“you ought to wash each other’s feet” (John 13:15) A Deep Form of Evangelisation
In the context of spiritual warfare, of spiritual growth, sometimes one can suddenly feel dispirited. It comes on suddenly and is inexplicable. It is not necessarily caused by any particular bodily ailment. One feels as if a “dark cloud” is invading one’s mind.
We do not understand from where it comes. We are at a loss as to how to react.
We know that as Christians we are called to love our brothers. We know that to love is not always an easy undertaking. The Lord, however, has enlightened us on the matter when He says: “if I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another. For I gave you a pattern, that as I did to you, you also should do.” (John 13:14-15)
The good shepherd also carries his lamb when it goes astray. In a similar way, Jesus carries us not only in his flesh but also in His Soul. His Soul carries the darkness of my soul. He carries it in order to remove the cloud from it. The Holy Spirit mystically unites Jesus’s soul with my soul! This is how we can say that He carries me like the true good Shepherd. By these actions He banishes my darkness. In this sense He cleans my soul just as He “washed my feet”! This is true love! Because Love is unitive, Love unites the One who loves with the beloved. He loves us, therefore the Holy Spirit (i.e. the Love of God) unites Him to each one of us, on the Cross.
This is the example He gave us. Having given us the example of washing our feet, He now desires that we do the same to our brothers and sisters. He urges us to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit may sometimes unite us to a person (often unknown to us, so our acts are purer), by giving us a share of what this person is going through, or just simply the inner state or world of this person. Again, we do not need to know who this person is, for example, it could be someone unknown to us who is struggling spiritually and needs to find God.
What are we supposed to do in this case? Is this a temptation? How do we fight back? Are we supposed to bear it in silence, passively, patiently, until it disappears? If we consider Jesus, we note that when Jesus was carrying each one of us in his soul (and spirit and body) He never acted passively. He brought us toward His Light, the Holy Spirit’s mission being to clean us.
Jesus obtained the salvation of each and every human being, so, are we not to carry on the task of transmitting it to our brothers? Just stop and think: this salvation, the salvation of my brother, is waiting on my doorstep to be taken up and offered to my brother or sister. So, the transmission of Jesus’ Salvation depends on me. I have a part to play here, otherwise, why did the Lord ask us to wash the feet of our brothers? What does it mean exactly?
We might be tempted to fight back based on our way of seeing things and go on a mission to destroy this dark cloud. We forget that it is not because something is objectively good that doing it makes us please God or be fully fruitful. Any spiritual action we make has two components:
- the objectivity of the act: doing this or that.
- its subjectivity or better said: the way we perform the act (i.e. purely or less purely). This greatly depends on the degree of transformation in God.
What we need in this situation is to be able to direct the Beam of the Holy Spirit toward this dark cloud, in order to clean it, dissolve it. Now comes the big question: do we have control over the Holy Spirit? Do we know how to carry out this act? Can we see the intricacies of this in-depth work? If our intention is good, if the act we would like to carry out is good, the way we make it will escape our knowledge and grasp. So, it is better to use a purer and more fruitful way of making it: to entrust our act to Mary, so our desire and prayer is taken and elevated by the “Full of Grace” and transformed into a pure beam of Fire. She knows how to direct the Holy Spirit, her Prayer is the most powerful one, in the sense that She is the one who uses the already perfect Jesus to perfection.
Intervening and allegedly directing our efforts directly toward Jesus, is on one hand good, objectively correct, but subjectively very weak because we rely on our own means, which are slow, broken, short-lived and of poor quality. Jesus gives us His means, Mary’s way. Jesus wants to be totally and fully active through us, and the only way to do so is to use the divine means He gives us: His means working perfectly in Mary.
So, by saying: “Pray for Us Sinners”, we are asking Mary to Pray for us, allowing the Holy Spirit to work freely and purely, His beam being directed towards the “dark cloud”. We do so, until it dissolves.
In practice it means, whenever we feel the sudden heaviness of an unexplained dark cloud, we should take our Rosary in our hands and keep saying it, gently, calmly, repeating the “Hail Mary”, the “pray for us sinners”, included in it, and allow the Beam of the Holy Spirit to be directed toward the dark cloud, working on purifying it, fighting against it and finally dissolving it.
Again, it is not a personal direct fight or “a being at battle stations” that we take onboard. It is rather a humble attitude, where we lean with total trust on Mary’s way of allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us in the purest way, without any limited intervention on our part.
We might think that we are not doing a great deal! In fact, we are acting in the best possible way, the most powerful way, because we are using the pure wisdom of Mary, the divine means placed in Her: the fullness of the action of the Holy Spirit, her magnificent and glorious fecundity. This way, all that Jesus has realised and obtained for us is being used properly and purely.
This fight is not something we can understand, not something we will ever know how to manage. One fact stands out, however: we cannot remain passive. Nor can we act as if undertaking a war-like mission. Yet, we do need to wash our brothers and sisters’ feet, contribute to the transmission of Salvation to them. We need, also, to use the best means to achieve this cleaning process. It is the Holy Spirit who is the One who cleans, but invisibly. He is the One who needs our help. Not our expertise – which, ironically, we do not possess – but our help. Mary has the perfect knowledge to complement the Holy Spirit. We can ask Her to intervene. She is purer than us. If we were to intervene, we would create a lot of interference with all the baggage we carry and reduce the fruitfulness. Going directly to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit is just an illusion! What happens in reality is that we should use our means, our understanding, our capacity and discernment, while simultaneously and wisely acknowledging how these are limited and can even damage the work of God.
Note: This form of deep prayer, very much in the vein of the Prayer of the Heart puts us on the front line of Evangelisation. It is soul to soul work, direct, immediate work. Saint John of the Cross says: “For a little of this pure love is more precious to God and the soul and more beneficial to the Church, even though it seems one is doing nothing, than all these other works put together.” (Spiritual Canticle 29,2) Mary’s Prayer is this pure act of love.
Please check these two very important articles:
– Mary’s Fiery Prayer where we will have greater detail about Mary’s Powerful Prayer.
– Two Ways to Say the Rosary where we can find a more silent and deeply contemplative to say the Rosary, more aligned with the Prayer of the Heart, which is what is meant to be applied in this article.
– Holding Your Rosary During the Prayer of the Heart here one can find two articles, one after the other, where the meaning of hilding the Rosary in one’s hands and some spiritual aspects of the use of the Rosary are explored. The second article addresses the same subject of this article here but from the distractions perspective.