You know me well enough (or you will soon enough) to know that a word from me on hearts would never suffice. So Truth in advertising might have inspired the title, "THE Word on Hearts," rather than "A Word on Hearts," but then we might have led you to believe we were saying the very last word on Hearts. And while it's true that The Word, that is Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, our Spouse and Best Friend, is the Alpha and Omega, so in truth He is the very last Word (as well as the first) - on Hearts as on everything else . . . still, we want to leave room for more words on Hearts because the Holy Spirit is always afoot (or better yet, awing, that is, a-wing, as well as awe-ing) and God is Limitless Love, so I suspect there will always be more to be said (at least by the likes of us) on Hearts.
If you didn't follow that, don't worry, I'm not sure I did either! We are in Marcel-Land, and here much goes over our heads. Nonetheless, I've titled this post "A Word on Hearts," because I have for you both "a word" in the sense of something to say, and also Jesus' word (and He also is the Word), on - you guessed it - Hearts! And in particular on three hearts: ours, Jesus', and Mary's.
First though, I need to complete some unfinished business. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day, and I forgot to tell you what St. Therese said about thanksgiving! Not that she commented on the American Feast (that I know of), but she sure was a big fan of gratitude. I have for you today, then, two of my favorites among her sayings:
"Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude."
She wrote that in Story of a Soul, and it works as one of St. Alphonsus' "all you need is a single holy maxim to think about, and you too can shoot to heaven like a pebble flying out of a slingshot in the hands of an 8 year old boy!"
But there's a slightly longer reflection on gratitude that our sister Therese gave to her sister Celine, and I love it even more, if possible. I'm actually glad I forgot to tell you yesterday because today is more of a "buy one get one free" day, except that since it's Black Friday (i.e. the day the stores in the US entice customers with dramatically phrased ads for items with dramatically slashed prices), it's more like "buy one, get ten free" day. You'll see that Therese's next words fit right in with this type of abundance. As Celine wrote in her own memoir ("My Sister, Saint Therese"), Therese had taught her:
"It is the spirit of gratitude which draws down upon us the overflow of God's grace, for no sooner have we thanked Him for one blessing than He hastens to send us ten additional favors in return. Then, when we show our gratitude for these new gifts, He multiplies His benedictions to such a degree that there seems to be a constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way.
"This has been my own personal experience; try it out for yourself and see. For all that Our Lord is constantly giving me, my gratitude is boundless, and I try to prove it to Him in a thousand different ways."
* * *
I, too, urge you to try this out for yourself. I've found it miraculously true!
In today's reading from 33 Days to Morning Glory, Fr. Gaitley talks about how, once we're consecrated to Mary, the graces are going to pour out upon us in a newly splendiferous abundance. That's what we're talking about and that's what Therese is talking about. By consecrating ourselves to Mary, we're giving everything to Jesus through her, and that's nothing more nor less than acknowledging with love and gratitude (and surrender and abandonment) that all we have comes from God and we're happy to return it to Him. Especially ourselves!
You might wonder where Hearts come in, so here's what's on my mind:
Yesterday Fr. Gaitley talked about Mother Teresa's emphasis on Mary's Immaculate Heart, and he promised to say more tomorrow. After reading what they (Fr. G and Mother T) had to say yesterday, I was wondering, too, where Hearts come in - in Marcel, that is.
Something (I like to think it was Someone, actually, and namely the Holy Spirit) prompted me to begin reading St. Francis de Sales "Treatise On the Love of God" this morning. Don't worry, I'm bound to stall right around the Introduction, but the good news is that in the Introduction the Holy Spirit showed me what I was supposed to read. (And if you're new here and wondering why you would worry about my reading the whole book, well that would make me a Miss Francis instead of a Miss Marcel, and then who would write this blog for your continuing wholesome entertainment? But no worries there, I promise!)
That last parenthetical remark reminds me of something St. F de S said in his Intro (not the thing I can't wait but am waiting to tell you, but two other things, in fact) which cheered me immensely. First, he said, "The kindness of the reader makes his reading sweet and profitable."
So there! If you're enjoying my musings here, be assured it's because you're so kind! And then, too, I do try to make it easy for you by making you laugh. For St. Francis says next: "I have taken into consideration as I should do, the state of the minds of this age: it much imports to remember in what age we are writing." Which makes me feel so much better about importing Beatles' songs and suchlike into our reflections here at MMM!
But now for the word on Hearts. This too is from St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to his Treatise on the Love of God, and it comes in an explanation he gives of which version of the Bible he'll be using. He writes:
"I cite Scripture sometimes in other terms than those of the ordinary edition (the ordinary edition being the Vulgate, that is the Latin edition from the pen of St. Jerome). For God's sake, my dear reader, do me not therefore the wrong to think that I wish to depart from that edition. Ah no! For I know that the Holy Spirit has authorized it by the sacred Council of Trent, and that therefore all of us ought to keep to it: on the contrary I only use the other versions for the service of this, when they explain and confirm its true sense."
I love that St. Francis loved the Church so much and was grateful for all she gave him, that in this question of the Word of God, he's concerned to stick to the advice and authorization of His Holy Mother. And yet, he's concerned to squeeze every drop of honey from the Holy Scriptures, and so he'll make use of various translations as they serve to help him harvest all sweetness from the honeycomb. Little Therese had said she'd happily have learned the original languages of the Bible in order to read the Word of God in the very words in which He revealed them. I've spoken before of my limitations with languages, and I'm tremendously grateful that St. Francis de Sales (and others) provide me with more than I can absorb to help me take in these holy love letters from God.
Here then is where Hearts come in. St. Francis wants to show what he means about using other versions to complete or deepen his knowledge of the Word contained in the Vulgate. He writes:
"For example what the Heavenly Spouse says to His spouse: Thou hast wounded my heart, is greatly illustrated by the other version: Thou hast taken away my heart, or, Thou hast snatched away and ravished my heart."
Speaking of hearts, that sure set mine beating! St. Francis is quoting from chapter 4 of the Song of Songs, and here is what my Revised Standard Version/Catholic Edition (i.e. Ignatius Bible) gives for this verse he quoted and following:
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride!
how much better is your love than wine.
Well how about that!
If we start from the end, Jesus (for let's be honest and call a spade a spade, or in this case, a lover The Lover) is speaking to us here the exact same words He put in our mouths to say to Him at the opening of the Song of Songs (right before the words we repeat at the end of each post: Draw me, we will run!). We, the soul, the beloved, the little ones honored to call Him our Spouse, say:
O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!
For your love is better than wine . . .
Jesus, how wonderful You are! Raising us up to Your level, loving us as we love You, but only after You've made sure we've loved You (or spoken words of love to You) worthy of Limitless Love!
But what really slayed me were these words (the ones St. Francis is using, thanks to the Holy Spirit, and our need for what He inspires this loving Saint to tell us almost exactly 200 years after his words were published in 1616):
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
We know from our recent careful examination of Marcel's Conversations that a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is a sigh, and let's add that a glance is simply a glance. Really, all we have to do is to look at Jesus and we ravish His Heart! But let's take advantage of St. Francis' example to understand better what it is to ravish Jesus' Heart. It is also translated, he explains, as:
Thou hast taken away my heart, or,
Thou hast snatched away and ravished my heart.
Which leads me straight to what Jesus-Marcel, Marcel-Jesus, Mary Immaculate, and Miss Marcel are so thrilled to tell you today about Hearts (His, Hers, and ours), especially on our minds now that Fr. Gaitley's pages are full of Hearts these days. Fr. G tells us that St. Mother Teresa loved to pray: "Mary, lend me your Heart," and "Keep me in your most pure Heart."
He has beautiful things to say about the meaning of these two prayers, but here is what Marcel and I think (to simplify and get to the heart of it, hehe):
We know, thanks to the Holy Spirit's leading us to St. Francis de Sales example, which really means thanks to what God has written to us in His love letter, the Song of Songs, that with one simple glance at Jesus, we have already stolen His Heart! We've taken it, we've snatched it from Him, and that means we're currently in big trouble. I'm not initially concerned, as Mother Teresa was, with borrowing Mary's Heart too - I'm already in charge of the most precious relic in existence - Jesus' Heart! The problem is: How will I love Him rightly in return? I feel like the borrowing of Mary's Heart would only complicate things, putting me in possession of 3 Hearts! One entirely Sacred, one entirely Immaculate, and one that is interested in Black Friday sales, having fun (not a problem) but ever in danger of turning His House of Prayer (His Heart?) into a den of thieves! What a mess!
Let's never forget that Jesus loves our fun (as He tells Marcel, "A single one of your joys serves to console me very much"), and so I think it's safe to say He's amused by our shopping and other distractions, but it might concern us to know that here we are walking around with His Heart and (speaking for myself) so very forgetful that He is with us. So . . . .we need a solution, quickly, and thankfully Fr. Gaitley has provided it in that second prayer of Mother Teresa's to Our Blessed Mother.
"Mother Mary, keep us in your own pure Heart."
Yes, Mother Mary, please do keep us always in your own pure Heart. That way, no matter how distracted we are in between our simple glances at darling Jesus in your arms, we'll have Him covered - covered with kisses, namely yours, if not ours too!
I was lucky enough to get to Mass this morning, and there I found another great set of feasts. In order of appearance today we have St. Clement I, St. Columban (God bless all missionaries and their missions), and Blessed Miguel Pro ("Viva Christo Rey!") At Mass our priest chose to feature St. Clement, and in his homily told us that Clement was pope in the very first century (I think right after Peter, since the Roman Canon prays: Peter, Clement, Callistus, etc., but I wasn't listening carefully enough to catch that, so you may want to check my facts).
Father told us that Clement wrote a very famous letter, and in it he said, "The great need the small, and the small need the great." Father went on to tell us that we are each necessary and valuable and we need to know that. Marvelous! And then he said that we should be grateful for our talents, however small, as well as those of others, however great (or small too). Beautiful!
You can imagine that "The great need the small" caught my attention and brought me joy. Jesus, the Great, needs us, the small. For one reason, if no other, because we've got His Heart! But also we (the small) need Mary (the great), so she can love Jesus in us, for us, through us. Which makes me think I'd better not abandon Mother Teresa's "Lend me your heart" prayer just yet, although I really prefer the "Keep me in your heart" prayer since I'd rather we were all cozy there together.
And there, too, in Mary's most Pure Heart, when Jesus and each soul which calls Him Spouse look at each other, thus ravishing each other's hearts, it won't matter whose heart is where because all hearts will be in hers!
I'll be honest with you. I'm feeling very Marcel this time around with the 33 Days and Fr. Gaitley's wonderful insights. I frequently don't understand much, my mind wanders when I read the daily pages, and I wonder what is wrong with me.
But upon consideration, I have to think this temporary (or typical) insanity is good because it reminds me what a gift Conversations (and my love for it) is. I open Marcel's book and read the Word, the words that He sends (and Marcel so kindly wrote down) that ravish my heart and teach me the Little Way.
We saw with St. Francis de Sales how helpful one tiny example could be. In imitation of him, I offer this example of Jesus' advice to us through Marcel. See if it doesn't ease (and maybe even ravish) your heart and mind too. It's from Conversations (122), Jesus speaking to Marcel (and as always, to us through our little brother). I may have quoted it in a previous post (just the other day?), but (no surprise) I've forgotten! And if you remember, I'm sure you won't mind my quoting it again, Jesus' words to us are so consoling:
"My child, the smaller your love is for me, the more mine will envelop you with its intimacy. Let us suppose that the little one does not even know how to say to its mother the few words that I gave to him earlier and that he can only fix his gaze on her, be assured that he would receive from her marks of a love even more tender . . . My dear child, my love envelops yours and will last until the time when your love loses itself entirely in mine . . . My dear child, following the example of the little one, be happy to gaze on me and I will penetrate the depths of your heart more even than the mother penetrates that of her child; and throughout eternity, my love will never be separated from you. On the contrary, it will only make your love grow eternally . . . My child! Without end and in every way, you will only receive marks of my love for you . . . and dear little one, my love will never depart from you . . . Oh loving child of my heart, look at me covering you now with kisses. My child, even if you looked for a means of divesting yourself of my love, you would never succeed because, already, you are wrapped and shrouded deeply in my love. My child, my dear child, it is no longer possible for you to escape from my love."
Well how do you like that? Jesus is happy to have us ravish His Heart and He's determined to ravish ours too! He lets us steal His Heart, but He also refuses to leave us ours! And yet none of this old-fashioned exchange of Hearts such as some of the great Saints experienced. No, Jesus is always doing something new, and for the littlest souls (that would be us), what would be the use of His Heart instead of ours? We're too small to know what to do with it except to run to Mary and take our heartless selves and Jesus' most Sacred Heart to live in her most Pure Heart. Which is not a bad idea at that! But to my simple mind it almost sounds like we're taking Jesus' Heart with us into Mary's, and leaving Jesus Himself somewhere else! (Simple minded, I know).
I say why not live in Mary's Heart, on Mary's lap, together with Jesus and Marcel and Therese, singing and playing, laughing and praying, glancing and kissing, sighing and sleeping? We are completely free, and our lives - even and especially our spiritual lives - should be "for fun and for free." Think about it: Jesus has already done everything. Our big task in this life is to get to Heaven, yet He has promised us that His love will never be separated from us - so it's Heaven now and Heaven later, as far as I can tell.
He says, "Without end and in every way, you will only receive marks of my love for you."
I'm not going to qualify that. He is Limitless Love, for Heaven's sake! He's not going to let us slip away, and we might as well get used to the joy of His embrace.
Hearts and more hearts. His in us, ours in Mary's, or to paraphrase Phil Collins, three hearts that beat as one . . . And I've decided it's time to stop worrying about what I don't understand and what is over my head, what I don't attend to as I read, it and what is left behind as my mind wanders hither and yon. Not to mention what I forget and have forgotten!
Jesus and Mary understand and remember. St. Louis, St. Max, St. Mother Teresa, and St. JPII understand and remember. Fr. Gaitley gets it and is trying (through his terrific book) to give it to us. I hope you're getting it, but in case you're not, please don't worry. Marcel is here to put everything (including Marian consecration) into one syllable words for us and it goes like this:
Sigh. Glance. Kiss. Love. Spouse. Hearts.
Then when we're ready to graduate to two syllable words:
Jesus, Mary, Therese.
And finally, at the Masters level, we have the ultimate summary of the Little Way, which includes one 3-syllable word:
Don't worry about anything any more ever.
We may be little souls, but we've got this! Jesus has made it easy in Marcel, and for that I thank Him. Not that I'm asking for 10 more Marcels - one is more than enough! But since Therese promised He'd multiply His gifts once we thanked Him, how about I thank Him for you, dear reader.
I don't mean thank Him on your behalf (though I'm happy to do that too), but actually thank Him for the gift of you, in all your beauty and littleness. I pray you know you are necessary and valuable, and yes, LOVED! and then I hope that for every one of you (every reader of Marcel), Jesus gives 10 more. Marcel for world domination! (Okay, am I the only one who just got a mental image of Calvin faced with his evil clone? Forgive my levity!) Really and truly, may Marcel conquer every heart and teach every soul how to ravish Jesus' Heart with a single glance, a single sigh, or even a single one of our joys.
Let's enjoy our little brother's relative anonymity while we can. We're on the ground floor of Marcel Mania, and what a happy place to be: in Mary's Heart, on her lap (before it gets super crowded), with little Jesus, St. Therese, and the one who teaches us everything we know: Marcel himself in all his glorious weakness. Ah, how good God is to us!
And now, will you join me in praying that our Tremendous Lover's Heart is ravished and taken away by every beating heart on this earth? He is thirsting for love. Let's pray that we will love Him, and all others in our train.
Draw me, we will run!
We love you little Jesus, a lot and so much!
Help us to give ourselves to Mary like You did, and meet us in her Heart with Therese and Marcel.
And finally, Jesus, thank You for EVERYTHING, especially the delight of knowing Marcel and through him, Your Limitless Love. But when You give us ten more favors in return for our thanks, please don't let them be as awesome as our little brother and his Conversations or we'll die of fun far too soon!
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