Cross atop Mount Tabor
DURING Adoration, which followed every daily Mass (and remained perpetual in the various chapels throughout the monastery), the words rose up in my soul:
Love to the last drop of blood.
Love, of course, is the fulfillment of all the law. As the Gospel that first day announced:
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. (Matt 22:34-40)
But these words to love to the last drop were not a mere command to love, but an instruction on how to love: to the last drop. Soon enough, Our Lady would teach me.
As I peeled my work clothes off from the first day of work, I thanked God again for the gift of a hot shower. Supper and water were a welcome sight as the heat burned off the body’s energy and hydration like a puddle in the desert. When I stood up to leave the kitchen, I looked at the dishes in the corner by the sink, and heard again in my heart the words, “Love to the last drop.” Immediately, I interiorly understood that the Lord was asking me not just to serve, but to become the “servant of servants.” To not wait for needs to come to me, but for me to seek out the needs of my brothers and sisters, and take care of them. To take, as He commanded, the “last” place and to do everything with great love, leaving nothing undone, half-finished, or wanting. Moreover, I was to love in this way without drawing attention to it, complaining, or boasting. I was simply to love in this hidden, yet visible way, to the last drop.
As the days went on and I began to look for ways to love in this manner, one thing among others became apparent. One is that we cannot love in this way with an idle or slothful heart. We have to be deliberate! Following Jesus, whether it is meeting Him in prayer or meeting Him in my brother, requires a certain recollection and intensity of the heart. It is not a matter of anxious productivity, but rather, an intensity of disposition. To be intentional with what I do, with what I say, with what I don’t do. That my eyes are always wide open, directed solely toward the will of God. Everything is orientated purposely as if I were doing it for Jesus:
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God… Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others,(1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23)
Yes, it is loving, serving, working, and praying from the heart. And when we begin to love in this way, to the last drop of one’s blood so to speak, then something profound begins to happen. The flesh, and all its works, that is, selfishness, anger, lust, greed, bitterness, etc. begins to die. There is a kenosis that begins to happen, an emptying of self, and in its place—through the channels of prayer, the Sacraments, and Adoration—Jesus begins to fill us with Himself.
One day during Mass, as I looked up at the Crucifix and the open side of Christ, the meaning of “love to the last drop of blood” became “alive.” For it was only when Jesus breathed His last and His side was pierced that He fully and totally loved us to the last drop of blood. Then…
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:8-9)
In that last drop of blood, the Sacraments sprung from His side and those standing beneath the Cross were showered with a Divine Mercy that changed and converted them. cf. Matt 24:57 In that moment, the veil between Heaven and earth was torn asunder, and the Ladder cf. The Church is this ladder, becoming as it were the “sacrament of salvation”, the means to encounter Jesus between them was erected: Heaven could now touch earth. St. John could only lay his head upon the breast of Christ. But it is precisely because His side was pierced that doubting Thomas was now able to reach into Christ’s side, touching the loving, burning Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through this encounter of Love who loved to the last drop, Thomas believed and worshipped.
To love to the last drop of blood, then, means to love as Christ did. Not only to be mocked and scourged, not only to be crowned and nailed, but to be pierced in the side such that all I have, all I possess, indeed, my very life and breath is poured out in each moment for my neighbour. And when I love in this way, the veil between heaven and earth is torn asunder, and my life becomes a ladder to Heaven—Heaven can touch earth through me. Christ can descend into my heart, and through the wound of loving in this way, others can encounter the true presence of Jesus in me.
At one point during our time in Mexico, the nuns asked if I would sing a Communion Song at one of the Masses. And so I did, and this was the only song I could think to sing. Make it your prayer with me this day…
I sensed that this way of loving that Our Lady and St. Paul are teaching, was only the foundation for what is to be the greatest gift to be poured out on mankind since the Incarnation. During morning prayer of my first day at the monastery, I pondered a meditation from St. John Eudes that seemed to ring like a prophecy over the nations…
The august Heart of Jesus is a furnace of love which spread its fiery flames in all directions, in heaven, on earth, and through the whole universe… O sacred fires and flames of the Heart of my Saviour, rush in upon my heart and the hearts of all my brethren, and kindle them into as many furnaces of love for my most loving Jesus! —from Magnificat, August 2016, p. 289
To be continued…