Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Pearl's Price

The pearl we want so desperately is our Lord, Himself.
The price of the pearl is absolutely every thing.
But, the pearl itself is absolutely Everything, All in All.

As St. Teresa de Jesus said (in Nada te turbe):
The one who possesses God finds nothing is wanting.
God alone suffices.

The price is not just every thing one time,
but it's everything over and over again.
Just now we have a promise of the pearl,
we have a covenant about the pearl,
we get glimpses of the pearl.
If we are extraordinarily fortunate,
we have visitation with the pearl.

But the time will come when we take full possession of the pearl
(or it of us! )
and when that time comes,
we must arrive empty.
Having given everything over and over again ---
making installment payments on that pearl ---
we have to arrive empty of self-will, empty of self-pity,
empty of pride, empty of sin,
empty of our works and merits and deserving,
empty of all the trivia and stuff we collect and cling to.

The pearl is Everything.
There's no room in our selves for it
and for any thing else at all.

The other St. Therese, the Little Flower, said to God:
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands,
for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works....
I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice
and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself.

And a gentle, wise, and holy bishop had this to say to the Church he renounced the dearest friendship of his life to love and to serve with a single heart:
She [St. Therese of Lisieux] once wrote that she wanted to go to God empty-handed. I think I know now personally what she meant by that phrase. I have learned how frail my own human nature is, how in need of God's loving embrace I am. Empty-handed for me now means a willingness to accept my humanity totally, just as Christ accepted that same human nature out of love. But for me it also means to be fully receptive to whatever God wants to place in those hands, to be ready with empty hands to receive new life.
But I am also aware much self-pity and pride remain. I must leave that pride behind. Each day I will try to leave room for God to enter into my life more and more. Ultimately I understand that the humanity God so loved and sought to redeem, including my own humanity, will be transformed by His loving embrace and grace.

The price of the pearl is everything, over and over again;
it also requires all of the space in our hearts.
Yet the pearl is Everything: once we take full possession, there will be no voids and no thing lacking.

Our Lady, Mother of the Church,
as she's imaged in our wonderful Cathedral,
strides forward faithfully, determinedly, right off her pedestal,
to follow her Son, her Lord, her Beloved.

Lord, to whom can we go? There is no other way.
We have to dare to follow her example.

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