01 December 2009

Our Lord Breathes the Mystic Fire

This wonderful writing is taken from the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII titled, “Magnæ Dei Matris,” which is a reflection on the Holy Rosary. Pope Leo XIII is often referred to as “The Rosary Pope.” This particular excerpt, however, is about faith. We may not think about this too often but Pope Leo reminds us that faith raises us “above the level of human beings.” Faith, then, is a lofty gift and should not be wasted. Faith holds firmly to those very deep mysteries of God. If we have the gift of faith and exercise it by contemplating these deep mysteries, then, as Pope Leo teaches, “it would be utterly impossible for anyone to meditate on and attentively consider these most precious memorials of our loving Redeemer and not have a heart on fire with gratitude to Him.”

It is mainly by faith that a man sets out on the straight and sure path to God and learns to revere in mind and heart His supreme Majesty, His Sovereignty over the whole of creation, His unsounded Power, Wisdom, and Providence. For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and rewards those who seek Him.

God's eternal Son assumed our humanity and lived before us as the Way, the Truth, and the Life; our faith must embrace the deep mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation of the only-begotten Son. In fact, this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.

God gave us a most precious blessing when He gave us faith. By this gift we are not only raised above the level of human things, to contemplate and share in the divine nature, but are also furnished with the means of meriting the rewards of heaven.

Therefore the hope is encouraged and strengthened that we shall one day look upon God, not in the shadowy images of His creatures, but in the fullest light, and shall enjoy Him forever as the Supreme Goodness.

Faith without works is dead because faith draws its life from charity and charity flowers forth in a profusion of holy actions. Thus the Christian will gain nothing for eternal life from his faith unless his life is ordered in accordance with what faith prescribes. What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has not works? Shall faith be able to save him?

A man of this sort will incur a much heavier rebuke from Christ the Judge than those who are, unfortunately, ignorant of Christian faith and its teaching. Unlike the former, who believes one thing and practices another, they have some excuse or at least are less blameworthy, because they lack the light of the Gospel.

Contemplation of the mysteries of the faith should bring forth a rich harvest of fruits while the heart is wonderfully enkindled by them to make virtuous resolutions. Now, the work of salvation accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ is the highest model for us to contemplate.

Almighty God, in the excess of His love for us, takes upon Himself the form of lowly man. He dwells in our midst as one of the multitude, converses with us as a friend, instructs and teaches the way of justice to individuals and to multitudes. In His discourse He is the Teacher unexcelled; in the authority of His teaching He is God. To all He shows Himself a doer of good; He relieves the sick of the ills of their bodies and, with paternal compassion, heals the most serious sickness of their souls.

Those above all whom sorrow troubles or whom the weight of worry crushes, He comforts with the gentle invitation: Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.

When we rest in His embrace, He breathes that mystic fire which He has brought to all men. Lovingly He imbues us with the meekness and humility of His own Heart. That, by the practice of these virtues, we may share the true and solid peace of which He is the Author: Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of Heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.

Christ, in return for that light of heavenly wisdom and that stupendous abundance of blessings which only He could merit for mankind, He suffers the hatred of men and their most atrocious insults; and, nailed to the Cross, He pours out His Blood and yields up His Soul, holding it to be the highest glory to beget life in men by His death.

It would be utterly impossible for anyone to meditate on and attentively consider these most precious memorials of our loving Redeemer and not have a heart on fire with gratitude to Him. Such is the power of a faith sincerely practiced that, through the light it brings to man's mind and the vigor with which it moves his heart, he will straightway set out in the Footsteps of Christ and follow them through every obstacle, making his own a protestation worthy of a St. Paul: Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or persecution, or the sword? I live, now not I; but Christ lives in me.