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Two Hearts Rosary: “If you loved me…”

Confession: until I started pouring on the praying of the Rosary, like, a lot, my meditation on the Second Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, was all about me, you know – there He goes, to heaven, and we miss Him terribly… oh… woe is me… – laying myself open to being reprimanded by the angels. It’s never a pleasant experience to be reprimanded by any angel, but there I was, again and again doing what the Apostles did only to get smacked down:

  • Acts 1:9-11 — “[…] He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”

In other words, get about what you are supposed to do according to the command of Jesus:

  • Matthew 28:19-20 — “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” thus being Jesus’ “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It was always so much easier to put everything on Jesus, watching Him teach in all Truth, with such goodness and kindness, but Him, not me. How we would be able to be formed into members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit so that we could get out of the way and have Jesus work through us is promised by Jesus at this point, His sending of the Holy Spirit. But do we want to hear that? Or do we want to just look into the sky?

And that’s where my meditation ended for this Mystery. Such academics were difficult for me, making the Rosary difficult for me. I would memorize the passages in Greek. I would come up with all sorts of really cool, if shallow, meditations. It’s not that I wasn’t saying any Rosaries, but I wasn’t saying the Rosary really a lot. So, I didn’t get it.

Enter the Two Hearts Rosary. There’s another passage about the Ascension of Jesus which escaped my attention all this time, but it was dearest Immaculate Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, who opened my eyes. This is a matter not of mere academics, but of love, and we are drawn into this by Mary’s maternal solicitude:

  • John 14:27-29 — […] “Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it does happen, you will believe.

Wait… what? “If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father…” Who loves Jesus more than dearest Mary? Who could possibly rejoice more than she? And what’s going on with her at this time to bring her to such rejoicing? Can I somehow rejoice with her about her Son going to the Father?

Let’s review: Jesus had been preparing His mother all His life for when He would be missing for three days and three nights after being tortured to death in front of her, she standing always with her Son in His trials like no other. Witness His disappearance for three days and three nights in the Temple as a youngster so as to instruct her with such great solicitude for her welfare: Two Hearts Rosary: Finding Jesus in the Temple? Witness His agony in the garden, all about not wanting to see her suffer so much for Him: Two Hearts Rosary: Whose agony is it? But she would suffer, like only a mother can, like only an Immaculate Mother can, with such purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision and profundity of understanding. She suffered. As the doctors of calvary instruct us about what they see in the Gospels and on the Shroud, Jesus’ own Sacred Heart, the pericardium, literally broke in His agony over her, causing the blood to separate and then gush out hours later when He was pierced through by the soldiers sword. She’s not going to suffer such an agony of maternal solicitude for Him? Of course she is. Surely a sword of sorrow also pierced her very soul, surely causing this same stress-heart-attack, survivable, but not for long. Mary would make it to Pentecost, but would not survive much longer. She died not because of original sin, but because of her Immaculate Conception, such great love.

So, what has this to do with the Ascension, forty days after the Resurrection and ten days before Pentecost? Here’s Mary, a Mother, having gotten her Son through what He needed to do, and the complete offering of the economy of salvation almost complete with Holy Spirit about to be sent. She’s still mortally wounded. She rejoices in the great victory of her Son. She rejoices that she, by grace, has stood next of Him always in His trials. She rejoices, now that He has obeyed the Father unto death, death on a cross, that He can now return in great triumph to the Father. Yes, He was always with His Father as He is God, but we’re talking not only about His divine nature but also about the human nature of the divine Person of Jesus. Mary provided that human nature. Mary did that. And how very wonderful for her to see that such a human nature in the divine Person of Jesus her Son would now go before the Father with great, great rejoicing! “Father! I have done you will!” Jesus’ joy is also hers with Him. If we loved Jesus, we would be rejoicing with Him that He goes to the Father, rejoicing I say. No one loves Jesus more, rejoices with Jesus more than dearest Immaculate Mary. We rejoice with her.

And she is not abandoned here, even while she is mortally wounded. She knows she must wait for the Holy Spirit to complete the economy of salvation. She knows that Jesus is preparing a place for her, that He is preparing a welcome for her with all the saints and angels with the gates of heaven thrown open. What joy there will be! But don’t be mistaken, this great joy is for her not about her, but is a joy in witnessing the rejoicing of the Father in welcoming also the human nature of the divine Person of His Son into heaven. It is to be our joy to witness the joy of the Father having received His Son into heaven. Dearest Mary’s joy… unsurpassable… rightly so. And we rejoice in her joy. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Excuse me for my exuberance.

Back to the dreariness of this dark world… Take a look again at that picture of that weird shaped building behind a wall up top of this post. That’s the church of the Ascension of Jesus. It was walled up by the ISIS Mohammedans very many centuries ago. They don’t love Jesus. They don’t believe that He died on the Cross for our redemption and salvation because, they say, Allah doesn’t have a Son, didn’t send His Son into this world, and certainly not to lay down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, to fulfill righteousness, because Allah cannot love us that much. Well, that’s true. Allah cannot love us at all because, first of all, Allah doesn’t exist. But, instead, God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…” The ISIS Mohammedans of the day capped the church, putting a roof on it because they wanted to deny the Ascension: We’ll show Him! We’ll put a roof over the church, and therefore He cannot ascend to heaven! The ISIS Mohammedans of the day didn’t love Jesus and are not happy that Jesus ascends to heaven. This church had been built with no roof at all. But do we also cap the church of the Ascension, not happy that Jesus goes to heaven, too much concerned about ourselves, with the supposed absence of Jesus, so that now we are grudgingly obliged to instruct the nations in all charity, only grudgingly providing the Sacraments to the Little Flock of Jesus?

Holy Mary, Mother of God, please ask Jesus that we might rejoice with you about your dear Son going to heaven, that we might rejoice with you in the Father’s joy of welcoming also the human nature of the divine Person of Jesus into heaven, with us trusting that Jesus will be with us to the end of the ages, when He comes again in power and majesty and great glory. Hail Mary… (x10)

By the way, that greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary – “Hail” – is, in Greek, “Rejoice!”

P.S. It was this Mystery of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven which for very many months was pushing me with urgency to jot down some notes on the Two Hearts Rosary. This opened my eyes. How blind I have been my entire life, always present, but not. I guess what I’m trying to speak to in all this commentary is about the lively solidarity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It’s just so… right. Jesus, the Son. Mary, His Mother. And we beholding them as the tiniest of her children, the tiniest members of the Little Flock of Jesus. As one reader says, that’s what has us squeal for joy.

“If you loved me, you would be happy…”

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Two Hearts Rosary: Cana and Calvary, my hour has always been yours

This is one of those dreaded Mysteries of Light, dreaded, I tell you, because this is such a mystery of our redemption, going to the very hearts of Jesus and Mary, that people are afraid to plumb its depths. Some people pretend to be aloof to the innovations JP2, but speak with real disdain about Jesus and Mary at Cana of Galilee. So, no. This protestation has nothing to do with being “of tradition.” It’s about fear of all that is good and holy. So, with no fear whatsoever, thanks be to God, let’s dive in…

A wedding took place in Cana of Galilee, just under four miles northeast of Nazareth as the crow flies. At the time, both were very tiny villages, and everyone would know everyone from both villages. But what happens here is more than that.

Note that the text never speaks of Mary, but only the Mother of Jesus (four times) and “Woman” (once). There are many reasons for this, but, not to get ahead of ourselves, let’s just notice that here, with this couple getting married, Mary is not present as an individual, as in, “Hey! Let’s invite Mary! She’s really cool!” No. In their perspective, to them, she is the Mother of Jesus. This doesn’t at all mean that they have great respect for Jesus. The fact is, we don’t read of her as being invited at all. She’s simply there, as in, of course she was there. She belongs there. Wait… What?

Sorry to be pedantic, but the Greek syntax here signals some kind of adversity. After ever so flatly stating simply that the Mother of Jesus was there, with no mention of her needing any kind of invitation, we then read, as if this was shocking: “But even (δὲ καὶ) Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.” It’s like the wedding couple were tolerating Jesus and His disciples, like they were coerced into inviting them, you know, by His Mother, who herself had to be there.

Also, just to say, this wedding couple is desperately poor. They ran out of wine, which is like a mortal sin, so to speak, for a wedding. Was adversity to the presence of Jesus and His disciples based on knowing that if they came, provisions would run out and they would be embarrassed? Perhaps, but I think there’s more to this, a real resentment, not for the Mother of Jesus, but quite certainly for Jesus.

Let’s see. The bride’s biological father and family are either dead or missing. Is she effectively an orphan? Her father and family would have been responsible for making sure there are enough provisions for the celebration. But the maître d’, not the caterer (as he is using what is provided to him), boisterously, publicly, to save face, humiliates not the father of the bride (who is missing), but rather the bridegroom in regard to the sequencing of qualities of wine. This maître d’ was certainly tasked with this wedding at the very last second, knowing nothing of the provisions even as the celebration continued, and is likely condescendingly playing this role pro-bono because of who’s now invited, that is, not the Mother of Jesus, taken for granted, but even Jesus and His disciples. It would be evident to the maître d’ that this couple would be too poor to pay him, but he wanted to make a good impression for future engagements in town. The servants are surely just friends of the poor bridegroom.

The Mother of Jesus is also playing a role in the wedding for this couple, making sure that provisions are abundant. But who does this at an organized wedding without being in that role falling to her by right? What I think is going on is that the bride many years previously was an orphaned street urchin in Nazareth and was adopted into the Holy Family. That Holy Family was as poor as she, for when the Holy Family returned with absolutely nothing to Nazareth after years of forced exile in Egypt, they of course returned to see their house now occupied by squatters. And she wouldn’t have been the only street urchin. I’m guessing every street kid who wanted to be adopted into the Holy Family was adopted. It would have fallen to Saint Joseph to provide for the celebration of the wedding, but now it was up to Mary. Saint Joseph was now dead.

But Mary, called the Mother of Jesus, does as she always has over the years with Jesus growing up the good Son of His foster father Joseph, helping to provide for the Holy Family. With Joseph now dead, the Mother of Jesus goes to Jesus for help.

Let’s review: upon their return from exile, the Holy Family would have to begin by living on the streets on the margins of Nazareth. The kids who are thrown out by brutal families who consider themselves to be too poor for another child, or are thrown out because they are considered to be troublemakers, or because it’s their fault that they are crippled or mentally challenged, were attracted to the newcomers from Egypt as they seemed to be of good heart. These are surely the “brothers and sisters of Jesus”.

But Jesus is the only one born of… wait for it… born of the Mother of Jesus. Adoptees having a rivalry with a biological child is certainly a temptation for those in such a circumstance. They might feel they have to prove themselves to be as good as or better than any biological child. Recall that they once held Jesus to be beside Himself (Mark 3), dragging the Mother of Jesus to see that Jesus had not even time to eat because of His preaching the Truth, because of His casting out demons, because of His acts of goodness and kindness. They are better than Him! He doesn’t have time to eat! Strange how that text puts it, not the brothers and sisters of Jesus, but “those associated with Him (οἱ παρ’ αὐτοῦ), as in, those living with Him at His house. Any house later acquired in Nazareth was as chaotic as we ourselves being adopted into the Holy Family during the Hour of Jesus when He was tortured to death in front of His Mother, that great Woman interceding for us ever so maternally in now also her hour of intercession. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

But let’s say for now that this is why Mary is not simply Mary, but is “the Mother of Jesus.” It’s them over against Jesus. But the mother of such a household is going to make a bid for peace: if she’s going to be there at a wedding of one of those adopted street waifs – and she must be there – she would, of course, use this as leverage to force the couple to invite Jesus and His disciples. Adding Jesus and His disciples to the list would be a big deal for the couple getting married, not only because this would add many voracious appetites with a proportionate thirst for which they did not have the resources, but because of the rivalry. That dearest Mary was able to get Jesus and all His disciples invited was no small victory. Haha. I love that.

Fulfilling her role, Mary flatly states to Jesus: “They’ve run out of wine.” He knows that she knows of the rivalry. She would have seen it play out, on their part, 24/7/365. That “They’ve run out of wine isn’t just a statement of fact, but a challenge and an order, as in, don’t dare bring up any rivalry, but just get it done!

If it were me, I would just say, “Yes, mom!” and do what I had to do to buy wine out of my own pocket. As always, Jesus jacks up the stakes to make of this a learning experience equaling that of His bar-Mitzvah eighteen years previous to this.

In Greek there’s a very abrupt question used to put people off. There are no verbs, no conjunctions, which are simply implied: “What to me to you?” More gently put, this would be “What is this to me and to you?” But, no, Jesus is quite abrupt: Tί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί? What to me to you? In Mark 5:7, this is the question, verbatim, put by Satan to Jesus. Yikes! But, it’s just a question to the Mother of Jesus, abrupt, not as an insult, but to make her think.

Also, Jesus tacks on what many have considered to be an insult: “What’s it to me and to you, Woman?!”

Does this seem to strip her of her right to be an individual called Mary, of her right to recognized as Jesus’ Mother? Is she just some “woman” needing, just because she is a “woman”, to be put in her place? Is Jesus to be praised for His apparent misogyny even against His own Mother, dearest Mary?

No, no. This is a most exalted title. She is the Woman of Genesis 3:15, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Redeemer. She is the Ark of the Covenant in the mirror passage in the Apocalypse, the Woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, crowned with the stars, the Mother of the Redeemer. She is the Woman, ever so maternal, the Mother of the Redeemer standing under the Cross, taking John as her son, all of us street urchins now adopted into the Holy Family by her intercession. She is the Woman, who’s intercession for the celebration of a marriage at Cana is to be fulfilled on Calvary at the marriage of her Divine Son with His Immaculate Bride, the Church, when her intercession that we receive the grace of redemption, of salvation, will provide us with the occasion to be the sons and daughters of God.

That Mary is singled out as the Mother of Jesus possibly as a way to emphasize a stupid rivalry that those adopted have over against Jesus is reversed to be that which praises Jesus, who is desirous of their salvation in Him, He the Head of the Body, those street urchins, that is, us, now the members of His Body, as Saint Paul says. If Mary is Mother of Jesus, she is therefore, because of that, their Mother as well.

The wedding feast of Cana is fulfilled in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the Last Supper, which is itself united with Calvary, that which founds the mercy of adoption on justice with the wedding vows that Jesus takes with His Immaculate Bride, the Church – This is my body given for you in Sacrifice, my blood poured our for you in Sacrifice – total self-giving, so that what we have to celebrate is not just water transformed into wine but wine transformed into the blood of the Lamb.

That’s all done in Jesus’ hour. He makes this also her hour, interceding for the image of God to be restored in us. To be clear: Jesus uses this occasion of a wedding to do this because male / female / marriage / family is the image of God that was broken with original sin but is to be restored with the marriage of Jesus Himself.

Jesus’ heart is always with the heart of His Mother. It might seem brutally so, but instead, it is He who is giving her insight to the heights of her vocation also to be our Mother in the restoration of the image of God in our very beings. Jesus and Mary are always heart to heart, The Two Hearts.

If we let this heart stopping mystery overwhelm us, ten Hail Mary’s fly by…

By the way, Mary’s heart is immaculate. She had purity of heart, agility of soul, clarity of vision, profundity of understanding. Of course she understands that Jesus in directing her to His hour means that, yes, this marriage must be celebrated. “Do whatever He tells you.”

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Two Hearts Rosary: Whose agony is it?

Summarizing the Gospel passages on Jesus’ agony, leaving out for now the parts on sleepy Peter, James and John, take note of Jesus’ sorrow and distress, being consumed with sorrow to the point of death, kneeling, falling face down, sweating great drops of blood… Here are those passages. But here’s the deal. Stop and take this in. This is Jesus. You don’t want a god who doesn’t care, a god of your mere abstract imagination somewhere out in outer-space. Then STOP. Imagine this. See the distress unto death. Smell that sickeningly sweet odor of fresh blood. Hear the now raspy, halting voice of prayer:

  • In Matthew we read that Jesus “began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed,” and that His “soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death.” We see Jesus falling face down, praying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” And then again, “My Father, if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” And then a third time, the same thing.
  • In Mark we read that Jesus “began to be deeply troubled and distressed,” and then said, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death.” He then falls to the ground praying “that, if it were possible, the hour would pass from Him. “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” And then He again prayed, saying the same thing.
  • In Luke we read that Jesus knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” We then read that “an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him,” but that “in His anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Excursus on that angel: He’s only an angel, doing perfectly what he’s sent to do – Great! – but, of course, this only underlines the fact that he’s only an angel. Jesus is not laying down His life for angels. Good angels remained good. Those who fell don’t ever want to repent. Mary will not be in distress in seeing Jesus tortured to death in front of her because of the sin of some now fallen angels. Real consolation would be the small victory that Peter, James and John would have stayed awake. But not even that. Thanks, good angel, for what you did. You kept Jesus alive that He might die as prophesied. Your presence shows up our absence. I apologize for having been asleep myself.

Back to those passages summarized above. There are some merely apparent problems:

(1) In Luke 12:50 Jesus speaks of being constrained until such time as He can be baptized with the baptism for which He came, the Baptism in His own blood, which will wash away the sins of the world. He came into the world with prompt obedience to the Father so that He might stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment we deserve for sin – death – so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to command the Father: “Father! Forgive them!” Jesus, always the man’s Man, God Himself, is He all of a sudden trembling, shaking with fear about doing what it takes to get the job done? No. That’s the last thing He’s concerned about. So what is it?

(2) Another problem is that there seems to be an inconsistency here with the will of the Father and that of His Son. Jesus is always ready to the will of His Father; obedience is not in question. This is about methodology, circumstances. What is it about Jesus that sets Him off from the Father? This second problem already begins to present us with a solution as to what’s happening in the heart of Jesus.

(3) A third problem also points to a solution. Jesus is not sad, something along the lines that He’s nostalgic for life in this world and He’s sad to have to let it go. Emphatically: No! Firstly, He’s going to rise from the dead . Secondly, He’s going to ascend to heaven to prepare a place for us. He is Life. He is not obsessed, oppressed, paralyzed with a sadness which holds Him back. He is, instead, sorrowful, which is entirely different, involving regret, not for any deficiency of His. No. Sorrow involves a person. But there is something that is going to happen should He say “Yes” to His Fathers’ will, something He does not want to come about, that He tries to avoid as best He can, that He will regret in deep sorrow when it does come about. This is about someone else. Who might that be?

There is a simple solution to all these difficulties, and it is not presented in the text because, why should it be? To those who have will more be given. To those who do not have, even what they think they have will be taken away. Either you know, or you don’t. I can write it out as clearly as crystal can be, but that won’t help those who don’t want to see it. But some know this already. Some are now prepared to hear. Confession: It’s taken me a long time. And I heard this solution presented by someone else in passing, in like a clause of one sentence. But it hit me, hard. Keep in mind, Jesus was distressed and sorrowful unto death about this, sweating blood.

Twenty one years previous to this, when He was but twelve years old, He had prepared His mother for just such a time as this, when she, for three days and three nights would experience the loss of His presence in great distress and unbearable sorrow, surely to the point of death. He had instructed her about His having to be busy with His Father’s will. But that she should see Him tortured to death right in front of her, and then be in the sepulcher for three days and three nights – Where is He? – isn’t there another way, Heavenly Father?

At this point, with Jesus agreeing thrice to do the will of – now – our Heavenly Father, Jesus sees fully what His Mother will be going through, and He Himself suffers an extreme stress induced episode of hematidrosis, the sweating of blood, as Luke says, great drops of blood. A slight form of this happened to me once under extremely brutal physical-work conditions, merely extreme bodily stress when I was a teenager in otherwise perfect shape, actually enjoying the work, totally adrenalined out. No big deal.

Not so with Jesus, who seems to have had an accompanying stress related cardiac episode such that the pericardium was ripped open, filled with blood, which blood separated, and, by the time the soldier thrust the spear into His side, His heart, the following afternoon, blood and water gushed out. This is evident on the burial shroud of Jesus. Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly, but it was because He died literally more of a broken heart because of being in solidarity with His Mother’s heart than from any torture. The Two Hearts.

As promised, these are brutal notes. So, let’s make this all the more brutal. Hematidrosis causes the skin to become tender and fragile. This would have been unknown to all, the scourging of Jesus by the Roman soldiers, with their barbed whips, was a thousand times more painful and much more easily ripped off more skin with each strike. But that’s for the next sorrowful mystery. And the full reaction of Mary to this, in her heart… that’s for the final sorrowful mystery…

This is enough, methinks, to get someone through ten Hail Marys of the Rosary with reverence before – how to say? – the majestic solidarity of The Two Hearts. This is why people often pray the Rosary on their knees.

On a side note, you’ll remember that at the Wedding of Cana Jesus mentioned His Hour as the Hour in which Mary’s intercession would become especially fruitful. We’ll get to that. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father, at the beginning of this Hour (back to the summaries above), Jesus prays “that, if it were possible, the hour would pass from Him. Abba! Father!” This is clearly about Mary and what is to occasion her intercession for us in that hour, not about any pain He might have to endure. His heart breaks for her.

A final note is in order. We are to make that prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, He agonizing over the horror that will befall His Mother, we are to make His prayer our own: “Abba! Father!”

  • “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

When we cry out in the Holy Spirit, “Abba! Father!” we do so with Jesus on behalf of Mary, blurting this out as only children could do upon seeing such a spectacle before our eyes, such concern of Jesus for His Mother, our Mother. I think at the judgment Jesus will take note whether we have ever cried out through, with and in Him. Guaranteed, our angels guardian are urging us, instructing us, leading us to do this before we die. If we have not done this, why not? Our guardian angels will not have failed in their duty. And they will use others – albeit like the sleepy Peter, James and John – to smack us down. If we never cry out, “Abba! Father!” through, with and in Jesus about Mary, Jesus will then say to us in judgment, “Get away from me you evil doer. I never knew you.” But if we were ever with Him in crying out, blurting out, “Abba! Father!” in His prayer about dearest Mary, then I think He will say, “Blessed are you who have stood by me in my trials.” THIS agony is Jesus trial (in the sense of trying-times). With Jesus’ grace, we can return from running away, like John, so as to stand in solidarity with Mary, with Jesus. How can we leave her alone under the Cross?! Perhaps, in seeing Mary’s heart suffer, we can cry out with Saint John, with Jesus, right now: “Abba! Father!” Let’s do that together:

“Abba! Father!”

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Two Hearts Rosary: Finding Jesus in the Temple?

Great painting, that. Jesus, the Son of the Law (see the scroll) at twelve years of age, totally serious, entirely calm, peaceful, fully recognizing, so tenderly, not condescendingly, the profound distress of His dear Immaculate Mother and the stern wonder of dear Saint Joseph (because of the anguish he witnessed of dearest Mary), Jesus reassuring, instructing, clearly with an unbreakable bond of love that is experientially developing with such occasions.

Nevertheless, there is necessarily a certain brutality of circumstances in all of this. Let’s not hide from that. Let’s have some humility before the great mysteries. You have heard that it was said that the boy Jesus as a typical teenager was being sinfully “naughty” (that’s a blasphemy) in staying behind in Jerusalem without letting Mary and Joseph know about this. It is true that this would put them into grievous anguish. It’s true that He would know this. How much anguish, you ask?

These were the High Holy Days in the walled city of Jerusalem. Basically, the entire country showed up, both the good and the bad. There were those who were pious pilgrims. There would also be those taking advantage of them, the robbers and rapists, the “pickpockets” and murderers, the kidnappers and traffickers of persons. Everyone would be there.

Walking on the ultra-narrow streets with rivers of people would be nigh on impossible. A weak analogy would be my own experience starting inside the Damascus Gate of the northern side of the Old City going toward the Temple Mount down to the south. I wanted to take a shortcut through the Old City on my way back from Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in the West Bank over to the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Except for one time, I always walked. This is more than 30 years ago.

It was Friday. My bad. Friday is the day, and just at that time of day, that all the Muslim men in the region would make their way through the Damascus Gate going to the Temple Mount, specifically to the al-Aqsa Mosque for their Friday activities. The river of men immediately became so crushing that the thought came to mind that if I just lifted up my feet I would be carried along without falling to the ground. Yep. I did this three times just to prove it to myself.

The crush of people in such cities reminded me of why it would have taken Jonah so long to traverse Nineveh. It was extremely apparent how easy it would be to be irretrievably separated from someone, entirely losing that person from sight in just one second. If you had someone like Jesus, at twelve years old, with proven, awesome good sense and well able to take care of Himself, despite dangers, and given that it was not their first time in such situations, it being their custom to go up to Jerusalem during the High Holy Days, getting temporarily separated was to be expected and it was all good.

This is why it was no big deal for Mary and Joseph not to worry about not seeing Jesus for a full day’s journey on the return trip. Jesus didn’t shadow Mary and Joseph, but was surely with those in the caravan, right? That day’s journey on the return trip would have taken them down precipitous ravines winding down, falling down to the Jordan River on the far side of Jericho. The Temple Mount stands at 2,440 feet above sea level. The Jordan on the far side of Jericho comes in at -1,266 feet below sea level. That’s a difference of 3,706 feet in 18 miles, but with most of that descent done in about 11 to 12 miles as the crow flies.

But this wouldn’t be as the crow flies. Outside of the dangers in Jerusalem, there was probably no other more dangerous place than that ravine at that time. What a nightmare to look for Jesus in the caravan and not find him. And it was now night. What happened to Him? Mary and Joseph, exhausted from the super dangerous descent, immediately returned in the dark up to Jerusalem, looking constantly for the body of a 12 year old who had fallen and was crushed on the rocks, or who had been attacked by ne’er-do-wells. They would be frantic. And that went on for three days and three nights. They would be wrecked. There are no words.

And then they met up with Jesus in the Temple doing up rabbinic discourse with the teachers of the Law, being asked a question and answering that question with a question, which question would be fully answered with question, and so on, always jacking up the stakes, the best, most enthralling kind of instruction ever. I’ve done this a few times with a Jewish convert to the Catholic Church over in Rome, in public. An audience would soon gather. You gotta have guts to do this when you’re older, like a seasoned Chess player, knowing how to bait and then go on the attack. Jesus did this at twelve. Jesus is God. He is Truth. We see Him baiting adversaries throughout the Gospels, but who knew who He was, yet? This would have been awesome to take in.

I’m evil and bad, and here’s where I become particularly brutal in praising Jesus and in praising the entirety of Mary’s reaction. Jesus was baiting her into such anguish for three days and three nights on purpose, not sinfully, but all the more devastatingly. Jesus is a Son of the Law, but He is firstly Son of Mary. Jesus must be in His Father’s House, but Mary is firstly the very Ark of the Covenant. Jesus was instructing the teachers of the Law, but He was firstly preparing His Immaculate Virgin Mother for another three days and three nights of incomparable anguish after He would be tortured to death in front of her 21 years later. And the Gospel says that she (διετήρει) enduringly kept the words of Jesus in her heart. She would need this all-consuming experience to keep her alive when her maternity would fully flourish under the Cross. Even when He will disappear for three days and three nights, He will still be doing the will of His Heavenly Father.

Only recently did it strike me what the topic was in that Rabbinic discourse of Jesus with those exalted teachers of the Law in the Temple. There is only one possible answer. And it’s 100% certain. During those three days and three nights Jesus would be more in anguish for His Mother than she was for Him. Their hearts were always in solidarity one with the other, entirely, totally.

Jesus would have been entirely consumed with concern for His Mother. This would be by far the most difficult thing He had to do in His life (outside of the agony in the Garden, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves). Jesus, taking the option to choose the topic, surely chose Genesis 3:15, about the great Mother of the Redeemer:

  • “And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and The Woman (the Mother of the Redeemer)…”

and then Isaiah 7:14, about an ever-virgin conceiving and bearing a Son:

  • “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and one shall call His name God-with-us.”

and then Jeremiah’s Lamentations, to the point, 1:12, which is usually the caption inscribed below any Pietà, with Mary holding the very dead Jesus below the Cross:

  • “Is this nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see! Is there any sorrow like mine, which was inflicted on me, which the LORD made me suffer on the day of His fierce anger?”

“Fierce anger.” Call it “brutal anger.” If you scroll back up to the top of this post, to the painting, take note of the teachers of the Law in the background. They are clearly speaking of Mary, as in, “Oh! She’s the one described by Jesus… which means that Jesus is…”

Again, Jesus wasn’t for a second sinfully “naughty”, just having some fun with the teachers of the Law at her expense and that of Saint Joseph, as some have blasphemously said. No. It pained Jesus infinitely more to have to put His mother through this, but it had to be done for her own good. This was a supreme act of solidarity of Jesus’ Sacred Heart with the Immaculate Heart of His Mother. While He is teaching in the Temple I see Him being quite emotionally distraught, in control, of course, but almost to the point of what would be happening in the Agony of the Garden, the very next mystery of the Rosary in the traditional ordering, with His sweating of blood. This would also be about His Mother. But, again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

At this point I’m at a total loss for words as to how to describe the perfect solidarity the hearts of Jesus and Mary had, Mary consumed with concern for Jesus such that would crush the rest of us who are so weak, Jesus devastated at each second, knowing exactly what His Mother is going through… because of Him… because of His doing the will of the Father, making all things new, already preparing her for that time to come… Jesus’ rabbinic discourse in the Temple had to be like unto His later Emmaus discourse, but this time about His dear Mother. And it would have been passionate, with authority, as if this was about the very salvation of souls, and it was. Meanwhile, He was training His Mother up for the heights of Calvary.

People don’t want to acknowledge Jesus purposely putting His mother through this anguish for her own good, for our good, surely because they are afraid that Jesus will also do this with us, and, mind you, we don’t have hearts like that of Mary, Immaculate, and so, without that purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision and profundity of understanding. We will need much more work on our dull hearts and tepid souls than did she. We will never be able to begin to imagine the distress and anguish she had.

Afraid, yet, of all this brutality of love in truth? Don’t be. Jesus provides us with grace, entirely solicitous for our welfare. Mary, having also learned in this way, intercedes for us that we might “get it.” So, no worries. But Mary shows us the way in enduringly keeping Jesus’ words our hearts and souls and minds. That’s how to learn. Carrying the words of Jesus with us, day and night, even with Satan searching for the ruin of souls ’round about. Where is Jesus?! He’s working in His Father’s House, and we are living stones within that House. Mary is the Ark. Be joyful.

Meanwhile, watching this meeting of Mary and Joseph unfold, ten Hail Marys fly by before you know it.

By the way, we never find Jesus. Mary and Joseph did not find Jesus. Scrolling back up to that painting, take a good look. Jesus is finding them. This is always the Way. And those Two Hearts are ever more in solidarity, ever more one, and ours with theirs. Thanks be to God.

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Two Hearts Rosary UPDATE on notes about notes

[[Scroll down for the UPDATE]]

I know I’ve announced projects before and failed miserably. This is another attempt.

I’ll never get anything done like this unless I just brutally throw out bare bones notes to consider.

I’m not well-read on the Rosary. I know Saint Louis de Montfort put some of his secrets down on paper.

A confession: I did read some of that work as a seminarian many decades ago, not all of it, nothing since. I’m bad and evil. I remember nothing.

I did breeze through some encyclical letters on the Rosary by various of the Roman Pontiffs when that was still a thing to do in the life of the Catholic Church, again, when I was a seminarian. All in another life. I remember nothing.

On YouTube, I listened to Father Donald Calloway speak of his own writings on the Rosary, I think while I was busy feeding Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog, but that’s it. I didn’t read anything. I remember nothing.

I am the most un-well-read priest in the history of religion.

And yet I have the hubris to jot down some notes in addition to what others have written, not knowing whether what I write is ridiculously redundant or not.

It’s surely a good exercise for me. But don’t think that this will keep me out of trouble. It’s way the other way around. Jesus and Mary are always good troublemakers. Prayer is the most practical thing you can do, particularly the Rosary. Anything someone who prays the Rosary does in this world will be trouble: the Rosary and the world don’t get along too well.

This will just be a first go-round of notes, nothing polished, nothing complete, nothing artful or clever.

It will just be brutal. I’d love to have readers with me to smack me down.

The driving engine of all this enthusiasm is my all of a sudden praying the Rosary, meaning, like, a lot, even multiple full Rosaries. My Confessor a while back was trying to come up with a penance for me. He asked if I had said the Rosary yet that day. I responded that I had said two Rosaries up to that time. “So!” he exclaimed, “you haven’t even said one full Rosary yet, have you?” “I still have the Glorious Mysteries to say,” I said. “Your penance is to complete the full Rosary.” :-)

This is a Confession about my ineptitude as a priest, as a Catholic. Where have I been that I haven’t been praying the Rosary a lot? I’m so ignorant. I have the highest academic degrees in the Church, but I tell you, I’ve learned nothing compared to what the Rosary has taught me even just recently.

They have taught me, Jesus and Mary, their two Hearts. I have to call this conglomeration of notes to come, please God, “The Two Hearts Rosary.”

I think I should concentrate on the traditional fifteen mysteries. Perhaps having gone through those mysteries I’ll be able to cycle through once again, adding some Scripture here, perhaps a Father of the Church there, rounding out some of the notes, hopefully also incorporating thoughts of the readers. These won’t be in any particular order.

///// UPDATE:

So, some comments have brutally rebelled over against commentary only on the traditional 15 mysteries of the Rosary. I agree about “other” mysteries of the Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries, or Mysteries of Light, that Saint John Paul II offered to the Church. He also had a couple of other Mysteries of the Infancy of Jesus, including the Slaughter of the Infants in Bethlehem and then the Exile into Egypt. Others through the centuries have come up with other mysteries. For instance, it is a custom in a number of religious orders to add a sixth mystery to whatever five decades one is otherwise saying, namely, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at least a lifetime ago when such things were done. I’m thinking of the Discalced Carmelites and the Conventual Franciscans. Perhaps it’s all changed now. The Brigittines have their own thing going, as do others, as noted in the comments.

But my purpose is not to come up with yet another Rosary. I would just like to share – what to call it? – a perspective by which, in which one might pray any particular mystery of any kind of Rosary. So, at the same time, a thousand times easier, a thousand times more difficult.

I agree with the particular mention of the Wedding of Cana. Yes, that will be included as will others.

Again, it’s not so much about the particular mysteries but rather the perspective that would make any Rosary a Two Hearts Rosary. I have no idea how apt I will be in this attempt to describe the indescribable.

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