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Consoling silence

Gavin T. Murphy keeps a blog on ilovebipolar.com and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

As I contemplated the second apparition found in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola (drawn from Mark 16:1-11), I received numerous graces that helped clarify the theme of relationality. As I stated in the contemplation on the first apparition, I am paying attention to women who were the first witnesses of the risen Christ in the hope that they may teach us about the importance of relating to ourselves, others and God – which is central to the Exercises.

I imagine the women – Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James, and Salome – rushing to the tomb of Jesus. They hold each other’s hands so that they keep together. They are shocked to see the stone of the tomb rolled back, and they enter with hesitation. Shocked again by the absence of the body of Jesus, they search the small space in case they are missing something. I can imagine them touching the stone where Jesus’ body lay, feeling the sandy texture of the other parts of the tomb, and so on. Then, they are almost blinded by the light of a beautiful angel, and again they hold each other’s hands for support and comfort.

They are amazed to hear the news that Jesus has risen, but they are also fearful after the angel disappears. The women depart from the cave and say they must tell the others of the glorious news. But, Mary Magdalen decides to stay near the tomb to pray. She needs a moment of silence, and says she will catch up with the other women later. She sits down near the hilly landscape and deeply ponders things in her heart. Jesus appears: he comes close and comforts her. He calls her name, “Mary, Mary, Mary”. She feels an inner joy that is so real, like a mild electric boost through her body. Her heart begins to beat like a drum and strum like a guitar.

Jesus speaks to Mary about the divinity of his heart – yes, he is divine in other ways too through his resurrection but he reminds Mary that it is his heart that really matters. He lets her know that whenever she wants to connect with him, all that is needed is to pause and listen to her heart, because his heart can be found in her heart.

When I speak to Our Lady, Jesus and the Father during the colloquy [conversation] at the end of the contemplation, they all highlight the importance of relationality that is found in silence. Some may have thought, for example, that Mary Magdalen isolated herself from the other women when she stayed behind near the tomb. But, in fact she was better able at this moment to connect with God in the midst of silence.

After seeing Jesus, she is able to ‘burst out in praise’ internally and externally and spread the Good News of his resurrection. Later, she would also have other resurrection moments when turning to silence. Jesus’ physical appearance may not have been there but in her heart she would feel totally consoled by his divine presence. We can remember today that connecting with silence, e.g., by stopping to take a break from work or going for a walk will bring us closer to Jesus and the Holy Spirit will burn more brightly within us. When ready, we can then physically connect with others and move forward with energy and vitality.

What to take home from this contemplation:

1. The women hold one another together on the way to the tomb.
2. They support each other again in the appearance of the angel.
3. Mary Magdalen connects with God in silence.
4. She bounces with joy on seeing Jesus.
5. Jesus shows her the way of his divine heart.
6. She ‘bursts out in praise’ internally and externally.
7. She points to the resurrected Jesus.
8. She teaches others about consoling silence.

O, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

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