I am writing this letter as I am preparing my first meditation for the Missionaries of Charity in Memphis. I thought you might benefit from a sample of their meditation on the Song of Songs.
The first line of the Song reads, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” Here are some things to meditate on regarding this single line. Realize that it is a dialogue between Lover (Jesus/God) and Beloved (the human soul/the Church). [It might be a little harder for men to get into a love poem; but it helps to realize it’s between God and the human soul.]
-We are already in the middle of a love relationship; although this is the first line spoken of the Song. The Song bursts out! The abrupt beginning is like the release of a symphony (a fine analogy, since this book is entitled The Song of Songs). It is a symphony of love; or it is the symphony of the spiritual life. And the lack of a real narrative beginning helps us to realize that the Initiator of the symphony is God Himself, who is without beginning.
-Who is “him” in “Let him kiss me…” The fact that the Lover is not named once again points to God, whose proper name Israel never dared to speak.
-There is desire evident in this exhortation/wish. “Let him…” Desire is so important in the spiritual life. Something beautiful about God is apparent (a visible part of the mystery), something good is perceived, such that you desire to enter in. God himself is the ultimate Good, so it makes sense there is the desire to know Him in each of us. It takes devotion, religious practices of devotion, to keep the desire alive. Think of the way most people who fall away from Mass just fall away without reason. They actually slowly stop acts of devotion such as the Mass and various prayers. They slip into spiritual death. There ought always to be desire, but it takes some discipline on our part to keep the desire alive.
-Where will this symphony of love end up? Will it continue to be vibrant? What will comprise its ongoing beauty? All questions that apply to the spiritual life of each one of us.
-Notice that this first line of the Song seems to be a response, as if somebody else had already spoken about the Lover. Who spoke to the Beloved first about Him? Consider the Tradition of the Church that handed on to you news of Him. Consider the Saints. Consider family members and friends, godparents and sponsors – all who spoke to you about God’s love in Jesus. The gospel was handed on to you, so that you could respond. Remember all those who have told you that God could kiss you (make you to know His affectionate love), and thank the Lord for them.
-Because the Beloved’s words seem to “come out of nowhere”, they are also like a call in the dark of night. Lifelong you and I will have to call out for the kiss of God to be completed in us, the spiritual life perfected, union with the Lover of our soul consummated. This call will carry us into heaven, ultimately, where the union will be accomplished finally.
-St. John of the Cross said that the call of the Beloved represents God’s people who no longer want the prophets, no longer the sages, no longer the Law, but the Savior alone, finally to come to us.
-Because the Beloved speaks of the Lover, it’s clear that she has already been touched by Him. Her heart is beginning to be filled with His Goodness.
-St. Teresa of Avila notes how complicated this first line is, somewhat redundant on the surface: “Him”… “kiss”… “kisses of his mouth”. Why the repetition? To illustrate the progress in the experience of love: He exists; then there is a kiss from Him; then there is a kiss of His mouth specifically.
-St. Bernard remembers the sinful woman kissing Jesus’ feet in Luke 7. Then another stage would be kissing one’s hand in friendship. Then there is the kiss of the mouth in spousal union. There is also the kiss of vows taken by religious; and this kiss finds its fullness in heaven.
-Notice that often in traditional pictures of the Sacred Heart the lips and the heart are painted same color. And these two things alone have the exact same shade of red. His kiss is a sharing of His Heart with the you.
-Consider the Divine Kiss that is the Eucharist touching your lips.
So there is a sample of the retreat content the sisters are getting. May the Lord inspire them more deeply forever by this initiation into the Song of Songs. Thanks so much for all the prayer power that backed up this retreat!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Marie,