Paschal Existence

by Catherine Doherty


Our life is a mystery, lived in time, but moving, through love, into the dimensions of eternity. This movement, at root, is our total self-emptying, our radical consent to self-surrender. And this process means death to all that is false in us. It means journeying through darkness into light, when we turn our eyes away from the darkness of self to look at Jesus who is light. With this turning, we begin to truly see. The eyes of our soul open up and we recognize him.

This turning to Jesus brings with it a stillness of heart, when finally our hearts become quiet enough to hear his voice. And as we listen, we can hear him speak our name. He calls us forth, and we respond, "My God," just as Mary Magdalene, seeking with her whole being her Savior, recognized him when he spoke her name. She recognized him because she loved him. Her heart was waiting, her heart was ready, and her whole being responded, "Rabbuni!"-which means "Master" (John 20:16).

Our whole being reaches out for love, but with the same force our whole being shrinks from the pain of death. We find ourselves caught within the grips of this human paradox. It is only in the life and death of Jesus that this paradox is resolved and becomes for us a mystery of light, a way, a deep truth to be lived in uncompromising faith.

Life holds within itself the seeds of death. Love, too, holds within its power the seeds of death, the death to self which brings forth life. Christ told us this truth in plain words. Then, with his own death and Resurrection, he confirmed the truth of his words.

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit," is the cry of the beloved Son (Luke 23:46). We echo that cry of Jesus Christ. Love yields, love bends, love opens up its being to communion with the beloved. Love is so poor, so open, so vulnerable that it allows itself to be enveloped by the other-by the mysterious being of the other. As the work of love is completed, death to self takes place. The beloved Son has yielded his Spirit, which is released to bring forth new life in us.

The death of Jesus for love of the Father, and for love of us, was no metaphor. Our death to self likewise is no metaphor. It, too, will end in a 'crucifixion,' the lifting up of our arms, the stretching out of our hands, the piercing of our hearts, the surrendering of our total being to fix us to the cross until we yield up our spirit in one consummate act of love-uniting our self with Christ.

Catherine Doherty (August 15, 1896 – December 14, 1985), born in Russia, was foundress of Madonna House and a prolific writer and teacher. Her passionate zeal impelled her to pass on her faith in God, and she is now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. Visit www.CatherineDoherty.org for more information.

Copyright: Madonna House Publications – With Permission under a Creative Commons License.