Saturday, March 10, 2018


Polished Worry Stone
Rubbed Smooth by Faith and Prayer
Glories in the Cross

Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had just risen, the women went to the tomb.  They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled away.       Mark 16: 2-4

 I know I am skipping ahead to the end of the paschal story, but this being Laetari  (Rejoice) Sunday, I couldn’t resist.   Do you hear the worry in the women’s voices?  We know the end of the story.  They meet the risen Jesus.  Yet, they are bewildered, but they also rejoice.   We too have our share of worries and bewilderment and times of rejoicing.   

Even the foundress of the Redemptoristine Nuns, Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa, had cause to worry and be  bewildered.    Imagine how you would feel if, as a novice in your community, you had a revelation that you were to be the instrument Jesus uses to found a new Order.  The plan of the new Order was to be  based on the life of Jesus: on His humility and His love.  Imagine the turmoil that would cause in community.   That is exactly what happened to Celeste.

Blessed Celeste was an eighteenth century mystic.  All her life she enjoyed a special relationship with her Beloved Lord.  From the age of six, Jesus spoke tenderly to her heart and through the years He was her Guide saying she would travel in His footsteps in the same way He traveled in His earthly life.

Jesus said, “You are for me alone and I am for you alone.”   He explained, “You are my friend, you are my delight!  In your sufferings and afflictions, I keep you in my Kingdom of the Cross and in the Kingdom of my Peace and rest,  just the way I lived on this earth, so that I might give you the Kingdom of Eternal Happiness.”  

And Celeste indeed traveled in Jesus’s footsteps.  After she told her superiors about the revelation, things went from bad to worse, so much so that at one point she was sequestered to a closet under the eaves for two weeks and forbidden the reception of Holy Communion.  People were calling her delusional, a troublemaker.   It wasn’t until she was interviewed by one Rev. Alphonsus Liguori that Celeste was believed and the Order was approved.  

All the while Blessed Celeste lived in faith and prayer following the pattern of Jesus’s life of self-emptying, embracing the cross for love of Him.   Even after the Order was established, she still experienced worry and bewilderment when was ultimately expelled from the community because she was true to her Lord and followed her conscience.  For five years she was a wayfarer until she founded a new monastery based on the Rule revealed to her by Jesus.

Throughout this time, Celeste wrote in the form of dialogues her conversations with Jesus.   In wonder Celeste says to Jesus,  “In your humiliations all the sweetnesses of your treasures and infinite glory are hidden.  There you invite me to keep you company on the cross and in your mercy gazed on me with compassion.” 

Just a note here:  When Blessed Celeste uses the words ‘humiliations,’ I believe she is speaking of God’s total self-emptying in becoming human like one of us as Jesus, therefore accepting all that it means in foregoing all privilege and reverence due him as Man-God.  In the Florilegium, a collection of her writings, Celeste uses the word ‘humiliations’ at least 35 times:  exemplary humiliations, admirable humiliations, glorious throne of humiliations, the supreme divine humiliations of his death on a cross… and on and on.   In pondering these instances of Christ’s humiliations we discover opportunities for ourselves to be better disposed for the perfect transformative union of our soul with the Man-God Himself.

Jesus responds to Celeste, “Be not surprised that I died for you on the cross: I embraced the cross, loved it, desired it and took pleasure in it ~ all for your love.”  And encourages her saying, “Keep your gazed fixed on Me without any fear in all that you do knowing that this work is totally mine.” 

Celeste answers, “I thank you, my faithful Lover, for the great love and mercy you have for me.  You, God, live in the human person; in my life the Son of the Eternal Father is living, having come down into my heart to give new life to my flesh.  Make me an echo of your love.”

What worries do we have in common with Celeste? Misunderstanding and hurts with our family and friends, our places of work, our local communities?  Do we share them with Jesus? 

We live in a time of self-emptying, like Jesus, our Beloved.  We share humiliations, weaknesses, illnesses, as well as the everyday challenges and mundane occurrences of our lives with Jesus.  These are the hidden treasures that transform us when we unite ourselves to Jesus on the cross.   And you are not alone.  The very people who are such a bother are the same people who, if we accept their critiques, instruction, chisel off our rough edges, ware down our bumps and polish us up.  In the moment, this is not pleasant or easy.  But, if we step back and listen in the silence of our hearts, we may learn something about ourselves and others.  In the book of Proverbs it is written, “Listen to instruction and grow wise.”   These ‘instructions’ are not destructions.  These instructions rub us smooth like the worry stone you hold in your hand polished to a shine by prayer and time.  All of us are all participating in this rubbing, this transformation as we travel together with Jesus.  Together we are being polished to glory.

How can we persevere when things get rough?  Like Celeste we can reflect on the life of Jesus in  prayer, faith and trust knowing we are not alone at any moment of our lives during times of worry.   In sweet acceptance we offer ourselves, like Jesus, like Celeste, to God knowing we are worthy of divine love, and discover the graces and gifts, the wisdom and strength received from those hidden treasures, as we rub up against our own weaknesses and sufferings with others and move on enlightened to share in the supreme glory of the cross of Jesus, our Beloved.    

The stone has already been rolled away! 

How does it feel to be rubbed the wrong way? 
Do you take this to prayer?
Does it ever smooth out your hard edges?
What does your polished to glory look like?

The Sisters and Associates traced their worry stone on a piece of paper and colored in the 'glory.'

No comments:

Post a Comment