Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Mother Maria Celeste, our foundress, was fascinated with the Incarnate life of the Word of God among us.  Part of my training as a young Sister involved the “Intentions of the Hours”.  As  postulants and novices, at set times throughout the day, we ‘remembered’ the events of Jesus’ life, from His conception at the dawning  of the day, as we made our morning meditation,  to his burial at the evening hour of Compline.  It was like the Rosary of Our Lady in action, but it focused on the whole of Jesus’ life. 
Sometime after our Pope St. John Paul wrote and published the Illumination Mysteries of the Rosary to honor the Public Life of Christ I began to think about the Rosary Mysteries in a new way.  For so many hundreds of year we had prayed the Joyful Mysteries of His life but they only covered the very early childhood of the Incarnate Word from His Conception to the Presentation in the Temple when He was 40 days old, and then skipped to his Bar Mitzvah when he was 12 years old.  There were 18 more years after that
I began to think a lot about the Hidden Life of Jesus, 30 years of His Life.  Precious years but we know so little of them.  Have you ever thought about that?  Thirty years before Jesus Christ began his public ministry, which was after he was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, “being about 30 years of age “as St. Luke tells us.    
And in God’s plan for his whole life why was so much time given to those years?  And so few years by comparison given to his public ministry of  2 ½ to 3 years, and 3 days to his Passion and Death?  Let’s think for a moment about what we know of that time:  from the moment of the Incarnation in Mary’s womb, through his birth and infancy, his childhood, his youth, young manhood, mature manhood.  As St. Luke tells the story it seems that Jesus was ready to begin his work for the Father and for us at age 12, but at his parents urging “he went back to Nazareth and was subject to them”.  “And Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and men.” I would like to suggest that all these years, perhaps especially the last 18 of them, were a long Advent time for Jesus. 
What do you think? What did he, the Word and Wisdom of God incarnate among us, need to learn?  Or simply, why this long awaiting before He could give himself wholeheartedly to the ministry for which He came? 
(Take time here to hear the thoughts and reflections of the group. )
In an important writing of Ven. Maria Celeste, The Interior Garden, our Mother Celeste reflects on each one of those years of the Hidden Life and sees how in them Jesus entered already into the plan of Redemption which he would consummate on the Cross.  I brought with me a copy of a study of this section by Fr. Domenico Capone, CSSR.  In her reflections he says Celeste is seeking to know and understand the interior journey of Jesus so that she may learn to do likewise. 
Mother Celeste uses the words ‘annihilations’ and ‘humiliations’ that Jesus had to pass through during all of those 30+ years.  She has a reflection for each year of his life, and what patience, acceptance and humility were asked of him, the Word of God now suffering all the limitations of human life on earth.  In what He endured with great good-will she learns many lessons for herself—that is the focus of her prayer and considerations.  That is how she will become a living memorial of her beloved God-among-us.  That will be her Advent Journey to the fullness of God’s life within her. 
Here are a few examples from the Little Garden, Pages 321 -357. 
At the end Father Domenico Capone summarizes “This {hidden life of Christ} had its beginning with Christ’s conception, and then for more than thirty years His annihilation consisted in living an uneventful life in the small village of Nazareth, in the house of a carpenter and being a laborer in the service of others. This uneventful life, so different from the life of John the Baptist, was nonetheless for Him the greatest annihilation; it was a daily life that contained eternity and the life of God, but jealously veiled it. St. Celeste sought to intuit this annihilation mystically and she understood and described the immense condescension of Christ: He accepts as the virtue of annihilation, in His own annihilation, what in us is simply our own truth: truth as limited creatures; but worse, as creatures who are sinners. And so, while in Christ annihilation was an “emptying”, a “kenosis” of the “glory” that was connatural to Him as the Son of God, in us it means an “emptying out of an egoism” which prevents us from knowing our limits, and even worse, our sins.
Annihilation in us is therefore not dehumanizing…but instead is the truth, the true humanism; it is a question of a true intelligence in which true reasoning is “wisdom”. For this reason Sr. Celeste, in her thirst for both truth and intelligence,…has celebrated the magisterium of the “sapiential intelligence of Christ, as a book of truth and as the sole Teacher who can make us understand the double reading of Himself as a book with an evangelical message: a reading of Himself as the Son of Man, and a reading of Himself as the Son of God. Spiritual life consists of being enclosed with Christ in the humble little house of Nazareth and being open there to this double reading, but always in the “reflection of the light and power that emanates from His humanity in great humility.
And it seems to us that at Nazareth, the Man Jesus, the Word of God, in His humility and in the silence of his work – which had a social dimension and utility beyond the salvific value of annihilation, as meditated on by Sr. Celeste -   would have shown the politicians who ruled the city, where the secret was for making the earth and the terrestrial realities, even the most humble, a truly civilized place. We believe that the world must return to Nazareth and there observe how Jesus works in silence for others, without fanfare, and thus reveals the true political wisdom needed for civilized life.”
May we all learn those lessons so that we too can be a blessing wherever we live our own simple, hidden and humble lives.  Amen!

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