So our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Cæsar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to a God. The final result of our enquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of later changes, there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours. ~Fortescue
Thursday, January 18, 2018
THE MERCY OF CHRIST
The All-Merciful Christ
How will our Divine Lord welcome a heart
returning to Him contrite for past disorders and humbled at the prospects of
His Justice? With a Compassion befitting the great and merciful God that He is.
When the Son of God came down to earth –tanquam
sponsus procédens de thálamo suo– from the brightness of His Glory to the
obscurity of the Virgin’s Womb, His Divine Immensity “dwindled to human infancy,” He seems to be in a hurry to divest
Himself before our eyes of the mantle of His Sovereign Majesty. He speeds to
earth, not with thunder and lightnings, not to open the sluices of the ocean—for
Sinai and the Deluge were not so effective!... He comes to earth in search, not
of the pure and noble remnant of our race, not to a hidden Noe or a persecuted
Elias; He comes in search of sinners: “I
came not to call the just, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32); “Christ came
into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).
the Baptist, the last of the prophets of the Old Covenant, was a second Elias
filled with the idea that the Messiah was to come to avenge; One whose axe was
put to the root of the tree, Whose winnowing-fan was ready to purge the
threshing-floor clean in order to gather the wheat and consume the chaff in
unquenchable fire. But no sooner does he set eyes on Jesus than his mind seems
to undergo an abrupt change. Who would have imagined that those very lips,
which had been preaching punishment and austere penance, would suddenly break
out into an expression of the utmost tenderness?
the Lamb of God! Behold Him Who taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) – From the
rock flowed honey …
The idea launched by the Precursor
was well confirmed by Jesus in His actions, His sayings, and His parables. Why
not search for them by reading the Gospel? What repentant sinner ever went to
Him and was not welcomed with a thrill of fatherly emotion?
it is a woman caught in the act of adultery whom His Mercy shields from the
shower of stones prescribed by the implacable Law, and on whom He imposes no
other penalty than to allow her penitential future to be steeped in the
ineffable sweetness of His parting words: “Neither
will I condemn thee; go, and now sin no more” (John 8:2). Now it is the
woman notorious for her light conduct, who in anxious fear takes refuge under
the shadow of His compassion, and finds herself rehabilitation, and is defended
from her accusers by the irresistible eloquence of the Divine Word. Now it is
the publican, a public swindler, whom Jesus goes out of His way to meet and
welcome an invitation from; the man who receives Jesus with the fragrant kiss of
fourfold restitution for any ill-gotten gains.
Now it is the good
thief, who with three words from a cross next to Thine, O Jesus, steals away
Thy very Heart, Thy Forgiveness, and Thy Father’s Kingdom… closed until then
even to the Just! Prodigious Mercy Thine that would be accompanied, on Thy
entry into the Kingdom, by a criminal executed on the public gallows, as if he
were Thy knight-companion!
“I say to
you that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth
The sweetness of these words could melt a heart
of stone. They are, dear Lord, the refrain closing those three magnificent
stanzas of Chapter 15 of Saint Luke –the
sinner’s chapter– wherein, O Sovereign Troubadour of Heaven, Thou hast sung
the praises of Thy Eternal Pity!
How could I so much as dream that my poor
soul’s return to Thee had power to move Thee so deeply, to produce in Thee such
intense delight, as to rally all Heaven together to join with Thee in festive
thrill and cheer?
How shall I, who have given Thee so much
displeasure throughout my long sinful life, refuse Thee at least this moment of
delight? My sincere conversion will be a festive occasion not only for Thee,
but for all Thy Angels and Saints as well!
Have words ever
sprung from Christ’s lips so revealing of His Love for us? Do I not grasp their
meaning? Or do I fail to understand what it is to love?
from The Priest at Prayerby Fr. Eugenio