Grace: Ask for shame and confusion, seeing how many souls have chosen to live forever separated from God’s love, and for an acute awareness of my own potential of doing the same.
Text for Prayer: Isaiah 55:1-5
1st Point: By placing God at the center and all created things at His service and praise, we have a compass (or an updated GPS) that will help us better direct our intentions and lead us toward greater freedom. Throw this compass out and you throw yourself into the ditch. Our first parents had to learn it the hard way.
There were no mirrors in Eden, at least not the way we know them. God reflected Adam and Eve to themselves. Eve and Adam reflected each other. With their eyes on God, Adam and Eve learned how they were different from the other creatures. With their eyes on each other, they held each other accountable for keeping their eyes on God. Their loving relationship reflected back to God His own image. Then came the serpent. It would be an understatement to say he was like those carnival mirrors that gave everything a little twist. He was more like a smashed up mirror that distorted reality. He cajoled Adam and Eve to turn into themselves, not so they could admire their inner beauty, but to trap them in themselves.
They traded in the communal and fertile life in paradise with God and each other for an isolated and fruitless island. With paradise lost, they spent the rest of their lives laboring to replant and rebuild what they could of what they lost. God did not abandon them and continued to bless them, but He was not going to force them out of themselves. They had to choose to come out of themselves and rediscover God and each other, and we all know how difficult it is not to make ourselves the center of our lives.
2nd Point: God knew and loved Adam and Eve in a personal and intimate way, but they made a free choice to be self-centered rather than God-centered, as if the latter excluded the former. With this in mind, let’s consider another cosmic tragedy.
Who knew God’s heart better than Lucifer? He was not lacking in love but chose against love. He built a fortress and kingdom—the Kingdom of Hell—for himself. No man is an island, but not so for Lucifer. For someone who knew profoundly life in God, Lucifer made a definitive “I do” to life in Death forever, “so don’t help me God.” Lucifer saw his mansion in the Kingdom of Heaven, threw back the keys, and strolled out the door, saying to the Landlord/Father, “Thanks, but no thanks.” For someone with such a huge ego, repentance is impossible because the thought of it wouldn’t even enter his mind.
When we seek our will over God’s will, we make ourselves the rulers and the slaves of our own kingdom. “Our Father, who art in Heaven” then becomes “My Me, who art in Me, hallowed be my will, my kingdom come…”
3rd Point: Consider our own potential to make a full rejection of love. Satan fell into the depths of hell because heaven apparently wasn’t high enough. Adam and Eve lost paradise because abiding by the will of the only One who could satisfy their every desire curiously wasn’t fulfilling enough. We could say that fortunately for us, God “knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Ps. 103:14) and does not let us experience in this life the full extent of our failure to love; but we shouldn’t forget that heaven and hell begin here and now. Whichever kingdom we choose to build for others and ourselves now, we will live in it forever later.
Colloquy: In the context of your reflection on your power (?)/weakness to refuse love, imagine Christ hanging on the cross. Behold this God-human showing humanity how to love again. Keeping your eyes on the crucified Lord, ask Him to reflect you to yourself. Tell Him what you have done for him, what you are doing for Him, and what you will do for Him.
End with a Hail Mary, asking the Blessed Mother to join you in this journey.