When I consecrated myself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I knew that there was part of the Consecration that would be difficult, if not impossible, for me to do because of my severe physical limitations. (It’s hard to get around, I stay home a lot.) Mass attendance on the first Friday of each month is recommended, with five in a row prescribed. Hopefully, I will be able to do this… but I’m not counting on it. Meanwhile, I will participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy in the best way that I can: by watching a televised Mass and praying to receive Spiritual Communion. To help facilitate spiritual participation and communion, I will be choosing and presenting a prayer, meditation, or scriptural passage that’s conducive to true worship.
This month’s facilitator is St. Ignatius of Loyola, who eloquently speaks to the crux of what I was poorly attempting to write about in my last post:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; dispose of it entirely according to your will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is sufficient for me.
This is exactly what God calls me to do, exactly what I have such a hard time doing. This is the life of Jesus Christ, his human nature crying out to God the Father: “not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39.) This is the self-giving love of Christ on the Cross, surrendering to Divine Will, pouring out his life’s blood for me. And this is what is celebrated in the Eucharist of every Mass: the surrender of the self to the will of God in humility and love.
So what does that mean to me and for me?
There is nothing that I can give to God that God has not already given to me. God doesn’t need monetary tribute or burnt incense or a sacrificed portion of grain or meat. Even the little things that I “give up” during the season of Lent are not for God – the sacrifices are for me, to help me recognize that material things and self-centered pleasures do not constitute my identity or the fullness of life. By letting go of daydreaming (my personal Lenten sacrifice) I can turn my mind more fully to God and be more deeply aware of the true gifts and talents that God has given me. When I use these gifts for God – including my personal liberty, memory, and understanding – then I am fulfilled as a human being. I’m closer to becoming the person that I was created to be – I am closer to knowing the profound depth of God’s love and to experiencing infinite joy.
From today’s Psalm (51):
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
To truly participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy, then, symbolized by the bread and wine brought to the altar, I give my whole self to God. I consecrate and offer my person and my life to Divine Love Itself, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Like Jesus, I seek and choose God’s will. This is full participation in the Eucharist – in Christ’s Paschal Mystery. Transformed through redemption, I received the gift of Christ’s love, thus entering into full spiritual communion. And then I am able to do the things that God wants me to do each day: setting aside my selfish pursuits and indulgences, my self-righteous indignations, and going forth, in the ways in which I am uniquely able, “releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing [my] bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when [I] see them, and not turning [my] back on [my] own.” (Isaiah 58)
So, why don’t I DO it? Why do I have such difficulty just being gentle sometimes?
Lord, I want to be like you. I want to give you my whole self. Come, live your life through me.