Curatio Retreat 2020
“Wounded Hearts Love Best”
Father Justin Kizewski
First Reflection – Friday Evening
“Wounded, I will never cease to love”
Let’s begin with prayer … In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lord Jesus, be with us, stay with us, reveal Your Heart to us, heal us. Help us to come to know You better, and in knowing You to love You more. Help us mirror Your love for those that we meet. We ask for the intercession of our patron saints, our guardian angels, and Mary, our mother. We ask for the Holy Spirit and all His gifts. We ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The theme of this retreat is “Wounded Hearts Love Best,” and obviously, just looking at the signs out front, this does get right to the heart of what this apostolate, it seems to me, is all about. You have this phrase, “Curatio ex Corde Christi; Healing from the Heart of Christ.” So, what do we know about this Heart? Well, without spoiling everything that I hope to say, we know that it is pierced, it is wounded for us. We know that blood and water is flowing out. We know that it’s the source of some of the most precious gifts to us, and we know that it’s an invitation – an open heart invitation – to come if you’re weary and if you’re burdened, and rest awhile. And the most explicit reference to His Heart, that’s the Lord’s invitation, so this open heart invitation to come and live in His Heart, live with Him, so that we can learn from Him. “Come, learn from Me,” He says. We can learn specifically how to love like Him and how to heal like Him.
So, I think we have five talks. The whole theme is “Wounded Hearts love Best,” and the first one is “Wounded, I will never cease to love.” We’ll get more into that. The second is “Some Wounds don’t heal,” and the third is “Behold such a heart.” The fourth is the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” and then the fifth will be “Come to Me.” And I’m surprised to give a talk on these things. I mean, it’s not exactly my first way of relating with the Lord. I tend to be headier; I tend to be more intellectual, I suppose. The heart – really talking about its woundedness – is not something that I do naturally; it’s certainly not something that I imagine myself doing, but given our time, given the great work that you do and the stresses that you encounter, and the truth that we are meant to love like Christ loves and we will look like Him, I think it’s an important theme.
So then, we thought of doing a bit of an introduction first, and we’ll do this very quickly and imminently, of just prayer in general, and then in this first talk after that just brief introduction of prayer, I hope to hit on some of the themes that will carry us through into adoration and also tee us up then for tomorrow. Feel free to ask questions. Oh, and then … a couple of caveats. There are opportunities for certainly confession, but also direction. I forget how it’s labeled, but we thought too just a brief word on that. Direction can be something that you do over a long period of time with a spiritual director and that’s going to be the most important, but if there are things that are stirring in your heart and you just want to have a spiritual conversation about those things, if you have questions that you would like to ask, those are the kinds of things that spiritual conversation or direction, or whatever you want to use that time for, that is what that’s intended for, so there are signups that are available, and someone will just have to point out where those are and where I need to be and when I need to be there. I’m not very organized and I’m chronically late, and I have other struggles that will be evident. All of my faults are evident almost immediately, so anyhow … I’m sorry for those. Pray for me … I’m a work in progress.
Try to enter in the silence, and if someone laid different ground rules than these follow those, but here are my suggestions, that as long as we kind of decide what silence means just follow that, and then it frees us a great deal of the worry or anxiety. So, I would say, feel free to acknowledge another person. You don’t have to do so with your voice, but you can do it with your eyes and especially the mouth most of the time. Smile with your eyes and then you can go on. If you need something at dinner or the meals or whatever, I’m not sure how necessary that will be, but anyhow feel free to somehow get attention. You can say a little word if you need something and don’t want to make a scene, and know that things will strike you as funnier than they would have if you could talk about them, and food, because the silence is our focus, will taste better, even if it was really good to begin with. So those are good ways the Lord blesses us. Certainly you can talk to me and we can find those moments; just pull me aside.
A little bit on prayer … and a good way to begin is where the catechism begins with prayer, and that is with God’s thirst, and it comes from John Chapter 4, the woman at the well. And He goes to her and says, “Give Me a drink.” She’s a Samaritan and he’s a Jew; that wouldn’t normally happen. Jews don’t speak to Samaritans; we all know these things, because these stories are pretty familiar, I suspect. He’s asking her for a drink. You see, the catechism talks about prayer as God’s thirst meeting our thirst, and God’s thirst for us is always first. “Give Me a drink.” “Come unto Me.” “If you knew the gift of God and who it was who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” So right there we’ve got this sense of what prayer might look like. “Give Me a drink.” And then we, in turn, ask Him for a drink, and He gives living water, which we find out is the Holy Spirit a few lines later. And drinking, thirsting and quenching our thirst, is an image that Josef Pieper in this book “Happiness and Contemplation” uses as an image for happiness. He says, “If we understand happiness as the quenching of a thirst, we must forthwith recognize that the thirsty looks away from himself and he seeks something else, that which produces happiness and is something outside of the soul.” And so, there’s this notion that the thirst that yearns for happiness also relates to sin. It’s a mixing of metaphors or images, but it’s very, very true. The activity which we receive, the drink which is happiness, is by nature an activity whose effects work inward. So it’s something that we see, we bring in, and it becomes part of us, so we are wanting to see.
So, how do we pray? What’s a brief introduction to prayer? Well, these instructions come from St. Francis de Sales in his “Introduction to the Devout Life”, and I find it very helpful and there are similar kinds of directions, methods that you’ll find in St. Ignatius, that you’ll find in the spiritual classics, but basically there are these general pieces of prayer, but first you have to prepare to pray, to get ready to pray, and so the first step is going to be preparation. And the perhaps best way to prepare is just to put yourself in the presence of God, draw your attention to God’s presence, and St. Francis de Sales uses the image of a blind man in a king’s court. So you’re in the king’s court and, if you’re blind, you don’t see, and so the king comes in and maybe the trumpets or whatever, but basically that’s the point. You need attention to be brought to the fact that the king is there.
On a side note, I was once working with Mother Teresa’s sisters in Washington, D.C., as I was going to school at Catholic University, and I was helping a fellow that was blind and I laid his food out in front of him and I said, “How does that look?” Anyway, he had a great sense of humor and he said, “I don’t know; I can’t see.”
So we put our thoughts in God and it’s like we’re blind and we need to be alerted to His presence. Hey, the King is here. You could consider how He lives in you, and I love the scene from the Lion King movie, or the musical had this song too. He tells him to look at the water and he looks and just sees his reflection, and he says, “Look harder.” He looks harder and then he sees Mufasa. “You see, he lives in you.” So, that’s a way. You could think of how Jesus looks at you from His humanity, in His humanity, how He looks on all, how He looks on all Christians as siblings, as members of this new way of being God’s family. “Who are My mother, My brother and My sister? … those who hear the Word of God and keep it.” Think specifically how the Lord looks with kindness and generosity on those at prayer; think of how He looks at people at prayer, who are fascinated by His prayer, so much so that the apostles asked Him, “Teach us how to pray.” Never underestimate the power of the Our Father.
Imagine Jesus in His humanity as if He were sitting next to you. You can imagine this, but if we are in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, we have the Blessed Sacrament and it’s not imaginary; it’s real. Christ is here. So, in this first step, you prepare yourself, like God is here, and often when I preach homilies I’ll encourage folks at the beginning of the homily to make an act of faith and say something like, “Amen. I believe; I believe that God is here.” “Amen. I believe that God is at work.” “Amen. I believe that God speaks.” “Amen. I believe that God speaks to me.”
These are always preparatory and they’re all different. You don’t have to do them all, but do some sort of getting yourself ready to pray and just sit down and pray. But you need to kind of disengage a bit from the world. I just saw this – it is in Mother Teresa and Me and is a quotation: “It’s not that God isn’t speaking to you; it’s that you have the world turned up too loud and you can’t hear Him.” But then invoke God’s assistance, and so take the Liturgy of the Hours as a great example of how to prepare for prayer. We have preparation in the Liturgy of the Hours; it’s sort of built right in. “Oh, God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.” That’s a great way to begin all prayer. The Church seems to know what she’s doing when she asks us to begin that way in her prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours.
Then you’re going to have some subject of the mystery, some perhaps imagination, some scene perhaps if it’s a Bible verse or Gospel passage. You can think through that; it’s often called the composition of place, but sometimes you wouldn’t use the imagination. Sometimes it’s a truth of the faith or a conversation that you want to have with the Lord. Then you get into the second part, and it’s a consideration. And what you’re doing in this combination of vocal prayer and meditative prayer is trying to mine your thoughts, or the Scriptures, or whatever you have for your meditation – perhaps it’s something that went on in your day – you’re mining for a truth to consider. People will say the happy man is the one who sees, and so we’re mining for that consideration, that little nugget of truth when we become aware of reality and we go, “Aha!” And then we consider it and we look at it from different angles. That’s the consideration. This is how it looks if you’re thinking of a mystery when you pray the rosary. If you’re going through lines in the Our Father, maybe you get stuck on one and it’s good to get stuck. Stay there … Our Father … and then you’ve got that little nugget.
Then the third part is always going to be the most important part of prayer actually, when prayer really becomes prayer, and that is the affection or resolution. You see, prayer has to land in your will; it has to land in the part that we don’t even perhaps know we’re composed. We’ve got these powers of intellect and will, and intellect does a great deal for us in the consideration piece, but prayer properly speaking has to rest in your will. It has to elicit some act of your will. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Usually it’s in kind of four basic moments of prayer, and may be summarized in this way: sorry, please, thank you, wow! Those are the four kinds of prayer … reparation, when we’re contrite and we’re asking for mercy. “I’m sorry.” That’s a movement of the will. Something is lodged into our heart and then it’s like, “Oh, my … I’m sorry.” Or it’s a “Please, please help.” “Petitions,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “are among the most effective prayers, because that’s the prayer of a friend.” Who do you go to when you need something dearly, a stranger or a friend? So it goes like, “I won’t trouble God. God is too busy for me.” You’re putting so much limitation on God. He is so much more than what you think Him to be, if you think you’re bothering Him.
But where do you go when you really need something? You call a friend. You call up to Him. So petition is just that, and the bigger the request the happier the Lord is to come to you in it. Please, thank you, gratitude … “Thank You, Lord. Thank You for Your goodness,” and then, “Wow!” So, we’ve got reparation or contrition, we’ve got petition, we’ve got thanksgiving, and here we have adoration or praise. “Wow, You’re amazing.” An act of love, an act of sorrow … these are all kinds of resolutions, something that’s got to get drawn out and has to be stirred up in our hearts. And then finally we would conclude, and basically it’s taking inventory of our prayer, and there’s not a set amount of time for each of these steps. You may not get through all of them, but it’s good to have some sense of a method of what we’re trying to do when we sit down to pray. First I’m going to get ready. “Lord, I believe that You’re here. I’m glad that You’re speaking to me. God, come to my assistance.” And then we might in the content, as we’re praying the rosary, or thinking of a prayer, or conversing with God, or imagining a Bible scene or a Gospel scene, or considering a truth of the faith, or going through an aspect of our day, or whatever the content is, and then it rests in those many ways but with some aspect of the heart. It’s good to have the conversations with the Lord, angels, saints, ourselves, our own hearts, sinners, creatures, all of these kinds of things. When you think of creatures you’re like, “How do you do that?” St. Francis had that, when he called Sister Moon and Brother Sun.
Anyway, then the fourth part … so, we’ve done the preparation, the consideration, the affection, the resolution, and the conclusion. So, we would always then conclude with an inventory. Okay, what happened in my prayer? “Thank You, Lord, for being present here.” Then we would make an act of offering. “Here I am, Lord. I come to do Your will.” We would continue to pray for ourselves, the Church, our pastors, relatives, friends, others, asking for the intercession of the saints, and then close with perhaps some vocal prayer, the Our Father or Hail Mary, or the Sub Tuum Praesidium, one of the earliest ways of speaking to Our Lady – “We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God,” “Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix.” “Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. Amen.”
Father Michael Gaitley points out, and I’ve seen others now do it too, that in the Memorare we’ve got … “Never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection was left unaided.” I’m not going to be the first; you’re not going to be the first. It’s like everyone except me; no, it’s not that way. And then, I think this is particularly helpful from St. Francis de Sales when he says, “Collect the graces into a bouquet for yourself, put it in a vase, and carry the vase home.” So, it’s an image of gathering what was done in your prayer and then it will continue to figure through the day, or the next day if you pray at night. Obviously, an understood implicit premise here is that you pray. There’s no way around this; we have to pray.
I didn’t actually get to the main point. Let me say just these things. Think of where the Lord has healed people, healed them of their inner demons, their inner voices, healed them of some physical ailments … I have a running list here. We’ve got the woman at the well and the rest of the story here. We’ve got Jairus’ daughter, the fellow that goes to the Lord and he tries to get His attention, and the Lord is just torn in all of these directions, and He’s making His way to the daughter, but He kind of lingers on the way and meets the hemorrhaging woman, and she’s been suffering for years with her ailment. Nicodemus is the fellow in John, Chapter 3, with whom Jesus talks, and he is a leader of the community of the Jews and a scribe. He just kind of knows his stuff, and then the Lord targets his intellectualism, perhaps his intellectual pride, and says, “Have you not read this?” This is a scribe; of course he has read it all. “Have you not read this? Do you know this passage, this really famous passage in Scripture?” … that’s basically the Lord to Nicodemus. That would hurt … ouch. Peter … I mean, one of the reasons that we feel so bad when he falls is we probably had a higher expectation of the kind of person he was. That can hurt. It can be so human and healthy to get a clear picture of ourselves. Martha’s anxiety … and she’s encouraged that her sister has chosen the one necessary thing and that it won’t be taken from her.
I mean, that’s perhaps where a lot of us are, and so then when we’re anxious we want to deprive others of their peace and we need to really watch that. Don’t let anything deprive you of that peace, and don’t be an agent of depriving someone else of their peace. At any point, Martha could have asked for help. Instead, she waits way too long beyond any semblance of charity and then goes to the Word made flesh, “Lord, do You not care that I am here suffering?” Of course He cares; of course He knows. He knows everything. Her service perhaps allowed Mary to have that one necessary thing. Maybe she could have contextualized it that way, or maybe if she was really burdened, if she had asked her sister for help, are we sure that Mary wouldn’t have gotten up to help? No, I think she would have.
The stories of healing always point to the wound. That’s where the Lord wants to enter; that’s what He wants to heal. So, in this “Wounded, I will never cease to love,” the idea is ultimately being kind of open, that same openness before the Lord that He is open before us. St. Augustine says, in a place that I can’t find … I don’t remember where I read this; I mean, it’s all on the internet, but with no reference … sometimes that would suggest that it’s maybe not St. Augustine, like St. Francis’ line of “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.” It’s a great phrase, but he never said it, which I guess is the point. He communicated that somehow without ever saying it – that’s brilliant! But St. Augustine apparently said, “In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory and it dazzled me,” a kind of open invitation for the Lord, right? So then the phrase, “Wounded I will never cease to love” comes from a group of sisters in Rome, the Little Sisters of the Lamb; this is their motto for their order – “Wounded I will never cease to love.” And I’m sure that you can add new meaning to it.
Here’s a couple that, after listening to them and certainly thinking about it myself that I’ve come to: “Though wounded, I will not stop loving,” so a kind of resolution, I will not give up, not ever, not for anything, and when the sisters would talk about this, they would often put it in this context of being wounded by another sister or someone you like and you are insulted by somebody, and then what happens? What do you want to do? You feel that little nuisance, like “I’ll show you!” But then we try to catch ourselves and say, “No. Ouch, that hurt, but wounded I’m not going to stop loving.”
And then there’s another sense of the spiritual physics that Schafer will talk about, “Because I’m wounded, I’m needy.” The spiritual physics is what he talks about, but what I’m trying to get at here is because I am wounded I am needy … I need help. I’m a work in progress. There are so many things that I don’t have worked out. I squander so much that the Lord gives. Most of the wounds that I mentioned in that listing of Bible healings, so wounds that needed healing, well I’ve got most of them.
Then there’s a song that’s on the Christian radio, but it just really does get to it. It’s “I’m thankful for the scars.” The group is I am They. “I’m thankful for the scars, because without them I wouldn’t know your heart.” And the Lord’s, talking about His scars, they would open up His heart too. That is what is allowing us to see His heart … His open heart … and allows us to effectively climb inside and then dwell there, live with Him. We’re talking of our own scars and are thankful for them. “I can see; I can see how You delivered me. In Your hands and Your feet, I found my victory.” And it concludes with, “I’m thankful for Your scars.”
Ultimately it’s a kind of vulnerability before the Lord, and I don’t know if we like this word or if we don’t like this word, it just means woundability. Vulnus in Latin means wound, and there is something in this book called Spiritual Direction that’s actually very helpful; whether it’s for someone who gives direction or someone who is in direction, I think it is helpful for that, and it’s a guide for sharing the Father’s love, but it points out that when a big hulking man starts to cry … or when a successful businessman awkwardly communicates tender love to his wife … these are all examples from his book of this openness … of that thirst. It pierces our senses and reaches our hearts; that’s what we’re looking for, so that at that level we can meet the Lord and then He can speak to our hearts. And the causes of the wounds I can go into next time, but ultimately here is the lesson that these wounds, whatever they may be, whether they be caused from our sin or the sin of others, or disappointment, or even something positive like love or beauty – these things wound – the woundedness, particularly as replacing the kindness of God. It’s because of our association with Christ that this happens and that this has value. Nothing is wasted. We think of the multiplication of the loaves and they go and collect all of the pieces to make sure nothing is lost.
And then Psalm 119, verse 71, says, “It is good that I was afflicted,” or in Peter 5:7 it says, “Cast your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you.” John 11:33-35 says Jesus wept, and Revelation 21:3-4 talks about Him wiping away every tear from our eyes. The Lord wants to heal you where you need it, and He will meet you there and then will help you grow in your loving like Him, in your looking like Him, and will help you experience His thirst to have your thirst quenched. It will help you see. Thank you for the scars, because without them I wouldn’t know Your heart. I know they tell of who You are, so forever I’m thankful for the scars. I can see how You delivered me in Your hands and Your feet. I am victor; I can see.