St. Catherine’s Service to Divine Mother
July 9, 2015
Seeking a way forward from the destructive selfishness of ego-centered human nature and its resultant clan warfare, Kristar, the true disciple in Swamiji’s play “The Peace Treaty”, goes to his guru, the wise old hermit. The hermit’s advice: go to a quiet place, meditate, find the solution within.
In the secret grotto, Kristar comes upon Gazella, who also frequents the holy spot, her way of going more deeply into her inner, divine center. To support Kristar in his quest, to help him find his true intuition, Gazella dances.
As she moves with such grace and harmony, and with heart’s devotion, she holds aloft a glowing orb whose light shifts through the colors of the rainbow. All the colors come from light; all merge back into light. The colors represent the clans, each an individual expression of the perfect whole of pure light.
Here Kristar finds his solution – that each clan offer its own special light, its own unique gift, into the whole, to magnify and expand the little, individual offerings into one, universal upflow of service and devotion.
As I watched this beautiful, heart-awakening dance, I thought of the appearance of Divine Mother, coming as the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St. Catherine Labouré, a nineteenth-century French visionary. On November 27, 1830, Divine Mother stood before her – eyes raised, hands holding and offering upward a glowing orb.
From her hands, rays of light streamed down, light which, she explained to Catherine, would bless all who turned to Her for help. The upraised globe represented the world and everyone on it, offered to the Lord. The Divine Mother’s particular request to Catherine was for a statue of Herself holding aloft the globe of the world, to be sculpted and placed on the site of Her appearances.
The blessed Virgin bound Catherine to speak of her experiences only with her confessor. For 46 years, she faithfully kept silence – though her confessor was on the receiving end of her formidable will as unflaggingly she fought to carry out the Mother’s instructions.
Only in 1876, seeing her own death drawing near, having endured decades of spiritual anguish at her inability to carry out Divine Mother’s behest, Catherine asked and received Her permission to speak out. At last perceiving the divine will behind Catherine’s words, the church hierarchy authorized the statue, and Catherine was able to leave her body with this last, and perhaps most important of Divine Mother’s requests fulfilled.
Even now, beneath the completed statue lies Catherine’s body in a glass case – incorrupt, eyes still blue, skin clear and unblemished – the visible emblem of a life of total service to Divine Mother.
Human nature relates more easily to receiving from the Divine than to giving to the Divine. Most representations of the Virgin Mary show Her showering graces on Her devotees below.
And yet here, in Catherine’s decades-long struggle to see manifested Divine Mother’s request, we see Her showing a higher way – that all of us, God’s children, rise in self-offering – that we enter Her upward flow of grace, surrender ourselves into that flow, and draw those around upward with us.
What I felt from Gazella’s dance, and from St. Catherine’s communion with The Blessed Virgin, I felt also from satsang with five Ananda monks recently returned from a pilgrimage to Lourdes. For each one, the spiritual high point was not in what he received, but in what the experience there inspired him to give. One entered the sacred waters to bathe – but felt something missing.
Later he returned, this time inwardly bringing with him friends and loved ones not physically present, that through his bathing they too receive Her blessings. For another the moment of grace came in chanting to Divine Mother with such devotion that nearby Catholic pilgrims began joining in. Another found his deepest experience in singing Swami’s songs at a wedding.
Still another found himself joyfully bonding with fellow pilgrims, otherwise perfect strangers, in spontaneous prayer for one another. Many healings have been authenticated at Lourdes – in every case, the one healed was praying not for himself but for another.
Most touching to me, the monks lit prayer candles at the grotto of Bernadette’s communion with Our Lady – one for my sister. Not long after a letter came from her, that a darkness and suffering in her life had mysteriously disappeared at the time (as she learned only later) of the pilgrimage.
“Lord, we offer up the little light that is in us Into Thy blazing light of Infinity. Grant us the grace to know Thee and make us ever-increasingly Pure channels of Thy love to all.” (Swami Kriyananda, A Festival of Light)
In divine friendship,