The Refuge in His Sacred Wounds
I saw the Lord Jesus upon the cross. From His hands, feet and side, the Most Sacred Blood was flowing. Jesus said: "... All this is for the salvation of souls ..." I answered, "Jesus, when I look at Your suffering, I see that I am doing next to nothing for the salvation of souls." And Jesus said: "Know, My daughter, that your silent day-to-day martyrdom in complete submission to My will ushers many souls into heaven. And when it seems to you that your suffering exceeds your strength, contemplate My wounds and you will rise above human scorn and judgment. Meditation on My Passion will help you to rise above all things." I understood many things I had been unable to comprehend before.
— from the Diary of St. Faustina, 1184
In all of our lives, there invariably comes that moment when we seem to be left to our own devices. We turn to others for help and for some reason none can offer us the assurance they always gave us previously.
This is especially evident when making a career change, a medical decision, choosing a life-long partner, or even having a loss of a loved one. Even the English language has no word to describe the loss of a friend.
In my life there was a type of darkness that settled in for a very long period of time. It could be compared to a burnout, but that would be too strong of an analogy. This was in no way compared to the classic dark night of the soul, but rather a malaise that settled into my spiritual life. I felt terribly alone. There was also that feeling that I've done enough, and now let somebody else pick up some of the slack.
Prayer greatly helped to alleviate the problem but didn't completely resolve it. Then, I read the above quote from the Diary of St. Faustina and was intrigued by her observation that she began to understand "many things" she had been unable to comprehend before. I, too, was unable to comprehend, let alone discern, what was going on in my life, so I decided to follow her up on that insight. Besides, it was the season of Lent and an appropriate time for meditating on His passion.
Over a period of time, something interesting began to happen. I was drawn to the image of the cross as never before. If there was a moment that I sensed a "conversion" in my life, it began when I spent quality time focused on the five wounds of Jesus. This is what actually led me to writing an article on meditating on the five wounds while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. I couldn't get those wounds out of my mind until I gave birth to them in the only way I knew how, and that was to write about them. That way they became even more real and internalized.
What also greatly helped me was that familiar prayer of St. Ignatius best said after receiving the Eucharist: "Look down upon me good and gentle Jesus, while before Your cross I humbly pray You to fix deep within me lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true repentance for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment. While I contemplate Your five wounds, pondering over them within me and calling to my mind the words which David your prophet said of You, O Jesus: 'They have pierced my hands and my feet, that have numbered all my bones.' "
Saying this prayer every day for years was another the way the Lord prepared me to honor His wounds.
At about the same time, I read a story of an orphaned boy who was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, died in the flames. The boy's cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drainpipe and came down with the boy, who hung on tightly to the man's neck.
Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town's wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons why they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. As they talked, the boy's eyes remained focused on the floor.
Then a stranger walked to the front of the courtroom and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life and whose hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe.
With a leap, the boy threw his arms around the man's neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the argument.
I, like the little boy, recognize a true friend in Jesus, who to this day has marred hands. He showed these wounds to St. Faustina as well: "I was praying...when I suddenly
saw Jesus Crucified. His eyes were closed, and He was immersed in torture. I worshiped His five wounds, each one separately ..." St. Faustina writes (Diary, 988).
Just like that little boy, I now cling to Him for dear life. The nail-scarred hands, feet and side of Jesus are an ever-present reminder of what He did for me when He sacrificed His life on the cross. His hands were pierced as atonement for my sins. Those marred hands have settled the issue. No one else has ever shown me that much love. Dare I ever think otherwise? I belong to Him! "But to as many as did receive Him, He gave the authority, (power, forgiveness, mercy) to become the children of God" (Jn 1:12).
"But to as many as did receive Him, He gave...!"
That includes you and me. Those marred hands that were so identifiable to that little boy can help us to relate and appreciate what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. How awesome and beautiful are the hands of Christ to those who belong to Him!
I enjoy thinking that when I die, the first things I'm going to look for are the holes in His hands and feet. According to the Image of The Divine Mercy, Jesus still has them. Though the Creator of the entire world, Jesus has only one thing in heaven that was created by man, and that is those very wounds. God the Father has allowed man to leave a gaping wound for all of us to see, honor and worship for eternity.
With St. Faustina we pray:
"My Jesus, my only hope, thank You for the book which You have opened before my soul's eyes. That book is Your Passion which You underwent for love of me. It is from this book that I have learned how to love God and souls. In this book there are found for us inexhaustible treasures. O Jesus, how few souls understand You in Your martyrdom of love! Happy the soul that has come to understand the love of the heart of Jesus" (Diary, 304).
Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars. Brother Leonard has a leaflet available that has a series of meditations on the five wounds of our Lord. The meditations are intended for use while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order Contemplate My Wounds. He also has a CD available with the meditations on the five wounds, interspersed with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order A Musical Interlude.