Living Bread

I recently attended the Annual Regional Gathering of my Secular Franciscan region.   I shopped in the Franciscan book store and signed up for adoration.  We had perpetual adoration throughout the weekend.  I bought a book, “Quiet Moments with Padre Pio,” and took it with me to adoration.  I took several things with me to the adoration chapel — expecting to read, or, pray the rosary.  But, I’d just come from a session that talked about the discipline of listening.  Where best to listen than in the adoration chapel.  I opened the Padre Pio book to the first page and read:

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow – July 4, 1917 letter to Capuchin seminarians

I recommend to you to have a firm and general proposal to always serve God with all your heart; do not worry about tomorrow.  Think about doing good today.  And when tomorrow comes, it will be today and then you can think about it.  Trust in Providence.  It is necessary to make provisions of Manna for only one day and no more.  Remember the people of Israel in the desert.

I closed the book and looked at Jesus exposed in the monstrance before me — I thought of the living bread from heaven discourses in our Gospel readings.  I began to talk to Jesus in my journal.

What if God has given me more Manna than I need?  I desire to share my portion with those I love.  But, what if I must hand them chopsticks with which to eat and they do not know how?  Do I find the fork and a knife?  Do I get a spoon and feed them like my child?  How do I share my great portion with those who do not know how to receive it?

I wept bitter tears of sorrow over the things which I have no control.

Today we read John chapter 6 — “Eat my flesh” repeated over and over.  “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”  So, I recall the days when I tried to see this — to understand this — to realize that I already believed.  Today, I realized in a different way what a special grace it is to move from symbols to True Presence.  Today, I also learned the answer to my question; I use the spoon.

Holy Land Pilgrim Journal Day 5

Continuing with Day 5 of excerpts from my February 2000 Jubilee year Holy Land pilgrimage journal.

Day 5 – Saturday, 2/19/00 Jerusalem/Mt. of Olives/Bethlehem/Shepherd’s Field

Today was the most emotional day yet.  We began on the Mt. of Olives and walked the Palm Sunday path.  We paused as Father read the scripture where the disciples acquire a donkey for Jesus.  We visit the Church of the Pater Noster and recite the “Our Father.”  We visited the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem and continued to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of Jesus’ Agony . . . the place of His betrayal and arrest . . . “Not My will, but, Thine.” 

We travel to the Church of Peter in Gallicunti [Peter’s Denial] which is built over the excavation site of the House of Caiaphas the High Priest.  This is the first place to which Jesus was taken after His arrest and imprisoned overnight.  The excavations allowed us to descend down into the dungeon region and reflect on the night Jesus spent before being sent to Pilate.  In the dungeon, we gathered as Father read Psalm 88.  With my back to the wall, I slid to a sitting position and closed my eyes while hanging on to every word.  I’ve always thought more about Jesus and His agony in the garden, but, never much about that night immediately after the arrest – the lonely night.  I could feel the cold from the wall through my coat.  It would have been completely dark.  Tears came as I absorbed these images in my mind and my heart.  Once outside, I was bursting with immense sorrow.  Everyone in our group scattered in tears as we were powerfully moved by the Spirit.  We stood on the steps that lead to Caiaphas’ house from the City of David.  From there we can look back across to the Mt. of Olives and know that this was the beginning of the long walk to the crucifixion.  Jesus led bound, battered, and mocked through the streets and up those steps – the scattering of the disciples.  Peter “follows from afar” and quickly slides into denial, “No, I don’t know the man.” 

From here, we traveled to Bethlehem and visited the Church of the Nativity at Manger Square, which is the place of His birth.  It lifts our spirits to think now of the birth.  Mass on this day was at the Shepherd’s Field where, according to the Priest who greeted us, “It’s always Christmas.”  We sing the Lamb of God to the tune of Silent Night.  To be physically present with all the places I’ve only read about in the Bible is overwhelming.  Today my soul has been ripped and bared open.  God has drawn me ever closer to the mysteries of His great love.  I feel these are the experiences God is using to draw me closer than I believed possible.  I feel His powerful love and arms wrapped tight around me.

There is not a lot I can add other than to say just typing these memories have brought the tears again.  I was enveloped in the Gospel “red letters”, the words of Jesus, to which I grew up with as a Baptist in my King James Bible.  Less than a year after my reception into the Roman Catholic Church, a Holy Communion that is the anemnesis of Christs’ Passion, I find myself physically in Israel.  Receiving Holy Communion here was exponential to me in a spiritual sense.  Here the physical and spiritual united for me. 

The Church of Pater Noster remembers Jesus teaching us how to pray.  The “Our Father” is represented in many languages on tiled artwork on the walls.  I remember at Shepherd’s Field, I finally thought to myself, “Franciscans are everywhere.”  I briefly commented on the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in a prior post.  I got used to seeing the now familiar habits in most of the Holy Places where we visited and/or celebrated Mass. 

I would encourage you to read and pray Psalm 88.  In those words, I felt a certain union with Christ as we gathered in the prison dungeon.

For The Love Of Christ

In considering a title for my blog, I go to the phrase that best describes my Christian journey.  Christ has been at the center of my life since I was a young child.  I will go into that more in later posts.

After coming to the Catholic church, I discovered Saint Francis lived his life “for the love of Christ.”  I came across one use of that phrase in “Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures:  A Modern Spiritual Path” (Paul M. Allen & Joan deRis Allen, 2000). 

He told the friar who cut and chopped wood for the fire, that he must never cut down the whole tree, but remove branches in such a way that a part of the tree remained intact, out of love for Christ, who willed to accomplish our salvation on the wood of the cross.  p. 47

I thought about that image of salvation on the cross.  I considered the wounds of Christ and the eternal life that sprung forth.  I scribbled this image — refined it — and it is my own Tau — where leaves spring out from the wounds of Christ.

My Tau

 

 An all time favorite song of mine is “In Christ Alone” by Michael English.   It is a song I’ve listened to time and time again — heard live in concert.  Listen to the lyrics and they describe how I’d most like to be remembered.

 Note on Comments:  I have set the comment section to go to moderation for the first post of a user.  I will review and publish comments in the evening.  Once your comment has been approved, your comments will publish immediately.  Peace.