(During her retreat before profession) September 4, 1890. The heavenly music falls but faintly on the ear of your child, and it has been a dreary journey towards her Bridal Day. It is true her Betrothed has led her through fertile lands and gorgeous scenery, but the dark night has prevented her admiring, much less revelling in, the beauty all around. Perhaps you think this grieved her. Oh, no! she is happy to follow her Betrothed for His own sake, and not for the sake of His gifts. He is so ravishingly beautiful, even when silent--even when concealed. Weary of earthly consolation, your little child wishes for her Beloved alone. I believe that the work of Jesus during this retreat has been to detach me from everything but Himself. My only comfort is the exceeding strength and peace that is mine. Besides, I hope to be just what He wills I should be, and in this lies all my happiness. Did you but know how great is my joy at giving pleasure to Jesus through being utterly deprived of all joy! . . . . Truly this is the very refinement of all joy--joy we do not feel.
The Lenten readings are growing darker as Jesus approaches His hour
In Wisdom 2, we read:
The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright…
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
The Gospel of John, too, sounds an ominous note:
“Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near…But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.” John 7:1,10
Why did things have to go this way. Why the rejection? Why the Cross? And while we’re questioning; why do they sour for us?
Today, Fr. Michael, faced with these questions, asked one of his own (I’m paraphrasing.) Who made us judge and jury? Who confirmed us in our righteousness; which is, if honest, our self-righteousness?”
The Gospel of Light treads a path through every darkness and Darkness, itself. Without the stuff of darkness, weakness, war, tragedy and desperate dilemma, we go unchallenged, self-satisfied. We pursue our dreams and go willy-nilly, perhaps, even, to our own dissolution, seeing only the darkness around us, and none within. What we don’t like of Gospel or Church, we ignore or eliminate from our daily lives. “Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”
Until the unthinkable forces itself upon us and our decisions, we are content not to think but to ride the fence. The problems remain out there with “them.” If we do take a stand and speak the Gospel truth, we find what Jesus found: rejection and betrayal, even from within our families, the cruelest blow. It might not be explicit. It may be that no one has time to visit. Perhaps, the grand-kids are withheld and holidays less joyful. How doesn’t matter so much as that it happens. We are left on our Cross.
What to do? Look first to yourself. Question your ways and your motives. Repent, is the Gospel word for it. Then pray and wait. Wait upon God; first of all with praise and adoration, thanksgiving, and finally with petition. Place all the rest, loves ones and world, in the Tabernacle with the Lamb who was Slain and still lives. Then go on; “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” This is the Way until the end of the world and the coming of the Day.
From the Office of Readings – for Friday of fourth week of Lent from Easter Letter of Athanasias:
How fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed.