Saturday, May 21, 2011

Post-Resurrection Impressions

In April of 1571, St. Teresa of Jesus was living in Salamanca.  The day after Easter Sunday she was feeling very down and put to paper a reflection for her confessor at the time--Fr. Martín Gutiérrez, S.J., who was rector of the Jesuit house there.  She says: "All day yesterday I felt very lonely, for except when I received Communion I benefited little from the fact that it was Easter Sunday" (Spiritual Testimonies, 12).  Loneliness.  It is an affliction that touches us at the core and it is a suffering that we make great efforts to remedy time and time again.  There are times in our lives, no matter how we surround ourselves with others or lose ourselves in some task or another, when we simply pine for a rendezvous wherein we know ourselves to be known and loved intimately.  And with a love that is all-assuring and absolute.  To be embraced from within.

Teresa says that shortly thereafter: "One day after receiving Communion, it seemed most clear to me that our Lord sat beside me; and He began to console me with great favors, and He told me among other things: "See Me here, daughter, for it is I: give Me your hands." And it seemed He took them and placed them on His side and said: "Behold My wounds. You are not without Me. This short life is passing away" (ibid.).  ... Ah, this is the love we desire--the love of One who has been to the depths of hell, bearing aloft like a torch His unquenchable love, seeking any who are lost.  One who understands my longings.  Just as Jesus showed His wounds to His disciples, He shows them to Teresa in order to console her and to awaken her to His divine perspective.  Forever He bears His wounds in order to assure us that His love is stronger than death.  And He does not "leave us orphans" but rather "prepares a place" for us to finally be with Him (John 14:3,18).

Teresa's experience of loneliness serves as the pretext for her visit from the Risen Christ.  Perhaps it is there, in our painful longing for a definitive rendezvous, where Christ our God takes our hands and places them on His side.  Our ache is met by the touch of God.  Dark faith conceals and reveals the One for whom we long.  Behold My wounds. You are not without Me. This short life is passing away.

(Icon painted by Br. Claude Lane, OSB of Mt. Angel Abbey, OR)