I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. John 17: 14-17
When I was in Medjugorje I went to a presentation by Fr Leon Pereira who spoke about not only his personal experiences and conversion, but also the 5 stones of Medjugorje. I have spoken on Medjugorje before about how I realize it isn’t an approved apparition and I would accept whatever the church states about it. I am bringing it up now though because of the 5 stones and a conversation I had with God about it in prayer.
The 5 stones are; 1. Prayer from the Heart 2. Mass (Eucharist) 3. Reading Scripture 4. Fasting 5. Monthly Confession.
Now you all will realize I question God a lot and sometimes I am a little slow to understand, but I seriously remember thinking back then that the Eucharist should be first in that list and questioning God as to why it wasn’t. He never answered me back then and I had forgotten about it until the other day when he answered me very clearly.
He said, “you asked me why prayer from the heart was first in the list, and I tell you it is because the Mass IS PRAYER from the heart. The consecration IS PRAYER from the heart. Or it least it should be, and I weep over my Priests who do not believe and just say words without prayer from the heart. I can honor words, but their hearts are cold.”
I was stunned at how dumb I had been. I talk about prayer all the time. I know how important it is. Everything begins and ends with prayer from the heart. We get ourselves in trouble when it doesn’t.
Then the Lord turned me to Saint John. The Beloved. You will remember the Lord had said that Saint John represented the restoration of the Priesthood. And so I know it is for the Priests to pray the Mass from the heart, with awe and reverence to whom they are praying.
But this is also for us. We should rest in Jesus just as John did at the last supper. And all of this got me to thinking of something my friend Lucy Patier wrote. It was about the 5 abodes of Saint John, and I could see how needed this is right now at this moment in time. So I want to outline here the 5 abodes for you that she wrote about in brief, with some commentary of my own to help us in these times.
They 5 ABODES of Saint John the Evangelist about God are;
- His Face
- His Name
- His Word
- His Light
- His Truth
1.First, His HOLY FACE. We must remain in the presence of His Holy Face. There is an entire theology of the Face of God in Scripture. (Isaiah, Psalms, Moses in the Tent) and the Lord has allowed icons of His Face, including the one this blog is named after.
You all know I had written about this virus stealing breath and how that is tied to desecration. But the virus is doing something else. It is making us hide our faces. The face is how we have real relationship and recognize one another. And in the Eucharist, we the Mystical Body, are also present, militant, suffering and triumphant, but our sin, our desecration can distort the face, it looks like Christ on calvary. A disjointed body, a bloodied and beaten face. The church herself looking like Christ on the Cross.
The Lord wishes for us to ardently gaze upon His Holy Face. If we can still do that in adoration we should. If not, we should have an icon or painting in our home of His Holy Face to pray in front of. His Face promotes unity. It is the Face Angels look upon perpetually. It is the Face that Saint John knew and it made him Beloved.
2. His HOLY NAME. There is an entire theology of the Name in Scripture. Jesus repeats in John 17 that His name means, God Saves. The Name is His mission. The name expresses His essence. The earliest Holy Monks learned the Jesus prayer in order to make perpetual interior activity because they understood the mind is the battleground and the power of the Name. Demons bow before this name.
And yet, here we are in our society and how many times do we use this name breaking the second commandment. We watch movies and listen to songs that hurl this name as a curse. We don’t take care as to what gets put in our mind. We must confess if we use this name in vain.
And when the devil comes prowling, attacking your mind, rebuke him in the Holy Name of Jesus. You have the authority. A name is also relational. It is Satan who wants us numbered with the mark of the beast. Remember in scripture every time there was an act of census, or numbering the people, it was a sign of punishment in the Covenant. How many of us have sat around with fear and anxiety growing counting the number of Corona virus cases and deaths when instead we should be invoking the Holy Name of Jesus who can crush this virus.
3. His WORD. Remain in His WORD. God’s Word is alive. God’s Word does what it says. Thoughts are made flesh, incarnate, by using words. Hebrews Chapter 4 tells us of the awesome power of God’s Word. His word is in Scripture, but it also resides in us, and is sent out to souls everywhere. God’s creative power is unleashed by His Word. Logos. These Words of God come to each and every living soul as Words of Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding. They are gifts the Holy Spirit puts into action when our hearts are open. His Word can exorcise demons, and it is the Gospel of John speaking about the Word that is read in the exorcism Rite.
And yet we get careless with our words. We invoke curses on our fellow man without even knowing what we’re doing, but the devil loves this. As I peruse the dialogue about Corona virus the judgment, the hatred, the idolatry, I see it everywhere. The Gospel of Matthew tells us we will be taken to account for every careless word that comes out of our mouths. So we would all do well to pause before we speak. I know I want blessing and not curse to be what leaves my lips. His Word brings great grace. Steep yourself in it.
4. His LIGHT. Remain in His Light. Saint John tells us so much about the relationship between light and fellowship. The greek term is Koinonia. Both in John’s Gospel and his First Epistle we can read about remaining in the Light of God and when we are in communion with one another, it produces Light. When we are in communion with God we are standing in His glory which is absolute radiant light. Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel why some people cannot stand being in the Light and it is because their actions are not Godly and are rooted in darkness. The word for Glory in Hebrew is the same as “weight,” meaning something so dense it becomes heavy. Glory is therefore a condensed and compact gathering of Light that is unfathomably intense because it is so perfectly united. That is where the Blessed Trinity abides. And when we stand in light we are standing before the Throne of God. This Light has a binding double effect; it is what makes us Children of God and what makes us attached to him (FILIA).
But in our society today I would venture to say we can all feel a weight, a heaviness of sin, the darkness which weighs us down when exposed to the Light. You can feel it. And it is here Our Lady steps in on our behalf, with rays of light extended from her hands waiting to pour over us in the darkness. Consecration to Our Lady and her Most Chaste Spouse, Saint Joseph, who reside in the Light, will help us remain in the Light. The woman clothed in the Sun wants to bring us all there to her Son the source of Light.
5. His TRUTH. Remain in His Truth. To remain in Truth is to witness (testify) by our being and our actions. We stand in truth of who we are and how we live. In Chapter 3 of Saint John’s Gospel we are told we witness to the Truth through Righteous Acts. We are Just, like Saint Joseph. We do the right thing and take the right step in action. We use the right words. The righteous are not afraid because they stand in Truth with childlike confidence that they are doing the Father’s Will and putting it into action. Thoughts made incarnate by words, words made incarnate by actions. The flow of Righteousness for those living in union with the will of God. They are standing in Truth. The “fruit” is freedom, peace, joy, and yes unity.
Evil works seek to remain hidden in darkness, a place of shame. Jesus summarizes the whole relationship of doing the works of the Father by saying all witness and all glory comes from the Father in Heaven who sent Him. He tells Pilate He came to Witness to the Truth. True Glory comes from God alone. There is a truth of who you are in Christ, are you a witness to who you are? Or are you trying to live “your truth” which is different from God’s Truth. When we seek a truth apart from the one who is true, we only serve the kingdom of Satan.
These five things will help navigate this storm we are all in. You will note, that these can be practiced independent of the Sacraments because in God’s merciful providence, He knew when we would not have access to them. He knew there may be a time when they were removed or even hidden away. How many times in our past did our ancestors have to hide and learn how to remain in Him even in the absence of the Sacraments. The book of Daniel and Revelation speak of this. But our good and merciful God has given us means to stay with Him in the absence of Sacrament. Stay safe and be blessed.