Adoration Part Two

As I mentioned last week, Father Michael’s been putting out a monstrance for Adoration these last couple of weeks of Advent. My last experience was pretty emotional & very intense.

Tonight’s was also, but in a very different way.

This time I went having heard much less bad news, which didn’t mean I was necessarily having a good day. I had a weird day. But it wasn’t an awful day.

I went in a cheerful mood. I was happy to be ending my day in this manner, knowing that everyone else was busy with a vestry meeting, & I’d selfishly have Christ all to myself again.

I knelt for a bit, & in my head I sang the little chant Father Vladimir taught us:

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Speak what is true.

I did that for a good long while with a smile on my face, then just said “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And then I was quiet in my mind.

Here is where some of you will think I am crazy.

I perceived Mary sitting on the pew next to me. I knew she wasn’t actually there there, but she was there. She looked so young & yet spoke with such an aged, wise voice, in a slow, deliberate way, like English was her second language, but she was very good at it if she took her time. She glanced up at the monstrance subtly. “You can sit back,” she said gently. “You’re in pain.”

So I did.

She said, “I knelt by his cradle when he was a baby. And I fell to my knees when he died on that cross.” She said it so carefully and lovingly. I burst into tears.

She spent a good long time telling me some things that might not make any sense to you, but they made perfect sense to me. She said to love him as she loved him, because he is both her son and her God. She knew it was strange.

She said that he never didn’t love me, even when I denied him. You want to talk about a Jewish mother guilt trip. But she didn’t mean for me to feel bad. She just wanted me to know. I felt bad because I felt guilty.

And then Christ was there. I mean, he’s always there, but he was part of this conversation. “Hey, you were a child,” he said, & for some reason Mary sounds like she’s from Israel, but Jesus sounds like he’s from Yonkers. There is nothing I can do about that; he always sounds like a 30-something rabbi from Yonkers to me.

I was basically sobbing at this point. “You were a child & you were in so much pain.”

“He cried with you,” she said. “He cried for you.”

So basically I’ve completely lost it alone in this dark church & Jesus is walking me through some stuff I feel like crap about & he’s explaining where he was during all that & helping me love & understand difficult people. He’s also forgiving me for not getting things at the time.

He & Mary are also consoling me on some difficult people & things now. And telling me that no, it’s not fair but if anyone can handle it, I can.

But where I completely surrendered to the conversation & cried like a child was when he very plainly said to me, “I love you so much. Hey, I love you. You have no idea.” And Mary said it too & I just kind of crumpled on the kneeler & sobbed like a child.

Which of course is when Father walked in & had to lock up the church. But his timing was impeccable; if he’d come in a couple minutes earlier, I would’ve missed all that.

I’m not telling you this because it’s a special experience just for me. It’s a message for you, too. Jesus loves you. You have no idea how much. You can’t possibly comprehend it. I can’t.

Also I get the impression Mary feels a little sorry for men, because they have a hard time being vulnerable. And sometimes they are mean about it. That was really good mom advice. Jesus was basically like, “Ya know, she’s not wrong.”

So that’s the story of my near hour with Jesus & his mom. She thinks of the church as her daughter-in-law. Isn’t that sweet?

I am going to see if other parishes have weekly or daily adoration, because there is nothing like it & I want to go again. I don’t know if it’ll be the same as St. Nicholas — a dark, cold church lit only by a few candles with lingering Sunday scents I know & love — but I want to try.

Adoration

No one has known more suffering than Christ. I know that now. I know it.

He suffered on the cross & he suffers now. Every time we wound one another, be it something as heinous as murder or simple as indifference, he aches with sorrow.

This hit me during adoration this evening. It hit me long enough to sob for an hour in front of a monstrance. It hit me long enough to sob in the car on the way home, though I did manage to hold it together long enough to buy my stupid sensitive skin soap.

Now that 87% of you think I’m crazy, let me explain what adoration is. Actually, let Brother Jim explain it. This is a lovely piece of writing Father had me email to everyone in the church (yes, someone has entrusted me with yet another database).

Father then announced at Mass this Sunday that during Advent, we’d have adoration on Tuesday evenings. I spent a blessed hour alone in the church, Christ all to myself, kneeling in the front pew.

It occurred to me after maybe 2 minutes of gazing at the Host that I would need tissues, which we apparently don’t have in the sanctuary. I wandered into the sacristy & snagged a couple. I came back, began to pray for Christ to speak to me, & was besieged with inconsolable sorrow.

Every hideous news story I’d read that day hit me with a furious sadness I was incapable of feeling while scrolling my FB feed. A 9-year-old girl who hung herself, a pregnant teenager stabbed to death by her boyfriend. Starving children. The homeless who visit our very parish hall 3 times a week. The unbearable fear & isolation & loneliness of these souls pierces Christ as surely as any spear.

There were visions of friends who are dead, one who killed herself & another who ODed. A friend’s niece who died stupidly, horribly, unnecessarily. My friend’s beautiful brother who recently passed. All walking strong & joyfully with Jesus now, but his own sorrow for them was so much.

I thought of a friend who is going through a tremendously painful, scary medical mystery, his lack of faith, & even pure hatred of God.

I spoke to him. “Is this you all the time? How do we end your suffering? What can I do to end all the suffering? You control the universe! How do we console you?”

I had the sense that all human rage & hatred is only suffering & pain, expressed in sin.

I didn’t get any answers today. All I knew is that after a little while, I stopped crying, & I looked at my watch. I had been there an hour. I figured Father probably wanted to lock up the church & go home. I got to blow out the candles surrounding the monstrance. That felt like a reward.

Sometime during this hour, I also thought of Mary, giving birth to this glorious child who was destined to suffer & die for us. That also made me sob. That never doesn’t make me sob.

On the way home, Garmana’s version of “Virga ac diadema” shuffled up. It was written by Hildegard von Bingen. These are the words in English:

O branch and diadem in royal purple clad,

who like a shield stand in your cloister strong.

You burst forth blooming but with buds quite different

than Adam’s progeny—th’ entire human race.

Hail, o hail! For from your womb came forth another life,

that had been stripped by Adam from his sons.

O bloom, you did not spring from dew

nor from the drops of rain,

nor has the windy air flown over you; but radiance divine

has brought you forth upon that noblest bough.

O branch, your blossoming God had foreseen

within the first day of his own creation.

And by his Word he made of you a golden matrix,

O Virgin, worthy of our praise.

O, how great in power is that side of man,

from which God brought the form of woman forth,

a mirror made

of all his ornament, and an embrace

of all his own creation.

The heavens’ symphony resounds, in wonder stands

all earth, O Mary, worthy of our praise,

for God has loved you more than all.

O cry and weep! How deep the woe!

What sorrow seeped with guilt

in womanhood because the serpent hissed his wicked plan!

That woman, whom God made to be the mother of the world,

had pricked her womb

with wounds of ignorance—the full inheritance of grief

she offered to her offspring.

But from your womb, O dawn, has come the sun anew;

the guilt of Eve he’s washed away

and through you offered humankind a blessing

even greater than the harm that Eve bestowed.

O Lady Savior, who has offered to the human race

a new and brighter light: together join the members of your Son

into the heavens’ harmony.

Like, seriously. That happened. Of course, I burst into tears again.

I don’t really know what to do with this information except to try super hard to never cause anyone sorrow, ever. I mean I already have a No Sorrow policy, & I try to make as many people happy as I can, & alleviate pain as often as possible. But it must not be enough.

I don’t know what to do.