It is not easy to speak of faith experiences. This evangelization, in its rawest sense, breaks us a little in order to be authentic. Personal revelation, as revolutionary as it might be for me, can look like superstitious garble to the next, and yet is a foundational experience for each of us to really know Jesus. Bear with me as I break myself a bit in order to open that conversation.
While I was finishing my Culinary Arts certificate, I discovered I did not want to pursue that field. It happened about this time I began to meditate and hear the words of Jesus on the cross, “I thirst,” through prayer and in random circumstances. After several occurrences, I did what many might call foolish: I started wondering what I was really thirsting for. A couple months went on and with this phrase recurring over and over again, coupled with my discontent with pursuing Culinary Arts further, this became a true prayer in my life: Lord, what am I thirsting for?
A few significant mentions were made about heading in the direction of Theology and I carried that with me as I pursued in life and, on the side (I was 20), prayer. It was a great surprise then while on a weekend retreat that I randomly plucked from the wicker basket of Scripture passages for meditation for the weekend the one little phrase that had been sitting with me for the past couple of months: “I thirst.” Truly, I thought, if I can in complete randomness pull out this passage as my meditation quote for the whole retreat, then God must be trying to tell me something. So that weekend I acknowledged and embraced this reality and I set my face toward where I felt God was calling me to.
This experience was no small thing to me. My degree in Theology was hard – learning details of faith can take faith to the brink of despair. It was during this degree that I met my husband to-be. It was here I felt I thrived.
Now, 10 years after graduation, I feel less sure of my path. Things have not gone according to where I thought God was planning. Doubt creeps in, ever slowly. Prayer life has taken a hit since little children entered into life, though it is a most needed thing in this parenting journey.
33 days ago, mid-evening, I was struck by a general invite by someone on Facebook, someone with whom I truly have little connection. It was a call out to join her in the Do-It-Yourself Retreat: 33 Days to Morning Glory, a preparation for Marian consecration.
Now, guys, before you go all, ‘that seems pretty normal, I do it all the time’ on me, I have never been big into these huge types of Marian devotions. I love Mary. I understand her amazing role for us when Jesus came to us and up to and including her role for us now, but I have never, ever been drawn to enter into a serious hoedown with her. So this surprised me. It surprised my husband. And even now, after this 33 day journey, I still have no idea why I chose to follow a random person’s call to join this fray. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for my spontaneous nature, it wouldn’t have been agreed to at all. And that right there, my friends, tells me that Mary knows me more than I would ever have known if I hadn’t just experienced it.
It was on this journey that I was taken through some of Blessed Mother Teresa’s writings. And I was struck. Perhaps you knew already that she experienced a “call within a call”, meaning her call to start a new religious order to serve a very, very specific need, while already a religious sister. You see, it turns out that I’m not the only one who has experienced Christ saying “I thirst.” Christ spoke these very same words to her and she was hounded until she found her way to fulfill that meaning and quench that thirst. I experienced that hounding about 15 years ago and went to study theology, which I discerned was my call at the time. And now these words arise again in front of me, as if I randomly pulled out a scripture passage to meditate on. In hindsight I certainly feel less sure about choosing this consecration and rather more sure that Mary chose me and I’m only just realising it now…so the healthy guilt in me is urging me to pay attention.
I had a bad Fall Out with a job a few years ago. In and a midst that, while meditating on the fifth mystery of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary, the Crucifixion, I experienced Christ crucified. I experienced Christ on the cross, his hand, though nailed, was reaching for me, inviting me to be with him on that Cross. Inviting me into the suffering because that’s where He was. My suffering was an experience like that of Christ, in that he was right there with me on that cross I was bearing. And I looked into those soul-searching eyes and felt that love, that immeasurable, infinite yet so personal love, embrace me down to my bones. My response, the only I could make in the moment, echoed Peter: to whom shall I go, Lord? You have the words of everlasting life. To whom shall I go?
I understand that this is personal revelation; it really has no bearing on anything we teach, but it did affirm me, provide consolation to me, and I was able to gracefully bear the cross of that Fall Out in a way I never would have been able to otherwise. I discovered fullness in Christ’s love and I saw how Christ is truly in this world suffering alongside me, alongside all of us, in our trials. It revealed that if I ever wanted to find Christ in the raw, to truly know that I was in his presence, suffering was the answer.
Enter this Consecration 3 years later. I read about Mother Teresa’s call with “I thirst.” She goes on to say this:
He [Jesus] has his heart opened wide to receive you. Then when you feel miserable inside, look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign you have come so close that he can kiss you.
A Life for God: Mother Teresa Treasury, ed. Lavonne Neff.
Words that echo the experience I had with Jesus. Words that speak to all of us: when we are suffering, when we are in pain, are sorrowful, lonely: that is where we find Jesus. There is no doubt that Mother Teresa’s words ring true for all of us. It’s our (hard) job to look deep into that pain so that we can experience Jesus. This is the joy. This is the folly of the Cross: that our suffering draws us to Jesus, so close that he can kiss us. That’s why there is joy to be found in our suffering, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not an easy path to find it.
Tomorrow is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mary knows you more than you might believe, and she is longing to help bring you closer to her son. My experience is just one of many – there are numerous others out there who hold more miraculous stories than mine (are you one?), but there is an experience out there waiting for you. Waiting for me. Just as Mary used my spontaneity to snag me, I hope she uses your personality to draw you in close to her son as well. I truly feel like she’s given me a cheeky wink while ushering me in to be wrapped in Jesus’ embrace. And his embrace is worth every ounce of snagging she can do for you.
How has Mary drawn you closer to Jesus?
To celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I am giving away one printable – the one above (right click and hit ‘save image as’) and also a $3.00 coupon (Canadian, so if you live in the US it will be the equivalent) on the purchase of any print from my shop located in my Etsy shop, Catholic Printables (the majority are only $5 Canadian). Included in the variety of prints is a set of prayer cards to Mary, Immaculate Conception. Please use the code “catholicmomdiscount” (no capitals or spaces) to access your coupon. Happy feasting to you!
Copyright 2015 Jane Korvemaker.