Friday, April 14, 2017

Loving Loving

That others may be loved more than I,
 Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside ….
that others may be praised and I unnoticed …

That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should …
  --- The Litany of Humility

It is late Holy Thursday night, the night when Jesus was scourged, crucified, mocked and laughed at --- and felt so alone.  I will never pass this night without being with Him; I will remember.
In the Adoration Chapel I began my prayers with the Litany of Humility, as I do every night.  But this night I was quickly shocked from my routine, as I realized that it was not I who was saying those prayers, but rather He --- right now --- was again living them in His actions, in His heart.  He was saying those words of the prayer, for me to hear.
Deliver me from the desire of being loved, … honored, … praised, … approved --- He naturally desired none of those things, which I only pray to minimize in my life.
Deliver me from the fear of being humiliated, …despised, …forgotten, …ridiculed, …wronged --- He willingly accepted all of these things, things that I fear.   
And yet, despite all His humiliations --- a God willingly accepting humiliations --- He did it so that others may increase, …be chosen, …be praised, …be preferred, …be holier --- He willingly suffered these most horrible humiliations and death, as He thought on how much He loved me. Those words (above) are not just words praying for humility, they are words praying to learn how to love.
I had lots of thoughts about sacrificial love tonight.  I recalled the time when my father was dying.  It was so unexpected --- kind of like how Jesus was worshipped on Palm Sunday as if He’d be praised forever more, and then, less than a week later, ….  When Dad’s fatal condition was diagnosed, in a couple of days I consulted lawyers on wills and custody of mom, hospices and nursing homes, caregivers and nurses, movers and ambulance services.  And when all was finally arranged for dad’s transfer from the hospital, --- he died.  And then began a whole new round of preparations and plans.  And tonight, I realized something about those days that I had not considered at the time:  I did all those things out of love.  There was no drudgery or panic, just resolve:  I will do this.  I also recalled a dear friend who went through an even more extensive, intensive preparation for her mom’s dying care, and when all the preparations she made were complete, her mom died suddenly, even as my dad did.  Death comes suddenly, even if we think we prepare for it.  But the important thing, the really important thing is --- as I realized this night --- that as I did, as my friend did, as Jesus did, we prepared for death with love --- not love as some duty or task, but with love from the heart.  What Jesus showed us this Holy Thursday night, what we need to learn, is to love loving --- so that it comes naturally, no matter the cost.
I prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary early in the evening (I’ll pray the Sorrowful later).  Here too I was surprised at the new meaning of the words I prayed, in light of what happened this Holy Thursday night.  This is what I’d have you do:  listen for My Will; resolve to do it.  No matter how hard.  I wrote those meditation words considering Mary’s thoughts at the Annunciation, but they now applied to Jesus’ Passion.  No one who sees me will understand.  They’ll talk; they’ll laugh.  I wrote those words considering Mary’s humiliation on being single and pregnant, but how much more humiliating for a God, who chooses to die.  Sad, lonely, afraid.  I want to do Your will, but it is so hard --- was written considering Mary’s birth pains, but now they apply equally well to Jesus’ death pains.  No matter how much in pain, He can still wipe away my tears --- I wrote those words considering my own pains and that God is always there for me.  Tonight, I saw a different meaning in those words:  No matter how much HE is in pain, He can still wipe away my tears --- even in His most terrible sufferings, He was still thinking of me.  That’s what real love does.
Also, this night I prayed the Stations of the Cross.  The words of those meditations continued the squeeze on my heart:
I do not suffer alone   - 2nd Station
He identifies with our difficulties  - 3rd Station
The most distant object I can see on a clear day is the sun.
But on a dark night I can see the stars,
millions of miles farther away.
Darkness has its spiritual value.
  – 11th Station
If I have lived with love, that is how I shall die.
If not, that will be a tragedy.
  – 12th Station
Loving loving.  That’s the lesson, and challenge, I have learned this night.  I was shown that I have had some past success in loving --- I can do it; the challenge put before me this night is to do it until I die.  If not, that will be a tragedy.
Loving loving needs to become part of our nature, our reason or living.  And our last thoughts at our dying.

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