Photos: Stift Heiligenkreuz
Ask Me to hide you in My wounds. There is a place for you in each of My five wounds; each of them represents a refuge against the temptations that threaten you, and the traps set by the devil, who would ensnare you and rejoice to see you fall.
The wound in My right hand is your refuge from sins of disobedience and self-will. Take refuge there when you are tempted to take the path that is easy and broad.
The wound in My left hand is your refuge from sins of selfishness, from directing all things to yourself, and grasping the attention of others by seeking to take to yourself what your right hand has given Me.
The wound in My right foot is your refuge from sins of inconstancy. Take refuge there when you are tempted to be inconsistent, and when you waver in your resolutions to love Me above all things, and to place Me first in your affections and in your desires.
The wound in My left foot is your refuge against sins of sloth and of spiritual lethargy. Take refuge there when you are tempted to give up the struggle and to consent to despair and discouragement.
Finally, the wound in My side is your refuge from every false love and every fleshly deceit promising sweetness, but giving bitterness and death instead. Take refuge in My pierced side when you are tempted to look for love in any creature. I have created you for My love, and My love alone can satisfy the desires of your heart. Enter, then, the wound in My side and, penetrating even into My Heart, drink deeply of the springs of love that will refresh and delight your soul, and wash you in preparation for the wedding of your soul with Me, for I am the Bridegroom of your soul, your Saviour from all that would defile you, and your God who is love and mercy now and unto the ages of ages. (In Sinu Jesu, p. 162)
We have received the commandment to love God: the soul bears the capacity to love implanted within itself by God at its first constitution. Of this we need no proof from without, for each may discover the traces of what we say within himself and from himself. Every human being desires all that is good, and we are drawn by a kind of natural disposition towards all that we think to be good. Indeed, without being taught, we are drawn in love towards blood relatives and those closest to us in the flesh, while we are attached with our whole affection and good services to those from whom we receive benefits.
But what greater good can we have than God? Indeed, what other good is there but God alone (cf. Matt 19:17)? What loveliness, what splendour, what beauty which we are naturally moved to love is of such a kind as is in God and more claims our confidence? What grace is so great, what flame of love which sets alight the secret and inward places of the soul is like to that love of God which ought to inflame the hidden places of the mind, especially if it is cleansed of all defilement, if it is a pure soul which with true affection says: I am wounded by love (Song 2:5)?
The utterly ineffable love of God— as I at any rate experience it— which can be more easily experienced than spoken of, is a certain inexplicable light. Even if speech should cite or compare a lightning flash or a dazzling brilliance, still, the hearing cannot take it in. Invoke if you will the rays of the morning star, the splendours of the moon, or the light of the sun itself— in comparison with that glory they are all more obscure and murkier by far than an ink-black night and the gloom of a dense fog compared with the flawlessly clear light of the noon-day sun.
Such loveliness is not seen by bodily eyes; it is perceived only by the soul and the mind. If perchance this loveliness has grazed the mind and heart of the saints, it left embedded in them a most fiery sting of yearning for it, till at length, as if languishing in the fires of such love and shuddering at this present life, such as these would say: When shall I come and appear before the face of God? (Ps 41:2), and again, one who is burning in the flames of this ardour would say: My soul has thirsted for the living God (Ps 41:1), and being insatiable in his desire, would pray that he might see the delight of the Lord and find shelter in his holy temple (Ps 26:4). So therefore we naturally long for and love the good. (The Rule of St Basil)
Second Spring, the journal founded by the late Stratford Caldecott, that extraordinary and wonderful man, with his wife Leonie, has a beautiful new website. The header image of the new website is a painting of an oak tree by the Caldecott’s daughter Rose. In a reflection thereon, Leonie Caldecott writes:
As well as being the symbol of England, the oak tree is surely an apt symbol of the resilience needed to remain productive and fertile in the midst of inhospitable conditions. Wood: that substance on which God-made-man stretched himself out in that mysterium tremendum, is conceived of here as a sign of new life being added to the old. In place of the rainbow which normally unites sunshine and rain, the sign of the ancient covenant cast above the floodwaters, our noble tree roots the crux of the matter back in the earth. It is surely no coincidence that in The Lord of the Rings Gandalf the White, rescued miraculously from the maw of the Balrog, is discovered after the encounter with the Ents of Fanghorn Forest. Ents are slow-moving, considered creatures. For an Ent, as for any tree, there is no such thing as a state of emergency.
I’m so glad that Second Spring has itself shown something of the oak’s resilience. It’s continuation after Strat’s death is a fitting act of piety towards him, and of generosity toward the rest of us.
For the soul that is being trained according to God’s purpose must be either learning faithfully what it does not know, or teaching clearly what it knows. But if it wants to do neither, though able to do them, then it is mad. For to be sated with teaching and unable to bear the word, for which the soul of him who loves God is always hungry, is the beginning of apostasy. (Palladius, Epistula ad Lausum).
Yesterday my confrères PP. Florian and Philemon were ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schönborn. Two Nigerian seminarians, who study in Heiligenkreuz, were ordained to the diaconate.
Pictures: Stift Heiligenkreuz
I read Shūsaku Endō’s novel Silence many years ago, when I was about 16 or 17 years old. At the time I thought it scandalous. I wonder if I would have a different impression reading it today. When my friend Ludovicus sent me the following review of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the novel, it made think that my younger self’s judgement was probably sound. Continue reading