Madonna House

Now! Now! Now!

by Catherine Doherty

The following is a very early letter to the members of Madonna House, the letter Fr. Pat McNulty talks about in his previous article.

Dearly Beloved,

Slowly, the immense vision of the secular institutes given by the Holy Spirit to Pope Pius XII is unfolding before me. The heart of this vision depends on our interior life and on our spiritual and emotional maturity.

We have to get out of ourselves. We have to concentrate on the things of the Spirit. We will only be as strong as the life of our spirit. This life cannot grow in emotional immaturity. The time has come for all of us to face the reality of Christ’s pain.

The pain is immense. Think of Christ in the world today. Meditate on him. Steep yourself in his pain.

Of course, he is in the poor, the forgotten, the neglected, the hungry, the cold and homeless. He is in the thin children with old eyes; he is in the restless, unmoored youth. He is in the alcoholic, the psychotic, the neurotic. You know his pain in these people; you are familiar with his presence there.

But do you see the pain of Christ in the priests and in the bishops who are concerned about their parishes and dioceses, who spend themselves beyond all human prudence in an effort to assuage the pain of Christ in those entrusted to their care?

I have seen bishops and priests cry slow, heavy tears. It seemed to me that I saw Christ cry in them. My heart stood still. I would have died for them right then and there if my death could have stopped those heavy tears.

I saw Christ in these priests, Christ’s need of us [the laity] to extend their efforts. I realized the need for unselfishness, for maturity, and for an end to this eternal concern with our puny, demanding little selves.

The weapon of knowledge has been given to all of you [the staff of Madonna House] that you might mature emotionally. Months and sometimes years have been spent showing you the way to that maturity.

These methods are now in your hands. Lay them at the feet of Christ. Ask him for the grace to forget yourself completely, to become the linen cloth that will wipe his bloody face, the hands that will take him off the cross, so that he will not be re-crucified.

Look with the eyes of your soul and see how he needs you. There is no time to spend on that self that should die so completely to make room for him. Our time is now. Now! Now! Now! Not tomorrow, now! For the pain of Christ is real. It has to be shared, assuaged, and stopped. Now!

Have you seen his pain in the hungry heart of mankind? Have you seen his pain in the “poor rich?” Have you seen his pain in the intellectual life of the universities and schools, the teachers and professors who, day in and day out, teach empty words that are but a skeleton of truth without the flesh of him who is Truth?

Have you seen the pain of Christ in the municipal, state, provincial, national and international governments? Do you feel the horror of the United Nations, so divided because God does not sit on their councils?

Stop! Look! Listen! Behold the pain of Christ—a white-hot iron that should set your heart afire so that you might share his pain and become a flame that lights and warms the world.

At this point, you may well ask, how do I propose that you do this, you who are working in that part of the vineyard he has allotted you and who are already assuaging his pain in hundreds of people?

My answer comes to you simple and direct: Love more. To love more, pray more. Pray not only the prayers of the Mass, the Office, the rosary, which are the foundation of all prayer; but pray the prayer of the Presence of God. Walk in that presence. Ask those who direct your soul to teach you.

Love. Love God. Love every minute, with every step that you take. Love him sleeping or waking, eating or working. Love. For only each individual loving God as he should be loved will bring peace to the world. This is caritas.

Let each of your souls become the cradle, the manger of the newborn Christ. Let us become the cities and villages of his public life, the earth he walked upon, until finally we become a Golgotha where he will be the cross and we the crucified.

Then, someday, we shall also know his Ascension, and we too will ascend. But not alone. We shall take with us all those whom the fire of our love, our surrender, and our dedication, have brought to Christ. This is my wish for each of you.

— From Dearly Beloved, Vol. 1, (1989), December 7, 1956, pp. 19-21, available from MH Publications