How the world needs spaces like this shrine, which leads us beyond the noise and tumult of the marketplace. So many words, advertising messages, billions of images, noises, and other kinds of ubiquitous entertainment seem to swallow us up today in this era of the visual media.
In the quiet of this Shrine my wife and I, and our children when they were younger and at home, have sought time and again to recenter, to recover in silence what can almost be drowned out in our visual media culture; here we have also remembered all our friends and family and suffering ones, in holy silence before the Blessed Sacrament over many years.
That JPII, who passed in 2005, attached an Indulgence to this devotion the previous year, the Year of the Eucharist, shows how wrong those poor liturgical "experts" were who in the 1970's attempted to pit this adoration of the Blessed Sacrament against the liturgy, along with so many other beautiful devotions which emanate from it, and which the Popes have reaffirmed forever against that myopic theology. How futile it was to think one could separate the light and heat from the Sun. In the Church, as many have said, Truth is symphonic. And when we begin to truly see the wondrous harmony between the liturgy and liturgical devotions we know we are growing in Christ. This we have always been taught.
Shut Churches During the Week?
I think of so many churches which are closed during the week, unlike this Shrine dedicated to St. Joseph and his special ones, the workers, and the poor who would like to work but who cannot for some reason. It seems to me a great spiritual sorrow for a church to be shut during the week. I understand that there are not as many priests today, and that so many are terribly overworked. But I also recall priests and saints like the Curé of Ars who, as at this shrine, opened the Confessional door every day and stayed in patience until the people came and renewed themselves.
And in those times where the priestly presence for Confession is impossible, there is often no shortage of laypersons who would joyfully keep watch when invited, before Him who awaits "all who labor and are heavy laden".
Every day at St. Joseph's there is 8 AM Mass for the workers and other communicants, so simple, so quiet, and yet maintaining the very earth on its axis in the heavens. Then there are confessions from 10 AM to noon, followed by Mass again. At 3 PM there is the prayer of divine mercy. Confessions resume at 4:30 PM, the church doors opened all the while, until final Mass at 5:30 PM. It would be gluttonous, spiritually, not to pray for and offer such graces with those who do not have such opportunity; I mean those whose churches close for the week after Sunday liturgy, the homebound sick...
Sometimes I imagine the priests who must hear all the sins we lay upon them and who then proceed to the altar of the Lamb of God. It must sometimes be hard. Is it any wonder we Catholics admire our priests, the vast majority, the man who is "a man for others," a man who loves without strings and who makes his life a spiritual oblation within and under the Oblation of Golgotha Who is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sin of the whole world" (1 Jn 2:2). No media-exaggerated scandal and persecution, which ignores the same falls of those in all other institutions, denominations, religions or 'helping professions,' can detract from our love for our priests. Still, we must pray for them more and more, especially in such times as ours.
So we ask God to help make their burdens light in Him whom they represent and serve in the Gospel.
"God Have Mercy on Me A Sinner"
As one gets older, one sees how mercy is the very Gospel. The Gospel is not for the layperson opinions, polemics, or anything else. It is mercy and love, the works of mercy though which we are transformed into daughters and sons of God, works of mercy and love directed to all those, who like us, cannot ever hurl the first stone at sinners, because we have learned to be real about ourselves. Most of us are not saints; nowhere near. We are Christian stumblers, wounded, who need the liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist to heal like we need our very blood. It is not optional for us.
And if we have freely received, how can we not freely give?
"Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." (Lk 6:37, 38)
As We Get Older
As we grow older we see how many illusions we chased when we were young, and how such illusions always let us down. Isn't this why most elderly people are sweeter to one another than the young? There is nothing to prove anymore, no advantages to seek. There is only the realization of our contingency as human beings.
And if that be the case, is it any wonder that many become more tender of heart, more forgiving if our spiritual lights are illuminating the way for us by grace?
One last thing. I have always hoped to see the churches open Drop-in centers for the bewildered and / or tired in the cities of this world; places to talk, to wonder, to read and maybe have a little bite to eat. Another work of mercy. Doubtless there would be many volunteers to help run it from day to day. I hope to see it yet. That would, together with our open churches, shrines and grottoes, bring many consolations to people in our day. ---Updated 10.29.10
--->See also, she wept before the Cross...