28 February 2011

God's Mercy Spreads Its Waters Over All

I doubt if I can say enough of this on account of my wretchedness. I am a fallen angel! I have left the heights of Being where You placed me when You created me. I did not know how to remain on that divine level, where I was truly in Your presence, in order to receive and reproduce the movement of Your Spirit, and recognize Him and His praise in all the created notes which reproduced Him without their knowing it. I had received the light which reveals this Gift of Self in everything, and the upsurge, conscious, awakened and in full light, which makes it return to You. I have lost that light, and have prevented that upsurge. I turned the light on myself instead of directing it towards You. I have deprived You of that glory and have wanted it for myself. I have reduced it to the measure of my own being, which is 'nothing'. And I have remained in that 'nothingness', and all created things that I should have raised with me to You I have forced to remain there with me. What a loss for us all! The consequences of original sin - and for that matter of all sin - are terrible, if one only knew.

Our Lord knew this and bent beneath the weight of that knowledge. 'My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me'(Saint Matthew 26:39), He cried with His Face bowed down to the ground, and His whole Body sweating Blood, while His Soul was sorrowful unto death (cf. Saint Matthew 26:38). He had descended to the terrible depths of my wretchedness, and by His Incarnation used that very wretchedness to raise me up. To the abyss of my misery He opposed an abyss still more profound, that of His mercy. This latter is so deep that we meet God there, and find again our lost Paradise. Our very misery brings us back to God; it completes our movement and, without attempting to define that movement, I have the impression that nothing befits Love more than Mercy. To give Himself to our 'nothingness' is beautiful and is a revelation of God's goodness, but to give Himself to our wretchedness is even better. To raise up calls for more love - is more the gift of self - than to create. The Redemption, the Blood of Jesus which flowed in our Lord's agony, at the flagellation and on Calvary, is Love's final word - if love can have a final word!

And You are that Love: You are this culminating height, and it is there my life of praise must be spent. Nor is creation excluded. I am still the voice of all Your creation, but it is at the foot of the Cross that I must sing my praise, joined by their voices united to mine and to that of the Son of man, commending His soul into your hands (cf. Saint Luke 23:46). There all things are accomplished: all is consummated (cf. Saint John 19:30).

God's mercy, as seen on Calvary, would seem to demand some kind of qualification, an epithet which does not exist. We need something to express - what, of course, is impossible - this God Who dies. We must fathom the depths separating these two words 'God' and 'death'. We would like to have explained to us that death and all the circumstances to which He Who died was willing to submit: simple 'accidents' no doubt and more understandable than the Being Who died and the death of such a Being, but none the less beyond our imagination. We would like to know all His capacity for feeling and consequently for suffering, with a body in which all, literally all, was broken, bruised and crushed as in a winepress(cf. Isaiah 63:3), exacting the last drop of His Blood. But for that we must know the Soul that animated that Body, the Soul that felt the strokes the Body bore. But here, as always, the mind hesitates... Endless perspectives of physical torture and moral martyrdom pass before my gaze and seem to challenge it, to dare my courage - or rather my lack of courage - to gaze to the full. The saints have done it, and did nothing else. And at the end of their contemplation they declared that they had not even crossed the threshold of that abyss.

From Calvary, God's mercy spread its waters over all men, at all times and in all places. It does so still, and will continue to spread them until the end of time. But here still, here always, mystery confronts me, puzzles me, defies and overwhelms me. How is one to penetrate the marvels operated by grace in a single soul? The words of the Psalmist come back to me: 'He has rejoiced as a giant to run the way' (Psalm 18:6). The Redeemer is the Giant Who runs. I see Him set out, but the way escapes me. I only know that it is immense, that the mere idea of knowing it and following in His Steps fills my heart with joy. And yet I must resign myself ever to confess my utter powerlessness, of which every meditation adds to my conviction and awakens my sorrow, were not even this sorrow a praise to the divine Majesty. Fortunately, Holy Scripture is there with its words full of comforting light and consolation; its words telling me almost all without my seeking, at least all I need to know. Perhaps one day I shall see it all more clearly; from that spring, which seems to me so deep, I may catch glimpses of those rivers that water the City of God (cf. Psalm 45:5). For the moment, I recall just one, but one so intensely moving, that its syllables have always been to me like a mother's caress: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore have I drawn you, taking pity on you' (Jeremiah 31:3).

How well You know, my God, to say these things, how delicate is Your touch. In You there is only love, and I still have not seen it clearly enough. Your mercy is but the reflection of Your love, when its light crosses the zone of the shadow cast by our sins. It is the movement of that light in the darkness(cf. Saint John 1:5). Our Lord, Who is that Light, came to enlighten that darkness. He, so to speak, left His Kingdom in order to meet that darkness and there restore the radiant Image of the Father. He came because He is Love. He is the Son of the Father Who is Love, and is that Love's perfect ray (cf. Wisdom 7:26). From the Father He received that essential movement - the need to give Himself - and thus Love gave birth, and is eternally giving birth, to Mercy. That love, that mercy, needs to spread itself, to communicate itself, to radiate its brightness. It bears this need within itself, because it is born of the paternal Bosom, whence this movement proceeds. The darkness, where that love and mercy do not shine, draws Him, appeals to this need, an appeal which seems to come from within it and says to him: 'Come....' And Mercy cannot resist this appeal, since it corresponds perfectly to this need so essential to His Being that He leaps and rejoices as a giant to run 'the way' (cf. Psalm 18:6). He becomes the Light Who gives Himself to the darkness, and shines therein becoming Mercy, the Love of 'Him Who is' for those who 'are not'.

And to this nothingness He gives the power to give itself, even as He gives Himself: that is, freely and by love. This is man's privilege, his free choice. He can welcome that Love or refuse it. If he responds, he becomes one with Him, and participates in His life and greatness. If he refuses, he remains in himself, in his nothingness, but in a nothingness shorn of all hope, a nothingness that could have been united to Being, to God. It was called to be so united by grace, and was given the necessary powers. It could have enjoyed that union of love, but has failed to fulfil God's plan for it. As a result, it has been left a failure and a ruined thing. This is the real unhappiness that the divine Mercy wants to succour.

~ Dom Augustin Guillerand ~