Hearts of Jesus and Mary- Fr. Michael Gaudoin-Parker

Fr. Michael Gaudoin-Parker

Living the Mystery of Love entails surrendering our hearts to the Heart of God’s designs in not less than everything. We experience this through experiencing what no books or words can ever say. For the Spirit-filled Word sent by our Father instructs our hearts, just as He was the constant focus of the Virgin Mother Mary’s heart, in which He briefly took up his lodging and which became his Tabernacle. In this regard we can apply the word of the psalmist to all Christian hearts, not only, as the Fathers of the Church did, to her – although she is the paradigm or model par excellence of our lives: “He has set a tent for the sun, / which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber” (Ps 18:4-5).

This is what God’s design is for every person! It is the design expressed by our Saviour-Lord’s desire – desidero desideravi! – to share his Passover Love in our hearts’ interior Cenacle. From here He sends us forth, although we never cease to be contemplatives to carry on his mission of evangelizing, that is, bringing the radiant joy of hope to a sin-darkened, pride-dominated and self-centered world. Our missionary zeal has nothing to do with proselytizing! Rather, we are impelled, like the Virgin Mary, to carry the Good News of Christ to all those in need of being served, those needing the witness of practical charity. In experiencing this they are restored in hope about Christian brotherhood and also gently drawn into our living Eucharistic life of praising God, our living Magnificat (cf. Lk 1:39ff.). Our whole lives thus become a Christ-mass. That is, while going forth in the Church’s missionary dynamism of charity, we can never not turn lovingly and gratefully towards Him and through Him towards the Father, as He does (cf. Jn 1:1-2), for the Gift of the Spirit. In this way, although we go into the darkened world, we always remain in the light – the Light of God’s Heart of Love. For the Father’s unique Word invites us to walk and remain in his light-giving love (cf. Jn 8:12; 12:35f.; 15:1ff.).

This is the meaning of what it is to be in the world, but not of the world. What this implies surpasses any moralism that lays emphasis on our efforts or endeavors no matter how lowly or lofty. But we can truly take genuine pride in the mysticism to which we are called – the way of becoming genuinely responsible and taking responsibility for our lives, which are nothing other than our hearts’ response to the reality of the initiative of God and his sustaining grace through everything we do. This “little way” bespeaks the highest kind of spirituality known and practiced by the greatest saints, like Bernard or Francis or Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who simply followed Jesus’ via Crucis to the heights of his surrender to the design of the Father’s love for the world. As Pope John Paul II recalled in his homily at Midnight Mass 2002:
“The historical event which we are experiencing in mystery is the ‘way’ given to us as a means of encountering the glorious Christ. By his Incarnation Jesus teaches us, as the Apostle observes, ‘to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope’ (Tit 2:12-13).

O Birth of the Lord, you have inspired Saints of every age! I think, among others, of Saint Bernard and his spiritual ecstasy before the touching scene of the Crib. I think of Saint Francis of Assisi, the inspired creator of the first live depiction of the mystery of Christmas night. I think of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who by her ‘little way’ suggested anew to the proud modern mind the true spirit of Christmas.”

In his lowering himself to our condition by his redemptive Incarnation, the Lord Jesus raises us to participate in the height of his humility of love. This ‘height’ is symbolized or rather sacramentally expressed in the Mass, his Eucharistic paschal sacramental sacrifice. This comes about as we respond to the call to lift up our hearts – Sursum corda! Our response is realized in the twofold manner of entering into spiritual communion with the Risen Saviour-Lord’s Paschal Mystery: as we look up adoringly at the Host and Chalice elevated after recalling our Saviour-Lord’s own words of covenanting and pledging himself to humankind in his sacrificial total Gift of himself, his Nuptial Gift to the Church, and also as we look up acknowledge with our ‘Amen’ the same mystical Gift presented to be received and adored by us. Here again we notice that all the fullness of God’s awesome action of giving love and his movement of drawing us into his loving Heart are entirely from his part, from the pierced Side of his beloved Son! Indeed, did He not assure us: “I being lifted up from the earth will draw all to myself”! (Jn 12:32)

But, lest we feel left out, the great humility of God’s love, nevertheless, desires to include us, to give value to our response. The Fathers of the Church thus spoke of the “wonderful exchange” (‘admirabile commercium’) between God and humankind. So, what is our part – our ‘participation’, as we like to say now? It is nothing other than that of responding (it can’t be sufficiently emphasized!) to the compelling, terribly irresistible Beauty of Him who is pure unadulterated, disinterested Love. He has nothing, after all, to gain from us or our paltry response; yet, we have everything to gain by this. Oh! If only we could appreciate the Gift of God – ‘si scires donum Dei’ (Jn 4:10)! It is the Spirit of the Father drawing us to respond to our Saviour-Lord’s invitation to believe in the transforming gentle power of divine Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). St Peter-Julian Eymard came to realize the vitalizing importance of this and emphasized it in the last sermon he preached:
“We believe in the love of God for us. To believe in love is everything. It is not enough to believe in the Truth. We must believe in Love and Love is our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That is the faith that makes our Lord loved. Ask for this pure and simple faith in the Eucharist. Men will teach you; but only Jesus will give you the grace to believe in Him. You have the Eucharist. What more do you want?”

Our Saviour-Lord’s invitation is addressed to our lives burdened (as Martha’s was) with the chores of many things that distract and make us world-weary. The Father’s Spirit enables us to recognize Him who calls us, to perceive the tonality of the Beautiful Shepherd standing at the gate: “Come, come to me…” (cf. Jn 6:44; Mt 11:28; cf. also Rv 3:20). So, come, let us go to the House of Bread, Bethlehem; come let us go willingly, joyously, freely to adore Him, our Way to the Truth of Love in all our endeavors!

What a wonderful mystery this is! By sharing in the vital impetus that is both the dynamic and peace of participating in the Reality of our Saviour-Lord’s pierced Heart open to show us God is purely Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16), in this way – and in no other! - we come to experience and appreciate what it is to live the Mystery of Love.

Fr. Michael Gaudoin-Parker- After studies in Rome and Cambridge (U.K), Father Michael Gaudoin-Parker was entrusted with various ministries in England: spiritual guidance and retreats, leadership roles in the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, editing a periodical on Eucharistic spirituality for 20 years. On the urging of Mother Teresa and with due permission 18 years ago he came to live near Assisi a life of prayer, research and writing various books and articles on the Eucharist, while also assisting the Pontifical Commission for International Eucharistic Congresses.

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