Rosary thoughts

OL montmartre

The Annunciation. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word. Every moment is an opportunity to say it – and relive this mystery in my present circumstances – again and again, and so to be taken deep into the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Presentation. How can it be that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? I take my heart and imagine leaving it shut in the tabernacle of the local church, right next to those consecrated hosts. That’s Jesus’ home, where He dwells with Mary. By leaving my heart all the way over there, inches from the Sacred Heart (how are we not annihilated in the intensity of its flame?), perhaps my heart can become a home for Jesus and Mary to dwell in.

The Nativity. And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. Well, I’ll leave my heart where it was before. Since I’m so close it’s no great leap of the imagination to gaze at those consecrated Hosts in the ciborium. The Virgin Mary was the first adorer of the Face of Christ. By adoring the Eucharistic Face I can join in! What else is there to do? Heaven is here; I only have to look.

The Presentation. And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. With a start I realise that dwelling there next to Jesus in the tabernacle I am on an altar, that is, an altar of sacrifice. Well, then, sacrifice must be made; and what do I have to offer? Myself, certainly – though I am not much. But close at hand are the Hosts. I can offer those. I offer them. It’s more than I can fathom, an unspeakable mystery.

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. Again, now that my heart is, in my mind, placed there next to the Eucharistic Jesus, locked inside the nearby church tabernacle, I realise it is an ideal place to think on the mysteries of the Rosary. And seeing him, they wondered. The seeking is met instantaneously with finding. Here He is.

So much of the sorrow in my life came from not seeking Jesus. With Him now there is only peace. God willing, I’ve still plenty of life left to live, and suffering and desolation will come in due course. But there’s no point worrying about that ahead of time. Right now I can only give thanks, and keep my heart where I left it. It’s a little scary – I mean, it is on an altar. If you linger around those you’re liable to get sacrificed the next time a priest walks up. Then again, doesn’t that happen at Mass?


The Lord

I say, “stay with me.” The Lord says, “then stay with Me.”

Ite, missa est. Deo gratias. Linger a little longer as a living tabernacle while the lights are going out and everyone is leaving. This is a gift for you. Look how quickly you enter a desert of silence. Stay silent while Jesus, dissolving within you, brings you into the mysterious communion of the Holy Trinity. Stay here and keep watch.

What about another moment? A few have gone by, now, already a few minutes of moments strung together like rosary beads. Another minute with Jesus. You want to stoke a flame of adoration? Remain longer by the fire. This is what you were born to do: adore. All this sadness for your sins, for others’ sins, for offenses against Jesus – here is where to repair the broken bonds, all of them. The flame will weld you to Jesus. Stay, and console the Lord. Stay, and give thanks. Adore.

Praying well

Fra Angelico, Saint Dominic adoring the Crucifixion. Convento di San Marco, Florence

Before I was Catholic I always wondered how to really pray well. I’d see the spiritual seem to enter into the presence of God and I’d wish I could get that close. I’d close my eyes and raise my hands in a praise song and try to lift my heart up to God. Perhaps I did to an extent. I will mention, also, that I found praying the Scriptures to be the best way back then. It was hard to go wrong with that. It still is! But there was a place deep inside that still thirsted. For me, it was very hard to be still with God. Errant thoughts would come and I thought I’d messed up in some obscure fashion. I had some good models but no saints beyond the first century to follow. Perseverance didn’t come easily when the object of my prayer was not definite.

Then I found Catholicism, and I was returned to sanctifying grace. Initially a highly intellectual journey, my heart gradually found anchors, and one night – all night, really – I found myself in front of the exposed Host in a golden sunburst monstrance, looking at the Sun to Whom my life belonged.

I couldn’t stop looking. “My Lord and my God!” ran through my mind repeatedly. At other points I meditated on all my life until now leading to this moment, or on mysteries of the Rosary. However, what gave me great peace was that I didn’t have to specifically think thoughts so much as fix my eyes on Jesus. I’d found the secret, to me at least, of praying well. I forced my eyes to stay open as the night wore on, because I could not possibly be doing anything better with my life right then than to adore, adore, adore. And thanks be to God, it was far simpler than I had ever feared.

As I continue down the pilgrimage of Catholic life, I’ve come to understand a little bit more about other kinds of prayer. But for me, what I love best is that simple gazing with Christ Himself as the object. And I know that Christ Himself is gazing back.

The Beatific Vision consists of beholding the Face of God unveiled. Adoration is a foretaste. With St. Ambrose, I pray and give thanks:

Face to face,
Thou hast made thyself known to me, O Christ;
I have found thee in thy mysteries.