Pope Benedict XVI: November 2010 Archives

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Wednesday, 17 November 2010, General Audience Pope Benedict XVI


You can imagine my joy upon reading the Holy Father's latest catechesis, and his allusion to the "Eucharistic springtime" in the Church. Our little Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle joins the practice of daily adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament to a traditional Benedictine observance. Our watches of adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus are offered for priests: for their sanctification and their deliverance from evil, and in reparation for the many sins that have disfigured the Face of Christ the Priest. The Holy Father's teaching speaks to our particular vocation at many levels.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Woman at the Origin of the Feast of Corpus Christi

This morning, too, I would like to present to you a little-known woman to whom, however, the Church owes great recognition, not only because of the holiness of her life, but also because, with her great fervor, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important liturgical solemnities of the year, that of Corpus Christi. She is St. Juliana of Cornillon, known also as St. Juliana of Liege. We have certain details of her life above all from a biography probably written by an ecclesiastic contemporary of hers, in which are gathered several testimonies from people who knew the saint directly.

A Eucharistic Cenacle

Juliana was born between 1191 and 1192 in the neighborhood of Liege, in Belgium. It is important to stress this place, because at that time the Diocese of Liege was, so to speak, a true "Eucharistic cenacle." Before Juliana, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the sacrament of the Eucharist and, always at Liege, there were women's groups generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Led by exemplary priests, they lived together, dedicating themselves to prayer and to charitable works.

Lo, I Am With You Always

Orphaned at 5 years of age, Juliana and her sister Agnes were entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns of the convent-leper hospital of Mont Cornillon. She was educated above all by a sister named Sapienza, who followed her spiritual maturation, until Juliana herself received the religious habit and became as well an Augustinian nun. She acquired notable learning, to the point that she read the works of the Fathers of the Church in Latin, in particular St. Augustine and St. Bernard. In addition to keen intelligence, Juliana showed from the beginning a particular propensity for contemplation; she had a profound sense of the presence of Christ, which she experienced by living in a particularly intense way the sacrament of the Eucharist and pausing often to meditate on the words of Jesus: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

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The Vision

At 16 she had her first vision, which was then repeated many times in her Eucharistic adorations. The vision showed the moon in its full splendor, with a dark strip that crossed it diametrically. The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth; but the opaque line represented the absence of a liturgical feast. Juliana was asked to do her utmost in an effective way to bring about its institution: a feast, namely, in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist to increase their faith, advance in the practice of virtue and make reparation for offenses to the Most Holy Sacrament.

For about 20 years Juliana, who in the meantime had become prioress of the convent, kept secret this revelation, which had filled her heart with joy. Then she confided in two other fervent adorers of the Eucharist, Blessed Eva, who led an eremitical life, and Isabella, who had joined her in the monastery of Mont Cornillon. The three women established a sort of "spiritual alliance" for the purpose of glorifying the Most Holy Sacrament. They wished to involve also a much esteemed priest, John of Lausanne, canon of the church of St. Martin in Liege, asking him to question theologians and ecclesiastics about what they had in their hearts. The answers were positive and encouraging.

Friendship and Encounters With Other Good Souls

What happened to Juliana of Cornillon is frequently repeated in the life of saints: to have the confirmation that an inspiration comes from God, it is always necessary to be immersed in prayer, to be able to wait with patience, to seek friendship and encounters with other good souls, and to subject everything to the judgment of the pastors of the Church. It was, in fact, the bishop of Liege, Robert of Thourotte, who, after initial hesitations, took up this proposal from Juliana and her companions, and instituted, for the first time, the solemnity of Corpus Domini in his diocese. Later, other bishops imitated him, establishing the same feast in territories entrusted to their pastoral care.

Death in the Presence of the Divine Sacrament

To saints, however, the Lord often asks that they overcome trials, so that their faith is enhanced. This happened also to Juliana, who had to suffer the harsh opposition of some members of the clergy and even of the superior on whom her monastery depended. Then, of her own volition, Juliana left the convent of Mont Cornillon with some companions, and for 10 years, from 1248 to 1258, was a guest of several monasteries of Cistercian Sisters. She edified everyone with her humility; she never had words of criticism or rebuke for her adversaries, but continued to spread with zeal Eucharistic worship. She died in 1258 in Fosses-La-Ville, in Belgium. In the cell where she lay the Most Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to the words of her biographer, Juliana died contemplating with a last outburst of love the Eucharistic Jesus, whom she had always loved, honored and adored.

Corpus Domini and Pope Urban IV

Won over also to the good cause of the feast of Corpus Domini was Giacomo Pantaleon of Troyes, who had known the saint during his ministry as archdeacon in Liege. He, in fact, having become Pope in 1264 and taking the name Urban IV, instituted the solemnity of Corpus Domini as a feast of obligation for the universal Church, the Thursday after Pentecost. In the Bull of institution, titled "Transiturus de hoc mundo" (Aug. 11, 1264), Pope Urban also re-evoked with discretion the mystical experiences of Juliana, giving value to their authenticity. He wrote: "Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we hold it right that, at least once a year, there be a more honored and solemn memoria of it. The other things, in fact, of which we make memoria, we do so with the spirit and with the mind, but we do not obtain, because of this, their real presence. On the other hand, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, Jesus Christ is present with us in his substance, even if under another form. In fact, while he was about to ascend to heaven he said: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

MIracle of Bolsena

The Pontiff himself wished to give an example, celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Domini in Orvieto, the city where he then dwelled. By his order, in fact, the famous corporal with the traces of the Eucharistic miracle that happened the previous year, in 1263, in Bolsena, is the kept in the cathedral of the city -- and it is still kept there. [The miracle was this:] While a priest consecrated the bread and the wine, he was prey to strong doubts about the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Miraculously some drops of blood began to spurt from the consecrated Host, confirming in that way what our faith professes. Urban IV asked one of the greatest theologians of history, St. Thomas Aquinas -- who at that time was accompanying the Pope and was in Orvieto -- to compose texts of the liturgical office for this great feast. These are masterpieces in which theology and poetry fuse, still in use today in the Church. They are texts that make the cords of the heart vibrate to express praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the intelligence, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the living and true presence of Jesus, of his sacrifice of love that reconciles us with the Father, and gives us salvation.

Even if after the death of Urban IV the celebration of the feast of Corpus Domini was limited to some regions of France, Germany, Hungary and northern Italy, it was again a Pontiff, John XXII, who in 1317 revived it for the whole Church. Henceforth the feast experienced a wonderful development, and is still much appreciated by the Christian people.

A Eucharistic Springtime

I would like to affirm with joy that today in the Church there is a "Eucharistic springtime": How many persons pause silently before the Tabernacle to spend time in a conversation of love with Jesus! It is consoling to know that not a few groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament. I am thinking, for example, of our Eucharistic adoration in Hyde Park, in London.

An Inexhaustible Source of Holiness

I pray so that this Eucharistic "springtime" will spread increasingly in every parish, in particular in Belgium, the homeland of St. Juliana. The Venerable John Paul II, in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," said: "In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it. Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might also be mentioned" (No. 10).

Christ Present in a True, Real and Substantial Way

Remembering St. Juliana of Cornillon we also renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we are taught by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man" (No. 282).

Through Our Gazing in Adoration

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Eucharistic Christ in Sunday's Holy Mass is essential for the journey of faith, but let us try as well to frequently go to visit the Lord present in the Tabernacle! Gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of the love of God, we discover the passion and the cross of Jesus, and also his Resurrection. Precisely through our gazing in adoration, the Lord draws us to himself, into his mystery, to transform us as he transforms the bread and wine. The saints always found strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. With the words of the Eucharistic hymn "Adoro te devote," let us repeat before the Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament: "Make me believe ever more in You, that in You I may have hope, that I may love You!" Thank you.

Saint Francis and the Liturgy

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Franciscans and the Liturgy: A Benedictine Point of View

One doesn't, generally speaking, associate today's Franciscans with any remarkable zeal for the Sacred Liturgy. There are, of course, exceptions to this: I'm thinking, in particular of the Poor Ladies of Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, Virginia, where a warm and glowing love for the Sacred Liturgy has been fostered for many years. I'm thinking also of the Conventual Franciscan Friar at the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padova who authors a splendid Italian blog: Cantuale Antonianum. As for the Franciscans of the Immaculate, their commitment to the liturgical cause, in tandem with their outstanding zeal for a fervent and enlightened Marian piety, is well known.

We direct the clerics and priests who are not legitimately impeded to assemble as quickly as they can in the choir at the first sound of the bell in order to prepare their hearts for the Lord. There, with devotion, recollection, mortification, quiet and silence, let them bear in mind that they are before God where they should take up the angelic office of rendering the divine praises. We also instruct that the office be said with due devotion, attention, maturity, uniformity of voice and in harmony with the spirit, without frills or distractedly, and with the voice neither too high nor too low, but in between. The friars should strive to sing psalms to God more with the heart than with the mouth so that what our fair Saviour said of the Hebrews may not be said of us: "These people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." We direct that the lay friars assemble at the beginning of matins, vespers and compline, and at the Te Deum laudamus. After making their preparation in common, they may withdraw somewhere according to their devotion as the office is beginning and say the Our Fathers as the Rule imposes on them. We also direct those the lay friars and clerics not impeded for a just reason to come together for vespers and for all the Masses they can on all the feastdays. (1536 Constitutions of the Friars Minor Capuchin)

Choirs Minor

I am old enough to remember having heard Franciscans of various allegiances chant the Divine Office in choir in Latin. It was impressive. The Franciscans of the Atonement at Graymoor were particularly marked by a love for the Divine Office inherited from their founders -- both converts from Anglicanism -- Father Paul James Francis Watson and Mother Lurana Mary Francis White.

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The Conventual Franciscans (O.F..M., Conv.) had, in many places, a strong commitment to choral prayer and a somewhat higher standard of liturgical performance than that cultivated by the (O.F.M.) Friars Minor, although the latter are not entirely without a few strongholds of choral liturgical prayer in Italy and, of course, in the Holy Land.

The Capuchins, for their part, while reciting the Hours dutifully in choir, eschewed chant as a distraction and an impediment to recollection, and like so many movements of reform, invested more in the ways of mental prayer and a bracing asceticism than in choral liturgical prayer.

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The "Anti-Monastic" Prejudice

With the advent of the "peace and justice" enthusiasms of the 1970s, a serious commitment to choral liturgical prayer was judged, by many, incompatible with the "fundamental option for the poor" incumbent upon Franciscans in the post-conciliar age. Franciscans, Friars, Sisters, and even some Poor Clares, explored other non-liturgical or para-liturgical forms of prayer. Friaries and convents in which the complete cycle of the Hours was chanted in choir became extremely rare.

One must also identify a certain "anti-monastic" prejudice that has always dogged the mendicant Orders, and the Franciscans, in particular. The tired old refrain, "We are not monks," became a useful excuse from any form of consistent regular observance and choral liturgical prayer. Certain practices were identified as "too Benedictine" and swept aside in favour of a flawed notion of "simplicity" and "active participation." This, in spite of the fact, that the Romano-Seraphic liturgical books included the full array of resources necessary for an integral celebration of the Mass and Divine Office in Gregorian Chant.

Embracing the Holy Father's Vision

The Holy Father's choice of Saint Francis of Assisi as a model of liturgical piety is a clarion call, invited all followers of the Poverello to examine their commitment to a full, liturgical life, including the choral celebration of all the Hours. Magnificent early Franciscan liturgical manuscripts, described by the famous Franciscan liturgiologist, Father Stephan J. P. Van Dijk, O.F.M., attest to the importance attached to the Sacred Liturgy by the sons and daughters of the Seraphic Patriarch. Perhaps now, after more than forty years of alienation from the sources of an authentically Franciscan liturgical spirituality, the children of the Little Poor Man of Assisi may be ready to embrace the vision of Pope Benedict XVI as a passage "from the world to God."

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Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of Italy November 4, 2010

The Saints Never Fade Away

[...] 1. In these days you have gathered in Assisi, the city in which "a sun was born to the world" (Dante, Paradiso, Canto XI), proclaimed patron of Italy by venerable Pius XII: Saint Francis, who preserves intact his freshness and his relevance - the saints never fade away! - due to his being conformed totally to Christ, of whom he was a living icon.

Saint Francis and the Breviary

Like our own, the time in which Saint Francis lived was also marked by profound cultural transformations, fostered by the birth of the universities, by the rise of the townships and by the spread of new religious experiences.

Precisely in that season, thanks to the work of Pope Innocent III - the same from whom the Poverello of Assisi obtained his first canonical recognition - the Church undertook a profound liturgical reform.

Its highest expression is the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which numbers among its fruits the "Breviary." This book of prayer incorporated the richness of the theological reflection and prayer experience of the previous millennium. By adopting it, Saint Francis and his friars made their own the liturgical prayer of the Supreme Pontiff: in this way, the saint assiduously listened to and meditated on the Word of God, to the point of making it his own and then transposing it into the prayers he authored, and into all of his writings in general.

Transubstantiation

The Fourth Lateran Council itself, devoting particular attention to the sacrament of the altar, inserted into the profession of faith the term "transubstantiation," to affirm the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice: "His body and his blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the species of the bread and wine, because the bread is transubstantiated into the body and the wine into the blood by divine power" (DS, 802).

We adore you, Lord Jesus

From attending holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion with devotion arose the evangelical life of Saint Francis and his vocation to retrace the steps of Christ Crucified: "The Lord," we read in the Testament of 1226, "gave me such faith in churches that I would simply pray and say: We adore you, Lord Jesus, in all of your churches in the whole world, and we bless you, because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world" (Fonti Francescane, no. 111).

Reverence for Priests

This experience also gave rise to the great deference that he showed for priests, and his orders to the friars to respect them always and no matter what, "because I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world, if not his Most Holy Body and Blood that they alone consecrate, and they alone administer at the altars" (Fonti Francescane, no. 113).

The Mystery Celebrated and Adored

Before such a gift, dear brothers, what responsibility of life follows for each one of us! "Be mindful of your dignity, brother priests," Francis moreover urged, "and be holy, because he is holy!" (Letter to the General Chapter and to all of the friars, in Fonti Francescane, no. 220). Yes, the holiness of the Eucharist demands that one celebrate and adore this mystery mindful of its greatness, importance, and efficacy for Christian life, but it also demands purity, consistency, and holiness of life from each one of us, in order to be living witnesses of Christ's one sacrifice of love.

The saint of Assisi never stopped contemplating how "the Lord of the universe, God and Son of God, is so humble as to conceal himself, for our salvation, in the paltry appearance of bread" (ibid, no 221), and vehemently asked his friars: "I beg you, more than if I were doing it for myself, that you humbly beseech the priests that they venerate above all things the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Names and the words written of him that consecrate the body" (Letter to all the Custodians, in Fonti Francescane, no. 241).

The Liturgy: Veritatis Splendor

The authentic believer, in every time, experiences in the liturgy the presence, the primacy, and the work of God. It is "veritatis splendor" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 35), nuptial event, foretaste of the new and definitive city and participation in it; it is the bond between creation and redemption, heaven open to the earth of men, passage from the world to God; it is Pascha, in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is the soul of the Christian life, call to follow, reconciliation that moves to fraternal charity.

A Window that Opens Onto What Is Beyond Time

Dear brothers in the episcopate, your coming together places at the center of the work of the assembly an examination of the Italian translation of the third standard edition of the Roman Missal. The correspondence of the prayer of the Church (lex orandi) and the rule of faith (lex credendi) shapes the thought and sentiment of the Christian community, giving form to the Church, the body of Christ and temple of the Spirit. Human expression can never stand completely outside of its time, even when, as in the case of the liturgy, it constitutes a window that opens to what is beyond time. Giving expression to a perennially valid reality therefore demands a wise balancing of continuity and newness, of tradition and revitalization.

Every Reformer: Obedient to the Faith

The Missal itself takes its place within this process. Every true reformer, in fact, is obedient to the faith: he does not act in an arbitrary manner, he does not appropriate any discretion over the rite; he is not the owner, but the custodian of the treasury instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us. The whole Church is present in every liturgy: adhering to its form is a condition of authenticity for what is celebrated. [...]

From the Vatican, November 4, 2010
Benedict XVI

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To be enlightened and cleansed

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The Holy Father's Wednesday audience focused on the Carthusian nun, Marguerite d'Oingt. At the conclusion his discourse, the Holy Father said: "It is precisely this that we also need: to let the words, life and light of Christ enter our conscience so that it is enlightened, understands what is true and good and what is wrong; may our conscience be enlightened and cleansed. Rubbish is not only on different streets of the world. There is rubbish also in our consciences and in our souls. Only the light of the Lord, his strength and his love is what cleanses us, purifies us, showing us the right path." Strong words. Thank you, Most Holy Father!

Carthusian Spirituality

With Marguerite d'Oingt, of whom I would like to speak to you today, we are introduced to Carthusian spirituality, which is inspired in the evangelical synthesis lived and proposed by St. Bruno. We do not know her date of birth, although some place it around 1240. Marguerite came from a powerful family of the old nobility of Lyonnais, the Oingt. We know that her mother was also called Marguerite, that she had two brothers -- Giscard and Louis -- and three sisters: Catherine, Elizabeth and Agnes. The latter followed her to the Carthusian monastery, succeeding her as prioress.

Divine Solicitude

We have no information on her childhood, but through her writings we can intuit that she spent it peacefully, in an affectionate family environment. In fact, to express God's unbounded love, she valued images linked to the family, with particular reference to the figures of the father and mother. In one of her meditations she prays thus: "Very sweet Lord, when I think of the special graces that you have given me by your solicitude: first of all, how you took care of me since my childhood, and how you removed me from danger and called me to dedicate myself to your holy service, and how you provided everything that was necessary for me to eat, drink, dress and wear, (and you did so) in such a way that I had no occasion to think of these things but of your great mercy" (Marguerite d'Oingt, "Scritti Spirituali," Meditazione V, 100, Cinisello Balsamo, 1997, p. 74).

I Abandon Everything for Your Love

We always intuit in her meditations that she entered the Carthusian monastery of Poleteins in response to the Lord's call, leaving everything behind and accepting the severe Carthusian Rule, to belong totally to the Lord, to be with him always. She wrote: "Sweet Lord, I left my father and my mother and my siblings and all the things of this world for love of you; but this is very little, because the riches of this world are but thorns that prick; and the more they are possessed the more unfortunate one is. And because of this it seems to me that I left nothing other than misery and poverty; but you know, sweet Lord, that if I possessed thousands of worlds and could dispose of them as I pleased, I would abandon everything for your love; and even if you gave me everything that you possess in heaven and on earth, I would not consider myself satiated until I had you, because you are the life of my soul, I do not have and do not want to have a father and mother outside of you" (Ibid., Meditazione II, 32, p. 59).

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The Life of Christ

We also have little data on her life in the Carthusian monastery. We know that in 1288 she became its fourth prioress, a post she kept until her death, which took place on Feb. 11, 1310. From her writings, however, we do not deduce particular turns in her spiritual itinerary. She conceives the entirety of life as a journey of purification up to full configuration with Christ. He is the book that is written, which daily influences her heart and life, in particular his saving Passion. In the work "Speculum," referring to herself in the third person, Marguerite stresses that by the Lord's grace "she had engraved in her heart the holy life that Jesus Christ God led on earth, his good examples and his good doctrine. She had placed the sweet Jesus Christ so well in her heart, that it even seemed to her that he was present and that he had a closed book in his hand, to instruct her" (Ibid., I, 2-3, p. 81). "In this book she found written the life that Jesus Christ led on earth, from his birth to his ascension into heaven" (Ibid., I, 12, p. 83). Every day, beginning in the morning, Marguerite dedicated herself to the study of this book. And, when she had looked at it well, she began to read the book in her own conscience, which showed the falsehoods and lies of her own life (cf. Ibid., I, 6-7, p. 82); she wrote about herself to help others and to fix more deeply in her heart the grace of the presence of God, that is, to make her life every day marked by confrontation with the words and actions of Jesus, with the Book of his life. And she did this so that Christ's life would be imprinted in her soul in a stable and profound way, until she was able to see the Book in her interior, that is, until contemplating the mystery of God Trinity (cf. Ibid., II, 14-22; III, 23-40, p. 84-90).

Mystical Union Amidst the Cares of Life

Through her writings, Marguerite gives us some traces of her spirituality, enabling us to understand some features of her personality and of her gifts of governance. She was a very learned woman; she usually wrote in Latin, the language of the erudite, but she also wrote in Provençal French, and this too is a rarity: thus her writings are the first of those known to be written in that language. She lived a life rich in mystical experiences, described with simplicity, allowing one to intuit the ineffable mystery of God, stressing the limits of the mind to apprehend it and the inadequacy of the human language to express it. She had a lineal personality, simple, open, of gentle affectivity, great balance and acute discernment, able to enter into the depth of the human spirit, discovering its limits, its ambiguities, but also its aspirations, the soul's tensions toward God. She showed outstanding aptitude for governance, combining her profound mystical spiritual life with service to her sisters and to the community. Significant in this connection is a passage of a letter to her father. She wrote: "My sweet father, I let you know that I am very occupied because of the needs of our house, so that it is not possible for me to apply my spirit to good thoughts; in fact, I have so much to do I do not know which way to turn. We have not gathered wheat in the seventh month of the year and our vineyards were destroyed by the storm. Moreover, our church is in such poor conditions that we are obliged to reconstruct it in part" (Ibid., Lettere, III, 14, p. 127).

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An Affectivity Altogether Spiritual

A Carthusian nun thus describes the figure of Marguerite: "Revealed through her work is a fascinating personality, of lively intelligence, oriented to speculation and at the same time favored by mystical graces: in a word, a holy and wise woman who is able to express with a certain humor an affectivity altogether spiritual" (Una Monaca Certosina, Certosine, in Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, Rome, 1975, col. 777). In the dynamism of mystical life, Marguerite values the experience of natural affections, purified by grace, as privileged means to understand more profoundly and to second divine action with greater alacrity and ardor. The reason lies in the fact that the human person is created in the image of God, and because of this is called to build with God a wonderful history of love, allowing himself to be totally involved in his initiative.

The Hard Bed of the Cross

The God-Trinity, the God-love that reveals himself in Christ fascinated her, and Marguerite lived a relationship of profound love for the Lord and, in contrast, sees human ingratitude to the point of vileness, to the paradox of the cross. She says that the cross of Christ is similar to giving birth. Jesus' pain is compared with that of a mother. She wrote: "The mother who carried me in her womb suffered greatly in giving birth to me, during a day or a night, but you, most sweet Lord, were tormented for me not one night or one day, but for more than 30 years! [...] How bitterly you suffered because of me during your whole life! And when the moment of birth arrived, your work was so painful that your holy sweat became as drops of blood, which were shed over all your body to the ground" (Ibid., Meditazione I, 33, p. 59). Evoking the accounts of the Passion, Marguerite contemplated these sorrows with profound compassion. She said: "You were placed on the hard bed of the cross, so that you could not move or turn or wave your limbs as a man usually does when suffering great pain, because you were completely stretched and you were pierced with the nails [...] and [...] all your muscles and veins were lacerated. [...] But all these pains [....] were still not sufficient for you, so much so that you desired that your side be pierced so cruelly by the lance that your docile body should be totally ploughed and torn and your blood spurted with such violence that it formed a long path, almost as if it were a current." Referring to Mary, she said: It was no wonder that the sword that destroyed your body also penetrated the heart of your glorious Mother who so wanted to support you [...] because your love was higher than all other loves" (Ibid., Meditazione II, 36-39.42, p. 60f).

The Remembrance of Christ's Most Holy Passion

Dear friends, Marguerite d'Oingt invites us to meditate daily on the life of sorrow and love of Jesus and of his mother, Mary. Here is our hope, the meaning of our existence. From contemplation of Christ's love for us are born the strength and joy to respond with the same love, placing our life at the service of God and of others. With Marguerite we also say: "Sweet Lord, all that you did, for love of me and of the whole human race, leads me to love you, but the remembrance of your most holy Passion gives unequaled vigor to my power of affection to love you. That is why it seems to me that [...] I have found what I so much desired: not to love anything other than you or in you or for love of you" (Ibid., Meditazione II, 46, p. 62).

The Essential Aspect of Our Existence

At first glance this figure of a Medieval Carthusian nun, as well as her life and her thought, seems distant from us, from our life, from our way of thinking and acting. But if we look at the essential aspect of this life, we see that it also affects us and that it would also be the essential aspect of our own existence.

Rubbish in Our Consciences and in Our Souls

We have heard that Marguerite considered the Lord as a book, she fixed her gaze on the Lord, she considered him a mirror in which her own conscience also appeared. And from this mirror light entered her soul: She allowed the word to come in, the life of Christ in her own being and thus she was transformed; her conscience was enlightened, she found criteria, light and was cleansed. It is precisely this that we also need: to let the words, life and light of Christ enter our conscience so that it is enlightened, understands what is true and good and what is wrong; may our conscience be enlightened and cleansed. Rubbish is not only on different streets of the world. There is rubbish also in our consciences and in our souls. Only the light of the Lord, his strength and his love is what cleanses us, purifies us, showing us the right path. Therefore, let us follow holy Marguerite in this look toward Jesus. Let us read the book of his life, let us allow ourselves to be enlightened and cleansed, to learn the true life.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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