After yesterday's post, I was happy to have started our 33 Days, but immediately concerned about any confusion my words may have left in their wake . . .
First, when I re-read what I'd written (after it was published and readable by others), I found myself confused by a turn of phrase I'd used and had to laugh. If even I wasn't sure of what I'd said, it might go hard on the reader who wasn't me.
I had said in a moment of uncharacteristic candor (or was it characteristic candor?!):
"I have various obligations, and there are always silly movies to watch, fun music to listen to, a son to drive hither and yon, etc. But when I considered doing (or, rather, re-doing) Fr. Gaitley's 33 Days to Morning Glory, it didn't take me long to nix that hypothetical plan."
Let's be clear that I wasn't for a nano-second thinking about nixing the plan to watch silly movies and listen to fun music, not to mention driving said son hither and yon. Those are non-negotiables in my world! No, it was doing (or, rather, re-doing) Fr. Gaitley's 33 Days to Morning Glory that I was ready to chuck out the window (not the book, but the hypothetical plan to re-do it with postings here).
Our Lady promptly chimed in and nixed my nixing, thus showing herself truly in charge of my life. What could be better? And so I began, and so here we are again.
But I later came to see that a second confusion was possible for readers because I'd been bandying about Latin without offering translations. I love old books, and I've run into this difficulty with other authors - they throw in some German quotation, expecting the reader to be as multi-lingual as themselves. I like the compliment, but I always regret the lack of a translation!
In my case, I will repeat "mea culpa" (which means "my fault," and glad to clear that up in case you thought I was the unapologetic type), but the Latin phrase I ought to have explained was "Sicut Cervus." It was one of the things I got to share with my dear visiting friend, and it wasn't a special dish at the fancy buffet brunch we enjoyed, but a favorite piece of polyphony by Palestrina (who didn't lean quite so much toward alliteration, but relied instead on Psalm 42 for his inspiration). We first heard it in college, it later became the famous Jon B. Syren's song and epitaph, and it means, "Just as the Deer," as in "Just as the deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for You, my God." Hence our great thirst!
Which brings me directly to what was especially on my mind, namely, this very thirst, this desire that I proposed (following Fr. Gaitley) as a key element of our disposition in the beginning of our 33 Days to Jesus through Mary. What, I wondered, if someone out there (maybe you, maybe a friend of yours, maybe someone neither of us knows yet but who's found our musings) wants to come along for the ride but doesn't feel any particularly intense desire or spiritual thirst? What then?
Sweetly and with a voice more beautiful than the angels, Our Lady chimed in again early this morning. I was discombobulated by the time change, the clock in the bathroom (that hadn't fallen back), the darkness of the hour (what hour I didn't know), and this question of desire. So I did what any right thinking little soul would do: I turned on a tiny reading light and opened Marcel's Conversations.
And there was Our Lady, never one to leave us in the dark for long, illuminating the night by providing just what we needed to know in order to see what she expects of us:
"My child, if I gave you a little more joy today, would you be happy to accept it? I would never have the heart to abandon you, my favoured child. My dear child, if you do not feel the fervour of your love, do not worry about it. Indeed, what has your sister Therese taught you, and I, what have I repeated to you on this subject? Remain at peace, your good will is enough. The sufferings you are now bearing are the best proof of your love for Jesus. And if you do not feel this love, it is because you have offered it entirely to little Jesus. It is the same in regards to me; I am not reproaching you in any way if you do not feel any fervour in loving me. Feelings of fervour and love are two different things. When you feel joy in loving, supposing that you are capable of expressing your love, certainly you would do it as much as is possible. This is what one calls the fervour of love. On the other hand if, in loving, you only feel distaste and sadness, without feeling anything of the fervour of your love but, nevertheless, you keep in your heart the desire to love, come what may, even were it necessary to die of it, that is to love with all your heart, with all your strength. . .
"My child, for the moment, offer to little Jesus all the love of your heart, offer him equally the fervour which you formerly enjoyed. In that way, whatever the fervour of your love might be, Jesus will accept all and you will not cease loving with all your heart and with all your strength. . . My child, do not forget what I have just reminded you of, retain it with care. And if you feel yourself incapable of expressing your love to little Jesus, do not worry about it unduly, accept this trial and in doing so you will give to Him double evidence of your love. And I, in seeing you so unhappy, how would I be able not to love you more? Therefore stay peaceful; it is sufficient that you have the will to love Jesus. Regarding your relations with little Jesus, in all that you have done until now, allow me to concern myself with it in your place. It is sufficient for you to accept this trial with a joyful heart. . . " (284)
You know what I love about this? Our Lady, our loving Mama, not only explains everything about desire (and lack of felt desire), she also counsels us to stay peaceful. And then she says she'll take care of everything in the past. Since we're working now on handing our future to her, what else is there to worry about?
We've said it here before, and we'll say it again: Nothing to worry about! Any more, ever!
And with that, I eventually fell back asleep.
There's a bit more, though, that I discovered as I was being the little secretary of Jesus' (and Mary's) little secretary Marcel and typing out the passage above. At the risk of ending in confusion what I'd started with the hope of clearing confusion away, I feel compelled to share it with you (this little bit more from the Heart of Mary) because it is stunningly beautiful (just like her!). Our Lady says to Marcel (and to us through him):
"Your love, it is me, myself, your Mother. Be happy to offer your love joyfully to little Jesus, that is to say, myself, and that is enough."
Can you believe it? Our Lady is saying that she herself is the very love with which we love Jesus! That makes me sure there's nothing to worry about when it comes to our love, our desire, our thirst. Surely we needn't fret over our poverty when the very one God chose to be the first tabernacle enclosing His Incarnate Word is also providing herself as the envelope for the love letter that we send to God - in fact, offering herself to be that very love and letter!
With that thought and image to sustain us, we come to the end of another day. Soon (if not already) it will be time to sleep again.
May Our dear Blessed Mother's mantle keep you warm tonight and may her nearness help you to sleep peacefully until the new day. Oh, but before you fall asleep, do you have time and energy for one last prayer? Your very breaths and heartbeat will be your prayer as you sleep, but first these familiar words to Our Savior and Spouse:
Draw me, we will run!
Little Jesus, we love you a lot!
And now, as Jesus so often tells Marcel, time is up! You are tired, little one, go and rest. I'm tucking you into Mary's embrace. Sleep with the angels!
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