"Prisoner of Love"

My dad has this quote he heard from a priest once which he absolutely loves. He brings it up regularly, and says it’s the simplest explanation of the difference between Catholics and Protestants he’s ever heard. It’s actually one of my favorite quotes, too (my dad liking it just makes it that much better), and I’ve been thinking of it a lot lately:

“The difference between Catholics and Protestants is that in Protestantism you’re told to ask Jesus into your heart, and in Catholicism, you’re told that Jesus is asking you into His Heart.”

Don’t read on just yet, go read that again and let it sink in for a while.

In fact, that’s kind of what the blog today is about. I have so many quotes from saints that I love, and sometimes I like to go back and just mull them over a little. There were some I wanted to share today, and hopefully you have some time to savor them. Words like these can be for our souls like a good, steady soaking rain can be for a Texas summer. Take your time, come back if you need to.

St. Catherine of Siena, a woman whose life bespoke a soul consumed in a lavish love affair with her God, would describe this love as a limitless ocean or fire: 

“O unfathomable depth! O Deity eternal! O deep ocean! 
What more could You give me than to give me Yourself? 
You are an ever-burning Fire; 
You consume and are not consumed. 
By Your fire, You consume every trace of self-love in the soul. 
You are a Fire which drives away all coldness 
and illumines minds with its light, 
and with this light You have made known Your truth. 
Truly this light is a sea which feeds the soul 
until it is all immersed in You, 
O peaceful Sea, eternal Trinity! 
The water of this sea is never turbid; 
it never causes fear, but gives knowledge of the truth. 
This water is transparent and discloses hidden things; 
and a living faith gives such abundance of light that 
the soul almost attains to certitude in what it believes.”

I think the priest’s explanation is so good because it gives us Catholics a chance to consider the Eucharist a little. There’s one song I heard at Mass that describes the moment we receive the Eucharist as the moment when the One “Whom all the world cannot contain comes in our hearts to dwell.” 

He lives there in you, and since He holds all created things in existence, you are living in Him. It’s an intimacy that goes beyond human comprehension. A thought beyond understanding, but we are meant to dwell in the reality of it. The Catechism tells us that even though we can “never fully express the infinite mystery of God,” we must always strive to “purify our language” in order to speak about Him with others. To speak of God is to speak of the love which enfolds us at every moment, so it seems we should strive to purify the understanding we CAN have of His love. Our understanding will always be limited, but He invites us to dwell in the knowledge of it, to live from the reality of it, to act in freedom of it. How do we purify that understanding?

Have you ever read St. Thomas Aquinas’ Sequence for Corpus Christi? I had a hard time finding a good translation, but I like this one fairly well. Here’s a little of it. If you take your time reading it you’ll have a chance to realize how good the words taste in your soul:

Here in outward signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things, are all we see:
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine;
Yet is Christ, in either sign,
All entire confessed to be.

They too who of Him partake
Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the selfsame meat,
Nor the less for others leave. 

St. Josemaria Escriva moves from the reality described by St. Thomas to answer the question about how to purify our understanding. By noting the devotion expressed in some human loves, he explains simply: we learn of Christ by spending time with Him.

“Jesus has remained in the Eucharist for love…for you.
He has remained, knowing how men would treat Him…and how you would treat Him. 
He has remained so that you could eat Him, and visit Him and tell Him your concerns; and so that by your prayer beside the tabernacle and by receiving Him sacramentally, you could fall more in love each day, and help other souls, many souls, to follow the same path.
Good child: see how lovers on earth kiss the flowers, the letters, the mementos of those they love…Then you, how could you ever forget that you have Him always at your side…Yes, Him?”

I’m not always good at spending time with Our Lord just to spend time with Him. I’ve gone because I feel like I should, or because I notice I’m able to deal with tough times better after I’ve gone, or because I’m at the end of my rope…but He is always there to spend time with me just to spend time with me. Just because He wants to see me. Many saints call Him the “Prisoner of Love,” shutting Himself up in every tabernacle just so we could find Him easily, just so we might stop by and satisfy the longing of His Heart to be loved and to give love. St. Josemaria again reminds us: “When you approach the Blessed Sacrament, remember that He has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”

He wants us to come to dwell in His Heart. He wants us to learn the freedom of living in intimacy with Him. He wants to give us the joy of sinking into the “unfathomable depth” of the ocean that is His love. His Presence changes life from a thing incomprehensible to a thing meant to be lived as a gift…a gift returning to the Creator who gave it.

I’m praying this week you have a chance to spend some time with Him, to stop by one of those tabernacles where He’s been waiting for so many hundreds of years. Maybe you do as one priest expressed it and “have a good chat with Our Lord.” Maybe you sit in silence, out of words but needing to be warmed by the radiance of His love. 


P.S. The blue words are hyperlinks – if you click on them it will take you to certain sites with more wondrous saint words. God bless your week, and renew your heart in the knowledge of His love!

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