Our Lady on Mount Tabor, Mexico
God reveals Himself to those who wait for that revelation,
and who don’t try to tear at the hem of a mystery, forcing disclosure.
—Servant of God, Catherine de Hueck Doherty
MY days on Mount Tabor were drawing to a close, and yet, I knew there was more “light” to come. But for now, Our Lady was teaching me with every cement tile to be laid on the roof of our soup kitchen, with every electrical wire to be strung through the ceiling, and every dirty dish that needed to be washed. It was another opportunity to die to self, an act of love, another sacrifice through which the flame of love could burn brighter. Without love, wrote St. Paul, I am nothing.
Our Lady’s silent words till then were being confirmed daily in the Mass readings, as has happened so often now for years. But her presence was also tangible on Mount Tabor. Indeed, when I met Mother Lillie, I told her that Our Lady had brought me and that I knew she was here on this mountain. Mother replied, “A woman once told me that Our Lady was appearing to her in San Diego and I said, ‘Oh how sad that she only appears to you. Our Lady doesn’t appear here—she lives here.'”
These words spoke to me on another level. I sensed that God wants to make Mary’s maternal presence, like we were experiencing on this mountain, to be felt throughout the world. But how?
DESCENT INTO DARKNESS
One afternoon, I left with David Paul, the architect of the soup kitchen, to run an errand in Tecate. It was my first time off the mountain since I’d arrived. Suddenly, I was plunged into a world that, relatively, seemed chaotic. We drove past the city’s lagoon lined with rickety shanties pieced together with cardboard, metal, and wood to make some kind of home for the poorest of the poor. The streets were dirty, and many business fronts looked rundown, their paint fading under the hot Mexican sun. We walked into a “mall” which was nothing more than rows of vending stalls selling cheap goods at cheap prices. Sensuality and sleaze was on a full display as Our Lady of Guadalupe images sold next to porn, crosses next to cocaine bongs, and superstitions next to prayer cards. I looked into the eyes of vendors, tired and cynical as they eeked out some kind of living. “God doesn’t want us to live this way,” I whispered.
THE ERA OF PEACE BEGUN
The next evening, we climbed atop Mount Tabor on a perch overlooking the monastery. We looked down upon stony paths and white bell towers, upon soup kitchens and chapels, upon gardens and groves in which statues and benches welcomed contemplation. Many try to tell us today that God does not exist. But every building and flower bed here came through prayer and a labor of love. Moreover, this desert had been transformed into a paradise of order and goodness, of generosity and brotherhood by simply following the words of Jesus in the Gospel. “This is what the world is supposed to be,” I said. “Look David, this is the ‘era of peace’, already begun here. Look at the truth, beauty, and goodness we see as a fruit of saying ‘yes’ to God.” I could almost taste the Mass readings:
“Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. (First reading, Rev 21:9-14)
We truly were looking down upon the City of God, even if its form was temporal. “This is a parable of the Era of Peace that God wishes to bring about in our world,” I said, as we breathed in the contrast from our earlier visit to the city. “All the potential for sin and rebellion still remains, but through Our Lady’s triumph here, of making Jesus loved, adored, and followed, there is peace and justice.“
If only the world could come here, I imagined—could come as the Psalm said, and make “known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.” If only they could “Come and see”, as Nathaniel said to Philip in the Gospel.
And ever so quietly, ever so subtle, Our Lady seemed to say:
Your heart now must also become a City of God.
THE CITY OF GOD
On my last Sunday at the monastery, once again, Our Lady’s gentle words were confirmed in the Word. The call to love to the last drop is only the half of it. The other necessity is to embrace the kind of humility that Mary had—she who emptied herself so completely so as to make room for Jesus. It is the kind of humility that says, “Lord, I don’t know how You’re going to do this, but I trust that You can and will. May it be done to me according to your will.” The first Mass reading said,
My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not. (Sirach 3:17-29)
Without humility, even the greatest act of charity becomes poisoned by self, and the flame of love is stifled.
However, it was the second Mass reading that really got my attention!
…you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem… (Rev 12:22)
Here again, God was confirming this word in my heart that each of us must become another “City of God”. In prayer that Sunday, I sensed the Father say…
My child, when you leave this place, you are to take it with you. For Heaven is always where My will is “done on earth as it is in Heaven.” This is My work, the work of the Holy Spirit. Whenever you cooperate with the Spirit by your “fiat of the moment”, Heaven descends and touches that place on earth. Your heart becomes, then, a holy “village”, a holy “monastery”, the City of God. Therein dwells My Kingdom, and every spiritual blessing from Heaven.
Every spiritual blessing. These words of St. Paul were on my heart from the day we arrived, but now with the sense that they bore a greater significance than ever:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him…. (Ephesians 1:3-4)
My child, do not be afraid nor allow yourself to fall back into old ways of thinking and doing. Set up the City of God within your heart, and thus your midst. Allow Heaven to touch earth through your presence, through love in authentic action. And love which opens the City gates and paves her streets is a love which gives everything to the last drop.
My child, not only can the City of God be built upon the mountain where you sit, but anywhere where faith and trust and obedient surrender allow the Holy Spirit to descend uninhibited.
I sensed Our Lady’s presence and the words…
My little “Juanito”, take my hand and walk with me. Entrust to me this calling of God to build a city, a divine City in your heart. I was the first city in which God touched earth. And now He wishes the same in you, beloved [and my readers!]. Do not ask questions, but ponder these things in your heart with absolute confidence that He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion.
It wasn’t until we would begin the journey home that I would begin to see the connection between Our Lady “full of grace” and “every spiritual blessing” that God wishes to give us… and the implications are literally out of this world.
Listen to part of the meditation during Adoration that Sunday,
followed by part of the Ave Maria…
“When we have pure hearts in our lives, God does miracles. We just need a little size of faith like the mustard seed, and God can do wonders. Believe today and receive the blessings God bestows on you so you can be free like the birds of the air that fly at liberty.” —Sr. Goretti
To be continued…
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