Victim with Christ
In the last two posts [part one here, part two here] we have been exploring the capacity that we have to intimately live the Eucharist, to worship well and to live the mystery fruitfully. We explored how we develop a receptivity to Jesus in the Eucharist by letting Him take possession of everything and in particularly our five senses. Today we explore what this surrender brings about in us that is powerful for others…
While on retreat at New Melleray Abbey, I would walk up to a little country church and cemetery that was carved out of the expansive corn fields that surrounded it. It was green, quaint and probably a place that really resembled the green hills of Ireland, the home land of many of the parishioners that were buried there. It felt like I was stepping back into an untouched place of history, in the same time and place as my Irish ancestors. One day I was walking on the asphalt path and caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye back in the woods through the tall grass. I generally don’t walk out in the country through tall grass because I don’t like spotting gardner snakes etc, but this inkling continued to gnaw at me. I stopped to see a beautiful Virgin Mary statue through the trees. I hesitated and then took myself in hand, walking across the mowed lawn and into the tall grass. What a treasured and intimate place to pray, deep in the woods with Our Lady. To get there, I had to work through my human resistance. It is the same when we encounter the deep and beautiful mystery of the Eucharist. We are being attracted to the Cross in a very intimate way. Frequently, we stay on the surface or edge of the mystery when the Lord wants to delight us by taking us deeper so we can live the Eucharist more personally and more fruitfully for other people.
Even though she was a lay woman, Venerable Concepción Cabrera (1862-1937) received many helpful insights into the priesthood for the ordained and for the laity. She helps us all recognize that we each are called to cultivate a readiness to be offered with Jesus, or to be an offering ourselves with Him for the sins of the world. This sounds kind of routine; especially when we consider that the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary but in an unbloody presentation. In reality the Lord is asking us to offer up in union with him what costs us a lot. Concepción called this being “a victim with Christ victim.” [i]
As victims, he wants us to go off the beaten path, to pray for what, Servant of God, Father John Hardon, S.J. described as “The grace of inspiring and enabling us to sacrifice ourselves constantly out of love for God and to pray for the grace of generosity” [ii] to follow the way of Concepción.
“I don’t know how to make satisfaction to Jesus. If I could give him the glory that other souls snatch from him. If I could love him for all souls that do not do it. If I could be nailed with my thoughts on Him and fixed on Him alone, for so many who not devote to Him not even a remembrance, to endure suffering in such a quantity to compensate for how he is offended by sensuality and comfort seeking. My chest burns with desires of reparation of love and of sacrifice.” [iii]
She is teaching us how we have to overcome our own resistance to suffering in order to become offered as generously as Jesus wants us to do. Jesus desires us to be so united with his priorities; that we carry some burden for redemption with him. He wants to free us to become pure and ready to endure hardships and relinquish them to Him for the very ones causing them.
Christ showed Concepción “the necessity of purity or of purification, for gaining graces on behalf of others.”[iv] He also showed her that this brings reversal of our preferences, or suffering for us many times. Christ encouraged her to “always think with love. On all occasions humble yourself, conquer yourself. Do good, fulfill your duties; unite yourself to Me and always with a spirit of loving expiation.”[v] Concepción responded to this in her journal entry:
“I now offer myself to what He wants and how he wants it and at the hour he wants it: the greatest sacrifice I have; my will to do and undo in me according to his taste and pleasure.” [vi]
While Our Lord does not desire that we experience pain, He does desire union with us at all levels. He wants to untwist our human vulnerabilities and stuck points so we can love as He loves. This is an adventure of love, wholeness and fruitfulness that will only be fully realized in heaven. Read and pray with these excerpts from Concepción’s diary. Where is Jesus leading you off the familiar path and who is He asking you to love?
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[i] Ruiz, Luis, M.Sp.S. Unpublished English translation of Priestly Oblation of Christ and Priestly Dimensions of Baptism in Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, p.27.
[ii] Hardon, Father John, S.J., The Holy Eucharist as Sacrifice Sacrament, http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Sacraments/Sacraments_014.htm
[iii] Cabrera, Concepción, The Account of Conscience, 7:71-72 unpublished English translation.
[iv] Ibid, Ruiz,p.28
[v] Ibid, Cabrera, C.35:117.
[vi] Ibid, Ruiz, p. 29
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Art: Tall grass growing wild at Lyme Park, Polishname, 2007, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons. Venerable Concepción Cabrera, used with permission.