June 2022 Allocutio
Mary our Mother
Fr. Paul Chuchill
You have spent your day doing street contact or home visitation. It seems to you that your efforts were fruitless. Some people had no time for you, a small number were positively hostile, many were polite but you could see that they were fobbing you off. Those small few who engaged in a positive way were those who clearly had faith and were already committed. Despite your having asked the Holy Spirit’s help and trying to be a friend to all, you see no results. And you are left wondering if it is you: your approach is wrong, you’re not praying enough, your personality is blocking the way for Christ.
It is at this moment you should remember that Jesus and his mother have their arms around you because you have entered the world of their suffering, what they have been through. When you think how in our world it ended for Jesus after all he had done for people—his wise and godly teaching on how best to relate and create a noble society, his care of sick and those in need, his compassion for sinners—how he ended up rejected and brutally killed. Or let us think of his most sinless mother who herself had lived a most virtuous life and had shown concern for others all through her life and then saw her son—given to her by God as her major responsibility—so mistreated and murdered, surely her heart must be with us when we have done all we can and yet seem to have failed. As in the case of the Apostle John, who despite his youth, had stayed with Jesus to the bitter end, will she not make a place for you in the home of her heart?
Never give up even when our cause seems lost. That was what the disciples on the road to Emmaus learnt. Even before they knew he had risen something was holding these apostles and disciples. They still had Jesus in some form in their hearts. They were still mostly together, they went to the tomb. Even Thomas came back to them although he was so slow to believe. And we legionaries must still hold together no matter how dark it seems to us as the world espouses values so contrary to Christ.
I was very struck by those words of the Mexican Archbishop, Luis María Martínez. “The first wonder that the Holy Spirit works in the world is to preserve joy in our heart in the midst of sorrow. He knows how to pour out some drops of joy in the midst of our sorrows and tribulations. Jesus did not come to destroy suffering. He made it an instrument of his power and his glory. The cross, the emblem of suffering, is the symbol of Christianity. Christ did not destroy sorrow; he revealed to us the secret of consolation so that we could carry our Cross with joy!”
There is that story about St. Francis telling his brothers, “You come back to your friary some night in the pelting rain. It has been a bad day. Doors have been slammed on you, your begging has gained nothing and now, as you knock on the friary door and no one opens to you, and the rain is getting worse. Then count it all joy!”
And I will ask why? Answer: God holds you in his heart as a special friend. Because he was there before you! And the more we share in his trials the more he sees in us his companions. Must not his Sacred Heart have a special place for anyone who shares in any way in his seeming failure, rejection and wipe out on the Cross, especially when they have been trying to live their lives for him.
We could learn from Elizabeth Leseur, a French lady who died in 1914. She had no effect on her atheistic husband while she was alive. But she had written a diary of her spiritual life. It reveals that she had her struggle following Christ but stayed with it. “Since I am not entirely able to lead the life I would like, it is all the more necessary to make my actual life more fruitful for God and for those entrusted to me.” And she goes on further, “To accept silently the disappointments, the misunderstandings, and even the disdain that always comes to those through whom others think they can attack God!” Then after she died her husband began to read her reflections. He ended becoming a Dominican priest! Notice that her perseverance won.
Through the prophet Isaiah God says, “The word that goes forth from my mouth does not come back to me empty handed, without fulfilling the task for which I sent it!” (Is 55:1). Sow the word of God always for it always take effect even in the hearts that most reject it. God can so change the landscape that the word lying there in some heart can suddenly come alive. So, sow the word of God in season and out of season.
I began my talk speaking of efforts that seem to produce no fruit. I anointed a dying woman recently. At her bedside was her own mother. When I finished, she simply looked at me and said, “This is all wrong!” And our hearts must go out to those mothers in Texas who lost so many of their babies recently. And to our brothers and sisters in Nigeria who have suffered many violent incidents and tragedy. It is all wrong. But let us remember that the very first woman Eve lost her younger son at the hands of her older son. And the new Eve suffered an even worse horror. When the very worst happens let us ask her to help us. She has been there. Her Immaculate Heart understands. Let us go to her for grace.