We visited the St John Paul II Shrine in DC today. It is interesting and beautiful. Chapel murals are stunning. Smaller chapel has all 5 Luminous Mysteries (Jesus’ Baptism, Wedding at Cana, Jesus’ Public Ministry, Transfiguration, and Institution of Holy Eucharist) in mosaics, with smaller New Testament scenes above the large ones. The docent said that the artist did not name the smaller scenes, and left it up to viewers’ interpretations.
Anyway, this one caught my eye — it is right above a larger one of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan. Docent was pretty sure it was Prodigal Son — prodigal is in home with Father, ring on finger, and elder son is choosing to walk away in the darkness. I am not so sure. I think it might be almost- Apostle/Bishop Judas walking away during Last Supper. Jesus is in upper room with Peter — ring of papal authority, yet soon- to- be- betrayer — Judas is walking away, destined for the potters field — and the sorrow of Jesus and Peter is evident. “Friend, you betray me with a kiss? And, Peter, after you betray and then repent, love my lambs, and behold my sorrow over those who choose to leave.”
I immediately thought about the Church in these days — priests (and us laypersons!) sorrowfully seeing/having seen their “brothers” walk away, yet also struggling with their own betrayals. I wish I could find a photo of the Baptism just below. St John with awe beholding Jesus submitting to baptism, with an angel with an equally awed look holding a towel for him.
I bet there’s a whole lot connecting these two images with the headlines that keep pouring in. Maybe a paper’s worth. Divine Mercy offered to the betrayals, a Loving Father and Sacrificial Redeemer-Shepherd who has given us the awe-full gift of Free Will, and wow that angel — he’s part of it too. The loving Lord won’t force us into the water, he won’t tie us up as a prisoner in the house, won’t give up on us until we irrevocably and totally reject Him.
These men are some of the best seminarians in the country. (We are totally biased as we know several of them!) Four of them will become priests in several weeks, and the rest of them will be joined by potentially many more next year to complete their discernment/formation over the next several years. These are the men who are willing to run back into the burning building.
We are running back in to save and rebuild, too, when we spend the time with Our Lord in adoration. It is a mostly hidden act of love, of the will, to commit to a regular time before the Lord (or in our homes, if we are unable to get to church or chapel) and then DO IT, week in and week out. Most times I am ready and willing to venture out and keep my appointment with the Dearest One. Sometimes, though, it is difficult, especially a night hour. But — we need diocesan priests and religious sisters, brothers and priests. Most of us are not called to such a radical vocation — one of the deepest ways to support them, and encourage them, is to commit to regular prayer before the Blessed Sacrament if we are able.
Our Lady, Queen and Mother of Priests, Religious, and Seminarians, pray for us! Draw many more of us into a deeper relationship with your Son in the Blessed Sacrament, on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are discerning the priesthood and religious life!
What an amazing reality that the immensity of eternal joy in heaven will include deep and unimaginable friendships with beloveds of God such as Father Willie Doyle, SJ, Irish front-line WW I chaplain-hero. Read about him here.
This is part of a letter (to his father?) included in To Raise the Fallen: A Selection of the War Letters, Prayers, and Spiritual Writings of Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J. , written soon after the Battle of Messines Ridge, France, June 7, 1917, two months before his death:
“As I knew there was no chance of saying Mass the next morning, I had taken the precaution of bringing several consecrated particles with me, so that I should not be deprived of Holy Communion. It was the Feast of Corpus Christi, and I thought of the many processions of the Blessed Sacrament which were being held at that moment all over the world. Surely there was never a stranger one than mine that day, as I carried the God of Consolation in my unworthy arms over the bloodstained field. There was no music to welcome his coming save the scream of a passing shell; the flowers that strewed his path were the broken, bleeding bodies of those for whom he had once died; and the only altar of repose he could find was the heart of one who was working for him alone, striving in a feeble way to make him some return for all his love and goodness. “ p. 78
Præstet fides supplementum Sensuum defectui.
Father Willie Doyle, pray for us and increase our love for the Most Holy Eucharist!
Lent is a great time to gaze upon the Lord, and allow Him to gaze back at you. It sounds somewhat daunting and maybe even strange, especially if we have doubts (we all do at times!) about Is There Actually Someone In that Monstrance? or maybe the quiet unnerves us. Remember “Green Eggs and Ham”? Just try it, Sam : ) Spend 10 – 15 minutes in the Oratory or Church for three times this month. You don’t need to say or do anything — just rest in the Lord. He is specifically there — for just you! He would love your company.
Links to Lenten Adoration at St. John the Evangelist, Severna Park: