Sunday, April 21, 2019

"See With the Eyes of Your Soul": St. Aelred on the Resurrection

As I noted last month, Saint Aelred of Rievaulx's letter to his anchorite sister contained some beautiful meditations on the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Aelred encouraged his sister to imagine that she was there witnessing these events. When it comes to the Resurrection, he tells her to follow Mary Magdalen to the tomb and there meet the Risen Christ:

After all this, make sure that you do not quit the fellowship of Mary Magdalen; but when she goes to Christ's sepulchre with her sweet-smelling balms to anoint Christ's body, follow her. Ah Lord, sister, if only you might be worthy to see with the eyes of your soul that which Mary saw with the eyes of your body . . . within the sepulchre, one angel at the head, another at the foot, singing and praising the joy and bliss of Christ's resurrection . . . Jesus looking happily on Mary Magdalen who was weeping, full for sorrow His death . . . now His sweet voice as He call her by name: 'Mary!' What could be sweeter than this word, or more joyful and blissful--Mary! Now Mary, let thy tears run down, and thy sighs come forth. What heart didst thou have, what spirit, what strength, when thou didst fall headlong at Christ's feet, and didst greet Him saying: 'Rabboni!' I pray thee tell me, with what affection, with what burning desire of thy heart thou didst cry out, for thou couldst not say more for sobbing and weeping when thou saidst, 'Rabboni'. The great love thou didst have for Jesus had filled all the senses of thy body and soul.

Saint Aelred meditates on Jesus's command, Noli me tangere/Touch me not and it is hard to tell who is speaking, Mary Magdalen or Aelred:

Why, blissful Lord? Why may I not come near to Thee? Why may I not touch thy dear feet that were pierced for me with nails on the cross? Why may I not handle them, nor kiss them? Good Jesus, has Thou become a stranger to me, and no more my friend, now that Thy body is even more glorious after Thy resurrection? Now for sure, I will not let Thee go, and I will not go from Thee. I shall never cease from weeping. My breast and heart will break for sobbing and sighing unless I touch thy feet just once. And then says the merciful Jesus: 'I am not yet ascended to my Father.' That which you ask, He says, is not taken from you but is only delayed. 'Go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father. . . . '

Then Mary runs from the garden, and surely she runs all the faster, so that she may come back to it more quickly. . . .

And he notes that Mary Magdalen's wish to grasp the feet of Jesus is fulfilled:

I beg you to notice how that which was at first denied is now granted to Mary Magdalen and her companions. As the gospel says: 'They went and clasped Jesus about His feet.' (Matthew 28:9)

Christ Is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Today is my mother Rita's birthday! God bless her in Heaven in that eternal Easter of joy and love!

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