The Five Wounds

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 Jesup. 162)

“A most fiery sting of yearning”

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)

Διδασκαλίας κόρος — Fastidium doctrinae

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).

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Guest Post: Anonymous and Utterly Silent Christians

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

The Veil of Death

The “Holy Sepulcher” with veiled monstrance in the Parish of Trumau

In Austria, as in much of Central Europe (Poland, Slovakia, parts of Hungary and South-Eastern Germany…), there is a custom of carrying one of the hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday in a veiled monstrance in procession after the Good Friday Liturgy to a side altar decorated as a tomb, usually with an image of the shrouded body of the Lord surrounded by white flowers. The veiled monstrance remains at this “Holy Sepulcher” through the night of Good Friday and the morning of Holy Saturday. The custom is frowned upon by lovers of the sobriety of the Roman liturgy, but I think that it fits beautifully with the paradox of veiling and unveiling that dominates the whole of Passiontide. Nowhere is the holy, mighty, and immortal divinity of Christ so veiled as in His death. And yet this veiling is an ‘unveiling veiling’, to use Hans Urs von Balthasar’s term (enthüllende Verhüllung); nothing more reveals the deepest mystery of the Divine Love. The veiled monstrance is a triple veiling, which is at the same time a triple unveiling, revelation of the Divine Mystery. The eternal Word veils His Divine Nature in the Incarnation, when he takes on our Mortal nature, and yet this veiling in human flesh is at the same time the epiphany, the appearing of the invisible God in visible form. In His passion and death a second veil is, as it were, thrown over the veil of human nature, and yet His death is the greatest possible revelation of the glory of His Immortal Love. And in the Blessed Sacrament yet another veil is added: In cruce latebat sola Deitas, / At hic latet simul et Humanitas (On the Cross lay hidden but thy Deity, / Here is hidden also Thy Humanity). At yet the Blessed Sacrament, the greatest of the Lord’s miracles, is also the greatest revelation of His love for us sinners.

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The Holy Sepulcher in Heiligenkreuz