I was seven years old when I learned I had a soul.
This was where Jesus would come when I received Holy Communion, and I was to
prepare the place carefully. Sweep it clean and tidy, Sister instructed;
no sin allowed.
I pictured this item of my personhood quite vividly. I
saw it as oval shaped, pearly white, and resting in the center of my
chest. A venial sin would spot it, a mortal sin (heaven forbid) would
turn it black as a lump of coal. It was like a little house inside me,
where Jesus could come and rest.
I’m now many years past
seven. I no longer envision a white oval, shining like a pearl. I
do, however, marvel at the truth embedded in this simple childhood picture. “Here
I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears Me calling and opens the
door, I will enter his house and have supper with Him, and he with Me.”
What an astonishing
reality. There really IS a dwelling place inside me, set aside for God
Himself. A cloister of the heart, a sanctuary. And it’s not a
refuge for me alone.
In the days when He walked
the earth, Jesus found places of refuge. Certainly He was in need of
them, as He was hunted down, mocked, misunderstood, beaten, spat upon, and
finally killed. He found refuge in a womb, a manger, the arms of Mary and
Joseph, with friends, and in a little house in Bethany. In such places
Jesus was cared about and loved.
As we know,
misunderstanding of Jesus did not cease with His crucifixion. The world
has never, as a whole, reached out to embrace Christ and His teachings.
He is still “spat upon.” He’s discounted, laughed at, shunned in various ways –
often before our eyes. I may hear Him mocked this very day.. or
dismissed as unimportant. I might hear His Name used as a swear word.
If that happens, can I
remember to take a moment to offer a prayer of praise and love to Him in the
solitude of my heart?
“A cloistered heart
accepts God’s grace to love Jesus Christ in the midst of a world that does not
love Him; to embrace His will in a world which does not embrace it. Thus
the cloistered heart becomes a place of refuge not only for us, but for Christ
Himself. To create such a refuge is a primary part of the cloistered
heart’s apostolate.” (© The Cloistered Heart)
"Make my soul…Your
cherished dwelling place, Your home of rest. Let me never leave You there
alone, but keep me there all absorbed in You, in living faith, adoring You.”
(Elizabeth of the Trinity)
"I want to repose in your heart, because many souls
have thrown Me out of their hearts today." (Jesus to St. Faustina)
"I try always to be a Bethany for Jesus, so that He
may rest here." (St. Faustina)