"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hymn: Jesus Loves Me

Image: Alix Boujour

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Spirit tells me so.
Through Her free and gentle grace
I have seen my Savior's face.

Yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me;
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Spirit tells me so.

Jesus loves me, thus I hear
God's my mama, strong and near.
I am free to run and play,
laugh and sing and dance all day.

Yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me;
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Spirit tells me so.

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For my sisters tell me so.
Through my brothers' loving care
I am shown that God is there.

Yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me;
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Spirit tells me so.

Text: Laura Marie Grimes, copyright 1987 Tune: Jesus Loves Me 7.7.7.7. with refrain

I have only realized in recent years that the hymn is a joyous and playful and personalized celebration of the culminating meditation of the Spiritual Exercises: the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. It is especially empowering because it celebrates the sacredness of the mothering vocation and all forms of care for children as well as my and my daughters' and my trans and cis sisters' forgotten and despised radiance in Her image.

It is also part of my ever-deepening, peaceful warrior healing journey from the clergy sexual abuse--enabled and mishandled in a profound betrayal by my beloved Jesuits--which desecrated my initial formation in Ignatian spirituality at my undergraduate Jesuit university. The direct perpetrator was a married Protestant pastor and my adviser in the Religious Studies department--American Baptist by ordination but Calvinist by theology. The first of many dead white men he put in my hands was Karl Barth, who famously summed up his theology as "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." The hymn was inspired when I quoted it to a Jesuit novice friend, long before I knew that I was a victim and not a slut (and Barth an abuser himself), and he passionately proclaimed "B.S.! The bible doesn't tell you anything unless the Spirit speaks in your heart."

It's my very first hymn, written on my first eight day silent retreat when I was 22 and set to the lovely hymn I sang so very many times to children in the porch swing at the Catholic Worker where I lived during our betrothal and then to my own little ones. A dear college friend, folk group co-leader, and junior prom date was in the Jesuit novitiate in Santa Barbara and they allowed an impoverished grad student to join the guys for their yearly retreat--both out of generous spirits and perhaps also due to the fact that on my first visit I ended up violently food poisoned!

Vivid memories include the sublime: dancing the outdoor stations in blazing sunshine, enriching liturgies with one female voice, and a powerful experience of sacramental Reconciliation with one of the formation staff--and the ridiculous:spending a long time on the high dive and eventually chickening out, my friend absconding with me and the community pickup truck to watch a movie on State Street, and (since they didn't even play soft music at meals) having to carry my tray outside to the grass when I got the giggles, magnified by my friend's mugging, at the clanging clinking silverware of a large cafeteria filled with otherwise solemn faces.

At the close of the retreat my novice friend gifted me with the Salvador cross in this photo from Katie's and my last trip to South Bend. It is a unique one I have never found again, hand carried back by another Jesuit, and honors the sacredness of the marital vocation and the image of God in all genders by showing a male-female couple as the body of Christ. I donated it in Rachel's memory--fittingly, on Corpus Christi--to the little prayer chapel in the new married student housing community center the last year we lived there. A genius also chose the small silver tabernacle which shows the hart and hind of Psalm 42 drinking from an overflowing fountain!

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