Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world!
We've come to the end of the first part of our triple novena, and the miracles are piling up like angels around an altar or, more immediately visible, like the angels around Our Lord and His Cross in Dore's awesome painting above.
Before I begin to muse, I want to thank everyone for their prayers and announce the first miracle to come to my attention in this 27 days of knocking, asking, and seeking for every good thing from our Heavenly Father. Oh, how He loves to open, to answer, to help us find Him and every possible blessing! And so, since the greatest blessing He gives us is His Son, the first miracle He's granted through this novena is . . . (drum roll please . . .) . . . The Restoration of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Fillmore, California!
And the trumpets blare! And the angels sing! And the adorers, myself among them (lucky duck that I am) go before Him again on bended knee all hours of the day and night (okay, midday for me, right after a good lunch, and just until I need to sit down and adore Him in a more friendly posture, perfect for a long, happy chat with Jesus, best friend and Spouse of our souls)! Hooray and Alleluia! It is the victory of the Cross and Our Sweet Savior Who unaccountably loves us so much that He chose to die on this Cross that we might never suffer alone and that we might, way earlier than we could have hoped, be united in time and eternity to HIM!
This is the power of prayer - past prayer, which has obtained this grace of time with Our Lord really here among us under the humble appearance of bread; and present prayer, with SO MANY people taking advantage of His Real Presence (taking advantage in the good sense! I knelt and sat and prayed with not just one or two other adorers, but at one point five others!); and future prayer, in chapels where I live and around the world (hopefully where you live too!), and also in our homes or cars or wherever we find ourselves with a moment to turn to God and thank, praise, and petition Him for more . . . like we'll do starting tomorrow again in the second part of our triple novena, the part that addresses us to Padre Pio, Saint and Wonder Worker, but most of all, Father to his spiritual children.
Below the asterisks, you will find Miss Marcel's Musings (above you've found our prayer to the Blessed Mother and some facts :) . . . and if you go down to the second set of asterisks, below them you'll find our prayer for the next (second) part of our triple novena . . . just in case you don't have all the time in the world to muse with me!
Spoiler: between the asterisks you'll find a fabulous quote from the littlest Doctor of the Church, a helpful quote from the great Father and Doctor St. Augustine, a mystical quote from our holy father and Doctor St. John of the Cross, and quotes from God: first in the Song of Songs, and second from the mouth of Our Lord at the Last Supper. I've iced this panoply of feast day treats in bold for quick and delectable consumption!
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I've been thinking about how today's feast has been called (in just my so brief lifetime, in my first and second language - that is, English) both "The Triumph of the Cross" and more recently "The Exaltation of the Cross." In a spate of good will and a return to the Great Books of my youth, I've been re-reading St. Augustine's On Christian Doctrine (on reading the Holy Scripture), and I LOVE how he urges us to check out various translations of Scripture to get closer to the real meaning of God's love letters to us. Since the Bible's original languages are not usually our own, there is a wonderful line where he advises us to "consult one who speaks those languages, or learn them ourselves if we have leisure and ability, or make a comparison of various translations."
I love incongruity, and it did strike me as hilarious that I read this quote while having my aluminum foil weaved hair (highlighted in caramel and chocolate) dry under a 50's style hairdryer at the beauty salon. Anyone might think I'm definitely a woman with the resources - at least the leisure - to learn the languages in which God originally spoke to us.
The problem is that Miss Marcel here lacks a certain ability . . . sure, I get it, the ability to stop being frivolous for five minutes might seem to be the problem, and I admit it is one problem, but the bigger problem is my memory. In true Marcellian fashion, I can't seem to retain much (except, thankfully, about St. Therese and Marcel). I call this "Marcellian" and it is one of the things that first charmed me about my little spiritual brother because, you see, Servant of God Marcel Van, my namesake and the inspiration for this blog, had a notoriously poor memory. We know this because we can read his complaints in Conversations where he constantly reminds Jesus, Who seems (at least to Marcel) in His infinitely loving part of their conversations to often forget Marcel's problem.
About this dear Jesus, the true subject of our love and blog and whole limited attention span, our little sister St. Therese, said:
"I assure you that the good Lord is much kinder than you can imagine. He is satisfied with a glance, with a sigh of love . . ."
It's easy to doubt that the good Lord is kinder than we imagine, even if our imaginations are as weak as our memories, but that's why Holy Mother Church had to give Therese a doctorate. At 24 and of a poetic (as well as practical) nature, Therese may have lacked the requisite authority (or street cred, as they say) to pull off the daring things she said and did regarding Jesus, our Love. But as a Doctor of the Church, she's a little harder to dismiss.
(I wanted to say here, "Our favorite Doctor of the Church," but oh, how hard it is to choose a favorite! For my money, she's tied with St. Thomas, but then I remember St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus, not to mention yesterday's hero St. John Chrysostom, and that beloved curmudgeon St. Jerome, not to mention St. Augustine of recent paragraphs, and so I conclude that perhaps we'd better plead the fifth or, in the words of a young person I recently spoke with about favorite colors, just go with "all of them are my favorite!")
But back to translations . . .
I love "Triumph of the Cross" because it brings to mind the glorious saying from Song of Songs that the Church puts on our lips in morning prayer of the Divine Office when we are celebrating the feast of a Virgin or Virgin Martyr:
"Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked."
So not only is love priceless, but it is unquenchable, unsweepable, unstoppable, in a word, Triumphant. And the greatest instance we have of this - an eternally present instant we enter into in real time when we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - is Jesus' dying on the Cross for us.
I haven't reached the level of the saints in understanding (at all) how this works, let alone desiring the cross in my own life, but I can say this: Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity and the Father's only begotten and well beloved Son. He became Incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit (Love) in the womb of His true Mother and ours, the Blessed Virgin Mary. All so that He could live with us, eat bread with us (and fish!), give Himself as our food and daily bread in the Eucharist, forgive our sins, heal our ills, free us from our captivity and oppressors, and tell us things in human words we could more or less understand . . . and ultimately and all so that He could suffer and die for us on the cross. Which is, clearly, completely crazy, nuts, bonkers, insane, foolish (to say the least) and absurd. Which is why the only true explanation (because God is infinitely wise and in fact Wisdom Itself, so none of those adjectives can stick to Him as a conclusive explanation) - the only TRUE explanation, even to us featherbrains, is LOVE! That I get. And it forces me to say "Thank You, Jesus!" even though I would have chosen Joy (rather than the Cross) as a reasonable and attractive way to Heaven. Another friend has suggested Beauty as a much more preferable alternative way to Heaven. But alas and alack, Jesus has chosen the Cross, and since He is the Way, we will find Beauty and Joy there too, but oh, there seems to be no escaping the Cross if we don't want to escape Him.
Ah, Love! How then will You help us to understand this impossible Mystery of the Cross?
On the one hand, another favorite Doctor, our holy father St. John of the Cross, explains with his mystical simplicity:
“The heavenly Father has uttered only one word; it is His Son. He says it eternally and in an eternal silence. It is in the silence of the soul that it makes itself heard."
And then on the other (and very much appreciated) hand, Jesus can't seem to say enough to us. After He has told us no less than seven times that He and the Father will give us everything we ask in His Name (this is recorded by the Beloved Disciple in John 14 - 17), and after He has told us much more besides, He promises to send the Holy Spirit because He knows we are all, in the end, just like Marcel:
"I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in My name - He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you (John 14:25-26). . . I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when He comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you to all Truth (John 16: 12-13)."
I'm not giving up, then, in my endeavor to understand the Cross. But for today I am glad to know it is Triumphant.
And according to the other name of this feast, we have the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. As Our Lady tells us in her Magnificat, "He has lifted up the lowly."
There was never anyone lower than Jesus on the Cross. Though it was lifted high, He was abased even below His tiny-ness in the womb of Mary, abased to one "without beauty and without stately bearing . . . He had nothing that would attract our eyes and we despised Him. He appeared to us as an object of scorn, the least of men . . . His face as though hidden . . . He seemed to be despicable, and we did not recognize Him . . . We looked upon Him as a leper, as a man struck by God and humbled . . ." (Isaiah 63)
And this Cross is now exalted! So, too, our suffering, despised as it is, will raise us high with Jesus, to the Heavenly places where we will reign with Him, or for those of us of a more Theresian childlike disposition, we will snuggle close to His adorable Sacred Heart for all eternity!
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Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. May she allow us to console her with our confidence in her Son, a confidence we pray will increase to Theresian levels as we witness more miracles of grace during this triple novena!
Our prayer for part two is a prayer to St. Padre Pio, the one we cheekily called a giant teddy bear in our last post. If you are scared of him, stand behind me and Marcel while we go tickle him! It's hard to be afraid of someone you see afraid of a little tickling, but I bet Padre tries to dodge behind his buddy Don Dolindo (click on Don Dolindo's name for bonus reading material and more miracles!) . . .
Stand (or sit) beside us or behind us, but know you're prayed for in this next prayer for these next nine days (we officially start tomorrow, but unofficially I'll start today so you can check out the prayer we're going to be saying) - and feel free to join us when you can. Padre Pio is delighted we are asking him for help. He's been waiting for his turn, but he could hardly rush our meditations on the Cross! Now we're all yours, Padre. Help! (And that can suffice as a perfect prayer for the next nine days if you are so inclined!)
Novena Prayer to St. Padre Pio
O Blessed Padre Pio,
holy bearer of the wounds of Christ,
accept us this day as your spiritual sons and daughters
and keep us always on the little way by your intercession.
And do thou, O our Spiritual Father,
relieve our suffering and the suffering of those we love, and then
stay there at the Gates of Heaven, as you promised,
until all of your spiritual children have entered through,
even and including us and all those we love.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Adorable Jesus, draw me; we will run!
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below. To receive new posts, enter your email and click "Subscribe" below.