Saturday, April 10, 2010

For The Divine Mercy: A Novena (Day 9, Easter Saturday)

This is the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday and we are back to where we started. On this, the final day, we pray for lukewarm Christians.

"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

We've all been here before, haven't we? Maybe I'm just speaking for myself. Regardless, I'm glad to know that someone, somewhere, was praying for me to be rekindled.  So with hope, love and sincerity let us pray:

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

What does it mean to be lukewarm? Simply this, neither cold nor hot.  To be cold would be to not know Christ and His Gospel.  To be lukewarm would be, what exactly? To know the truth but not tell others? To not live the Christian life fully? To not put Christ at the center of our lives? Probably these things and more.

When asked what the greatest commandant is, Our Lord responds "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'  One of my favorite sayings from the Desert Fathers goes like this,

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, "Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Then the old man, Abba Joseph,  stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, "If you like, you can become all aflame."

Neither of the above examples would equal "lukewarm." What follows is an excerpt from History of the Life and Institute of Ignatius of Loyola by Father Daniel Bartoli.  It comes from a speech that St. Ignatius gives to the fledgling members of what would become the Society of Jesus. As you read it, consider that we are all members of the royal priesthood. As such, we can all use words like these to get us "fired-up" for Christ.

After a short prayer they rose, and Ignatius spoke: "Heaven has chosen you," said he, " from amongst many others, for enterprises of no ordinary importance. In the depths of my heart I have the assurance that it has done so for the salvation of men. 

In beholding such companions of your labors, how greatly ought your courage to be inflamed, and your confidence to surpass that with which your own zeal and your desire of serving God, had hitherto inspired you; for remark, I beseech you, that if each one of you individually was already capable of great deeds for the glory of God and his Church,—what strength each will receive in the union of all your efforts, when, bound together, you will form but one body and one soul! What fruits may you not expect from this junction, for the common good of all! You have had the time that was necessary for reflection—you must now decide. 

As for me, my only desire is, by God's help, to conform my life to the example of Jesus Christ. None more perfect, no surer model for imitation, will ever be found. Must he not be the best of men, who comes closest to this Divine Model? Now, the Savior was not satisfied with his own personal sanctity; he spent his life, he suffered death for the salvation of the world. Therefore, as far as my weakness makes it possible, I aspire to imitate him in these two points, by laboring for my own perfection, and for the salvation of my brethren.

I am well aware, that were we to shut ourselves up in the depths of our own consciences, and enjoy God in the holy delights of contemplation, we should pass a less fatiguing life, one more exempt from danger, more peaceful, in short, more agreeable. But ought we to prefer our own convenience to the interests of God's glory, which cannot receive greater increase than by the salvation of the souls to whom our Saviour has consecrated his labors, his sufferings, and his death? 

Can we ourselves be consumed with divine love without endeavoring to revive the ardor of lukewarm hearts ? Can we be enlightened with divine knowledge, and not endeavor to illuminate with it the eyes of the blind? Can we walk in the way that leads to heaven without stretching out a helping hand to those who have wandered away from the road ? Shall I fear to lose some portion of the gifts of Heaven by communicating them to others, or to swerve from the right path by leading my brethren there? 

On the contrary, were I even to consider my own advantage only, should I not find in this an increase of merit and honor? But why should I speak to you of interest, or of personal advantages? Does that ardent and generous love which ought to burn within our hearts stop to calculate ? Have we not the example of our Lord before our eyes? He who has redeemed our brethren upon Calvary, he desires it, he wills it —and shall not this desire, this wish, be sufficient for us?"

May the Holy Spirit, the flame of Pentecost, keep us at a steady boil for Christ and His Church. You will find the Divine Mercy chaplet here. Thank you for praying this novena along with me and may God bless us and the whole world.