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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Kiss of Christ

I take Communion to a local nursing home on Sundays. I visit eight residents most of whom suffer from Alzheimer disease or dementia. One lady is often antagonistic and tells me not to talk to her. She often refuses Communion saying she isn't worthy. I respond that none of us is worthy, but Jesus loves her and is the doctor who wants to bring her healing. Sometimes she decides to receive and sometimes she doesn't. 

Last Sunday I met her son, one of four children, and he shared two of her poems with me. They were profound and, in fact, reminded me of Caryll Houselander's work.

What a gift it is to see these debilitated individuals in a different light, in their prime so to speak. The poetry he read to me was, not only beautiful, but contemplative. One was titled O Solitude, but could have been titled O Jesu. And as I was thinking today about how to reach her I thought, "I will take her a poem by Caryll Houselander."

And here it is. May God use it to bridge the gap between her current suffering and her past contemplation. She needs the love of Christ so very much (as we all do) brought in the Real Presence of Our Eucharistic Lord.

Please pray for her. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow.
The Kiss of Christ
Lo, there He hangs, ashened figure -- pinioned to the wood.
God grant that I might love him -- even as I should.  
I draw a little closer -- to touch the face divine.
And then He leans to whisper -- "Oh foolish child of mine.
If now I should embrace you -- my hands would stain you red.
And if I leaned to kiss you -- the thorns would pierce your head." 
'Twas then I learned in meekness -- that love demands a price.
'Twas then I knew that suffering -- is but the kiss of Christ. 
Caryll Houselander


umblepie said...

A lovely poem, thank you.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

It is lovely, isn't it? I'm not all that familiar with Caryll Houselander except from reading the excerpts from her writings in Magnificat. But I think I will get a book of her poems. This one really touched my heart. It made me think of Mother Teresa and her statement that when we are suffering "Jesus is kissing us." Either she read Houselander or mystics think alike.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

An update for anyone interested. It was almost miraculous. Her son was there which helped immensely, but I read her the poem (kneeling down so I could be at her level). She agreed to join our table of four for Communion. After we finished the mini-service, her son read another poem and she asked if she wrote it. (She did.) She doesn't write poetry now, but I said now her job is suffering. Her son affirmed it and when we got ready to go I told her I'd bring her another poem. She reached out for my hand, said thank you, and then reached out for Larry's hand. That was AMAZING because she has always told me not to touch her. Praised be to God. He loves these helpless ones so much!