Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ (Intro. part III)


The Great Confidence we ought to have in the Love which Jesus Christ has shown us and in all He has done for us.

David placed all his hope of salvation in his future Redeemer, and said: Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit ; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.

But how much more ought we to place our confidence in Jesus Christ, now that he has come, and has accomplished the work of redemption! Hence each one of us should say, and repeat again and again with greater confidence: Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.1

If we have great reason to fear everlasting death on account of our sins against God, we have, on the other hand, far greater reason to hope for everlasting life through the merits of Jesus Christ, which are infinitely more powerful for our salvation than our sins are for our damnation. We have sinned, and have deserved hell; but the Redeemer has come to take upon himself all our offences, and to make satisfaction for them by His sufferings: Surely He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows.2

In the same unhappy moment in which we sinned, God had already written against us the sentence of eternal death; but what has our merciful Redeemer done? Blotting out the handwriting of the decree which was against us, . . . the same He took out of the way, fastening it to the cross.3 He cancelled by his blood the decree of our condemnation, and then fastened it to the cross, in order that, when we look at the sentence of our damnation for the sins we have committed, we may at the same time see the cross on which Jesus Christ died and blotted out this sentence by his blood, and so regain hope of pardon and everlasting life.

Oh, how far more powerfully does the blood of Jesus Christ speak for us, and obtain mercy for us from God, than did the blood of Abel speak against Cain! You are come to Jesus the mediator of the New Testament, and to the sprinkling of blood, which speaketh better than that of Abel.4 As if the Apostle had said, “O sinners, happy are you to be able, after you have sinned, to have recourse to Jesus crucified, who has shed all his blood, in order to become the mediator of peace between sinners and God, and to obtain pardon for them! Your iniquities cry out against you, but the blood of the Redeemer pleads in your favor; and the divine justice cannot but be appeased by the voice of this precious blood.”

It is true that we shall have to render a rigorous account to the Eternal Judge of all our sins. But who is to be our Judge? The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son.5 Let us comfort ourselves, the Eternal Father has committed our judgment to our own Redeemer. Therefore St. Paul encourages us, saying, Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus who died, . . . who also maketh intercession for us.6 Who is the judge to condemn us? It is that same Saviour who, in order not to condemn us to everlasting death, vouchsafed himself to be condemned and to die; and not content with this, at this moment intercedes with his Father for our salvation. Hence St. Thomas of Villanova says: “What do you fear, O sinner, if you detest your sin? How will he condemn you, who died in order not to condemn you? how will he cast you from him, if you return to his feet, he who came from heaven to seek you at the very time you were flying from him?”7

And if we fear on account of our frailty to fall under the assaults of our enemies, against whom we must continually wage war, behold what we have to do, as the Apostle admonishes us: Let us run to the fight proposed unto us: looking on Jesus the author and finisher of faith, who having joy proposed unto Him, underwent the cross, despising the shame.8 Let us go out to the battle with great courage, looking at Jesus crucified, who from his cross offers us his assistance, the victory, and crown. In past times we fell into sin because we left off looking at the wounds and the pains endured by our Redeemer, and so we did not have recourse to him for help. But if for the future we set before our eyes all he has suffered for love of us, and how he ever stands ready to assist us when we have recourse to him, it is certain that we shall not be conquered by our enemies. St. Teresa said, with her wonted generosity, “I do not understand the fears of certain persons, who say, The devil, the devil, so long as we can say, God, God, and make Satan tremble.”9 On the other hand, the saint assures us, that if we do not place all our confidence in God, all our own exertions will be of little or no avail. “All our exertions,” these are her own words, “are of little use, if we do not give up entirely all trust in ourselves, and place it altogether in God.”10 Oh, what two great mysteries of hope and love for us are the Passion of Jesus Christ and the Sacrament of the Altar! mysteries, which we could have never believed, had not faith assured us of them. That God Almighty should deign to become man, shed all his blood, and die of sorrow upon a cross, and why? To pay for our sins, and gain salvation for us rebellious worms! And then his own very body, once sacrificed upon the Cross for us, this he vouchsafes to give us for our food, in order to become wholly united with us! O God, how should not these two mysteries consume with love the hearts of all men! And what sinner is there, be he ever so abandoned, who can despair of pardon, if he repent of the evil he has done, when he sees a God so full of love for men, and so inclined to do them good? Hence St. Bonaventure, full of confidence, said, “I will have great confidence, firmly hoping that he who has done and suffered so much for my salvation will deny me nothing that I have need of.”11 How can he refuse to give me the graces necessary for my salvation, who has done and suffered so much to save me?

Let us go therefore (the Apostle exhorts us) with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.12 The throne of grace is the cross on which Jesus sits to dispense graces and mercy to all who come to him. But we must quickly have recourse to him, if we would find seasonable aid for our salvation: for there will come a time perhaps when we shall no longer be able to find it. Let us go quickly then and embrace the cross of Jesus Christ, and let us go with great confidence. Let us not be frightened by the sight of our miseries; in Jesus crucified we shall find all riches, all grace: In all things you are made rich in Him, . . . so that nothing is wanting to yon in any grace.13 The merits of Jesus Christ have enriched us with all the divine treasures, and have made us capable of every grace we can desire.

St. Leo says, “that Jesus has brought us by his death more good than the devil has done us harm by sin.”14 And by these words he explains what St. Paul said before him, that the gift of redemption is greater than sin: grace has overcome the offence. Not as the offence, so also is the gift: where sin abounded, grace hath abounded more.15 From this the Saviour encourages us to hope for every favor and every grace through his merits. And see how he teaches us the way to obtain all we want from his Eternal Father: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you.16 Whatever you desire, he says, ask for it of the Father in my name, and I promise you that you shall be heard. And indeed how shall the Father be able to deny us, when he has given us his only-begotten Son, whom he loves as himself? He that spared not even His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also, with Him, given us all things?17 The Apostle says all things; so that no grace is excepted, neither pardon, nor perseverance, nor holy love, nor perfection, nor paradise, “all, all, he has given us.” But we must pray to him. God is all liberality to those who call upon him: Rich unto all that call upon Him.18

I will again quote here many other beautiful thoughts of the Venerable John of Avila, which he has left us in his letters, on the great confidence we should have in the merits of Jesus Christ:

“Do not forget that Jesus Christ is the mediator between the Eternal Father and ourselves; and that we are beloved by him, and united to him by so strong bonds of love that nothing can break them, so long as a man does not himself dissolve them by some mortal sin. The blood of Jesus cries out, and asks mercy for us; and cries out so loudly that the noise of our sins is not heard. The death of Jesus Christ hath put to death our sins: O Death, I will be thy death!19 Those who are lost are not lost for want of means of satisfaction, but because they would not avail themselves of the sacraments as the means of profiting by the satisfaction made by Jesus Christ.

“Jesus has taken upon himself the affair of remedying our evils, as if it had been personally his own affair. So that he has called our sins his own, although he did not commit them, and has sought pardon for them; and with the most tender love has prayed, as if he were praying for himself, that all who should have recourse to him might become objects of love. And as he sought, so he found, because God has so ordained that Jesus and ourselves should be so united in one, that either he and we should be loved, or he and we hated: and since Jesus is not or cannot be hated, in the same way, if we remain united by love to Jesus, we shall be also loved. By his being loved by God, we are also loved, seeing that Jesus Christ can do more to make us loved than we can do to make ourselves hated; since the Eternal Father loves Jesus Christ far more than he hates sinners.

“Jesus said to his Father: Father, I will that where I am, they also whom Thou hast given Me may be with Me.20 Love has conquered hatred; and thus we have been pardoned and loved, and are secure of never being abandoned, so strong is the tie of love that binds us. The Lord said by Isaias: Can a woman forget her infant? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven Thee in My hands.21 He has graven us in his hands with his own blood. Thus we should not trouble ourselves about anything, since everything is ordained by those hands which were nailed to the cross in testimony of the love he bears us.

“Nothing can so trouble us on which Jesus Christ cannot reassure us. Let the sins I have committed surround me, let the devils lay snares for me, let fears for the future accuse me, by demanding mercy of the most tender Jesus Christ, who has loved me even until death, I cannot possibly lose confidence; for I see myself so highly valued, that God gave himself for me. O my Jesus, sure haven for those who seek Thee in time of peril! O most watchful Pastor, he deceives himself who does not trust in Thee, if only he has the will to amend his life! Therefore Thou hast said: I am here, fear not; I am he who afflicts and who consoles. Some from time to time I place in desolations, which seem equal to hell itself; but after a while I bring them out and console them. I am thine advocate, who have made thy cause my own. I am thy surety, who am come to pay thy debts. I am thy Lord, who have redeemed thee with my blood, not in order to abandon thee, but to enrich thee, having bought thee at a great price. How shall I fly from him who seeks me, when I went forth to meet those who sought to outrage me? I did not turn away my face from him who struck me; and shall I from him who would adore me? How can my children doubt that I love them, seeing that out of love to them I placed myself in the hands of my enemies? Whom have I ever despised that loved me? Whom have I ever abandoned that sought my aid? Even I go seeking those that do not seek me.”22

If you believe that the Eternal Father has given you his Son, believe also that he will give you everything else which is infinitely less than his Son. Do not think that Jesus Christ is forgetful of you, since he has left you, as the greatest memorial and pledge of his love, himself in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Affections and Prayers.

O my Jesus, my love, what joyful hope does Thy Passion give me! How can I possibly fear not to receive from an Almighty God who has given me all his blood, the pardon of my sins, paradise, and all other graces that I require! Ah, my Jesus, my hope and my love, Thou, in order that I might not perish, didst give Thy life; I love Thee above every good, my Redeemer and my God. Thou gavest Thyself entirely to me; I give Thee my whole will, and with it I repeat that I love Thee, and I will always say, I love Thee, I love Thee. So I always desire to say in this life so I wish to die, breathing forth my last sigh with this dear word on my lips, My God, I love Thee; and from that moment I may commence a love towards Thee which shall last forever, and without cessation for all eternity. I love Thee, then; and because I love Thee, I repent above all things for having offended Thee. In order not to lose a passing satisfaction, I have been willing, wretch that I am, to lose Thee so often, O infinite good! This thought torments me more than any pain: but it is a consolation to me to think that I have to do with infinite goodness, that knows not how to despise a heart that truly loves. Oh, that I could die for Thee, who didst die for me! My dear Redeemer, I surely hope of Thee eternal salvation in the life to come, and in this life I hope for holy perseverance in Thy love; and therefore I propose always to ask it of Thee. And do Thou, by the merits of Thy death, give me perseverance in praying to Thee. This too I ask and hope of thee, O Mary my Queen!

1“In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Domine Deus veritatis.” – Ps. xxx. 6.

2“Vere languores nostros ipse tulit, et dolores nostros ipse portavit.” – Isa. liii. 4.

3“Delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decreti, quod erat contrarium nobis, et ipsum tulit de medio, affigens illud cruci.” – Col. ii. 14.

4“Accessistis ad . . . Mediatorem Jesum, et sanguinis aspersionem melius loquentem quam Abel.” – Heb. xii. 22, 24.

5“Pater . . . omne judicium dedit Filio.” – John, v. 22.

6“Quis est qui condemnet? Christus Jesus, qui mortuus est, . . . qui etiam interpellat pro nobis.” – Rom. viii. 34.

7“Quid times, peccator? Quomodo te damnabit pœnitentem, qui moritur ne damneris? Quomodo te abjiciet redeuntem, qui de cœlo venit quærere te?” – Tr. de Adv. D.

8“Curramus ad propositum nobis certamen, aspicientes in Auctorem fidei et consummatorem Jesum, qui, proposito sibi gaudio, sustinuit crucem, confusione contempta.” – Heb. xii. I, 2.

9Life, ch. 25.

10Life, ch. 8.

11“Fiducialiter agam, immobiliter sperans nihil ad salutem necessarium ab eo negandum, qui tanta pro mea salute fecit et pertulit.”

12“Adeamus ergo cum fiducia ad thronum gratiæ, ut misericordiam consequamur, et gratiam inveniamus in auxilio opportuno.” – Heb. iv. 16.

13“In omnibus divites facti estis in illo, . . . ita ut nihil vobis desit in ulla gratia.” – 1 Cor. i. 5, 7.

14“Ampliora adepti sumus per Christi gratiam, quam per diaboli amiseramus invidiam.” – De Asc. s. 1.

15“Non sicut delictum, ita et donum: . . . ubi abundavit delictum, superabundavit gratia.” – Rom. v. 15.

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

17“Pro nobis omnibus tradidit illum; quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?” – Rom. viii. 32.

18“Dives in omnes qui invocant ilium.” – Ibid. x. 12.

19“O mors! ero mors tua.” – Osee, xiii. 14.

20“Pater! quos dedisti. mihi, volo ut, ubi sum ego, et illi sint mecum.” – John, xvii. 24.

21“Numquid oblivisci potest mulier infantem suum, ut non misereatur filio uteri sui? et si illa oblita fuerit, ego tamen non obliviscar tui.” – Isa. xlix. 15.

22Part 2, Ep. 48.

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