Wednesday, April 7, 2010
For The Divine Mercy: A Novena (Day 6, Easter Wednesday)
C. S. Lewis expounded on this silent killer in Mere Christianity. This is the definition of pride: it is not humble, nor is it childlike in its innocence. Which brings us to Our Lord's request for our prayers today,
Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.
And so we pray for all children and those that are child-like,
Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. —Amen.
St. Bonaventure stands on St. Bernard's shoulders in the paragraphs that follow. Or better yet, consider this a tag-team approach by two Doctors of the Church regarding the polar opposite of pride. I found these words to reflect on in St. Bonaventure's The Life of Christ. You will find the electronic version of this tome on the YIM Catholic bookshelf. Why must we turn and become like children? For two reasons, it seems. First, because Jesus said so. And secondly, because he never asks us to do something He hasn't done first. After all, the best leaders lead by example.
You see how Christ increased in the exercise of humility. For in the lowliness which we are here considering, He subjected Himself to His own servant, made Himself of no account, and justified and magnified His servant. Now in comparison of that which has gone before, see how His lowliness has advanced. For hitherto, He has conversed humbly with men, as a useless and mean person, but now He would appear also as a sinner. For John preached to sinners the baptism of repentance, and baptized them; and the Lord Jesus, amongst them, and before them all, willed to be baptized.
Thus St. Bernard speaks on this matter: " He came amongst the rabble to the baptism of John. He came as one of the people—He Who was alone without sin! Who would ever think that He was the Son of God? Who would ever believe Him to be the Lord of Majesty? Indeed Thou hast greatly humbled Thyself, O Lord; too much dost Thou hide Thyself, yet Thou canst not hide Thyself from John." And the same may be said of His Circumcision, for there also He willed to appear as a sinner; but here the lowliness is greater, for that was in private, this in public.
But was there not a risk in all this, lest, when He was greatly desirous to go forth and preach, He should be spurned as a sinner Himself? Yet, notwithstanding this, He would not give up lowliness, but as the Master of that virtue He would most profoundly abase Himself. He willed even to wear the appearance of what He was not, for the sake of the abjection and contempt which would be thereby brought upon Him, having always in view our instruction: we will, on the contrary, to appear what we are not, for our own praise and glorification.
If there is any scrap of goodness, we love to make a display of it; but our defects we conceal, though we are ever so sinful and wicked. Is this our way of being lowly? Hear upon this not me, but St. Bernard, who says, "There is a lowliness which charity quickens and inflames; and there is a lowliness which truth produces in us, yet which has no heat. The one indeed consists in knowledge, the other in affection."
"For if you examine yourself by the light of truth, and look steadily and truthfully into yourself, and judge, unbiased by flattery, I doubt not but that you will be humbled, and will become more vile in your own eyes, from a knowledge of the truth about yourself; although you may not yet, perhaps, bear to be so regarded by others. By this you will be humbled indeed by the force of truth, but not at all as yet by the infusion of charity."
For this is to resist the truth, this is to fight against God. But do you rather agree with God, and submit your will to the truth, not only submit to the truth but love it. ' Shall not,' says the Psalmist, ' my soul be subject to God ?'(Ps. lxii.1 V) But it is a slight thing to be subject to God, unless you are also subject to all mankind for God's sake, both to those who bear rule, and to those who are set over you by them. I say more, be subject to equals, be subject also to inferiors, ' for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.'(Matt. iii.15) Go also to your inferior if you would be perfect in righteousness, defer to him, stoop humbly to those less than yourself." Thus St. Bernard teaches.
He says also, "Who is righteous but the humble? For then, when the Lord stooped to the hands of His servant, the Baptist who trembled because of His Majesty, He said, ' Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,'(Matt. iii.15) thus identifying the summit of perfect righteousness with the perfection of lowliness. Therefore the just man is the humble."(St. Bernard, Serm. 47 in Cant.)
But this righteousness in the humble appears in this: that he renders to every one his due; he does not take that which is another's, but he gives the honour to God, and retains the vileness for himself. You will understand this more clearly, if you consider the injustice of the proud, who attributes to himself the gifts of the Lord.
You will find the Divine Mercy chaplet here.