The Butterfly Coat
I was sitting before our Eucharistic King in adoration at a small chapel here in Pennsylvania where Jesus has brought us back to live after three years in the Holy Land when He lifted me in Spirit and showed me the image of an hourglass. Then I heard Him say, “The time is short. Write my daughter. Write about Me.” Jesus was exhorting me to return to the writing which I had neglected during these busy weeks of transition from our life in Israel back to America. Even as our kind Lord blessed us with every blessing to provide a smooth and easy resettlement to America as this was His clear will for me and my family, I have been distracted from the writing by all the necessities required to put a new house in order and reestablish the family life here. Yes, Jesus I want to write about You so that souls may come to know You and love You. What would You have me share I asked Him in prayer over the following days?
As I was unpacking boxes retrieved from storage I discovered a keepsake box that had been kept in the attic of my parents’ home during the years we lived abroad. It was filled with drawings and cards and little treasures made at school and at home by my two daughters when they were small. I sorted through this mother’s precious mementos and was delighted when I discovered a long-since forgotten drawing by my elder daughter Daliah that she must have sketched when she was in elementary school. At the time she drew it for me I knew it was special but I did not understand its sublime spiritual meaning. Daliah had drawn the remarkable image the morning after having had a dream in which she saw me, her mother wearing a “butterfly coat”. I asked her what the dream and image meant to her but she was unable to interpret it for me. The morning she had the dream and drew the remarkable image was none other than Pentecost Sunday, the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room as they waited for the “Gift” the Lord promised He would send after His Ascension into Heaven following His Resurrection.
In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day He was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen.
He presented Himself alive to them by many proofs after He had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them, He enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard Me speak;
for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” (Acts 1: 1-4)
All those years ago, I had noted on Daliah’s drawing this fact that she had dreamed about me wearing a “butterfly coat” on the Feast of Pentecost. All those years ago, and again in seeing the picture I pondered Daliah’s mysterious dream in my heart and wondered if there was a meaning for me to grasp from the symbolism of a “butterfly coat.” I placed the small treasure back in the box and took it down to the basement storage area of our new house.
A short while after rediscovering Daliah’s art, Jesus brought back to my mind another very precious moment when the image of a butterfly was given to me during prayer. I never considered writing about this extraordinary experience as it seemed too intimate to share. I did describe it to my spiritual director after it occurred and he told me that the Lord would reveal its deeper meaning over time to me. The mysterious prayer occurred in 2004 and I never thought then to connect it with Daliah’s childhood drawing of me dressed in a butterfly coat which she had seen in her dream that Pentecost Sunday morning many years earlier. But suddenly the Lord opened the meaning to me, just as my Spiritual Director said eventually He would. So I believe that I may now share this most intimate account with you as it is not a truth only for me personally but for all who love their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with “all their heart, mind, soul and strength” and “seek His face” above all things with all the desire of their being.
On one Tuesday in February 2004, I came into the small chapel of my parish church and knelt down in the first pew before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and began to pour my heart out to Him in love and worship. It was about 2:30 pm in the afternoon when I entered into prayer. I had intended to spend an hour adoring Jesus that day before I would have to meet my two young daughters at their bus stop in our neighborhood at about 3:40pm.
And He cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: “What? Could you not watch one hour with Me?” (Matthew 26:40)
I got lost in prayer as a lover with her Beloved, and was startled when an elderly woman called out to those adorers of Our Lord who had also come to “keep Jesus company for an hour” to recite along with her the Divine Mercy Chaplet since the “Hour of Mercy”, three o’clock in the afternoon, the hour when Our Lord died on the Cross had arrived. At first I felt a sense of sadness that I had been disturbed from the deep intimacy I was having with Jesus in the silence of my own prayer. But knowing how much Jesus loves the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which He had taught St Faustina and that He asked her to make it known to the faithful so that they could implore His mercy through it for the salvation of the world, I quickly collected myself and joined with them to pray in “one accord.” I pulled out my rosary and lifted my heart and mind to the Lord and united with them in the One Spirit in saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.(Philippians 2:1-4)
I steadily recited the Chaplet following the woman leading the devotion and firmly believed that Our Lord was pouring His graces out upon the world as we prayed.
“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
During the last petitions of the prayer I felt myself being drawn up into the Presence of the Lord, and I found myself lying prostrate before my Savior. He was sitting on a Throne which I cannot describe. My face was at Jesus’ feet. Lifting my head, I could not see the Lord above His waist. Full of love for my King I raised myself up and clasped His knees as a small child would do and laid my head upon them. My heart was bursting with love for my merciful Jesus. Being bold on account of love, I raised myself still further and placed my head in the crook of His Majesty’s neck. I strained to see the Lord’s Face. I strained with all the passion of my love to be able to see Jesus’ Face.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD’S house all the days of my life, to gaze on the LORD’S beauty, to visit His temple..
Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face”; Your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide Your face from me… do not forsake me, God my savior! (Psalm 27:4,8-9)
Not being able to see the Face of the One I love and my agony being unbearable, the Lord took pity on me, and suddenly in a way I cannot describe I was as a small bird and I soared up above the Throne, although I could not see His Majesty, the King of Heaven from there.
How lovely Your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, my home is by Your altars, LORD of hosts, my King and my God!
Happy are those who dwell in Your house! They never cease to praise You. (Psalm 84:2-5)
Then, Jesus extended His right Arm and opened His Hand and I alighted on it and ate the piece of Bread* that was in the Savior’s Hand and immediately I became as a butterfly and fluttered back and forth before His Face, which was incomprehensible Light.
“I am the Bread of life… Just as the living Father sent Me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will have life because of me…. whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 27-58)
…our Lord Jesus Christ …. the King of kings and Lord of lords,
Who alone has immortality, Who dwells in unapproachable light, and Whom no human being has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal power. Amen ( 1Timothy 6: 14-16)
At that moment I found myself again kneeling on the pew before my Eucharistic King Jesus who was exposed on the Altar in the beautiful gold monstrance. In His great kindness and care Jesus brought me to myself at 3:30pm, just in time to dash out of the chapel to meet my little ones at the bus stop. As I bid farewell to my Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,- the Living Bread that comes down from heaven – my spirit was soaring like the sparrow and my joy-filled heart was as free and beautiful as the butterfly that had broken out of its chrysalis to a glorious new life.
I have learned that there is an ancient Catholic icon and Christian symbol of the butterfly which is an image and symbolic representation with sacred significance. The meanings, origins and ancient traditions surrounding Christian symbols date back to the earliest of times when the majority of ordinary people were not able to read or write and printing was unknown. Many symbols were ‘borrowed’ or drawn from early pre-Christian traditions. The Ancient Egyptians saw a similarity between the cloth wrappings of their mummies and the chrysalis of a butterfly. Both the Egyptians and the Greeks, who placed golden butterflies in their tombs, associated the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection, new life, and immortality.
The meaning of the Butterfly as a Catholic Christian Symbol is that it represents and symbolizes the Resurrection Life.
The butterfly has three phases during its life:
The caterpillar which just eats symbolizes normal earthly life where people are preoccupied with taking care of their physical needs, the natural life, the unspiritual life before regeneration in Christ.
The chrysalis or cocoon represents the tomb, dying to self and living in and for God.(For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory (Colossians3:3-4).
The butterfly represents our rebirth into the glorious new life in Christ and our being clothed in immortality in our glorious, incorruptible and imperishable bodies at the Resurrection on the Last Day:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).