Our convent garden's new growth and delicate blooms tell me that the world is about to be crowned in its summer glory. Such beauty makes me think of a poem written by the Irish patriot, Joseph Mary Plunkett:
"I see His blood upon the rose,
And in the stars the glory of His eyes;
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see His face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds are but His voice --
And carven by His power; rocks are His written words.
All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea;
his crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree. "
You, our faith-filled readers, are men and women of worldly vision who are doubly blessed, for your participation in the extended family of the Sisters of Life suggests that you possess a finer, other-worldly vision -- the vision possessed by one with a heart inflamed by faith to see clearly the presence of Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the people, events and circumstances you encounter each day.
For three years we have had the joy of highlighting the heroism of women and men with the John Cardinal O'Connor Award. Last year's award was presented to Senator and Mrs. Rick Santorum in recognition of the courage, nobility and love with which they live their vocation to marriage and family life, and on behalf of all families who love and welcome a most vulnerable unborn child into their hearts and lives.
For these parents the inevitable joy that comes with the news that a "child is on the way" was displaced in a life-changing instant with the troubling knowledge that their unborn baby was sick, desperately sick. Rather than accepting the proposal of abortion as a solution, these parents acknowledged that life is always a gift, and their little one a child of God. Suffering has been their school of love. The common golden thread in their lives is not suffering, however, but the spiritual vision, heart and strength these parents possessed to respond with love to suffering.
Like them, if we are to make fruitful the graced summons we have received from the Lord of Life -- to witness in our lives to the beauty and grandeur of the Gospel of Life -- we are called to develop a contemplative gaze. Our Holy Father teaches us that a contemplative outlook "...arises from faith in the God of life, who has created every individual as a 'wonder' (cf. Ps 139:14). It is the outlook of those who... grasp (life's) utter gratuitousness, its beauty and its invitation to freedom and responsibility. It is the outlook of those who do not presume to take possession of reality but instead accept it as a gift, discovering in all things the reflection of the Creator and seeing in every person his living image (cf. Gen 1 :27; Ps 8:5). This outlook does not give in to discouragement when confronted by those who are sick, suffering, outcast or at death's door; Instead...it feels challenged to find meaning, and precisely in these circumstances (it) is open to perceiving in the face of every person a call to...solidarity." (EV#83)
With prayer as our approach to life, we too will "...see His blood upon the rose" and in each person a living icon of Christ.
It is well into spring and as I conjure in my mind's eye the image of Christ on the Cross and reflect upon the poetic wisdom of Bonaventure, the word faith takes on a whole new meaning, as does life itself.
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