Man as Bride

In Scripture, the analogy used most often to describe God’s love for humanity is spousal.  He is the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are the Bride.

I have always thought that this might be easier for women to understand than men. We “get” being brides.

How do men understand that they too, are brides?

 The key lies in receptivity.

 

silhouette of man and woman during sunset

The story of God creating the first man and the first woman can give some insight.  

“So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.  When he brought her to the man, the man said:, ‘This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called woman, for out of man this one has been taken.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body.” (Genesis 2:21-24)

Man’s receptivity is here in these verses.  First, he is cast into a deep sleep, which symbolizes his vulnerability and deep trust of God. He rests in his loving relationship with Him.

Then, God ordains that it is the place in man which guards his heart- his rib, that should be taken out.  Now, man is open and vulnerable.  Now the one who will end his loneliness, the woman, has a place to enter his heart.

And he is open to giving it. He allows God to take it.

And it is from this very rib taken out, that she is built up.

She’s created from his offering to give up his guarded place.

She is alive because of him.

God uses what man has given up in trust- his sacrificial gift of his rib which makes him vulnerable- to create someone new who can give herself back to him!

When they first see each other- they are ecstatic! Finally, a place to be gift!  Finally a place to be gift and receptivity all at the same time.

And the giving and the receiving create union and love between the two.  

And together, even in man, they know how to be God’s bride.

Together they receive God’s gift of love and give it back.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

  

 

RISK

In my rich pride

I think it prudent to hide

The stuff in my old haughty heart

The mask is called fear

Of what vulnerability would make clear-

Of what’s broken and fallen apart

 

Heart of Jesus

You say, “Give it to me…

And then you will see

The hundredfold reward in its place”

“Press your wounds into Mine

Crushed grapes into wine

The risk will make room for the grace”

“Give me every last shred

Give me all that you dread

Follow me wherever I go”

My haughty heart’s gone

I’m free to belong

To the One Gift I risk all to know.

Sentinel Type Waiting

Today’s responsorial psalm is about waiting- some thoughts about the gift it can be….

Gifts Into Flame Ministry

“I trust in the Lord

My soul trusts in His word

My soul waits for the Lord

More than sentinels wait for the dawn” (Psalm 130:6)

Docility, St Thomas Aquinas tells us, is one of the integral parts in the discerning task of prudence (deciding the right thing to do).  It means knowing how to listen, so that we can be teachable.

Sentinels needed to be docile and ready- ready to listen. Yes for every stir or sound

’round the place of their guard. 

And night shift sentinels had an added challenge.  Darkness surrounded them.  They needed to be still to hear the slightest sounds.  They had to be prepared to receive the circumstances around them.

And as the night wore on, they tired as they waited.  They longed for those first rays of light on the horizon.  The promise that they might see and might be able to find…

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Two Roads of Worship

 There always seems to be that fork in the road.  And we’re given a choice, and a chance.

One road leads here.  It’s called The Real Absence, and it’s crowded with travelers.

Monstrance Empty

Beautiful isn’t it?  Lots of shine, lots of gold.  Jewels and many rays of light.

On this road, Real Absence,  our eyes are focused solely on the world

and it’s destination leads us straight into nothing.

There is no One at it’s center…nothing to keep us grounded.  So we’re free to worship all that’s around it.

 Speedily we race to beat time, and to beat each other…like rays reaching out to grasp and possess.   With no Compass for a Guide, we’re taken in by all life’s golden distractions: material things, comforts and ease every kind, earthly pleasures and possessions,  even people that we idolize.

Restlessness resides at every jeweled twist and turn

as we worship along the road of Real Absence.

Nothing holds it together.  It’s center is emptiness. Real Absence.

 

But  today I chose the road less traveled.  

It lead me here. And it’s Name is The Real Presence.

monstrance-with-host.jpg

At first glance, it might look like nothing new: same gold, jewels, and rays of light

…but wait.

Something, Someone seems to be holding it all together.

 Rays of light shine from Him, and once you find this Center,

you can’t keep your eyes off of Him.

Nothing outside of Him fills your heart like He does. You become still.

 You’re satisfied, purified, mesmerized.  The world and all its “bling”hold no attraction any more.  No more need for racing along twisted turns. Those on this road with you all have their hearts sent on Him.  No more competition or grasping. And somehow everything around Him makes more sense, and has it’s proper place.

So this is the road you just stop on.  He’s the journey and the destination.

He’s found you upon it.  And He will not lead you astray.  

Take the road less traveled today and see where it leads you in worship…

He waits for you to be under His Gaze and find peace in

The Real Presence.

 

Stone Rejected

Moses struck the rock in the desert

To quench an Israelite thirst

Even though their complaints rise, they grumble

Still He always loves first.

Christ comes to be, the True Rock Redeemer

Cornerstone builders reject

Spear-struck to pour out the Blood and the Water

For thirst He would never neglect

Sing out my soul in praise of this Rock

Draw near to drink and be still

Grumbling is over, desert long past

Now you are one with HIs Will!

 

 

 

 

 

Loss of Life in Lent

A Reflection on Luke 9: 23-25

“Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

 

Show me how to lose my life

Let it enter Yours

Invitation- death to self

Your Heart an open door.

Contrary to my first response

To save myself from pain

Grant me the grace to take Your hand

To see this loss as gain

Here it is, my Lord, my God

My daily cross and strife

Within Your Heart I find myself

Loss becomes new life!

The Other Side of Ashes

It will be smeared on my forehead this Wednesday.

 That messy ash. That smudge to mark me.  As a follower of Christ.

Not to mention- it means the start of Lent.  The penance, the pruning, the picking up of crosses.

 All to be a follower of Christ.

Ashes there to remind me.  I’ll return to the dust.  This side of life is short. Better hope the smudge wears off before too many see.

I have to admit to being fooled into thinking that real beauty is only what is pleasing to the senses and  what looks good on the outside right now.  And not that those aren’t wonderful and good things:  The smell of a rose.  The sight of a beautiful face.  The mysterious landscape in a painting.

But sometimes life is messy.  And circumstances repulsive to me.  I don’t move toward them but run away…even from myself.  I don’t see beauty on my face  at all- just smudged on ashes on my face.  Just me returning to dust.

But I’ve also lived through too many Lents now.  I know how this works out.  I’ve seen those black ashes can become beauty….that smudge become my path to glory.

And it’s worth the work to push on through to the other side of ashes.

What’s on the other side of ashes?  Resurrection. Glory. Beauty. And Light. There’s only one way to do the work of black ashes into beauty.  Mostly I don’t “work” at all.  Surrender is the key….surrendering that mess to the One who came to transform it.

 Do I believe He can love me enough this year, to meet me here in ashes?

I do.  That’s what we say at a wedding.  I do believe He loves me.  I do believe He can transform this lowly body into a glorified one. (Phillipians 3:21)  I do believe He can take me to the other side of ashes.

40 Days will bring me there.  I wonder what He has in store for me this year.

 I wonder what the smudge will teach me- about Him, about myself and about others.

But more than anything else, I’ll wonder about the other side of ashes.

 Where I’ll see Him, me, everyone, and everything in radiant beauty and glory.

See you on the other side.

 

 

 

 

New Show to Air on Primetime TV: “American Icon”

Primetime TV is getting ready to launch a new series displaying the gifts and talents of the Holy Spirit in unique and unrepeatable persons.

 The show is entitled “American Icon”

and showcases the flame of the Third Person of the Trinity as seen through individuals who serve as icons through which we see God.

Judges will be called Receptors, who view the icons and then lead American’s viewers in commenting on the distinct ways fans can receive the gift of God as seen through the icon.

 American Icons’ participants will prepare for the show

with a deep interior prayer life and with grace from the sacraments.

These icons will sing, paint, dance, and act in a free gift of self that displays hitherto unforeseen beauty and glory.  As unique performers on the stage of life, their death to self will be evident.  The audience where the show will air is expected to have appear to them “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3) and all may even begin to speak in different languages as the Holy Spirit enables them to proclaim. (Acts 2:4)

 Many will be astounded and amazed.  Many will be brought to closer union with God.

It will be no different with at home TV audiences.  The presence of the Holy Spirit and His power will be evident no matter where American screens are being watched- by TV, phone or computer. No heart will be forsaken or abandoned.  Whether alone or in groups, people will experience the heavens opening and a voice calling them to beloved relationship.

Icons by definition are considered to be a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance to it.

Not to be confused with icons found on your computer, these human person icons will be a sign of Almighty God.

 No longer will the American public be encouraged to venerate at an “American Idol”- which stops at a created image and worships that alone.  These new American Icons will bring the world into the transcendent realities,

simply by pointing to God instead of themselves.

How will viewers know not to stop at an icon’s gifts and talents on display?  Humility.  In each icon will be a fullness of this virtue.  Their souls will magnify the Lord, not themselves, much like Mary.   A certain light will pour out of them as they offer their work and this gift will stream forth from them.

 As persons embodied with a spirit, both the icon and the icon’s viewer will know God. All participants will be considered winners in their respective gift/talent category.

This will begin a new era in media.

 The strength of the programming is expected to carry over into other countries and other forms of media.  The Beauty that is given and received will literally save the world.  As popularity grows, the Kingdom of God will draw closer.

Christ Himself will be so in love with the humility He finds on the earth, that He is likely to come again!  He came the first time because of the perfect humility of the handmaid of the Lord, who was so open to receive Him, that He could not resist coming to rest in her Immaculate Heart and Womb.

His Second Coming will be the same, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.(Hebrews 13:8)

Rejoice! The Holy Spirit is already at work, prompting souls to sign up for this new project.

 Icons are already preparing themselves to be gift.

Tune in and be ready to let the Holy Spirit intoxicate you!

  America’s icons will renew the face of the earth!

 

Couriers of Grace: My Daughter, the Sacraments and a Surprising Walk of Faith by Nancy Jo Sullivan

Tangible, real signs of God’s love-

these are the children that God gives as gifts to the family.

Tangible, real signs of God’s love as well –

these are the seven sacraments of the Catholic Faith.

Any parent will tell you, as Nancy Jo Sullivan does, that children are our pathways to sanctity.  And inevitably, the ones who present us the most challenges, are the very ones who purify us the most— if we allow God make Himself known through them.

Similarly, for the body as well as the soul, Our Creator has instituted the seven sacraments and has found a way for us to receive His powerful presence in our lives.  At these special times, He intervenes with His grace.

And Nancy Jo Sullivan shows us how the two –

children and sacrament- are together, a great walk of faith.

In Couriers of Grace, My Daughter, the Sacraments, and a Surprising Walk of Faith, Sullivan weaves the beautiful story of her life as a mother, in and out of all seven sacraments.  Sullivan’s firstborn Sarah, is perhaps her greatest professor of love.  Unexpectedly born with Downs Syndrome, Sarah’s innocence and purity of heart, open up new pathways to hearing God speak, even if it means painful struggle and trial.

A lover of fairy tales and the glories of a Kingdom,  little Sarah, the Princess is baptized and saved.  Her mother recalls a near drowning experience of her own as a child, and is given a certain closure in her understanding of dying and rising to new life.

Little Sarah’s stuttering encouragement to “f-f-forgive” bring her mom back to confession, after spending years away. And even when families are broken, (Sullivan experiences a painful break up of her marriage) she sees how they still come together, to celebrate Mass week by week.  It is Sarah’s twirls down the communion aisle,  to receive her Bridegroom Prince that teaches Sullivan and her readers that we are indeed called to be bride!

As sacraments are received through the beauty of ordained priesthood, Sullivan embraces and also struggles with those whom God has chosen for this vocation.  In men who truly are the face of Christ to her in spiritual direction and who treat Sarah with incredible dignity as a person, she is able to reconcile conflicting feelings. Though the Church and even the priesthood itself is not immune from the diseases of sin, Christ is in our midst to heal us!   A lay worker in the Church’s vineyard herself, Sullivan comes to understand her call to “everyday priesthood” – to be priest, prophet and king, living the truth of Christ in her family and in her work.

And even through the painful loss of little Sarah, whose body was created to be here on earth just for a time, Sullivan is given an increase in grace, as God makes Himself known through the tears.  Sullivan witnesses Sarah’s fear of death dissipate as she becomes  certain that she is going to leave earth to see “her Prince”.    She blesses her mother’s forehead-  almost as an “anointing of the sick” for them both, and falls asleep peacefully….only weeks later to rest in peace for all time.

Tangible real signs of God’s love- our children and our Church in her sacraments.  Sullivan shares the beauty of her walk of faith, which comes from them both… and the lessons that emerged as she contemplated their depth.

This book is a gift to any parent raising children, especially in faithfulness to our promises to pass on the Catholic faith to their hearts.

So often we think they will be the only recipients

as we strive to make sure they are covered in the graces the sacraments offer.

But as so often happens in our relationship with God, He surprises us with His generosity and love.

We find we’re the ones who grow in knowledge of His power.

 We’re the ones who are doubly blessed!