using the Seven Sorrows as a kind of “frame” of this “house” I am beginning to build.
And so I have pondered how Mary’s Sorrows relate to Jesus’ marvelous light. Since I came home to the Catholic Church in 1992, I have had a recurring image of me as a little girl, and Mary, my Mother, has taken me by the hand and is leading me up to an old-fashioned communion rail, where I receive the gift of Communion with Jesus.
As a Little Handmaid of Our Sorrowful Mother, I have experienced a union, deeper than ever before, with Jesus, through Mary’s Sorrowful Heart. I experience this union as I pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary; as I offer my personal sufferings and sorrows in union with Jesus and Mary’s Hearts, throughout my day; when I talk heart to Heart to my Blessed Mother about some problem; and, most of the time, when I make the time to be alone with Jesus, to share my heart with Him and to experience His Heart.
My devotion to the Suffering Heart of Jesus, through the Sorrowful Heart of Mary, has gradually shown me the value of the suffering and sorrows that I have experienced throughout my life.
And so I will be sharing my spiritual journey with you, my sisters, in the “context” of Mary’s Seven Sorrows, and I will be meditating on those sorrows as I do so. For each of my personal sorrows, besides relating in a simple way the pain of those sorrows, I will share my reflections about the good fruit that God has grown in my heart and soul through that suffering and sorrow.
My journey for the last twenty years of my life has been more and more intensely a journey out of darkness into the marvelous light of Jesus’ Resurrection. It is my hope and prayer that Jesus will call you, my sisters, more and more out of the darkness of any wounds that still need healing, out of the darkness of any sins that still need repentance “…into His marvelous light.” And together, I pray, we will “declare His wonderful deeds” to our brothers and sisters who do not yet know the marvelous light of a close, loving relationship with Jesus, and through Him, with the Father.
Jesus and Mary's little handmaid,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)