May the following words penned more than 50 years ago by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O. encourage us during these trying times and our pending exile in a world that has, for the most part, turned its back on the Lord who created them, died for them, yet still offers all of us eternal life:
CANASTOTA, NY – ‘There was pain in Egypt – yet, I say it was heaven.
Mary saw raw, rampant paganism all about her, yet she nursed God at her breast; she had to listen to false gods being called upon, yet she heard the Word of God utter His first human word. And while the sight of pyramids standing out against a setting sun, and the shimmer on the waters of the Nile told her not only that she was in exile, but that her whole people had once been here, yet when she gazed into the starry light in His eyes and knew that it had been kindled from light in her own and that He was the Maker of the stars, Egypt and exile was heaven. It was here she saw Him take His first step, listened to Him laugh in baby glee, felt His tiny hand caress her cheek and tangle in her hair; it was here that she bathed, clothed, fed her Baby who was God; it was here that she tucked God in bed and sang God to sleep; it was here that her whole night and day, her whole being, her whole existence was God who was also her Child.
If to know and love God is heaven, then to labor and live and love Jesus in Egypt is a heavenly exile.”
(From God, A Woman and The Way)
Like this good Trappist priest, we too can say that there is pain in this country and our world. There is rampant secularism and paganism surrounding us. Our Christian witness is ever more needed but is unwanted, unwelcome and rejected. The evil forces prowling through our world wish to exile us from the public debate and square.
Although we can not gaze into our Lord’s physical eyes or hold Him in our arms in this earthly sphere, we can gaze upon His Presence here in the Eucharist as long as our Churches remain open and accessible. We can speak to Him just as frequently, lovingly and intimately as did May while in exile in Egypt…
Although we can not hold Him in our arms, feed or bath Him as did His Blessed Mother, we can invite Him to reside in our hearts, minds and souls. We can let Him embrace, comfort and strengthen us spiritually through His Body, Blood Soul and Divinity.
And if we do these things in the face of the persecution and trials yet to come, we will be giving God the Glory and Honor He deserves. Our example will strengthen us and He will lead us from this earthly exile into His heavenly embrace.
O Loving, Merciful Lord, though we love You imperfectly, give us the grace to love You and others as we ought and the courage to defend and live Your Truths – no matter the price we may be asked to pay.