Thursday, 28 May 2009

Confidence in Jesus Christ

Wonderfully great, as has been said, is the mercy of Jesus Christ to us; but for our greater good he desires that we should put our trust in his mercy, with a lively confidence, trusting in his merits and his promises. Therefore, St. Paul recommends us to preserve this confidence, saying that it has a great reward from God.1 And therefore, when a fear of the divine judgment seems to diminish this confidence in us, we ought to chase it away, and say to ourselves, as the learned Dr. Saverio Mattel writes in his excellent version of the Psalms, on Psalm xli.:2 “My heart, dost thou tremble? knowest thou not how to hope? Banish thy fear, and tremble not. Why wilt thou trouble me? Hope in the Lord, that we may one day sing his praise and glory.”

The Lord revealed to St. Gertrude that our confidence so constrains him that he cannot possibly refuse to hear us in everything we seek of him. The same thing was said by St. Climachus: “Prayer exerts a holy violence upon God.”3 Every prayer offered with confidence, as it were, forces God; but this force is acceptable and pleasing to him. Therefore, St. Bernard writes that the divine mercy is like a vast fountain, from which whosoever brings a larger vessel of confidence carries away a larger abundance of graces. And this is according to what the Psalmist wrote, Let Thy mercy be upon us, O Lord, according as we have put our trust in Thee.4

God has declared that he protects and saves all who trust in him.5 Let them, then, rejoice. David said, “All who hope in Thee, my God, shall be blessed forever, and Thou wilt ever dwell in them.”6 The same prophet said, Mercy is round about all who trust in God.7 He that trusts in God shall be ever so circled and guarded around, that he is safe from all danger of perishing. Oh, what great promises the Holy Scriptures make to those who trust in God! Are we lost through our sins? Behold the remedy at hand! Let us go with confidence, says the Apostle, to the feet of Jesus Christ, and there shall we find pardon.8 Let us not wait to go to Jesus Christ until he sits upon his throne of judgment; let us hasten at once, while he sits on his throne of grace.

But, says the sinner, I do not deserve to be heard, if I beg for pardon. But I reply, though he has not deserved, his confidence in the divine mercy will obtain grace for him; for this pardon is not dependent upon his merits, but upon the divine promise to pardon those who repent; and this it is which Jesus Christ says, Every one that seeketh, receiveth.9 The author of a certain incomplete work says, commenting on the words “every one,” that they mean every one, whether just or unjust: it is sufficient that they pray with confidence. Let us, then, hear from the lips of Jesus Christ himself how great things are done by confidence: Whatsoever things ye seek, when ye pray, believe that ye shall receive them, and they shall be given to you.10

Whosoever, then, fears that through infirmity he shall fall again into his old sins, let him trust in God, and he shall not fall; as the prophet assures us, All that hope in Him shall not fail.11 Isaias says that they who hope in the Lord renew their strength.12 Let us, then, be strong in not wavering in our confidence, because God has promised, as St. Paul says, to protect all who hope in him; and when anything seems especially difficult to overcome, then let us say, I can do all things through Him that comforteth me.13 And who that ever trusted in God was confounded?14 Yet, let us not go about seeking some constant sensible confidence, palpable to our feelings; it is enough if we have the will to trust. This is true confidence, the will to trust in God, because he is good, and desirous to help us, and powerful, and can help us, and faithful, and has promised to help us. Above all, let us strengthen ourselves with the promise made by Jesus Christ, Amen, amen, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.15 Thus let us seek grace from God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and we shall obtain what we will.

O eternal God! I know that I am poor in all things; I can do nothing, I have nothing, save what comes to me from Thy hands; all I can say to Thee is, Lord, have mercy upon me. My misery is, that to my poverty I have added the sin of having answered Thy graces with the sins I have committed against Thee. But, notwithstanding, I would hope from Thy mercy this twofold blessing: first, that Thou wouldst pardon my sins; and then that Thou wouldst give me perseverance together with Thy holy love, and with grace to pray to Thee constantly to help me even till death. I ask it all of Thee, I hope for it, through the merits of Thy Son Jesus, and the blessed Virgin Mary. O my chief adyocate! help me with thy prayers.*

1“Nolite itaque amittere confidentiam vestram, quæ magnam habet remunerationem.” -- Heb. x. 35.

2Quare tristis es, anima mea? et quare conturbas me? Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.

3“Oratio pie Deo vim infert.” -- Seal. gr. 28.

4“Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.” -- Ps. xxxii. 22.

5“Protector est omnium sperantium in se.” -- Ps. xvii. 31. “Qui salvos facis sperantes in te.” -- Ps. xvi. 7.

6“Lætentur omnes qui sperant in te; in æternum exultabant, et habitabis in eis.” -- Ps. v. 12.

7“Sperantem autem in Domino misericordia circumdabit.” -- Ps. xxxi. 10.

8“Adeamus ergo cum fiducia ad thronum gratiæ, ut misericordiam consequamur, et gratiam inveniamus in auxilio opportune.” -- Heb. iv. 16.

9“Omnis enim qui petit, accipit.” -- Luke, xi. 10.

10“Omnia quæcumque orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et evenient vobis.” -- Mark, xi. 24.

11“Non delinquent, omnes qui sperant in eo.” -- Ps. xxxiii. 23.

12“Qui autem sperant in Domino mutabunt fortitudinem.” -- Isa. xl. 31.

13“Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat.” -- Phil. iv. 13.

14“Nullus speravit in Domino et confusus est.” -- Ecclus. ii. 11.

15“Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis.” -- John, xvi. 23.

*In a previous paragraph I mentioned the work of Signer Mattei on the Psalms, a work worthy of general approbation. But I beg him to permit me to express here my regret at the eulogies that he lavishes upon the poetical compositions of his celebrated friend, Signor Pietro Metastasio. He should have excepted the pieces that treat of profane love, and that merit no praise but blame; for the more beautiful they are, as I said in § 6, the more hurtful they are to youth. He should have frankly avowed that his worthy friend should have made a better use of the talent that God had given him, in employing it in works that would edify the people, not in the composition of verses that would indeed secure to him the applause of worldlings, but not of good people, and much less of God.
In my writings I have always avoided censuring any one, whoever he might be, even those who have heaped injury upon me; but, under the present circumstances, I do not hesitate to disapprove of the erotic poems of Metastasio; and in this I am fully in accord with him, since at present, as I have mentioned above, he detests with horror, and in an edifying manner, his own works that the world applauds. I know very well that this censure will be blamed by the admirers of Metastasio; but let them reflect that in boasting of his pernicious productions they but displease him who now repents of having composed them, and displease God who wishes that books injurious to souls should not be praised, but should be blamed as they deserve to be, in order to open the eyes of the imprudent youth that read them.
It is true that in the poetry of Metastasio there is nothing immodest, that in it we find none of the obscenities that sully the impious works of Marini and the like; however, we must admit that his expressions are too tender, and are capable of inflaming the heart with impure love. Who does not see in this passionate language the source of grave disorder? This can easily be seen in the pestilential work entitled II Pastor fido, a work justly condemned by the Church, as I have been told; and if it is not condemned, it deserves to be a thousand times. Earthly and carnal love is a fire that leads sooner or later to the fire of hell. Ah! ask the multitude of those wretched people who did not take care to protect themselves from the impure flame that has perverted them, mind and heart at the same time. Signer Mattei ought to thank God for having inspired him with the happy thought of consecrating his fine talent and his acquirements to a work so erudite, so useful, and so pious.


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