Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Burying Christ In Your Heart

A reflection given to the Community of nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.
In preparing for Lent, I would like to speak about burying the Alleluia.* Do it purposefully. Because I would like to propose to you that the Alleluia is Christ who we are burying in our hearts as on Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday He goes into the depths of the netherworld to claim that which is His own. He goes to declare victory over that which has awaited healing. I would propose that you make this Lent one long Holy Saturday. We let Him into our hearts, into the areas which are dark, the areas in which we may not have let Him. We let Him into those areas which sin has rather ravaged. It may be just a portion of our hearts, there may be other areas that are full of light, but there may be an area in which we have not let Him. He wishes to be there. And as He went down into the netherworld, so He goes into our hearts and cries out His cry of victory, “I have come to save you from sin, from death!”
Let this be a new Lent. Draw Him deep into those areas of your heart. It is through penance that we open our eyes and our hearts. When we fast, hear Him say, “Take and eat the Bread of Life.” When we fast, He says, “Drink from the cup I drink. This is My Precious Blood.” He wants to save us.
I read over the vigils reading for Holy Saturday and I created a meditation with it. I want to give it to you and I want you to hear it as His invitation to you today:
**Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness… [The King] has gone to search for our first parent, He has gone to search for us, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. I will do it, be made clean. You may go, you have believed, let it be done for you. Follow Me.” Hear Him say, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” That is what this lent will be: let it be done to you according to your faith.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendents I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

That’s what I wish this Lent to be. Allow Him to be your Savior. He has already died and risen. Allow Christ to uncover those areas that need to be reformed, refashioned. Call to Him, and before you cry out He will answer, “I am here. I never left you.” Let that Alleluia ring in your heart. Be willing to sacrifice yourself. Forget yourself. Learn what it means to deny oneself in order to follow Christ. And then when we come to the first Alleluia of Easter, it is He who will sing it in you. It is He who rises anew. It is He who lifts you up to what you never believed you would be, but you already are, and He wishes to reveal it to you.
I wish everyone a Lent that is new, fresh, beautiful; one in which you allow Him to trim you. Don’t be afraid to see yourself. He already loves you, the whole of you. He only awaits you to recognize that. When you recognize that, there’s nothing you won’t do for the One who loves you beyond all love. It’s simply the call of the Bridegroom, “Arise my beloved and come.” Hear that this Lent.

*It is monastic tradition to “bury” the Alleluia for the season of Lent as a symbol of this period when the entire Church refrains from singing Alleluia. The Alleluia is “resurrected” on the Solemn Feast of Easter.

**All italicized text is from the vigils reading of Holy Saturday (The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Co.: NY. 1976) , the rest is by Mother Maria-Michael.

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