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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I've Been Getting Love Notes From the Eucharist

 ...I probably should read them...

I had a chance for something wonderful, and I didn't take it. You know those times when God feels a little distant? You know those times when you feel like he's calling you back to Him?
1 D Where has your lover gone,
most beautiful among women?
Where has your lover withdrawn
that we may seek him with you?*
The Song of Songs (here, chapter six,)  is one of those love notes from God the above title mentions.  Today, I was given another that I didn't take to heart right away.
For certain reasons, I'd found myself absolutely drenched halfway though the school day. I needed to go home and change. For certain other reasons [Thanksgiving,] one of my midday classes was canceled and I was able to accomplish just that. I can't exactly explain why, but I felt compelled, and I DO mean *compelled,* to wear a skirt, which isn't common for me. I kinda laughed as I changed: after school Tuesday and Thursday are the few days of the week I see my extended family for dinner, and I'm always late because I stay after class for videogames in my school's common room.
 "It's WAY past five," they always tease when I finally come in, "what, did'ya have a hot date?" I always just laugh, and tell them about the antics of the various unusual college characters and our video game feats. The only dates I had were with Link, or Ike, or Wolf from a hacked version of Smash Bros. called "Project M." If I came from school as I was, elegant black skirt, with matching silky stockings, flats, and collared blouse open over top of my yellow and silver butterfly shirt, they probably wouldn't have believed me when I told them "Nope! More video-games."
But driving back to school, I began to think, "why not?"
3b I belong to my lover, and my lover belongs to me;

he feeds among the lilies.
An invitation to courtship: Not with one of the guys in the common room, but with Christ. It was as if this trip home and the canceled class was Him holding out His hand to me! I had time, and  it was Tuesday: the day my Church has all-day adoration. Something in me cried out gleefully as I drove, "yes! Yes! Stop by the church! We can visit Him! Be with Him!" I smiled. "We've  got HOURS to give!" At that, I found myself flinching. The temptation towards Adoration was mysterious, and somehow painful.
"Half an hour, ten minutes, five! Please?" I begged myself, I was panicking. Something inside kept pulling at me: I was dressed for a date; now wasn't that funny? He loved me, he WANTED me to come. Hadn't I been unconsciously preparing myself for him while dressing? Didn't I long to come before him like a lover? Not even on Sundays did I dress up anymore, since I always had to rush to work after Mass!
It's been ages since my last chance to go to adoration. When the church was in sight... I broke. I drove right passed it. That final thought had driven the nail in the coffin! I was dressed up for once on the outside, but this week had been a particularly ugly, wretched week for me. It was the perfect metaphor for my heart and my actions; I went through the motions without fully loving, I appeared faithful while floundering in my call to obedience. I wasn't fit to adore him! Despite desiring Him and craving His presence, despite telling myself, internally and aloud, that my wretchedness needed some time in his Love, I couldn't make myself turn the car around.
I realize that, technically, I didn't do anything wrong today. But how often have I prayed for a deepening romance with the Lord? How often, in the greyer phases of my faith, have I actually been blessed with a longing-- and a chance-- to throw myself at the feet of Our Lord?
 But all it did then was remind me of how wretched I was. Thinking back, there was power behind that urge to turn around. The enticement of sin in all its forms has power to pull us from grace-- but not enough power! There is always Someone more powerful holding him back if we let Him. That fear, that sense of shame and wretchedness when we go it alone and fail has enormous weight to deaden our wills, but not enough weight.
When you look at your lives, even at the times we faltered,  you see that sometimes we instinctively know there so much more strength in the arms held out to us than the ones raised to condemn. The hand of Christ holds out a promise of redemption so grand we have to stretch our hearts to receive it; the evil one's hands presents an easy, tiny lie, neatly packaged and ready to go: "You are pitiful. You are weak. You are unloved." So often we believe it. Under this lie, even 'the motions' are sometimes hard, and putting faith into action begins to feel like acting.
The reality is, stretching our human hearts enough to bear a love divine is a feat beyond us, and that saying 'yes' to Him means those healing hands have to pry the heart wide to make way for an infinite Love. That's why we flinch. Its hard to be made whole! It involves being torn up!
As practicing Catholics, we are called to practice. To do, yes, but much more simply also to just try, and try, and try again to place ourselves in his love. That's what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for. To fall on your knees before the Healer and proclaim not, "I'm wretched, I'm pitiful"--  not to repeat the devil's lies--  but to cry out, "Your love is so big, Lord! Too big for sinful me! Pry open my heart to receive your infinite love!"
If Holy Adoration has made it into that category in your mind that denotes 'ritualistic formalities that we are hypocrites to perform', then its time to go to adoration. The faith we enact when receiving and adorning the Eucharist, uplifting the lowly, loving our neighbor, and proclaiming "...for You are all good, and deserving of all my love..." becomes an integrated part of our hearts, and a bridge into this Love. A morning spent in worship: "You are God, We praise you..." is a channel for mercy's flow. And how its painful infinence transforms even the ugliest of souls! The broken can be made new in him, in His eyes, we are made lovely.
10e “Who* is this that comes forth like the dawn,
beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun,
fearsome as celestial visions?”
11Wf To the walnut grove* I went down,
to see the young growth of the valley;
To see if the vines were in bloom,
if the pomegranates had blossomed.
12Before I knew it, my desire had made me
the blessed one of the prince’s people.*

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