What comes to mind when you hear the word “devotion”? Is it an image of an old lady praying a lengthy rosary or litanies that don’t make sense? Now I ask, what is your favorite way of spending time with a best friend? I personally like to catch up about each other’s life, talking endlessly about our desires, frustrations, and opinions… With a cold frappe in hand, a plate of chips and dip on the side, and stories fresh in our minds, we like to unwind and forget about the world around us.
I hadn’t realized a devotion was pretty much this, with the only difference being that the friend I am seeking out is invisible. And so, during an 8 day retreat involving lots of silence, I engaged in endless conversations with Christ, as if on my blackberry messenger and excluding the whole world around me (though without the guilt factor, because with Him, excess is always good). On one occasion, I was placed in the scene of Christ’s crucifixion. As I looked up at the cross in which He hung, I noticed drops of blood dripping down his legs and unto my head. At this, the sense of blame I had carried from seeing the contrast of my selfishness and his generosity suddenly seemed to disappear. I felt myself become clean from anything that could displease Him, and worthy of looking him in the eyes– But how to reach Him? As if having heard my silent voice, a force pushed me upward (I later realized I was standing on a tall, white pedestal). I first looked into his eyes, and he returned the gaze. In that tired, sorrowful look, there was also relief, and it told me: I was waiting for you. His neck was too weak to support the weight of his own head, so I placed my head under his chin as support. As I lay there, with my ear against his chest, I felt and clearly heard his heart beating. It was the warmest, strongest of hearts I have ever felt, pumping blood endlessly to all the parts of his body. Even though I was now here, I knew his heart still hurt because there were other hearts that had not come to Him. But how would they, if he clung to the cross, unmoving? It should be me the one to go get them and bring them to Him, and so console his heart.
Afterwards, learning about devotions, I was surprised to discover that there was a devotion for almost all of the scenes I had witnessed. The blood dripping down upon me and taking my blame away speaks of the devotion to his precious blood, which washes men from their sins. The force that elevated me to Him represents the devotion to Mary, who sacrifices her own Son as he dies, and becomes a pedestal for me to stand on and be closer to Him. The gaze I shared with Him introduced me to the devotion to his Holy Face, which consists in contemplating his suffering and thirst for men. The last one is his heart: as with the other devotions, the external signs speak of a deeper meaning and explanation about who Christ is, what He does, and what he wants. In this case, just as the heart is essential to the life of the rest of the organs in a body, so Christ is the only one who is able to give life to every single person, because we are all members of his body.
For me, practicing devotions is something like Christ taking me out for a coffee, and sharing about himself. Who would have thought that it would be as simple as this? I guess you don’t need the lengthy prayers after all… you just have to start with a simple conversation.