HOLY WEEK : Christ is preparing to offer Himself as an oblation to His Father. Jesus was created for sacrifice. The Sacrifice of Calvary begins. On the hill of Calvary, Jesus is Priest and Victim, and the Redemption is taking place (Pere Marie-Eugene OCD). Our Redemption.
His reward? Our souls. Our Reward? Himself.
He wants to make us His Equal. On this Lenten journey into deeper transformation into Himself, He has sent us, personally and intimately, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Father and Son, the Fire of purifying Love that is God Himself. We've learned that It is a Flame that cauterizes and heals at the same time.
And as we enter into Holy Week, we may ponder...when was the Fire most intense in my Lenten days? When was my self-love cauterized? How was I healed during the infliction of those Holy Wounds?
We look to St. John of the Cross to locate ourselves and our wounds and our spiritual healing in his mystical wisdom. John asks us to look around our family, our circle of friends, our community, our social gatherings. Is there someone among these who people our days who is especially difficult to deal with or accept or maybe even to meet? St. John teaches us that God Himself has placed that person before us to make saints of our souls. His Fire singes our hard hearts with His love. We are wounded, but a spark of Love is ignited, turning our self-love to ashes (adapted from Sayings of Light and Love).
The garment of patience is usually scratchy to wear.
So we may have had strong reactions in trying to live that teaching from St. John. This self-knowledge causes us to confront our impatience or intolerance and a disquiet begins in our souls. The Living Flame is at work. Sometimes we may wonder if there is anyone who will describe for us what that transformation into Love feels like. We turn to the price paid by St. Therese of Lisieux.
In "Story of a Soul", we read:
"For a long time my place at meditation was near a sister who fidgeted continually, either with her rosary, or something else....I cannot tell you how much it tried me. I should have liked to turn around, and by looking at the offender, make her stop the noise; but in my heart I knew that I ought to bear it tranquilly, both for the love of God and to avoid giving pain. So, I kept quiet, but the effort cost me so much that sometimes I was bathed in perspiration, and my meditation consisted merely in suffering with patience."
"THE FIRE THAT PURIFIES IS AN INTELLIGENT FIRE. IT REGULATES THE VIOLENCE OF ITS FLAME ACCORDING TO EFFECT IT WANTS TO PRODUCE." (Pere Marie Eugene)
It is the desire of God to make us His equal. This is the effect the Living Flame wants to produce in us.
And so we approach Holy Week. The Fire of the Flame may wound more fiercely this week as our features are being transformed into the beautiful Countenance of the Suffering Savior.
We seek the wisdom of the woman who was known to levitate during prayer, was transfixed in visions, who experienced ecstasy during Transverberation, yet with deep humility, she laid all of her life struggles and mystical events before all of us for the rest of time to criticize or to emulate. She is sometimes known as Teresa of Avila. She is always known as Teresa of Jesus. Madre.
We learn that the Loving Flame of purification uses distractions and dryness in prayer to enlighten our soul. When St. Teresa was pestered by distractions during prayer, which tormented her most especially during Holy Week, she teaches us that "... the fruits of the Passion and Death of Christ cannot penetrate deeply within a soul unless the soul shares in His redemptive suffering and death."
The sufferings that we endure as we abandon ourselves to God deepen our self-knowledge and establish us in humility. By offering ourselves to Him without ceasing, with all of our sins as a continuing challenge to Divine Mercy, our soul breathes Love in and yearns for it, still further. His Love is reciprocated...we give ourselves to Him more deeply in Holy Week. He pours Himself lavishly into our souls, without limit, always.
In our trials and purifications, St. Teresa tells us that:
"it is the Lord's will to give us these tortures ...in order to test His lovers and to discover if they can drink of the chalice and help Him to bear the Cross before He trusts them with His greatest treasures".
HE DESIRES TO MAKE US HIS EQUAL.
HE HIMSELF IS "HIS GREATEST TREASURE".
And so, we set our faces like flint and head into Holy Week to join the Master on Good Friday and enter His Glory with Him:
“For the Lord God helps me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50: 7)