I used to have an obsession with lockets. They’re a very Victorian concept typically used by lovers to carry an image of one another or a lock of the lady’s hair. A locket was also a traditional gift at a funeral, to carry the memory of a loved one always.
The tabernacle is God’s locket to us. Within it, His heart is beating so we can carry Him with us always.
Jesus is not only the lover of our soul. He is also the Silent Teacher. In Isaiah 40:30, The Lord reminds Isaiah: “Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.”
In the words of one of my eloquent friends, who happens to be a teenager, love requires free will. See, when I first made my promise to God, I started seeing crosses everywhere. I remember when I used to be a terribly reckless driver because I would see crosses in light posts! That will to love and be loved has to remain so strong. To want to see the Beloved everywhere. To want to be in His presence everywhere. You cannot have love without free will. You cannot honor your promise to love without it. God wants a covenant with us, not slavery. Which is why you come to marriage freely, totally and faithfully. Which is why He freed us from Egypt.
I remember a nun once telling us her marriage is the best because she knows that if anything is wrong, it's her fault.
Our promises our not equal. What sort of God would make a covenant with people like that? Any sort of adviser would have doubted God's decision. We had a bad track record. And He even had the wisdom to know the difference. Think of Adam, Eve, the people of Noah's time. But God looked at Moses, and looked at Job, and thought of David... and God decided we were worth it. The "What if?" was worth it.
Have you ever wondered What if? Or have you only ever thought There's no way? It's inconceivable? Now that we're three weeks into Lent, Easter is seeming farther, and farther, away, and our hunger for whatever we gave up is hitting a fever pitch and starving need. This is when God starts to ask us for more than just fasting. This is when the covenant demands a surrender. A sacrifice.
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Leaving the Kneeler
I'm really bad at paying attention during the Eucharistic Prayer. During adoration, I spend most of my time wishing I had a cup of coffee or a snack. I'm ashamed to admit it but I have to - I get bored. I trust my imagination as fantasy. But one time, when I was nearly half asleep in an adoration chapel at college, I was numb and staring at the 70's wood panelling when I looked up at the host and there was - inexplicably - a face looking back at me.
A face I knew but had never seen before.
I closed my eyes tight to make it go away. I sat closer. I turned around and pretended to grab a book to make sure it wasn't an optical illusion like one of those Magic Eye books with the hidden 3-D images. I looked at the lady next to me and watched until she looked up at the Blessed Sacrament, but she didn't react. It wasn't just the shadows playing tricks on me or the lighting of the world's smallest chapel.
All I can say is in my moment of being jaded and completely indifferent, a more-than-miracle happened that shattered my hard, stone-cold heart like water in the rock. A stream cracked through an unseen crevice kept open by God's foot in the door, by grace. It was like a candle's flame sputtering back up after you've blown it out. A dozen roses from a former love who you thought forgot you existed. It was like a boulder thrown aside to reveal a dark, empty tomb.
This is why I blame God for my inability to lose hope in hopeless cases. It's His fault entirely that I'm a hopeless romantic!
I still get bored in adoration sometimes. I still think about BLT's during the Epiclesis. And almost every time I attend mass, I’m tempted to stay in my seat. A little voice called worry sits next to me, whispering slander of God in my ear like the devil in Gethsemane. Are you sure? Those people are all perfect and you are not. Just remember when you... and that's not even considering...
Are you sure you’re good enough to go? To talk to them? To sit there?
No, I’ve learned to spout back. That’s the whole point. Each time I leave the kneeler, I know that I’m joining more than just my family to receive a gift and strength for the journey. I imagine myself as one of the thousands of sick on a dusty hill in Galilee, lining up to receive the touch of the Healer. I imagine myself as a future saint trudging through life to be sanctified again, thinking of the week before and trusting him with the week ahead. I imagine myself, as many do, all of us dressed in dirt and rags and walking away from receiving Him, unblemished, made clean, as a bride in white.
A priest friend of mine once reminded me that the Eucharist is our manna in the desert, our strength to keep going. When you're struggling - you need to run to Him, not run from Him. Nine times out of ten, our desire to stay in the pew and not receive is just a temptation to think the power of our promise to God
Let go of your broken promises.
Let go of how you shattered the deal.
Let go of where you were, how you've been, what you did.
Let go of who you think you are and most importantly who you think you should be.
God's covenant takes that word "should" and strikes a line right through it. He takes you by the hand, holds your face in his fingers and asks,
Are you in this with me, or not? Focus. This is about you... and me. Not them.
It reminds me of wedding rings. An engagement or wedding ring used to be used in ancient cultures as a sign that a bride was property of her husband. Now we both wear them; we belong to one another in that we both belong to God and our striving to prayerfully return the vessel back to Him. The vessel which is our body, melted together with our soul, will, heart, longings and sins.
But even those of us who are not engaged, married, and even those who are, wear a sort of promise ring in the shape of a cross on our foreheads, on our heart, on our feet. When we are anointed at a sacrament. God marks His promise on us. No matter what we do to wash it, no matter what the world does to scourge it from us, what is unseen is eternal and what is seen is only temporary.
So leave the pew not because of how much you deserve Him but because of how He longs for you. Yes, it should be humbling. Yes, we know you don’t deserve it – none of us do. But it’s more than our birthright. It’s our destination.
Nothing compares to the promise He has made in us.