THE MYSTERY OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
We must take a Saint to guide us on our way. Let it be that grand lover of Jesus, the Apostle St. Paul. His conversion was one of the chief glories of the Precious Blood. Redeeming grace was his favorite theme. He was forever magnifying and praising the Blood of Jesus. His heart was filled with it, and was enlarged by grace that it might hold yet more. After the Heart of Jesus, never was there a human heart like that of Paul, in which all other human hearts might beat as if it were their own, unless it be that other universal heart, the heart of King David, which has poured itself out for all mankind, in those varying strains of every changeful feeling, by means of its sweet Psalms. St. Paul's heart feels for every one, makes every one's case its own, sorrows and rejoices with those who sorrow or rejoice, and becomes all things to all men that it may save them all. Among the wonders of creation there are few to compare with that glorious apostolic heart. The vastness of its sympathies, the breadth of its charity, the unwearied hopefulness of its zeal, the delicacy of its considerateness, the irresistible attraction of its imperious love - all this was the work of the Precious Blood; and that heart is still alive even upon earth, still beating in his marvelous Epistles as part of the unquenchable life of the Church. It is impossible to help connecting these characteristics of St. Paul's heart with the manifest devotion to the Precious Blood. Let us take him then as our guide amidst the unsearchable riches of Christ and the superabounding graces of His redeeming Blood. As it was with the disciples as they walked to Emmaus with Jesus, so will it be with us as we go along with His servant Paul. Our hearts will burn within us by the way; and we ourselves shall grow hot from the heat of that magnificent heart of him who guides us.
We are then to consider, first of all, the Mystery of the Precious Blood. It was one of God's eternal thoughts. It was part of his wisdom, part of his glory, part of his own blessedness from all eternity. You know that creation, although exceedingly ancient, perhaps so ancient as to be beyond our calculations, is nevertheless not eternal. It could not be so. To be eternal is to be without beginning; and to be without beginning is to be independent of any cause or power. This is a true description of God. But creation had a time at which it began, and it was the independent act of God's most holy, most condescending will. Thus there was an eternity before creation, a vast, unimaginable, adorable life, not broken up into centuries and ages, not lapsing but always still, not passing but always stationary, a life which had no past and no future, because its whole self was always present to itself. This was the life of God before any creation, an unspeakably glorious life, which we can think of with love and adoration, but which it is quite impossible for us to understand. We shall say more of it in the third chapter. Some holy persons, like Mother Anne Seraphine Boulier of the Visitation at Dijon, have had such an exceeding devotion to this life of God prior to creation, that " they have by God's order shaped their spirituality wholly upon it. Very often, when the troubles of life vex and ruffle us, or when we are downcast and distrustful, it would do us good to think of that ancient life of God. It would fill us with quiet awe. We should feel our own littleness more sensibly, and we should care less about the judgments of the world. The thought of it would be like a bed to lie down upon, when we are weary with work or fatigued with disappointment.
Nevertheless there is a sense in which creation was eternal. It was eternally in the mind of God. It was one of His eternal ideas, always before Him; so that He never existed without this idea of creation in His all-wise mind and in His all-powerful intention. Moreover, it was always part of His intention that the Creator should become as it were part of His Own creation, and that an Uncreated Person should really and truly assume a created nature and be born of a created mother. This is what we call the mystery .of the Incarnation. It is this which makes creation so magnificent. It was not merely a beautiful thing which God made as an artificer, and which He set outside of Himself, and kept at a distance from Himself to look at, to admire, to pity, and to love. He always intended to be part of it himself in a very wonderful way. So that there would have been Jesus and Mary, even if there had never been any sin: only Jesus would not have been crucified, and Mary would not have had any dolors. But the sight of sin was also with God from the beginning, that is, through all His unbeginning eternity; and thus the Precious Blood also, as the ransom for sin, was with Him from the beginning. It was one of His eternal thoughts. If we may dare to say so, it was an idea which made Him more glorious, a thought which rendered Him more blessed. That same dear Blood, the thought of which makes us so happy now, has been part of God's happiness forever.
He created the Angels and the stars. How ancient the Angels are we do not know. In all ways they are wonderful to think of, because they are so strong, so wise, so various, so beautiful, so innumerable. But they do not lie in our way just now; because, although they owe all their graces to the Precious Blood, they were not redeemed by the Precious Blood. Those Angels, who did not fall, did not sin, and so needed no redemption; and God would not allow those who fell to be redeemed at all. This makes us sometimes think that God was more severe with His world of Angels than with His world of men. But this is not really the case. It only shows us how we owe more to Jesus than we often think of. The Angels could not make any satisfaction to the justice of God for their sins. If all the Angels, good and bad together, had suffered willingly the most excruciating torments for millions upon millions of ages, those willing torments could not have made up to God for the sin of the least sinful of those Angels who are now devils. If our dearest Saviour had taken upon Himself the nature of Angels, the case would have been different. But He became Man, not Angel; and so hHis Passion, as man, satisfied for all possible sins of men. The sufferings of His Passion were greater and of more price than all the torments of countless Angels. The severity of God exacted more from Him upon the Cross than it ever exacted or is exacting now, from the tortured Angels. Thus you see God has not been more severe with them than with us: only that Jesus made Himself one of us, and took all our share of God's severity upon Himself, leaving us the easy happiness of faith, and hope, and love. You see we come upon the kindness of Jesus everywhere. There is not even a difficulty in religion, but somehow the greatness of His love is at the bottom of it, and is the explanation of it. Wonderful Jesus! that was the name the prophet Isaias gave Him. "He shall be called Wonderful." How sweet it is to be so hemmed in by the tokens of his love, that we cannot turn to any side without meeting them! Yet His love would be sweeter to us if we could only repay it with more love ourselves.
God made the Angels and the stars. The starry world is an overwhelming thing to think of. Its distances are so vast that they frighten us. The number of its separate worlds is so enormous that it bewilders us. Imagine a ray of light, which travels one hundred and ninety-two thousand miles in a second; and yet there are stars whose light would take a million of years to reach the earth. We know of two hundred thousand stars down to the ninth magnitude. In one single cluster of stars, eighteen millions of stars have been discovered between the tenth and eleventh magnitudes. Of these clusters men have already discovered more than four thousand. Each of these stars is not a planet, like the earth; but a sun, like our sun, and perhaps with planets round it, like ourselves. Of these suns we know of some which are one hundred and forty-six times brighter than our sun. What an idea all this gives us of the grandeur and magnificence of God! Yet we know that all these stars were created for Jesus and because of Jesus. He is the head and first-born of all creation. Mary's Son is the King of the stars. His Precious Blood has something to do with all of them. Just as it merited graces for the Angels, so does it merit blessings for the stars. If they have been inhabited before we were, or are inhabited now, or will at some future time begin to be inhabited, their inhabitants, whether fallen and redeemed. or unfallen and so not needing to be redeemed, will owe immense things to the Precious Blood. Yet earth, our little, humble earth, will always have the right to treat the Precious Blood with special endearments, because it is its native place. When the Angels, as they range through space, see our little globe twinkling with its speck of colored light, it is to them as the little Holy House in the hollow glen of Nazareth, more sacred and more glorious than the amplest palaces in starry space.
God made the stars; and, whether the earth was made by itself from the
first, or was once part of the sun, and thrown off from it like a ring,
God made the earth also, and shaped it, and adorned it, and filled it
with trees and animals; and then looked upon His work, and it shone
forth so beautifully with the light of His Own perfections, that He
blessed it, and, glorying in it, declared that it was very good. We
know what an intense pleasure men take in looking at beautiful scenery.
When we feel this pleasure, we ought to feel that we are looking at a
little revelation of God, a very true one although a little one, and we
ought to think of God's complacency when He beheld the scenery of the
primeval earth and rejoiced in what He saw. There was no sin then. To
God's eye, earth was all the more beautiful because it was innocent,
and the dwelling-place of innocence. Then sin came. Why God let it come
we do not know. We shall probably know in Heaven. We are certain,
however, that in some way or other it was more glorious for Him, and
better for us, that evil should be permitted. Some people trouble
themselves about this. It does not trouble me at all. Whatever God does
must of course be most right. My understanding it would not make it
more right; neither could I do any thing to mend matters, if I
understood it ever so well. Every one should keep in his own place: it
is the creature's place to believe, adore, and love.
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