Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Holy of Holies - Christ's Merciful Heart

The Confession of Saint Longinus

I have a great devotion to the pierced side of Christ and the Divine Mercy. When I started this blog I decided that the URL and the name of this blog would not be the same. On purpose. I thought people would automatically see the connection between the two but many don't and I am often asked why they are different. I thought I'd explain a bit since some may find it interesting.

 I wanted to point to the first two instances of Divine Mercy during the 3 o'clock hour after the Crucifixion.

The first takes place when Jesus dies. In Luke we read that at 3:00 in the afternoon when Jesus dies the "veil of the temple was torn down the middle". Mark says: "The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom" (see also Mt. 27: 51). They are making a connection here to the temple in the Old Testament. So, Jesus' death rends the veil that barred people from entering the Holy of Holies,  the inner sanctuary of the temple where none but the high priest could enter on the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. In the inner sanctuary of Solomon's temple was the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat covering it. John, however, doesn't mention the veil like the other three gospel writers. Instead he says this, "But one soldier thrust his lance into his side and blood and water flowed out."

The Centurion who pierced Jesus' heart was the first to receive Christ's Mercy in the three o'clock hour. The veil of the Temple of God was rent and blood and water flowing from His side converted the soldier.

The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of my most tender Mercy at that time when My agonized heart was opened was opened by a lance on the Cross.... Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. (The Diary of St. Faustina)

This soldier, without understanding what he was doing, opened the floodgates of mercy upon the world.

His wounds are the gates by which we enter into His Mercy. Especially His Heart wound.

From all My wounds, like from streams, mercy flows for souls, but the wound in My Heart is the fountain of unfathomable mercy. From this fountain spring all graces for souls. (The Diary of St Faustina)

The second instance was the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. (It was a Jewish tradition to pray at certain hours of the day. This included the 3 o'clock prayer hour. Today,we continue this sanctifying of the day in the Liturgy of the Hours.)

 And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.” Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. (Acts 3:1-8)

While I was praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet one day, the words, "My wounds correspond to the gates of the temple," popped into my mind. So, thinking this had likely come into someone else's mind as well, I decided to Google it and found this link: Enter His Gates. If you scroll over the picture you will see how the gates line up with His Wounds and how the Heart Wound lines up with the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, brothers, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is his flesh, and since we have "a great priest over the house of God," let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. (Heb. 10: 19-22

The Crucifixion of Our Lord is superimposed upon this world across space and time. When the Heavenly Father looks down upon us, He sees us through this superimposition of Christ's great sacrifice. I guess you could say, He sees us through the wounds of Christ. Through his Blood. This means everyone has access to God's mercy unless they turn away from it. It cannot be taken away unless we give it up. Because of Christ, mercy is the rule not the exception. Christ does not walk away, we do.

To get an idea of what I mean, take the sun for example. The earth is always in the presence of the sun, even during the night. We may not be able to see it because of the earth's rotations. Yet, it is always there. We could not exist without it.

So it is with Jesus. He is the "Holy Covering" of poor, sinful humanity.

 I saw a great light, with God the Father in the midst of it. Between this light and the earth I saw Jesus nailed to the Cross and in such a way that God, wanting to look upon the earth, had to look through Our Lord's wounds. (The Diary of St. Faustina)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Beauty for Ashes - Pt 3

Artwork Source: Wikimedia Commons

To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.              Isaiah 61:3

Until my experience in the presence of Jesus' mercy I hadn't realized that God would (or even could) step into someone's life in such a way.  Despite my Catholic upbringing, I had never heard of this happening to anyone and didn't know what to make of it. Since then, I have heard many other beautiful conversion stories and they are all miraculous to me. Some of stories that others told me included "visible" manifestations of God's love, some "invisible", but all are miraculous in that they transformed the very heart of the person.

When God returned my soul to my body, I was dumbfounded. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. You mean God wanted ME? Despite all the sin and the years away from Him?

Yes, He did want me. He loves sinners and now I understood that this love for sinners included me. I had wanted to go to Confession for quite some time but was afraid. Afraid that my sins were too numerous, too ugly, TOO MORTAL to be forgiven. I had been taught by the nuns when I was young that those who committed mortal sins went to hell. I had committed mortal sins and was going to hell. Period. (Hey, I was probably out with one of my "fake" bellyaches on the day they explained that even mortal sins could be forgiven so don't blame the nuns.)

One of the fruits of the time I spent in His Presence was the overwhelming urge to go to Confession. It was a pressing, burning desire to go. So I did go. The very next day. Only to hear, "I am sorry but I can't absolve you until you get the problem with your marriage fixed." The priest was very nice and I could tell he felt bad but it hurt because I wanted that absolution more than anything in the world right then.

One of my friends spoke to her Pastor about my situation and made an appointment with him for me. (She actually called me said, "You're going to see him and that's that!") Best thing that could have happened to me. When I spoke to him, he explained that I could go to Confession and receive absolution (with certain conditions met ) and that we could attend marriage classes at his parish.

And let me tell you...that Confession was the best ever.  This was an elderly priest and I'm sure I burned his ears off that day but he never batted an eyelash. He took me through the commandments one by one and never even flinched at my muttered, "Errrr...that would be too many times to count, Father. I can't give you an exact number. Can we just say numerous times? God knows I lost track."

When I was finished we were both crying. He told me that I made his day and that THIS was the reason he became a priest.

Thank God for our priests. And thank God for good friends who don't listen to your arguments and do what is best for your soul instead.

I love you, P.