Sunday, September 15, 2013

Merton on God's Mercy and Love Infused Through Us

THE LAMB CATHOLIC WORKER, Columbus -  Yesterday, September 14, was the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, also known as the Exaltation of the Cross (of Jesus Christ).  This and Good Friday epitomize the depths of God's love and mercy towards us in not only the gift of His Son to a highly sinful world, but the immensity of the suffering that He and His Son experienced on the torturous Cross and all that led up to it.  This sacrificial love and mercy are what we "do" or bring to the world as well, exemplified in this Brother Louis (Thomas Merton) quote from his book, The Seven Story Mountain, as quoted in Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton (Liguori Publications, 2002)
     "It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago ... On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce men and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity.  How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? ..."
      This is similar to a response from a bishop when asked how the Catholic Church could possibly be genuine given the long history of very sinful men, from Catherine de Hueck's husband, Eddie Doherty's book about her, Tumbleweed (1988, Madonna House Publications).  The bishop replied:  "...If we on the inside have not been able to wreck the Church in two thousand years, it must be of divine origin.  We on the inside have done more to harm the Church than all of the enemies outside of the walls ... And we haven't made a dent in its structure.  We haven't dimmed the luster of a single truth.  We have not lessened in any way its power to save the world." (188)  Matthew 16:19 - "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

[Added reflections on retreat in Iowa, the night prayers from the Hours include the following, on this theme of Thomas Merton]:
 "Christ died for our sins to make of us an offering to God.
 ... He died to this world of sin and rose in the power of the Spirit,
 to make of us an offering to God.
 ... Christ, our frail humanity is prone to fall
   -strengthen us through your help.
If left to itself, our nature is inclined to sin
   -let your love always restore it to grace ...
God our Father,
you brought salvation to all mankind
through the suffering of Christ, your Son.
May your people strive to offer themselves
to you as a living sacrifice and be filled with
the abundance of your love." pp. 323-324 Shorter Prayers of the Hours

     I will include several more Merton quotes from this advent prayer book:

Mother of the Holy Eucharist, the King of Glory
     "Since the diaconate our Lady has taken possession of my heart.  Maybe, after all, she is the big grace of the diaconate.  She was given to me with the book of the Gospels which, like her, gives Christ to the world.  I wonder what I have been doing all my life not resting in her heart which is the heart of all simplicity.  All life, outside of her perfect union with God, is too complicated.
      "Lady, I am your deacon, your own special and personal deacon.  What made me want to laugh in the middle of the Gospel this morning was the fact that you were doing the singing and I was just resting and sailing along." (Sign of Jonas in the Advent ... Book)
       By declaring at the foot of the cross, "Woman, behold thy son," to Mary in regard to John, and therefore to all ordained men, Jesus has given Mary many "Christ" sons, those called to be Christ to the world, to bring His flesh and blood into the world in order to feed and sustain us all.

["A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." (Rev. 12:1)]

     "The genuine significance of Catholic devotion to Mary is to be seen in the light of the Incarnation itself.  The Church cannot separate the Son and the Mother.  Because the Church conceives of the Incarnation as God 's descent into flesh and into time, and His great gift of Himself to His creatures, she also believes that the one who was closest to Him in this great mystery was the one who participated most perfectly in the gift ..."Mary, who was empty of all egotism, free of all sin, was as pure as the glass of a very clean window that has no other function than to admit the light if the sun.  If we rejoice in that light, we implicitly praise the cleanness of the window.  And of course it may be argued that in such a case, we might forget the window altogether.  This is true.  And yet the Son of God, in emptying Himself to His majestic power, having become a child, abandoned Himself in complete dependence to the loving care of a human Mother, in a certain sense draws our attention once again to her.  The Light has wished to remind us of the window, because He is grateful to her and because He has an infinitely tender and personal love for her." ( New Seeds of Contemplation in the Advent ... Book)

      "God willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary play a central part in the Mystery of the Incarnation and of our Redemption.  He willed that the salvation of the world should depend on her consent.  Mary is the "royal way" by which the King of Glory descended into the world in order to restore fallen mankind to its destined place in heaven... If we leave her out of the Sacrament of Advent we shall never fully penetrate its mystery, since we need to go forth to meet our Savior on the same road by which He came to us. " (Seasons of Celebration in the Advent ... Book).  The Catholic Worker art work of Mother Mary below is by Fritz Eichenberg.
Mary, Ark of the Covenant, Word