Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Raissa Maritain was a Jew born Russian who grew up in France. While studying at the Sorbone, she met her future husband Jacques Maritain, whom she married in 1904. She considered herself an atheist, but after a long period of searching she converted to Catholicism with her husband in 1906. A year after her baptism, she contracted a life-threatening illness and she had to live with the illness for the rest of her life. In December 1939, she left France with her husband, just a few months before Germany invaded France. She had to live in a long exile in the United States and never resided again in France with her husband.
Despite her long suffering and illness, Raissa Maritain never gave up her hope in Jesus Christ. While she was exiled in New York, she wrote a poem:
It is time, awaken, Lord Jesus, come!
Oh Thou Who hast taken a hear like our hearts
To share in our pain and pity
Send us a world of light and peace
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus reminded us that our faith will be tested. Jesus never promises that everything will be easy after we come and follow him. But he assures us that in all of our trials, not a hair of our head will be destroyed and our perseverance will secure our lives. More importantly, Jesus assures us that he himself will give us wisdom and words to defend ourselves in our trials. Do we trust Jesus that He will be with us in our suffering and difficulties? Do we believe that our lives will be safe and secure in Jesus Christ, no matter how many trials that we have to endure?
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.