|The Lamentation of the Prophet Jeremiah over Jerusalem|
Monday, 26 January 2015
The lament of the soul in a period of desolation, as she gives vent to the anguish she feels from the void within and the vanity in the world without; yet in faith she remains steadfast with that secret joy of God, as she waits in hope for the visitation of the Holy Spirit to mystically resurrect her soul into a fresh sanctity.
In soul's vast space,
In chasm deep and hollow
Where lays the heart numb and still,
With worn strings like old cello;
I feel a void
Expand and grow, that strangles
The flora of my passions,
S'that in desert mind travels
As poor lost fool
Whom seeks to quench thirst but can't;
For waters fresh he finds not.
And dazed is my being as plant
Scorched by sun's heat;
Thus faint is my flesh and blank
And blind is my reason's mind,
S'that along dark wat'ry bank
I crawl like snail
With half-crushed shell of trample.
Yet move naught an inch do I,
For there I lie as damsel
Left there for dead;
And indeed with corpse-coldness,
And stuffed with death's straw-boredom
I stand as though I'm soulless
In world's bleak field,
As scarecrow that scares no crow
Except myself; but away
I can't fly to escape though,
But I don't need
To fly far away in fear;
Nor seek world's vain breath to live
As if lower toys could cheer.
For here I wait
'Till my lover comes to give
Her breath in kiss, which will quench
My lips and cause me to live.
24th January, 2015.
Friday, 16 January 2015
Divine Will reflections for the Four Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, drawing from Holy Scripture and the writings of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta.
I. The Annunciation
Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
And when the angel had come to her, he said, “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” (Lk 1:28).
“I pronounced my Fiat, and – oh, marvel! The two Fiats fused together and the Divine Word descended into Me. My Fiat, receiving the same value as the Divine Fiat, from the seed of my humanity, formed the tiny little humanity which was to enclose the Word, and so the great prodigy of the Incarnation was accomplished."1
With Thy lips we say: “Let it be done unto me according to Thy Will.”
Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbour
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Lk 1:41-42).
“If you let the Divine Will reign in your soul, you too will become the bearer of Jesus to the creatures –you too will feel the irresistible need to give Him to all!”2
Together with Thee we bring Jesus to all, visiting Adam to the last man.
The Birth of Jesus
Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty
And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Lk 2:7).
“Jesus, little as I am, I too want to place myself in the arms of your Mama, and upon Her own kiss, I want to impress my own, to make it flow within your milk, so that, as dear Mama nourishes You with Her milk, I may nourish You with my love. Everything She does to You, I too want to do.”3
O Mama, clothe us with the littleness of Jesus, so that we might become newborns in the Divine Will.
Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”). (Lk 2:22-23).“But that which pierced me the most were the words that the holy prophet said to me: ‘This dear baby will be the salvation and ruin of many, and will be the target of contradictions.’ If the Divine Will had not sustained me, I would have died instantly of pure pain…Therefore, in addition to the right of Mother which I had over all, I acquired the right of Mother and Queen of all Sorrows.”4
O Mary and Joseph present us to Christ Thy Son, the Great High Priest; so that consecrating us we might become Living Eucharistic Hosts.
The Finding in the Temple
Fruit of the Mystery: Joy in Finding Jesus
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Lk 2:46-47).“Could you perhaps assume that He was ignoring what I was suffering? On the contrary, my tears, my searching, and my cruel and intense sorrow resounded in His heart. Yet, during those hours, so painful, He sacrificed to the Divine Will, His own Mother, the one whom He loves so much, in order to show me how I too, one day, was to sacrifice His own Life to the Divine Will.”5
May all souls find Jesus, and may we proceed from finding to finding.
The Baptism of Jesus
Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit
And when Jesus was baptized…the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:16-17).
“My Love, in this solemn act of Your Baptism, I ask You for a grace that You certainly will not deny me: I pray You to baptise my little soul with Your holy hands, with the vivifying and creative water of Your Divine Will, that I may hear, see or know nothing but the Life of Your Fiat.”6
Fulfill our baptism O Lord, by immersing us into the river of Thy Will.
The Wedding at Cana
Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. (Jn 2:5-7).
“We went there, not to celebrate, but to work great things for the good of the human generations…With Our presence We renewed the sanctity, the beauty, the order of the marriage formed by God in the Garden of Eden – that of Adam and Eve…My children, do you want to be holy?Do the Will of my Son. Do not move from what He tells you, and you will have His likeness, His sanctity in your power.”7
With the irresistible accents of our Mother we say: “O take the water of our humanity and transform it into the Wine of Thy Will.”
Proclamation of the Kingdom
Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God
“And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.” (Mt 10:7-8).
“Now, dear child, listen to Me: in this house of Nazareth, the Kingdom of the Divine Will was formed in your Mama and in the Humanity of my Son, to make of It a gift for the human family, when they would dispose themselves to receive the good of this Kingdom. But even though my Son was King and I was Queen, yet We were King and Queen without a people. Our Kingdom, though It could enclose all and give life to all, was deserted…Now, my child, a little word to you. If you do always the Divine Will and never your own, and you live in It, I…acting as your true Mama, will put Myself on guard, so that this life may grow in you, and form in you the Kingdom of the Divine Will.”8
Invest all that we do with Thy Power, so that all that we are and do repeat with constant refrain: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done.”
Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Union with God
He took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white…And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Lk 9:28b-29, 35).
“My daughter, when the sun rises, it dispels the darkness and makes the light arise…Its silvery halo brings back joy and beauty, taking away the torpor of the night; and with the enchantment of its light, it seems to takeall nature by the hand, in order to vivify it, embellish it, and give life to it…In the same way, as my Will rises, all the human acts are invested with light; they take their place of honour in my Will, and each one receives its special shade of beauty and the vividness of the Divine colours, in such a way that the soul is transfigured and enveloped with an indescribable beauty.”9
Expand in us O Divine Sun, and set ablaze all hearts with Thy Holy Desire, until Thou burst forth with the all-consuming gasp of Thy Flame!
The Institution of the Eucharist
Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:19-20).
“You almost run to the altar where there is bread and wine ready for the Consecration. I see You, my Heart, assuming a look wholly new and never seen before: your Divine Person acquires a tender, loving, affectionate appearance; your eyes blaze with light, more than if they were suns; your rosy face is radiant; your lips are smiling and burning with love; your creative hands assume the attitude of creating…and without leaving Himself, creates Himself in that bread and wine.”10
Taking the Lips of Thy Divine Will we adore and receive Thee, present in every Host that ever has and will be consecrated throughout the ages.
The Agony in the Garden
Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. And when he rose up from prayer and was come to the disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow. (Lk 22:43-45).“‘Sweet Mama, hold Me in your arms, as You did when I was a Child! Give Me that milk which I suckled from You, to refresh Me and to sweeten the bitterness’s of my agony. Give Me your Heart, which formed all my contentment. My Mama, Magdalene, dear Apostles, all of you who love Me – help Me, comfort Me! Do not leave Me alone in these extreme moments; gather all around Me like a crown; give Me the comfort of your company, of your love!’”11
Together with Thee O Lord we say: “Not my will but Thy Will be done.”
The Scourging at the Pillar
Fruit of the Mystery: Purity
Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. (Mk 15:15).“‘My Father, may each blow of these scourges repair before You for each kind of sin – one by one. And as they strike Me, let them justify those who commit them. May these blows strike the hearts of creatures, and speak to them about my love, to the point of forcing them to surrender to Me.’ And as You say this, your love is so great, though great is the pain, that You almost incite the executioners to beat You more… And in seeing the shreds of your flesh, You feel like dying of grief, because in those detached pieces of flesh You see the reprobate souls. And your sorrow is such, that You gasp in your own Blood.”12
Strip us of all falsehood O Lord; and allow us to hide the stench of the world's lust, by perfuming each soul with the Myrrh of Thy Blood.
The Crowning with Thorns
Fruit of the Mystery: Courage
And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. (Jn 19:2-3).
“My child, these thorns say that I want to be constituted King of each heart; to Me belongs every dominion. Take these thorns and prick your heart; let everything that does not belong to Me come out, and then leave one thorn inside, as the seal that I am your King, and to prevent any other thing from entering into you. Then, go through every heart, and pricking them, let all the fumes of pride and the rottenness which they contain come out, and constitute Me King of all.”13
Gathering the holy thoughts of Mary and Joseph, we make a soothing balm so as to relieve Thee of the pricks incurred by all wicked thoughts.
The Carrying of the Cross
Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. (Jn 19:17).“Adored Cross, finally I embrace you. You were the longing of my Heart, the martyrdom of my love. But you, O Cross, have delayed until now, while my steps were always toward you. Holy Cross, you were the goal of my desires, the purpose of my existence down here. In you I concentrate my whole being, in you I place all my children, and you will be their life, their light, defence, custody and strength. You will assist them in everything, and will bring them gloriously to Me in Heaven…Beautiful Cross, you are my Throne, and since I have to leave the earth, you will remain in my place. To you I give all souls as dowry – keep them, save them; I entrust them to you!”14
We console Thee Jesus by allowing Thee to meet Thy Mother in our heart; and may Thou infuse in us the grace of finding joy in suffering.
Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance
And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said: “Father, in to thy hands I commend my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last. (Lk 22:45-46).“My Jesus, at this cry all nature is shaken and cries over your death – the death of its Creator! The earth trembles strongly; and with its trembling, it seems to be crying and wanting to shake up souls to recognize You as true God. The veil of the Temple is torn, the dead are risen; the sun, which until now had cried over your pains, has withdrawn its light with horror. At this cry, your enemies fall on their knees, and beating their breasts, they say: “Truly He is the Son of God.” And your Mother, petrified and dying, suffers pains harder than death.”15
O Beloved crucify my will and let me die with Thee, so that together with Thee I might come to be resurrected in the Sanctity of Thy Will.
Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him.” (Mk 16:5-6).“But do you want to know where is the real resurrection of the creature? Not in the end of her days, but while she is still living on earth. One who lives in my Will rises again to light and says: 'my night is over.' She rises again in the love of her Creator, so that there is no more cold or snow for her, but the smile of the Heavenly Spring… Therefore, one who lives in my Will can say, as the Angel said to the holy women on the way to the sepulchre, ‘He is risen. He is not here anymore.’ One who lives in my Will can also say, ‘my will is not with me any longer - it is risen again in the Fiat.’”16
Clothe us and all souls in the light and joy of Thy Resurrection victory.
Fruit of the Mystery: Hope
Then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into Heaven and took his seat at God’s right hand. (Mk 15:15).“Daughter of my Will, as your Jesus said, in descending from Heaven to earth - ‘I leave and I stay’; when He ascended into Heaven He said - ‘I stay and I leave.’ My word repeats upon descending as Sacrament in the creatures - ‘I leave and I remain in the Tabernacles.’ In the same way, the creature who lives in my Will can repeat my word in all her acts…Therefore, in all truth, she can say: ‘I leave and I stay. I leave for Heaven to beatify It, to reach my home and to make known to everyone my dear Jesus, Whom I enclosed in my act so that all may enjoy Him and love Him. I stay on earth, as my life, support and defence for all my brothers and sisters.’ How beautiful is one act in my Will!”17
Hiding in the cloud of Thy ascension we wrap ourselves with the consoling dew of Thy promise: “I am with thee always…”
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God
And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4).“Then the time came for the descent of the Holy Spirit, promised by my Son, in the cenacle. What a transformation, my child. As they were invested, they acquired new science, invincible strength, and ardent love. A new life flowed within them, which rendered them intrepid and courageous, in such a way that they scattered throughout the whole world to make Redemption known… And I will make the Holy Spirit descend into your soul that He may burn away from you all that is human; and by His refreshing breath, He may rule over you and confirm you in the Divine Will.”18
O Virginal Mother and Bride of the Spirit, pour the Living Fire of the Holy Ghost into our hearts, so that love may be set in order within us.
Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death
You are the glory of Jerusalem…you are the splendid boast of our people…God is pleased with what you have wrought. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty forever and ever. (Judith 15:9-10).“‘My daughter, the true name of this Feast should be Feast of the Divine Will. It was the human will that closed Heaven…and put an end to the feast that the creature was to enjoy in Heaven. Now, this creature, Queen of all, by doing the Will of the Eternal One always and in everything – even more, it can be said that Her life was Divine Will alone – opened the Heavens…and restored in Heaven the feasts with the creature. Every act She did in the Supreme Will was a feast that She started in Heaven, it was suns that She formed to adorn this feast, it was melodies that She sent to delight the Celestial Jerusalem. So, the true cause of this feast is the Eternal Will operating and fulfilled in my Celestial Mama. It operated such prodigies in Her as to astonish Heaven and earth…The very Angels, enraptured, repeated among themselves: ‘From where comes so much glory, so much honour, such greatness and prodigies never before seen, in this excelling Creature? Yet, it is from the exile that She is coming.’ Astonished, they recognized the Will of their Creator as Life operating in Her; and, trembling, they said: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy - honour and glory to the Will of Our Sovereign Lord. And glory, and thrice Holy - She who let this Supreme Will operate.’”19
Taking the perfume of Thy Assumption we fragrance all souls, so that the Trinity may experience anew this Feast of Thy Assumption in all.
Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in Mary’s Intercession
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Rev 12:1).
“As I gave my last breath of pure love in the endlessness of the Divine Will, my Son received Me in His arms and took Me to Heaven, in the midst of the angelic choirs that sang praise to their Queen. I can say that Heaven emptied Itself to come to meet Me. All celebrated for Me, and in looking at Me, remained enraptured and said in chorus: “Who is She, who comes from the exile, all cleaving to Her Lord - all beautiful, all holy, with the sceptre of Queen? Her greatness is such that the Heavens have lowered themselves to receive Her. No other creature has entered these celestial regions so adorned and striking - so powerful as to hold supremacy over everything.”20
We ask O dearest Queen, that we wouldst come to reign together with Thee in the Kingdom of the Divine Will.
Saturday, 10 January 2015
The Role of Joseph in our Individual Sanctity
All homage be to thee O Virginal Father, O Vice-Regent of the Kingdom of God, O Spotless Lily and Supernal Cloud of Wisdom –St. Joseph. All praise be to Thee O Virginal Mother, O Celestial Queen of the Kingdom of God, O Resplendent Rose and Raging Fire of Love –my Mother. All glory and honour belongs solely to Thee O Beloved Jesus, O Divine King of the Kingdom of God, O Succulent Fruit and Bread of Delight –my Jesus. Amen.
Let us abandon the arrogant pursuits of our own human will, a will which seeks to craft a house and home of its own design for the souls own comfort and delight. For we yearn to live in the comfort and affordability (for being worldly is seemingly costless and easy) of the suburbs and towns of here bellow. Or else we may desire to build our house in one of the towns above, and such a house may be spiritual, and even in a most exalted town (that is degree of sanctity); yet even such a feat of craftsmanship is in vain when compared to the most sublime dwelling place that ever was, is and shall be: the Holy Family, the Holy House of Nazareth –the Place of Pure Marble Stone where the waters above are intimately one with the waters bellow.
But who can build this House of the Highest Sanctity within themselves? What hands can craft such genius divine, such beauty sublime? Indeed “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 127:1); for only God can build such a House, and only the Hands of His Divine Will can craft such a Masterpiece beyond the excellence of earth’s every wonder combined. This Holy House is the Divine Mansion, the Highest of the Supernal Temple’s and the eighth dwelling place beyond the sanctity of the seventh.
|An icon depicting Mary and Jesus with the Holy House of Nazareth|
Yet who is He whom God the Father chose to be His earthly-loving hands in flesh? Hands to build, craft and rule the Holy of Holies? ‘Twas the hands of He who whose hands were pure and knew not guile or the violence of bloodshed. To Solomon God appointed the task of building His House on earth –the Temple; for his hands were pure and innocent unlike David his father who killed many a man in battle. To Noah God appointed the task of building the refuge of the Ark, for his hands were righteous compared to the hands of every other man in his day. Yet who is He who was chosen to build and craft and rule God’s Holy House on earth, the Incarnate Abode of the Trinity? Joseph Most High. For God “made him” in fulfillment of the Joseph of old, “Lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions” (Ps 105:21). God Himself in Christ Jesus was obedient to Him as Lord.
What marvel! What awe! That God Himself would submit to Joseph as His Lord. Why is this so? Because God’s own Love filled the paternal heart of this Man so much so, that God could not resist but to subject Himself to the Loving demands of this heart of Joseph which loved Him so; for these holy demands were naught else but the perfect echo of the desires of God the Father Himself. Therefore what else is St. Joseph but the Living Mirror of the Father, for what God the Father is by nature, St. Joseph (in a unique way compared to any other creature, including the Virgin Mary, but excluding the Word in His humanity; since by nature the Word –both man and God- is one in Essence with the Father) is by grace. This is something which I cannot fathom. For yes both Mary and Joseph are by grace what God is by nature; yet in a special way the First Personage of the Trinity –God the Father- is in a sense incarnated in Joseph; just as the Third Personage of the Trinity –God the Spirit- is in a sense incarnated in Mary in a special and distinctly unique way.
Now if Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace, meaning that She is the one who dispenses grace, and through whom all graces flow (from the Father, in Jesus, by the Holy Spirit); then Joseph as Her Virginal Spouse and as “ruler of all his [God’s] possessions”, must be the Protector, Guardian, Steward, Co-Owner and Treasurer of grace itself. If Mary is the Treasure Chest in whom graces are stored, then Joseph is the one with the key to that chest. If Mary is the stream through whom graces flow to all souls, then Joseph is the channel which determines the method and journey that such a stream will flow. If Mary is the vessel, then Joseph is the empty space which allows this vessel to be filled with grace. Indeed Mary is the Holy House of Nazareth, and Joseph is the head and master of this House, the very House in whom the Child Jesus lived and grew up in.
|Offering of the First of the First Fruits|
As it reads in Exodus: “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” (Ex 23:19). The Lord Jesus is Himself ‘the first of the first fruits’ because He is “the first-born of all creation” (Col 1:15b) and “the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18b). Now it is interesting that the command of God given to Moses reads: ‘of your ground’ as opposed to ‘of the ground’ or ‘from the ground’. Wherefore we can come to one understanding of this passage as follows: that ‘of your ground’ refers to the soul itself, which without God is naught but nothingness, naught but barren ground. So when God speaks of “the first of the first fruits of your ground” it can be understood to mean: ‘The Infant Jesus who lives in your soul.’ The latter half of the verse: “you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” can be understood to mean: ‘you shall bring into the spousal union and parentage of Mary and Joseph.’ Interpreting this command of old we receive the same command yet in a fulfilled newness. Note that this is a command and not a gentle pietistic suggestion: “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God”; or in other words: ‘The Infant Jesus who lives in your soul you shall bring into the spousal union and parentage of Mary and Joseph.’ This means that if we want to become perfect and reach that highest sanctity of Living in God’s Will –living in the Holy House of Nazareth, in hidden obscurity- then we must entrust the life of Jesus in us –that is our very own sanctity- to Mary and Joseph. We must consecrate ourselves to them and implore their aid. There is no need to labour in building a house of our own sanctity, in the complex and grandiose manner we naturally desire. This is because true and perfect sanctity cannot be built by human hands that are impure and sinful, and nor is such authentic sanctity complex or grandiose –but rather simple, child-like and obscure and ordinary: just like the Holy Family; the most saintly persons to ever dwell on earth, and the most despised, rejected, ignored and obscure.
Now besides the fact that we cannot build the house of our own sanctity, we do not need to, nor have to, because the House has already being built, for Mary is the House of Perfect Sanctity –the shortcut to holiness and perfect means of living in union with Jesus the Divine Will Incarnate. Meanwhile Joseph is the Master Builder, and it is ‘primarily’ God the Father who works in, with and through Him in every work He does. Joseph can be said to have built the Holy House who is Mary, in the sense that because of Joseph’s Fiat –to be a virginal spouse of Mary and father of the Son of God- Mary was able to house Jesus not only in Her fleshly womb, but in the abode of being the Mother of God, as well as in the physical dwellings where Jesus grew up. It is as if Mary’s Fiat provided the materials for the House of Nazareth or House of the Incarnation to be built, whilst Joseph’s Fiat permitted such a sublime reality to be built. Since therefore, that this Holy House exists, all we must do is strive to become perpetual residents in this House. For here Jesus will grow inside one’s soul, and thus these words shall be fulfilled within you: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).
Wednesday, 7 January 2015
We are finite creatures with finite minds. We are only capable of understanding things in a human way until our minds have been transformed to possess and think with the Mind of Christ. Indeed this transformation is ongoing, and St. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Ephesians: “be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (4:23). Even the evangelical counsels accommodate themselves to our human mode of thinking; for the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, are spoken of in the negative sense, because otherwise we would be likely to misinterpret what they truly mean.
|Allegory of Poverty (detail) by Giotto di Bondone|
What then is the vow of poverty? It involves detachment from all goods, both interior and exterior, spiritual and temporal; and it consists of a lowly disposition that is empty of self and thus rightly ‘poor in spirit’. He who makes this vow renounces the ordinary means of obtaining and sustaining a livelihood, and relies on Divine Providence. But understood in the positive sense, what is the vow of poverty? It is the vow of celestial luxury and wealth; for what are we really forsaking when we let go of our attachment and possession of temporal and spiritual goods? We are letting go of nothingness. But what is it that we are embracing through the vow of poverty? God Himself, He who like the Levites of old, is our inheritance. So it is that by making the vow of poverty, we are really making the vow of celestial luxury and wealth; for though poor we are rich –filthy rich- in Christ.
|Allegory of chastity by Hans Memling|
What then is the vow of chastity? It involves abstaining from a sexual relationship as enjoyed by those in the marital state; and involves living a life solely dedicated to the service of God and ones neighbour in accordance with the active or contemplative state. Yet in its positive form, what is the vow of chastity? It is the vow of pure intimacy, since in making and living out the vow of chastity one is free to pursue a most profoundly intimate relationship with God by being His spouse. Such freedom of intimacy with God enables one to be chastely intimate with all the members of Christ’s Body, since in Spirit one is called to be a mother, a brother, a father, a sister and friend to all: both in active ministry and in prayer. Thus although one forgoes the opportunity to be a spouse, and to be a father or a mother of many children in the flesh; through the vow of chastity –the vow of pure intimacy- one becomes a spouse to the Beloved, and a beloved to the Spouse; whilst becoming a spiritual father and mother to the souls of countless individuals, whom one’s prayers and counsels -by the power of the Holy Spirit- have birthed, nourished and instructed. So what does one loose by making such a vow? Nothingness in comparison to that which one gains, a gain perceived only through faith.
|Allegory of Obedience by Giotto di Bondone|
What then is the vow obedience? It involves the surrender of one’s will and the freedom to do as one pleases, so as to follow the Will of God as manifested in and through the Church, one’s superior, one’s rule of life, one’s community, and one’s charism. Yet what is the vow of obedience in its positive form? It is the vow of freedom, total and complete freedom, for through living out this vow one perpetually enacts the greatest act of freedom: that of laying down one’s life due to one’s happy and willing consent, due to one’s ‘fiat’. This is exactly what Christ Himself did, for “he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8) and this He did with total freedom, a freedom beyond our comprehension. For as our Lord said concerning the laying down of His life, and words which those who take the vow of obedience make their own: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (Jn 10:18). But how can one be free when they cannot do what they want? But that is the key; for although the one who makes the vow of obedience may desire on one level to do something they’re unable to, their deepest and firmest desire –a desire which endures- is to do and abide in the Will of God; for this is the desire of he who truly takes the vow of obedience from his heart. Thus in paraphrasing the words of Augustine, such a man does what he pleases whilst fulfilling the Will of God: that Will which is Love and Mercy itself. Indeed how glad it makes the soul to know she is doing the Will of God, and this joy is guaranteed so long as she remains faithful to her vow of obedience. It is true that all of those who would be saved, must pass through the narrow door of obedience; yet those who make the vow of obedience pass through an even narrower door; and this is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, for this is the way He took, and is the way of the Holy Family. So what is it that one loses through making this vow? One loses the false-freedom of following the whim of one’s own will in selfishness, and gains the true-freedom that comes from following the whim of one’s own will in loving God and the Divine Will.
So what lives ought we to be living if we are living the evangelical counsels? Lives of poverty, chastity and obedience, this is true. But this is spiritually to say the same thing as living lives of luxury, pure intimacy and freedom. Let us be faithful then to our vows, and let us keep in mind their true and hidden meaning: their positive and eternal meaning.
© Little Eucharistic Brothers of Divine Will, 2015. Permission granted to use, copy and distribute in any format for non-commercial, educational and spiritual use.