In the last blog post “Prayer Before Sacrificing Myself” we saw in the prayer where we ask God to, “Come and possess my soul.” Some may gloss over that as I first did. Others may see the power in that simple phrase. We have all probably heard of demonic possession, or seen it depicted in movies, but what about the Holy Spirit filling us instead? It is a far more beautiful and helpful possibility. Imagine the things we could do for the Holy Trinity with the Holy Spirit’s infilling.
Just as the same moon you see at night was the same moon that hung over poor Jesus in His agony in the garden, it is the same Holy Spirit that filled the Apostles at Pentecost. We should not assume that miracles and wonders are only for the time of Christ. Now is a time for miracles as well if only we would open ourselves up to God’s presence in our lives. One way is to worthily receive the Eucharist, which is Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Then you will not only have all of Jesus within you, but remember, you will have the entire Holy Trinity, which is the three Divine persons in one God. Mind blaster, I know.
My Favorite Line
Perhaps my favorite line of this prayer is, “Cleanse me, strengthen me, heal me.” I don’t know about you but, I am a sinner and I need God’s grace to do all three. I know if God will cleanse me I can then be transformed by His grace into the woman he needs me to be. One way to be cleansed is by using the holy water at church as you enter. This is a sacramental and can remove venial sins. Also at Mass, the priest has us pray in the Penitential Rite a prayer of confessing our sins called the Confiteor (a Latin word meaning “I confess”). Then the priest gives an absolution. That means, he is absolving the congregation of venial sins, not the big whopper mortal sins.
Go Get Washed Up!
All sins must be confessed in the sacrament of Reconciliation also called Confession. Any mortal sins must be confessed and absolved by a sacramental confession before receiving the Eucharist. Remember, Christ Himself got on his knees to wash the filth from His select group of twelve apostles so that they could participate with Him in the Last Supper, which was Passover. We are no better than them and should follow Christ’s prescription here. Scripture shows us that we must be cleansed before communing with Christ.
I also know that Jesus can cleanse us with His presence and word as He did with lepers, the woman caught in adultery, tax collectors and other colorful sinners like us. In this prayer I consciously ask Him to cleanse me. It feels right asking Jesus to cleanse me when I go to Mass and when I want to receive Him sacramentally in Holy Communion.
I would not invite Queen Elizabeth II to my home if it were dirty or even untidy. Why then would I invite Jesus Christ, King of the entire universe into the home of my heart and into the temple of His Holy Spirit, my body, if it were not clean? Not only would that be an infinite insult to Jesus, but, it could be my own self-condemnation as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 when he speaks about receiving the Lord unworthily in Holy Communion.
We all need additional strength and so asking Jesus for it is key to becoming a holier person, to resisting temptation, to carrying one’s crosses in life. When we receive Him worthily in Holy Communion, we get His strength to carry on as He needs us to. But I love when my eye sees the words “heal me” on the prayer card. Then I can hear the words uttered in my mind and heart as a cry for help for my mind, body and soul. I can hear myself pleading with Jesus to heal me as He healed the woman of the hemorrhage, the tax collector, and all the famous sinners in the Bible and in history. I know He can do this. I know He wants to do this for me. He wants all of us, His children, whole and holy.
Perhaps the most quixotic and mysterious line is, “Dear Holy Spirit act in the heart of Mary to make me more and more like Jesus.” Why would the Holy Spirit, who is the second person of the Divine Trinity, and who is God, need to have Mary make me more and more like Jesus? This perplexed me no end.
Go Ask Your Mother
I was already very well aware of the teachings of Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Co-Mediatrix. That means that Mary, who willingly participated with Jesus to obtain our redemption, by walking along with Him and suffering with Him in his Passion, is also given the great grace to dole out God’s graces and so is a special mediator for us. Mediatrix is the Latin word in the feminine form of mediator. But still this caused me to ponder, ruminate and contemplate this line endlessly, “…act in the heart of Mary to make me more and more like Jesus”.
Over the years, lovely layers of meaning would be revealed to me. It was so beautiful to think of the Holy Spirit, Mary’s spouse, enlivening her heart with power and graces for me! Then, like the kindly mother she is, she would dispense those graces to me, her needy and very sinful child. She would give me the medicine my soul and my life needed as a good mother does.
The Heart of a Mother
But, the Holy Spirit, I learned, was also causing a powerful movement of pity in Mother Mary’s heart for me, a sinner, and she would then intercede all the more for me. As her heart is stirred up by her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit, a tornado of graces would be unleashed upon me and my life. As a true lady, a noble lady, she would want me her daughter to also become refined and turn out like a real lady holy and pure, fit for her Son. She wants all of us to be holy and pure so we can all be with her Son, the Bridegroom, at the wedding feast of the lamb for all eternity.
Me? Like Father Abraham?
I never thought I would be just like Abraham offering up a person as a sacrifice to God the Father. But at Mass, that is precisely what we do. We offer ourselves along with the priest as He offers both Jesus and all of us. “Father, I offer this my sacrifice, myself united to Jesus in the Holy Spirit to You. Help me to love God more deeply in this act of my greatest love.”
My greatest love. Help me to love God more deeply. These words were like smooth stones that dropped into the cool waters of my contemplation and went very deep indeed. I do need help loving God! And I certainly need even more help loving others, let alone myself. I began to realize with this prayer more and more just how much I needed God.
I was also struck by the language of unity. The beginning of the prayer also talks about becoming one with “Him in my act of greatest love to Him”. And here is this language of love bringing up unity once again, “…in this my act of greatest love.” These thoughts of great acts of love for God were all new to me and become refreshingly new each time I read this prayer. I used to think great acts of love were the stuff of movies and gallant knights and ladies. Now I am the one being invited to make great acts of love! This is exciting stuff!
Then the prayer takes me on the path of my childhood catechism showing me in a new way that to know God, to love God and to serve God are a great way to participate in the Mass. “Give me the grace to grow in my knowledge, love and service of You and for this to be my greatest participation in the Mass.”
So, in my growing understanding I began to see I could not only love God in Mass, but, would then take my love and service toward Him out into the hurting world to help others get to know, love and serve Him. As I recently taught my seven year old nephew, you cannot love someone until you get to know them. And none of us can get to know and love God unless we get to know Him.
My True Love
We can learn to love Him by reading about Him in His holy Word, the Bible, or, we can get to know Him by the gift of infused knowledge. That is like a free download of knowledge and grace that just comes to a person as a free and unmerited gift. You can get to know God sometimes in a burst. We can also get to love God by going to Holy Mass more than one time a week. If God really is our best friend and truest love, wouldn’t we want to be with that True Love every day? I can’t imagine getting married to a true love and then not wanting to be in his presence every day. We should be even more desirous of being with God each day at Holy Mass than even with a spouse. God deserves that much love from us.
“Give me the greatest graces to love You so deeply in this Mass, You who are so worthy of my love.” I can do nothing without God. I can do nothing without His grace. I can’t even take a breath in my body without Him deciding that, “Yes, in this instant, Frances may have her next breath”. I even need Him to give me the grace to love Him! I can’t even love without God helping me. I depend on Him for everything.
I am like the small child who desperately wants to buy her daddy a Christmas present but does not have the money and needs him to give her some coins to be able to spend them on him. What daddy would not love this dependent love? There is no shame in this innocent and childlike dependence on God. After all, if we do not realize that we depend on Him for everything we are only fooling ourselves. So if you want to love God more, then ask Him to give you the love you need.
I am so grateful that this prayer card came into my life by my heavenly Daddy’s Divine providence. I hope this prayer will deepen your relationship with God but, also, help you to experience Mass in an entirely new and love-saturated way. I have only shared a few insights of many that I have received. I would love to know how the prayer affects you and what insights you get as you meditate on this prayer before Mass.
When we are at Mass, we are at Calvary. And Mary stood at Calvary and witnessed the sacrifice of her Son on the Cross. We need to keep that reality in mind at every single Mass. Mary can help us. That is why she is mentioned in such a powerful way in this prayer. And that is also why the prayer asks that we might make reparation to not only Jesus’ Sacred Heart but, the heart of His Mother Mary. With our prayers at Holy Mass we can help to repair the relationship that we have damaged between heaven and earth.
Not Good Enough?
Do not worry if your sacrifice and your offering are not good enough. Even a small child pleases its parents when they bring them a wilted flower with their little heart full of love. That is all God and His holy Mother Mary ask of us. Just let your heart be filled with love and then return that love to the Father. Dirty, wilted or imperfect, God would rather have your love than have you squander it elsewhere. And He will do the rest. He will grow you into a more loving, pure, holy and worthy child until you are fit for heaven.
© 2019 Frances Peterson
Cover Image – Abraham sacrificing Isaac: The Sacrifice of Isaac, mid-1750s, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Italian, public domain image, Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA.
The Annunciation – National Gallery of Art, Open Access image: Giovanni Battista Fontana, Italian, c. 1524-1587.
Madonna and Child – Workshop of Sano di Pietro, c 1448-60, Italian, public domain image, Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA.
Prayer card and Statue of Christ with Child images: with permission of this author.
Catechism on the Eucharist: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P41.HTM#-1MJ
Eucharist as sacrifice: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/link/e-litur.html