HAWTHORN – TOUGH CONDITIONS

The Hawthorn,  tree,  berries, thorns, and flowers —

hawthorn treeA Hawthorn tree in bloom –  lovely flowers but with thorns and often covered with little hair-like spikes around the flowers.

hawthorn redThe flowers can be red too, where it is easier to see the spiky  hairlike projections.

The tree or bush itself can grow in thin soil which would provide less nutrition than other trees need, and it blooms best when it grows where the winds   blow hard against it.    For reasons like these,  the Hawthorn is chosen for the quality of Mortification,  which we associate with Our Lady and with all those who are on the road to holiness.

That leaves us with two problems.

The first  problem is that  when we take a good honest look at what road we’re on, and when we take a  good honest look at ourselves,  the word “holy” would not automatically pop up.

The second problem is that repeatedly in the Bible we are told to “Be holy.”   Even a great man like the Patriarch Abraham is admonished by God to   “Walk before me and be holy.”  

And yet we are also taught that left to our own devices,  left to our own choices,  left to our own desires for comfort and ease,  we will not choose the road to holiness, because it is just too hard.   We are too attached  to the good things around us — and to the good we see in ourselves.   We have a “Holiness Gap.”

The Son of Mary, Jesus, knew this, and encouraged us with a paradox:   “Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it, shall preserve it.”  (Luke 17:33)

“Saving our own lives”   is hanging on to what we are and how we are —   “I like what I like and I like to have it.”

“Losing our lives”  is putting God’s will for us before our own desires – and in this way only will we be preserved because God’s will for us is to become like He is —  holy in all that we do.    God is holy; everything around Him is holy;  and only those who are holy will be able to live forever with Him in Heaven.

The pathway to Heaven is through proper Mortification — the deliberate detaching yourself from trusting in and taking comfort from the world around you,  making it possible, then, to turn from yourself to the things of God.

hawthorn hedgeThis is a Hawthorn hedge.   It grows thick and dense and full of thorns that Hawthorn trees are known for.    The thorns represent the hardships you accept  that will give you strength.      Accept all things as though they come from your Creator — because He often sends hard times in order to grow your faith and strengthen your character.

This too is a kind of mortification.   It’s Mary’s example.   Think of all the opportunities she had to say No!  to God — and  how different things would have been for us without her Son!

“Save my life in this world”?   Enjoy all the comforts it can give me?        No, thanks.       Look where I’d end up!

An existence apart from a Holy God.

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