Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Wounds of Christ - St. Josemaria Escriva

“Bring here thy finger and see my hands…” (Jn. 20, 27).

Caravaggio - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.jpg

St. Josemaria Escriva: “How truly lovable is the Sacred Humanity of our God! – You ‘entered’ into the most holy Wound of your Lord’s right hand, and you asked me: ‘If one of Christ ‘s Wounds cleanses, heals, soothes, strengthens and kindles and enraptures, what will the five not do, open on the wood?’” (The Way #555).
   “This point refers to a mystical episode in the life of St. Josemaria, which he made anonymous in this text as was his custom. The way in which this point was written can be considered a prototype of the manner for narrating something where he wishes to disappear was the subject of the action while, at the same time, maintaining the dialogic style of the book. In this instance we have the precise documentation. It happened in Burgos on 6 June 1938. He was going to the Monastery of Las Huelgas, where he was researching for his doctoral thesis. He was walking slowly, in the morning, praying. This is what he noted telegraphically that night:

                ‘Monday, 6 June: My morning prayer on my way to Huelgas guided by St. Joseph, with the light of the Holy Spirit, I entered into the Wound of the right hand of my Lord.’”
The supernatural event left him beset the whole day. When he wrote up his Notebook that nigh t, he was still in the Wound of Christ. In the afternoon, he had written to Juan Jimenez Vargas, the oldest member  of Opus Dei who was in the Nationalist zone, and with whom he  talked in depth about intimate things (while in Burgos he did not have any ‘older one’ with whom he could talk and communicate things of God):

‘Dear Juanito: This morning, on my way to las Huelgas, where I went to do my prayer, I discovered a new world: the Most Holy Wound of our Lord’s right hand. I was there all day long, kissing and adoring. How truly lovable is the Sacred Humanity of our God! Pray that he give me that real love of his and with it completely purify all my other affections. It’s not enough to say, ‘Heart on the cross!’ Because if one of Christ’s wounds cleans, heals, soothes, strengthens, enkindles, and enraptures, what will the five not do, open on the wood? Heart on the cross! O my Jesus, what more could I ask for! I realize that if I continue contemplating in this way (St. Joseph, my father and lord, iis the one who led me there, after I asked him to enkindle me), I’ll end up chalao, crazier than ever. Try it yourself! […]

Much love.

 From the Wound of the right hand, your Father blesses you.


"The tradition of Christian piety, follow ing the great Saints, has always ‘looked’ lovingly to the wounds of Christ and has ‘entered’ into them. The bibliography on this subject is enormous. As so many Christian faithful have done  throughout the centuries, St. Josemaria recited each day after Mass, the prayer En Ego: “As I reflect n your five wounds and dwell upon them with deep compassion and grief;’ and he asked Jesus ‘in your wounds shelter me.’ The Author’s insistence that it was the Wound of the right hand is impressive. In this regard I copy a text of St. Teresa:
‘Appearing to me as on former occasions, He began by showing me the wound in His left hand, and  then , with the other hand drew out a large nail which was embedded in it, in such a way that in drawing out the nail He seemed to me to be tearing the flesh. It was clear how very painful this must be and I was sorely grieved by it.’[1]

     "The union and identification of St. Josemaria with Christ in the mystery of the Cross leads him to this amazing expression: ‘Heart on the Cross! Oh my Jesus, what more could I ask for ?’ To lose himself with Christ on the Cross was, for him t he greatest happiness. To understand this text, it seems necessary to study it in parallel with The Way 163[2], written in the Honduran Legation, and which has the same expression ‘Heart on the Cross!’ These words and their spiritual context were obviously known to Juan Jimenez Vargas, who also had been a refugee in the Honduran Legation with St. Josemaria.  There he would have meditated on them. In the letter of June 6, there is an implicit dialogue with Jimenez Vargas regarding the same point , with a strong ‘ascetical’ message  that could be considered as going ‘against- the-grain’ of the passions. But now, the Author has lived a renewed experience of the sweetness of the Cross: to have the heart on the Cross is not to ‘Crucify him,’ but to enter in to the joy of Christ. It is like saying to Jimenez Vargas, the young medical lieutenant who will read the letter on the Teruel front, that this ‘Hea r t on the Cross!’ ?#163 in the whole Cross of Christ, is the summit of ‘mysticism,’ the total joy in Christ” ‘My Jesus,  what else could I wish!’ It is the pure gif t of God. The purification of the heart, to which he aspire d in # 163, is not pure consequence

                "The practice of entering in to the wounds of Christ had a long history for Josemaria Escriva. The consideration that leads to #288 comes from January 1934. And from July of that year stems his desire to fulfill the ‘old’ resolution of entering each day ‘into the Wound of the Side of my Lord.’ The contemplation of the Wounds of Jesus occupied an important role in the life of prayer within the pathway towards sanctity which the Author taught.”[3]

[1] Life, 39, 1.
[2] “’If your right eye scandalizes you, pluck it out and cast it fr om you!’ Poor heart … that’s what scandalizes you!
                Grasp it, hold it tight in your hands – and don’t give it any consolation. And, when it asks for consolation, full of noble compassion say to it slowly, as if confiding, ‘My heart… heart on the cross, heart on the cross!’”
[3] St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way A critical-historical edit ion prepare d by Pedro Rodriguez, Scepter (2002) 724-726.

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