“Admire all God’s works in the world, but be ready to fix your eyes on the things destined never to pass away.” (John Paul II, VC 106)
I was walking down Fifth Avenue recently, and I couldn’t help but notice the stunningly gorgeous tulips staring at me. In an effort to make the concrete jungle in NYC beautiful, cherry and apple blossom trees line city blocks, lilacs drip down stone walls, patches of flower “gardens” are strewn down the islands of busy streets, and the aisles of sidewalks seem like the perfect place for carefully tended blooms. As I relished in the beauty of the tulips, I harkened back to a time when I saw a man get out of his black, tinted window SUV at a red light on Park Avenue and take pictures of sprightly red tulips before hopping back into his car as the light turned green. Everyone is captivated by beauty.
As I delighted, however, my gaze turned to a few tulips near their end. I was tempted to feel sad as the flowers were flailing wide open with their petals just about dropping off. How fleeting is the glory of these delicate blooms! My sorrow at the perishing tulip changed when I realized how unreservedly they lived out their very existence – to bear fruit while emitting a sweet fragrance and manifesting their beauty, a reflection of their Creator.
Each of us is called to live with this reckless abandon, complete surrender – to give without counting the cost, poured out like a libation. Perhaps, a dramatic spiritualization of this tulip… However, when we live our lives with such unbounded generosity, totally given, in imitation of Christ Jesus Himself and with Him, only then do our lives bear fruit. And in this authentic and sincere gift of self, one discovers her deepest identity – and manifests her beauty.
In religious consecration, one seeks to make this perfect offering of love, this gift of self through the profession of religious vows. The religious offers herself (or himself) as a holocaust oblation to be wholly consumed. Given in this way, her love is spousal and redemptive. Any type of self-preservation or holding back thwarts the gift. This free and total giving bears fruit and spreads a fragrance that rises to heaven.
Often we are afraid to give in a magnanimous way, to love without thinking of what we may miss out on. We are sometimes afraid of giving ourselves completely to Christ to transform our love. We may fear that we will lose our identity, gifts, talents, and all that makes life so good and beautiful. We cling to the things of this world, grasping for dear life. However, when this reckless, free ‘fiat’ is given under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, nothing is lost. Everything is new, deeper and rich with meaning and love and joy.
We can make acts of generosity in our everyday lives in all that is entrusted to us. The little “fiats” prepare us and pave the way for great ones, leading us to our ultimate vocation.
In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict, “I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”
May the beauty and cosmic splendor of your ‘yes’ rise up as fragrance to the Father and may the graces of this Easter season continue to take root in your hearts and bear great fruit.
Unlike the tulip, the glory of this ‘yes’ is eternal.
In the Heart of Jesus,
Sr. Grace Dominic, S.V.