Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 5

by Boudreaux, Florentin, 1821-1894

He foresaw the creation of man destined to replace the fallen angels on their thrones, the boundless love with which this favored creature was to be surrounded, the numberless marks of Divine beneficence he was to receive, the ornaments of nature and of grace which were to be lavished upon him, the sweet and glorious duty which would be assigned him as the only condition for meriting the high honors that awaited him in the house of God. Yes, He foresaw all these proofs of God’s love for man ; but He also foresaw the base, the unaccountably stupid and degrading ingratitude of the same much-favored creature; his fall and condemnation, his irretrievable and eternal destruction, were not some device of almost more than Divine mercy provided to restore the ruin.

He foresaw all the numberless deep and dark crimes that would disgrace the earth and outrage heaven, from the first entrance of sin into the world until the dawn of the bright morning that would herald a Saviour’s birth to the unfortunate descendants of Adam. He foresaw, what must have been infinitely more offensive, the equally numberless and even deeper and darker deeds that would be done by the redeemed creation ; by men for whom a God had given Himself as a ransom and redemption. He saw us ; each one of us was clearly and distinctly before His mind ; He knew us then as He knows us today ; He saw all our unworthiness, all our ingratitude, all our wickedness, all the sins which would blacken our souls and make them hideous and hateful to God, through our own meanness and malice. Oh ! what a sad spectacle this must have been to that most pure and holy God ! enough surely to turn all mercy into inexorable justice, all love into vengeance, all gentleness into the bitterness of a just and holy indignation. But, O wonderful God ! There is no bitterness in Him, no anger. For us He is all meekness and compassion. Behold Him there, with the eye of faith ; see, there in the deep abyss of His Father’s bosom — oh, what a vision is there presented to us ! The Eternal Father has taken the form of Divine Justice; He is seated on his dread throne, and at His side are vengeance and destruction. An altar is erected upon which the guilty, the unpardonable criminal is to be punished. The sentence has been pronounced, the ministers of the Divine Justice lay hold of their prey, they stretch him upon the altar, all helpless and hopeless, and the blows justly merited fall upon him. But lo ! the victim is not the guilty race which has called down the wrath of heaven upon itself! There is a Lamb upon that altar, spotless, innocent, pure ; the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth, the Lamb of God who has taken upon Himself the sins of the world, the Victim of propitiation who will bear the blows of Divine Justice, so that the guilty may be spared ; the Lamb whose blood washes away the sentence of condemnation pronounced against us ! And, O joy of joys ! the victim is approved ! the sacrifice is accepted !

As we gaze upon that mysterious holocaust, ever burning and yet never consumed, we behold justice changed into mercy, vengeance and destruction merged into peace and pardon, and by some transforming magic of compassionate love, there appears before us the vision of a thorn-crowned Heart, surrounded by the flames of the sacrifice ; and we hear a voice that says : u Behold the Heart which will love mankind with a love so divinely meek, so divinely forgiving.” All this was hidden in the bosom of God. No creature was there to witness the wonders of this loving meekness ; but, in some mysterious manner, all creation is tinged with the light of that sacrifice, and seems to arise out of it, bathed in its glory and reflecting its bright flames. Mary’s preeminent sanctity gives back its image from her immaculate soul; the angelic and the human natures are reddened with its glow, and adorned with its brilliancy, and they seem to revolve around it, like planets around the central source of all their beauty. If then the foreseen wickedness and ingratitude of mankind were unable to deprive us of the love of the Eternal Word; if, in spite of all our unworthiness, He would still offer Himself as our victim and our ransom, may we not say that His meekness dates from eternity? that to learn His meekness we must go back to the ages before the creation, when God was all alone, all to Himself, and yet even then loving us with an eternal love and showing towards us an eternal and divine forbearance? From all eternity our meek Saviour prepared that Heart which was to love us, his enemies; He prepared that inexhaustible patience with which it would bear with us, that immutable gentleness with which it would meet our fretfulness, that unconquerable mildness with which it would receive all our repulses, that persevering clemency which would still pardon and bless, even when it had been a thousand times abused. From all eternity He placed His delights in that Heart, He longed for the hour in which He might conceal Himself within it with all His treasures, to lie in wait for our hearts, and to compel them by the sweet violence of His meekness, to come and dwell in His heart with Him, and to make Him happy by enjoying His gifts. It was His meekness which pleaded for the guilty parents of our race and gave them the promise of a coming Redeemer. His meekness saved the hopes of the future world when the wrath of God deluged the earth for the sins of men. His meekness appeased the anger of the Almighty through the sacrifices of the ancient covenant which were types of His merits and symbols of His love. His meekness bore with the stiff-necked and ungrateful race in whom the promises of His mercy were to be perpetuated till their fulfilment. His meekness pleaded for the sin- stained world all through those long four thousand years of gloom, when nought came up from the earth to heaven but the clamors of man's wickedness and crimes, the voice of blood crying for vengeance. A thousand times the arm of God was raised to crush the guilty wretches who continued to insult Him : a thousand times it was arrested by the pleadings of that meekness, by the vision of that Heart crowned with thorns, surrounded by the fire of its sacrifice, and made the abode of that meekly forgiving love. But at length, the long day of expectation is drawing to a close; the hour is at hand in which the greatest of all wonders will be wrought. The time has come for the heavens to bow down and give to the earth the kiss of peace and to bring to lost man his promised Redeemer.

How gladly the Eternal Son of the Most High descends from His throne ! How gladly He lays aside the splendors of the Divinity! How joyously He goes down to the unhappy earth, to take upon Himself the fallen nature of man, so that it may be raised again in His Person. He comes to us with that Heart which He has prepared to love us ; He comes to us with all that meekness and forbearance, that patience and clemency, with all those heavenly treasures with which He conceals himself in His divine Heart. That Heart which has been, from all eternity, a vision of Peace in the bosom of the Father, is now a real, a living heart, beating in the bosom of Jesus upon earth. It is a heart full of compassion, full of tenderness; a heart that can suffer with infinite forbearance all our miseries, all our ingratitude; a heart that can forgive and forget, no matter how often or how deeply we have wronged it. With this heart Jesus appears among men, and from this heart comes forth that first lesson 'which He gives us: “Learn of me because I am meek of heart.”