Wednesday, April 22, 2009

500 Memorares

After quite a bit of search, I was unable to find a painting of St. Bernard standing in front of Mary. Isn't that remarkable?

When Fr. Roberto visited us, he told us that he prays the Memorare in sets of ten thousand, asking to see Christ's face -- and he suggested that we do the same. At first I thought that I didn't need to follow this suggestion, since it hadn't been directly addressed to me and because I was under the impression that I could see his face just fine, already.

But then a need I had been ignoring couldn't be ignored any longer, and I realized that I would stand to lose something that I treasure unless I could begin to see Christ's face in a given set of circumstances. The choice became very clear: pony up the ten thousand Memorares or sacrifice what I hold most dear.

So, I began. And now I've had some interesting experiences with this prayer that I can share with you. The first concerns common sense. I had no idea what an enemy common sense can be to doing what is necessary to be happy! Inside, I began to quibble about whether it was necessary to go on reminding Mary of something she so clearly already knows better than I -- I wanted to change the prayer to "I remember, O most gracious..." or "Remind me..." and I even did change the prayer during several recitations (and no, I haven't subtracted those from my total!) because it felt wrong to say something so silly to Mary. The truth is that by soliciting this prayer from me, she is indeed reminding me, and in setting up this irritation (like an itchy grain of sand) in me, she allows the pearl of simplicity slowly to form. And common sense stirred up another problem: why so many of the same prayer -- am I not simply multiplying words? Surely 100 is more than too many? This objection is answered very simply -- my good friend Sharon once gave me the best advice I've ever received, "Follow and live." I have followed Fr. Roberto in other things, and he helped me immensely. The only reason to do ten thousand Memorares is that Fr. Roberto has clearly showed me the face of Christ, and I want to follow him -- if I do follow him, I expect great things. Otherwise, it's crazy to follow anyone!

I've only completed 500 Memorares, but I have already received tangible gifts. The first is the great honor to stand in close proximity, in front of my mother, Mary. Who can say this prayer without being thrust into her presence? To stand, "sinful and sorrowful" in front of Mary is the greatest grace! And how soon after we've finished this prayer, do we forget where and with whom we've been? To repeat the prayer means to remain in front of her, to prolong our awareness and awe.

Also, my particular petition has already been answered. I saw Christ's face, finally, in a place where I'd despaired of finding him. So, why continue? Because with God there is always more. Who knows what will happen? I'm taking whatever adventure he sends me!


clairity said...

I'm not actually *counting* them (I just can't), but I've started saying 10,000 (since your email), since by the time I reach it (she knows when) it should be a firm habit. I'm finding it *extremely* helpful to do this at random moments, as I fall asleep.... I'm less distracted and it's less automatic than other means, for some reason I don't understand. Thank you for sharing it!

Suzanne said...

I can only count them because I discovered I have a counter on my phone. I am glad to learn I'm not doing this alone!

Sara said...

I want to say 10,000 Memorares with you too!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."