Entering Into the Resurrection – “The Shelter of His Rays”
One of my favorite Rosary Mysteries is the Resurrection of Christ, though they all have their place for different times and seasons. And, so, during this Easter Season I would like to invite you into the graces, the “rays of mercy,” that I experience.
First off, I remind us that due to Christ’s hypostatic union–the fact that He is fully human and fully divine–every moment of His life here on earth was both inside and outside of time; and because of this we are able to enter into every moment of His earthly life in a literal way. This is in fact why Christ was able to be consoled by us today, during His passion 2,000 years ago.
Now, let’s consider an approach to Scripture. St. Ignatius of Loyola speaks of three ways of entering into Scripture. The first is by just reading it on the page. The second by reading it and imagining it happening before us like a play. And the third is by actually entering into the scene as one of the characters. (I actually often like to create a “new” character of sorts by entering in as myself.) It is this third experience that I would like to invite you into as we continue forward in this rich Easter Season.
One of the most profound meditations for me in this mystery is entering into the scene where Christ first appears to His Mother. (I realize this scene is not specifically stated in Scripture, but it is a “small T” tradition in the Church.) After having been with Mary through the passion and death of her Son, and then the quiet of Holy Saturday where I seek to be with her and console her in her grieving, sorrowful heart, the experience is profound as I imagine Christ appearing to her.
I imagine the redeeming graces flowing from Christ’s wounds as He takes His Mother to Himself, wrapping her in His glorified presence. And, through this experience, Mary’s sorrows are turned into immense joy. Just as with a woman in labor, her sufferings are assuaged as she receives her Risen Son.
Our Redeemer Wants to Embrace Us
Mary inspires me to dispose myself to the Redeemer. I open myself to imagine Christ appearing to me and holding me to His Heart, from which flow rays of grace and mercy. I open myself to experience the redeeming graces that flow from His five wounds as He holds me to Himself.
I realize we are all different in our ways of praying–some take more naturally to imagining. And we are all at different places and seasons in our lives. For some, it may not be easy to dispose ourselves to the embrace of our Risen Lord–and that is OK. There is no right or wrong, better or worse way of praying. Each of us should strive to pray from the heart and be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
I am sharing my prayer experience as a springboard to encourage everyone to strive to encounter our Lord in prayer in whatever way they are personally led. But, I also add, if anyone reading this is inspired to do so, I encourage you to join me in allowing our Risen Redeemer to embrace us, as we dispose ourselves and those areas most in need to the redeeming graces flowing from His wounds. And, if you’re not yet ready to let him hold you, in whatever way you can, imagine His redeeming graces flowing to you.
For each of us, as we enter into the great mystery of our Risen Lord, there are many different places we may be inspired to go. We could be one of the two men on the road to Emmaus. We could be Mary Magdalene looking for her beloved “rabbouni” and then hearing Him call her name. We could be Peter or one of the other disciples who did not believe at first, and were reprimanded by Jesus. We could be a real doubter similar to Thomas, who needed to see and touch. Or, in each of these scenes, we could walk in as ourselves and encounter Christ. There are countless places we may find ourselves as we enter into this mystery with our deeper heart, attentive to who we are now in the present, attentive to what we are feeling and experiencing as we allow the Holy Spirit to inspire us in our encounter with Christ.
Do We Live In The Reality of His Risen Presence In Our Midst?
Do we really know in our hearts that our Redeemer lives (as the song goes)? Or is it just head knowledge? I am always being convicted to go deeper. Pope St. John Paul II, at the beginning of this new millennium, encouraged us to live as the first apostles in the reality of our Risen Lord and Bridegroom in our midst. He said, “Conscious of the Risen Lord’s presence among us, we ask ourselves today the same question put to Peter in Jerusalem…: ‘What must we do?’ (Acts 2:37)” (Novo Millennio Ineunte 29).
Do we live in this reality? Are we among the “blessed” who do not see but believe? Or, are we like doubting Thomas who not only needed to see, but to put his fingers in Christ’s wounds in order to believe?
Jesus tells us through St. Faustina, “The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive” (Diary, 1578).
St. John Paul tells us that Divine Mercy Sunday encourages us to live the “whole Easter Mystery.” Throughout the Holy Triduum we reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This second Sunday in the Easter Octave emphasizes our invitation to receive more personally Christ’s redeeming graces into our own hearts and lives. And, throughout the Easter Season, a total of 50 days, we are meant to dispose ourselves to this “whole Easter Mystery.”
Are we, as Church, a Bride receptive to the graces that flow from our Risen Bridegroom? “The more the soul trusts, the more it will receive.”
Called Forth From The Tomb Of My Own Wretchedness
As I reflect on Christ’s Redeeming graces and what His Divine Mercy has been for me, I am aware that I would be totally depressed and left to my wretchedness without His mercy. I would be hopeless and wallowing in a mud puddle of my sins and disorders. But instead I have been called out, called forth from the tomb by our Beloved Redeemer and Bridegroom, to plunge myself into the Ocean of His Mercy, His Love, His Redeeming Blood.
Now this excites me! I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, or try to pull myself up by the bootstraps, but only need to come humbly and honestly before my God and tell Him who I am, in the raw, without mincing. And, this is the calling for all of us.
“The greater the sinner, the greater the right He has to my mercy,” Jesus tells us through St. Faustina. The question I often need to ask myself is, “Am I aware of my sin? Am I aware of my great need for His mercy?” I may not commit major sins such as murder, adultery, or other sins of impurity, but in what ways am I not living in His Divine Will? In what ways am I living out of my human will or self-centered inclinations? In what ways am I lukewarm and tepid in loving and serving Him?
Courage to Face Who I Am, Divine Mercy in My Soul
When I first read St. Faustina’s writings on Divine Mercy, it gave me courage to face more directly who I really am. As I read how Jesus so loves the sinner and longs for us to come to Him, though our sins, or even our sinful inclinations, “be as scarlet,” this helped me to let my guard down to become more real with Him in who I am; and it continues to encourage me to let my guard down and be real about any and every area in my heart and my life where I am not in full conformity to Christ.
So often throughout my earlier years of life, I felt I needed to wear a mask, to hide things about myself of which I was ashamed: disordered inclinations and sinful actions of different kinds. I felt a need to hide and not bring into the light things about myself that weren’t perfect, and maybe even far from perfect, because I didn’t think I would be unconditionally loved and accepted if others knew these things about me.
But what a grace this devotion to His Divine Mercy is. This is no new revelation for us as followers of Christ. Any authentic private revelations draw us to the riches we already have in public revelation and help us to go deeper in living them out. And, this is certainly how it is with the Divine Mercy Devotion. We are being drawn to the foot of the cross to be with the centurion soldier when he pierces the side of Jesus and His Blood and Water pour out. Just as the centurion converted, we are being called to remain there with Mary at the foot of His cross, allowing Jesus’ redeeming blood to constantly permeate us as we continually open ourselves each day to still further conversion.
Jesus tells us through St. Faustina of the two rays shown in the image, “These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross…. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him” (Diary, 299). Now, that’s truly Divine Mercy, and cause for great rejoicing, when the just hand of God will not lay hold of us!
Would we but long to crawl up into Jesus’ open wound of the heart where He is inviting us in to encounter the “depths of [His] tender mercy”?
When Pope St. John Paul II died on the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2005, his last words to us were: “How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy – Jesus I trust in you.” Pope Francis has named this the “Year of Mercy”!
May we all have the grace to dispose ourselves evermore fully to Christ’s redeeming love and mercy, especially through His presence in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession. May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Eucharist, intercede for us.