I absolutely love the month of June! There is so much that it holds in store for one’s soul. There is the blooming of roses, weddings, graduations, the ending of a school term and the anticipation of a fun summer off. There is the Sunday set aside to honor fathers but most importantly the month is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
With that thought in mind, I pondered what I could write about in this posting to honor the heart of Jesus. I took that thought to prayer and words quickly surfaced up in my heart, The Kiss of Christ.
These four little words sound so sweet, so loving and so thought provoking. Who wouldn’t want to be kissed by Christ? One could sit for hours with that thought swirling around in their hearts . . . to be kissed by Christ! These words would be a road sign for a new journey that my husband and I would soon find ourselves on after a road trip to Canada.
And so I begin, pulling out this memory for you from my suitcase! After my husband’s miraculous surgery in 2009, we found ourselves on the road a lot. We loved traveling by car and just stopping at whim in places that we had never heard of. Some of these trips were planned with a certain destination and some did not, but all of them shared the same outcome. They all turned out to be beautiful memories and blessings from above.
One such trip was a “destination trip” to Old Quebec in Canada, visiting St. Anne de Beaupre and Our Lady of the Cape Shrine. From that point on, nothing else was planned and we kind of meandered about in the car stopping at will, sometimes just driving and enjoying the scenery. Heading back south, we stopped in a Vermont rest stop. It was my habit to eavesdrop when someone asked directions or places that might be of interest to the guides who frequently were on duty to answer such questions.
I remember it was a Sunday and this particular person asked where there was a nice place to stay and I mentally jotted down that info to take back to my husband who was waiting outside in the car. He was definitely up for the idea and we found ourselves pleasantly surprised to find a place on the water for an overnight. After getting settled in our room, we went to the desk to see if there were any places that might be of interest to visit.
The woman asked us if we had been to St. Anne’s Shrine. We thought at first she was speaking of St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine but she then clarified to us that it was St. Anne’s Shrine in the Isle of LaMotte. “Oh you must go there,” she told us, “It’s quite beautiful and it will be a lovely day to spend time there.”
We found ourselves once again back in the car heading to the shrine, passing lovely Vermont scenery and taking it all in. Arriving at the shrine we found that the woman had guided us correctly and it looked like it was going to be a pleasant day of milling about.
My husband and I walked the grounds and then entered into the outdoor Chapel which has no outside walls but only a roof above the altar and sacred space. I’m a “lingerer” so Rob left me to go walk the grounds once again.
As I continued to walk about this sacred space, I was approached by a young woman. She asked me if I would pray with her and my answer came quickly, “yes!” So we knelt together before the featured image above, the Sacred Heart picture, in silence. It did not turn out to be a prayer that we prayed together as she began to voice words to me. She seemed to pray over me, and I found my own spirit not really happy with the words that were filling my ears and heart. When she finished she blessed me and we both went our separate ways.
Meeting up with my husband once again, he asked me, “what was that all about?” I replied simply that we were praying together but didn’t share what was swirling about within me. I was not happy! Actually, I felt feelings of fear as I asked myself, “how could this be of God?”
When we got back to the room, I took my iPad out and looked up the words that she had been praying over me. This is what I found. . .
“The Kiss of Christ”
There he hangs — pale figure pinned against the wood.
God grant that I could love Him as I really know I should.
I draw a little closer to share that love Divine
And almost hear Him whisper, “Ah foolish child of Mine!
If I should now embrace you,
My hands would stain you red.
And if I leaned to whisper,
the thorns would pierce your head.”
And then I knew in silence that love demands a price
’twas then I learned that suffering is but the kiss of Christ.
— Caryll Houselander
I must have read those words over and over that evening. Why did she approach me? There were other people milling about besides me under that open air shrine. What was I scared of? My husband had just survived a miraculous surgery three years prior and here we were enjoying the “extended” precious time that God had given to us.
So, what was I feeling? Did I not love Jesus?
We’ve all heard the question, “why do bad things happen to good people?” Yet, I wasn’t a true believer of those words. I knew suffering from a little child when my mother died so young and there was suffering in the loss of others that followed in my life as well. If Jesus suffered on the Cross, why wouldn’t a follower of His be any different I asked myself in mulling over these words for the hundredth time. If I suffered, I didn’t believe that I wasn’t loved by God but I must admit this poem was holding me, almost pinning me to a place that I felt I did not want to be.
Yes, that woman was sent to me that day to pray over me. She was sent to me to help me prepare for a time that was coming soon. It would be a time of suffering, probably the greatest suffering of my life thus far, and I was being given a prayer to pray to help get me through it.
Yes. . .
And then I knew in silence that love demands a price
’twas then I learned that suffering is but the kiss of Christ. . .
I realized that my husband Rob and I were about to be “kissed by Christ” in a way that we could have never imagined. Jesus would give me time to reflect on the words of this poem before He embraced us both from the Cross. The time of suffering was coming for us and I will share that with you, my readers, in the month of July.
Below is an image of Rob on the grounds of this Shrine dedicated to St. Anne. . .
©2018 Anita Guariglia
Photo Credits Anita Guariglia