The Heavy-Laden One

Who amongst us isn’t wounded?  Who amongst us isn’t crippled in some way?  Who amongst us doesn’t bear the scars of past hurt or the pain of present heartache?  To be a living human is to breathe in and out, to think with the coursing of blood, to weep and to laugh, to taste a little bit of decay with every pleasure’s sigh.

No one can be alive and stagnant.  There must be ebb and flow, the breaking and remolding of every day.  For we do not contain within ourselves a still liquid, but, rather, a flowing stream of infinite love that must be given and received, which wears down every hardness and washes away the places of softness – so that ever and more we may be full of living love.

Do not be afraid.  Thousands have gone before you and thousands more are following; you are not alone.  The One who made the way leads you and protects you on all sides – thus that Beautiful One is the Way. JESUS-carrying-crossWounded, crippled, scarred, and pained, the Sublime One is your heartbeat, is your sorrow, is your joy, is the very marrow of your mind and very soul of your soul.  See how beautiful?  The Heavy-Laden One cries and sings with you – this Healing One waits for you beyond the edge of the last day.

unpublished work © 2015 Christina Chase

His Heart Was Pierced

When the Roman soldier drove a lance up into the side of Christ’s body on the Cross, blood and water poured forth from His pierced heart. At that same moment, the earth itself trembled and the very rocks split. The veil in the Holy of Holies was torn asunder, exposing the most sacred of sacred places to the outside world. We are even told that graves opened up and the holy people who had been buried there rose, living again. When some of the soldiers saw how Christ died, feeling the very ground quaking beneath them, they exclaimed, their eyes open wide, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

This is how God Incarnate brings Redemption and Salvation. His Sacred Heart is made accessible and He pours His love and mercy out upon us – and all Creation is shaken up, forever changed. Now is torn away the veil between human and divine, between the dead and the living – between doubt and faith.

… But not all will choose to enter the opened way….

© 2015 Christina Chase


(See Matthew 27:51-52 and John 19:34, 37)

Meditating on Christ’s Death

For my salvation, Lord, this is what you will…

 

The circle of thorns,

the only crown that we deigned to give you in our wickedness,

pierced into your temples – and you hallowed us.Crown-of-Thorns

 The iron spikes, with which we nailed you to

the only throne that we deigned to give you in our worldliness,

pierced through your limbs – and you set us free.Three_Nails_1

.  The lance,

the only honor that we deigned to give you in our waywardness,

pierced open your heart – and you saved us.pierced-by-lance

 Hold us within your Sacred Heart, Christ Jesus!

Pour forth your love upon us, O Lord, and help us, by your grace,

to lift up our begging bowls to you, so that you may fill them…

Fill our hearts to overflowing, Lord!

And, in the overflowing,

may we love one another as you love us.

Amen.

(Prayed when I received Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and my teeth pierced into the Body of Christ…. )

© 2015 Christina Chase

INRI

My cousin and his niece Facebooked me this image with the following question:

INRI

“What do the letters INRI stand for?”

I wrote back and told them that the letters stand for “I’m Nailed Right In.”

Ba-Dum-Bump… But seriously, folks…

Now, I didn’t have to make a joke. But I did. My cousin, who, like me, is part of the lost (poorly catechized) Catholic generation, will sometimes turn to me for answers to Faith questions. He has always encouraged my theological studies and posts. His niece, my other cousin’s young daughter, has that sweet faith potential of little girls who love the pretty and the theatrical. Kneeling beside her small Mary statue at bedtime, sincerely praying for loved ones before sleep, she has an open readiness for God – which I hope the world never makes her close. Certainly, I could’ve answered their question seriously right off the bat. But, I decided to lead with a joke. Perhaps I did so in order to express and share the fact that being religious doesn’t mean being humorless. However… I think I may also have led with humor because I want to be seen like everyone else – you know… flippant about the sacred.

Ridiculing

When a friend of mine had first told me that joke about being nailed right in, I cringed a little. It wasn’t a fear of sacrilege that made me wince. It was more like a feeling that I was making fun of someone good and innocent. Like, if he heard us, it would make him feel bad – and that would make my heart break. I smiled with my friend, however, and I did try to appreciate the humor because it was a pastor that had first told her the joke. But, I wished that she hadn’t shared it with me. I was afraid that every time that I would look up at a crucifix, I would think of those words, I would think of the joke. And, for me, the crucifix is no joke. It’s an exquisitely profound symbol of God’s love… God’s humility… God’s selflessness. The truth of abiding love, and the excruciating pain that love is willing to endure, held up as a sign of victory over death and destruction… Oh, Mystery of Mysteries….

It is Christ on the Cross that answers this common human question:

If God is loving, then why does God allow suffering?

Answer:

“Look to the crucifix.”

We suffer. God knows. But, He doesn’t allow us to do anything that He isn’t willing to do with us, that He isn’t willing to do Himself. God knows.

I didn’t write any of this on Facebook. Instead, I shared a joke about the initials written above the crucifix. I did go on to write that the letters stand for the Latin of “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.[1] But, now, my cousins and my Facebook friends may think of the sarcastic alternative when they look at a crucifix. Instead of being overwhelmed by the humility of God in contemplating the depths of divine love, as I have been so overwhelmed, many times, they might only smirk at the little humor.

Before I could be too hard on myself, however, I began to think about that joke a little more… about those words…

I’m Nailed Right In

How many times in your life so far have you been held back or frustrated by your own limitations? Have you ever wanted something with your whole heart, something good and beautiful, and been unable to reach it? Have you loved something, or someone, and watched it get stripped away from you? Have you ever found yourself in an undesirable situation and felt trapped?

These are the times when you are nailed right in.

I’m nailed right in.

God knows. God doesn’t allow us to suffer anything that He hasn’t willed to suffer Himself.

He was beaten, tortured, and stripped. Iron spikes were driven through his flesh, securing his hands and feet with searing pain to the wooden beams. He was caught by the fear and greed of others. He was imprisoned upon a cross, no mercy, no escape.

God knows what it feels like to be weak, to be fragile, to be at the mercy of others who have no mercy, to be unable, to be physically helpless. And whenever we are so – and all of the other little times when we feel trapped, when we feel stuck – we need only to look to the crucifix to know love… real love… and to sense the power in our limitations, the strength in all of our cannots. We are nailed right in, pinioned, held fast – but we are pinioned by grace and held fast by divine love. See His arms opened wide, see His heart bursting open…?

“And so did I follow him who could not move,

an uncaught captive in the hands of Love.”[2]

I am bound to you, O Christ. And my loving will to be so bound is my freedom.

© 2014 Christina Chase


[1] Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum John 19:19

[2] from a poem made famous by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. See: http://livinginthetwohearts.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/fulton-sheen-part-iii/

First Friday and the Will of St. Francis

In a shadowy recess of the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, I caught sight of a dimly lit bas-relief and felt myself drawn to it… and even changed by it.

Before I get to that, shortly – below the carving is a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi taking the body of Jesus off of the Cross. Of course, it is historically inaccurate. But, great art depicts the truth within and beyond facts. The artwork is meant to convey the love and life of Francis, who was so utterly devoted to God-Incarnate suffering in this world that he even developed the Stigmata, signs of Christ’s wounds on his own body. Francis’s arms are therefore shown to be encircling the body of Christ as he is ready to lift up his beloved Savior and catch him in embrace.

St. Francis Jesus Cross Ste. Anne de Beaupré

Francis is on tippytoe in his innocent eagerness, gazing upward in adoration, his hand curved and held in gentle wonder.

And I ask myself: do I want to embrace Christ this much?

Am I eager to carry the weight of his beaten and bloody body? Do I hold him in wonder and affection close to my heart? I wasn’t there when they crucified my Lord, but I am here, now, when the dying are crying out in pain and loneliness, and the abused are losing hope that anyone will carry them to safety. Is my heart suffering with theirs in true compassion, ready to do whatever I can to help – not to hesitate, but to give generously in love? Whatever I do for the least, I do for Christ.

As I wrote in the beginning of this post, it was the bas-relief above the statue that most deeply moved me. I had to look up at it a long while before I could discern the figures and details. While realizing what I was seeing, I felt the cords of my heart being so sweetly touched that the exquisite song of joy spread all through me. Below is the image, the image which I am taking as my Faith Facilitator for this First Friday:

St. Francis bas-relief Ste. Anne de Beaupré

At first, I saw Jesus with his arms open wide, crucified. And Francis, in front of Jesus like a child, held his arms open wide in imitation, looking back and up at his Savior as though asking, “Like this?” Christ, the patient teacher, and Francis, the willing student. But, then… I saw that there were wings depicted behind Jesus, signifying Christ Resurrected, Christ Glorified and Ascended in Paradise. And I knew that Christ Jesus was teaching his beloved child… with open arms, a living Cross… how to fly….

Prayer:

Oh, my Lord and my God,

teach me to be little,

your little child,

so that I may grow big and strong like you.

Amen.

[This is part of the First Friday Faith Facilitator series, for the month of November 2014.]

© 2014 Christina Chase