Sunday, May 27, 2012

Key to Pentecost 2012: Experience: "Blessed Is She/He Who Believed" [Luke. 1, 45]

The experience of our Lady in the reception of the Word of God. She said “Yes” and the Word became flesh. She is at the center of the 12 apostles in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit comes down attracted by her humility and she receives Him into herself. She freely endows Him [experience] with her whole self, and the Word became flesh. The Lord wants to repeat that again and again so that the Word continually becomes flesh, and lives among us.  When the apostles received the Holy Spirit attracted by Mary, they endowed the Word with their flesh [experience], and spoke. All who heard them understood the Word [experientially] because each was hearing the [experiential] Word-made-flesh in each of the apostles. Those who were open by prayer, read the Word from within themselves because they also received the Word within themselves and “read it from within:” intellegere = ab intus legere: to read from within. A conversion of humility to vacate the premises is fundamental to “understand” (intellegere). [This “from within” is the experience that Wojtyla refers to the “I” as ontological reality that is disclosed by the consciousness arising from the realism of the experience of the acting person (saying “yes” as self-transcending act) and not as mere ungrounded “thought”]. Faith is not any kind of experience, but the experience of receiving the Word obedientially.

Christianity is the “event” of hearing the Word of God now. Julian Carron of Communion and Liberation wrote/said: “(N)o one would deny that Christianity is an event. But we often reduce the event to something in the past- whether we are dealing  with the beginning of Christian history 2,000 years ago, or the moment of our own personal encounter – when we don’t simply reduce it to an abstract category. But if it is reduced to a fact of the past, or to a category, wheat remains of Christianity in the present is merely ethics. Like when the event of love ends between two people, all that remains are the  things to be done, the tasks to be performed. Fascination is already left behind and the distance between the two keeps growing.

                “So what do I mean when I say that the nature of Christianity, just like that of falling in love, is an event …  ‘ “The ‘event’ does not indicate merely something that happened and with it all started, but what awakens the present, defines the present, gives content  to the present, and  makes possible the present. What we know, or what we have, becomes experience if what we know or have is something tha tis given to us now – if there is a hand  that offers it to us now, if there is a face that comes forward now, if there is blood that flows now, if there is a resurrection that happens now. Nothing exists outside this ‘now.’ Our ‘I’ cannot be moved, aroused, that is changed, if not by something contemporaneous- an event. Christ is something  that is happening to me” … how far we distance ourselves by the fact that we take it for granted, as something already known, and we can see how unaware we are of this reduction we make by acting in this way. ‘So, in order that what we know – Christ, the whole question of Christianity – be experience, there needs to be something present that provokes us and shakes us: a presence as it was a presence for Andrew and John. Christianity, Christ, is exactly what it was for Andrew and John when they were following Him…”
And so the Prelate of Opus Dei writes to us in this month of May:

During the following days of the month, we can closely accompany our Lady in preparing for the feast of Pentecost, which this year is celebrated on Sunday the 27th. St. Josemaría urged us to apply ourselves personally during this time (or even after the feast) to our meditation on the ten day devotion to the Holy Spirit. It is vitally important that we remain very close to our Lady during those days, learning from her how to have greater intimacy with the Sanctifier of our soul.

A few weeks ago, reflecting on our Lady’s presence in the Cenacle at Jerusalem with the apostles and the holy women, awaiting the coming of the Paraclete, Benedict XVI said that “with Mary begins the earthly life of Jesus, and with Mary the first steps of the Church also begin.”
 God wanted his Son to become flesh in the most pure womb of the Virgin, and our Lord gave her to us as Mother beside the Cross. Therefore, when the first disciples gathered in the Cenacle awaiting the promised Consoler, the Holy Virgin was found among them, “imploring by her prayers the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.”[5]

The Pope points out that “the presence of the Mother of God with the Eleven after the Ascension is not, therefore, a simple historical record of something that happened in the past. Rather, it takes on a significance of great value, for she shares with them the most precious possession she has, the living memory of Jesus, in prayer. And she shares with them as well the mission of Jesus: to preserve the memory of Him and so preserve his presence.”

It is not hard to imagine that, in the time between our Lord’s Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples, having the Mother of Jesus at their side, listened with great piety to her recounting of so many memories that she conserved in her heart: the Annunciation and the birth in Bethlehem; the dangerous months of Herod’s persecution, and the years living and working in Nazareth; the happy times of our Lord’s preaching and miracles during his public life, and the sad hours of his passion, death and burial. And then the joy of the resurrection, the apparitions in Judea and Galilee, the Master’s final instructions…. The Holy Spirit used Mary’s recounting of so many marvelous deeds to prepare the apostles and the other disciples for the fullness of Pentecost.

What a good school, my daughters and sons, the Cenacle is! A school of prayer, where Holy Mary is the matchless teacher. “Teacher of prayer,”
 our Father said; and also “Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice.”[8] Our Lady is present there listening closely to the Paraclete’s inspirations and teaching those first disciples to listen to God in the recollection of their prayer. “Venerating the Mother of Jesus in the Church means, therefore, to learn from her to be a community that prays: this is one of the essential notes of the first description of the Christian community sketched out in the Acts of the Apostles (see Acts 2:42). Frequently people turn to prayer for difficult situations, for personal problems that lead them to have recourse to God for light, consolation and help. Mary invites us to broaden the dimensions of prayer, to direct ourselves to God not only in our personal needs, but also in a united way, persevering and faithful, with one heart and soul (Acts4:32).”[9]

This is a mission our Lady entrusts to those who want to be faithful children of hers: to teach others to direct themselves to God at every moment, not only for urgent needs or in difficult situations. “For some of you, all this may sound quite familiar; for others, it may be something new; for everybody, it is demanding. As for me,” wrote St. Josemaría, “as long as I have strength to breathe, I will continue to preach that it is vitally necessary that we be souls of prayer at all times, at every opportunity and in the most varied of circumstances, because God never abandons us. It is not a proper Christian attitude to look upon friendship with God only as a last resort. Do we think it normal to ignore or neglect the people we love? Obviously not! Those we love figure constantly in our conversations, desires and thoughts. We hold them ever present. So it should be with God.”

We find Mary on Calvary, “at the foot of the Cross, praying. This is nothing new for Mary. She has always acted like this, as she fulfilled her duties and looked after her home. As she went about the things of this earth she kept her attention on God. Christ . . . wanted us also to have the example of his Mother, the most perfect of creatures, she who is full of grace, to strengthen our desire to lift our eyes up to the love of God at every moment.”

Now, from Heaven, where she lives glorified in body and soul, our Lady continues being very close to each one of us, fulfilling to the letter the mission that Jesus gave her in the person of St. John: Woman, behold your Son.
 “Let us entrust to her all the moments of our personal and ecclesial life,” recommends Benedict XVI, “among them that of our final passage from this earth. Mary teaches us the need for prayer and tells us that only with a constant, intimate, loving bond with her Son, will we be able to leave behind 'our house,' our selfish concerns, in order to reach even the furthest corner of the world, announcing everywhere our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.’]

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