I tend not to be very “up to date” or in with the times, but the current Year of Mercy is one that I love very much. Perhaps I should offer a word on this.
When we are converted (initially and increasingly), it all begins with the mercy of God. It begins in secret, but it expands to the dimensions of the whole heart and all its doings and being. Savonarola puts it this way in one of the meditations he composed while under house arrest:
As many the just, so many the mercies.
This is the wonder of our God. Each justified soul was captured in its singularity by Divine Mercy. The mercy of God, which is God himself, reaches down to our condition and loves it, shakes it, takes it from the dungheap and places it in a vast expanse of grace. In the normal run of things (but how many lives are not “normal”!), this story begins either with Baptism or with a desire for Baptism or Reconciliation. The desire mounts, and then action is taken. Under the impetus of Divine Mercy, the sinful person begins to act on the desire which God has implanted in us from the day of our birth: to love, to know God, to become holy.
We could not claim to this ourselves, and any insistence on justice (over against mercy) would be our downfall. It is God’s coming down in mercy which is that which enables anything and everything about salvation and about the contemplative life.
How much we will, when we get to Heaven, love to tell us these stories of mercy, I cannot begin to imagine.
O Lord, the surest sign of my love for You is the degree to which I keep the commandment of charity towards my neighbour.
Saint Teresa of Jesus
There are times in life when a man’s whole bulwark of virtues seems to crumble, as if all the powers of the will sustaining it had given out. When this happens you will find yoruself confronted with the supreme test of love, for you will have gone so far as your possibilities will have allowed you to go, and in your soul, now stripped naked before God, there will be no alternative to opening up your weakness to lvoe of another’s making – love of the making of the heart of Jesus – and becoming but his instrument, abandoned to him at last in faith.
René Voillaume (1905–2003)
We, who by the grace of God are Catholics, should not waste the most wonderful years of our life… We should steel ourselves to be ready to carry on battles we shall certainly have to fight in order that… in a not-too-distant future, happier days and a morally healthy society may come. But for all this is needed continual prayer to obtain from God that grace without which our efforts are in vain… and finally, sacrifice of our passions and of ourselves, because without this, it is impossible to reach our goal.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901–1925)