Sunday, May 29, 2011

She Was More Absorbed In What Was Happening Within Her Than Without, For Within Her Was Her Treasure, The Gentle Secret That Left Her Amazed And Speechless

Only when the divine life we receive in the sacraments has been assimilated in contemplation, can it be practically expressed in action - in the practice of the virtues and especially charity. Just as there is no human action that doesn't originate in thought (if it does, it is useless, or extremely dangerous), there is no Christian virtue that doesn't originate in contemplation...Perfection in Christian life consists in being fully like Christ, first in the inner heart and then in exterior action.

Contemplation is, then, the set course for passing from communion with Christ in Mass to the imitation of Christ in life. Therefore, just as everyone in the Church is called to holiness, we can equally talk of everyone in the Church being called to contemplation. The way to Christian perfection goes from the mysteries to contemplation and from contemplation to action.

As soon as we try to apply these general premises on the mysteries of the Eucharist, their importance and relevance is immediately obvious. The result is that to be like Christ it is not enough to eat His Body and drink His Blood; this mystery must be contemplated. There is a big affinity between the Eucharist and the incarnation. St Augustine says that in the incarnation "Mary conceived the Word first in her mind and then in her body" (Prius concepit mente quam corpore). Actually, he adds, it would have been worth nothing to her to have carried Christ in her womb if she had also carried Him with love in her heart.

After the incarnation, therefore, Mary was full of Jesus not only in her body but in her spirit too. She was full of Jesus because she thought of Him and awaited Him (and how she awaited Him!); she loved Jesus. Like any woman expecting a child, but in a much more perfect way, she was more absorbed in what was happening within her than without, for within her was her treasure, the gentle secret that left her amazed and speechless. St. Luke tells us: "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). In this she is the most perfect model of Eucharistic contemplation: that is what the Christians who have just received Jesus in the Eucharist must be like. They too must receive Jesus with their minds after receiving after receiving Him into their bodies. And to receive Jesus with the mind mean to think of Him and have one's gaze fixed on Him.

- Father Cantalemessa