16. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE BRIDEGROOM AND HIS BRIDE
Rome, March 30, 1947, Palm Sunday
The Holy Week is the week of love. Every year, this week marks an occasion in which our communications of love with God ought to increase. With God through Mary, since in the spiritual life, this is the divine method.
A week of love that has its centre on Good Friday, the day in which more than the other days, is realized dilexit nos et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis1
(He loved us so much that he gave up his life for us). It is preceded by the outpouring of love, which is the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood, comme-morated on Holy Thursday. It is followed by the victorious climax of this same love, commemorated on Easter Sunday.
Jesus carries off as a victory trophy his first conquest: the good thief.1 During his life, his special attention was to seek out sinners in order to save them, to redeem them.
Consider this week's whole Liturgy under the aspect of love. Grow in this love; intensify the flame that the Holy Spirit has enkindled in you, so that the light may shine on us, give us warmth and life.
St. Paul says: Neither the gift of prophecy, nor the knowledge of hidden things, nor any other gift or privilege can be compared to the gift of the best way that I teach you: charity! It is the only virtue that lasts for ever.1
The more the soul allows itself to be purified in this world by the flame of love, the more shall it become worthy of Paradise, the less will it need to make satisfaction in the flames of purgatory.
In the Book of Revelation we read: Ecce sto ad ostium et pulso: si quis audierit vocem meam et aperuerit mihi ianuam, intrabo ad illum, et cenabo cum illo, et ipse mecum1 (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).
These are words that find their parallel in the expressions of the Song of Songs which was profoundly commented on by St. Bernard2 in his discourses.
O soul, I am standing at the door of your heart, knocking... Let me come in. If you open the door I will come in, to make my home with you, in your heart.
Are you ready to welcome Jesus and only Jesus, into your heart? Is there perhaps a place for other affections? May the heart be really all of God's. Can you assert that your heart is completely his and his alone? Is it really so pure that there is nothing there to get rid of? Is it available to the entrance of Jesus, that in your turn, you could surely knock at the doors of Paradise, trusting to be welcomed immediately?
Intrabo...et cenabo...This passage indicates Jesus' mystical wedding with the soul, his Bride.
All women religious are called to this marriage, not every-body, however, reach this point because they do not know how to detach themselves completely from things and they do not live out the true religious spirit.
Deep, intimate relationships exist between God and his Bride; as well as very sweet spiritual communications, which are only reserved, however, to those who have really given up themselves totally to God.
Paradise is often represented as a banquet, a wedding feast, while here on earth, Holy Communion represents Paradise.
Jesus invites: Venite ad nuptias.1 Come to the wedding. In Heaven, the joy of communicating with him shall be perfect; down here, the virginal souls have a foretaste of it in the beautiful Communions.
You will also arrive at the eternal wedding banquet. Mean-while, prepare yourselves and get ready by frequenting Holy Communion with a spotless soul. Grow in love and make your union with Jesus stable and deep.
The religious soul: relictis omnibus1 must leave everything, must no longer have personal choices and preferences, must seek and want Jesus only.
Think of the wedding feast described in the gospel parable.1
How many groups of persons do we find in that wedding? We can enumerate six categories: the servants, relatives, invited friends, the children in the family, the bride, bridegroom and the bridegroom's mother.
The servants: are the ordinary christians.
The invited friends and relatives: can be likened especially to the Priests who are really the friends of the Bridegroom and to whom preferential choice, courtesy and kindness are to be shown.
The children of the family: are God's children, all those who live in grace. Filii Dei nominemur et simus1 (We are called and we are children of God). Children and heirs.2
The Bride: here is the religious soul, the one who has focused all her love on Jesus alone; the one who has made her own his aspirations and desires; who wants to form a union of life with him.
This is the faithful Bride, close to the Bridegroom Jesus. Dilectus meus mihi et ego illi 1 (My beloved is mine and I am his).
There is the Bridegroom: Jesus. Out of the greatness of his heart, he showers gifts on everyone and he gives himself especially to the Bride whom he loves and by whom he is loved ardently.1
The Mother of the Bridegroom. She does not have a fixed place. She is all right to be near the Bridegroom and the Bride, or be at the head of the table, among the children, like the best-loved daughter; or among the servants, as the first handmaid; she is all right among the groom's friends, the priests. The Mother is Mary!
At the wedding feast of Cana,1 we do not find her sitting down comfortably at table. Her watchful and motherly eye, observes, oversees and makes provisions. Wherever she goes, she diffuses light, joy and happiness.
Your place in God's Church is the place of the Bride. But to be worthy of it:
a) you must have all your love focused on the Bridegroom, because the woman, St. Paul says, belongs to man, to the bride-groom.1 As Brides of Jesus, you must belong totally and only to him.
b) the bride must have the same intentions, the same goals as the Bridegroom.
Do you still have personal desires, less upright intentions or do you really follow Jesus in everything?
c) the bride holds sway over the bridegroom's heart; the religious soul holds sway over God's heart.
The more we divest ourselves of ourselves, the more powerful will be our standing with God. Anyone who lives out her consecration to God, can say to him boldly and confident to be heard: I want this grace, give it to me. It is for your glory and for the good of souls.
The soul that managed to detach itself from every thing that is transitory, to free itself from human attachments, hears the voice of Jesus and adheres to it in every meditation, Communion, Visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament, in every moment of silence, reflection and in every encounter with Jesus. Between the Bridegroom and the Bride, an ever more intimate relationship is built up, which is a real preparation for that perfect relationship of blissful eternity.
If you will have faith, a deep, extraordinary faith, every desire of yours shall be granted!
If your union with Jesus is established as such, you will always be heard and will obtain all that you desire in life, in death and in eternity. In eternity as well, because up there you will continue to carry out the same ministry which you have chosen and began in this world.
I think I have clarified your place in the Church of God.
The lowly, humble and simple souls like the Blessed Virgin, grasp these secrets, understand the marvels of grace to a greater extent and possess greatly the divine light: Confiteor tibi, Pater, Domini coeli et terrae, quia abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus et revelasti ea parvulis. Ita Pater: quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te1 (Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise, for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children. Father, it is true. You have graciously willed it so).
1 Cf. Gal 2, 20: dilexit me et tradidit semitipsum pro me.
1 Cf. Lk. 23, 40-43.
1 Cf. 1Cor. chap. 13.
1 Rv. 3, 20.
2 St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor of the Church, wrote 84 Discourses on the Song of Songs.
1 Mt. 22, 4.
1 Lk. 5, 11.
1 Cf. Mt. 22, 1-14.
1 1Jn. 3, 1.
2 Cf. Rm. 8, 17.
1 Song 2, 16.
1 Cf. C. Marmion, Brides of Christ, “Monastic writings” n. 6, Praglia (PD) pp. 2-3.
1 Cf. Jn.2, 1-11.
1 Cf. Eph. 5, 21-33.
1 Mt. 11, 25-26.