Let us tease ourselves with one more imaginary case, and then we will have done. To many persons the great burden of life is the secret of predestination; and most men have at times felt the uncertainty of salvation as a weight upon their spirits. To a good man, whatever increases this uncertainty is a grave misfortune. Without a private revelation, no one can at any time say absolutely that he is in a state of grace, not even although he may just have received absolution in the best dispositions in his power. Nevertheless he feels a moral certainty about it, which for all practical purposes is as good as an assurance. We are not then always absolutely certain that the Precious Blood has been applied to our souls in absolution. But whence is it that we derive that moral certainty which is our consolation and our rest? From the fact that, when properly received, the operation of the Precious Blood is infallible. What an unhappiness it would be, if this were not so! The power of the Blood of Jesus is never doubtful, its work never incomplete. [Emphasis in bold added.] Moreover, God has gathered up its virtue in a very special way into certain Sacraments. He has made its application almost visible. He has tied its miracles as it were to time, and place, and matter, and form, so as to bring us as near to a certainty of our being in a state of grace as is compatible with his laws and our own best interests. If we could be no more sure that we had validly received absolution in confession, than we can be sure we have ever made an act of perfect contrition, we should be in a sad plight, and go through our spiritual exercises and our inward trials in a very downcast and melancholy way. Our state would be, at least in that one respect, something like the state of those outside the Church, who are not living members of Christ, nor partakers in His saving jurisdiction in the Sacrament of Penance. If the Precious Blood had been shed, and yet we had no priesthood, no Sacraments, no jurisdiction, no sacramentals, no mystical life of the visible unity of the Church-life, so it seems, would be almost intolerable. This is the condition of those outside the Church; and certainly as we grow older, as our experience widens, as our knowledge of ourselves deepens, as our acquaintance with mankind increases, the less hopeful do our ideas become regarding the salvation of those outside the Roman Church. We make the most we can of the uncovenanted mercies of God, of the invisible soul of the Church, of the doctrine of invincible ignorance, of the easiness of making acts of contrition, and of the visible moral goodness among men; and yet what are these but straws in our own estimation, if our own chances of salvation had to lean their weight upon them? They wear out, or they break down. They are fearfully counterweighted by other considerations. We have to draw on our imaginations in order to fill up the picture. They are but theories at best, theories unhelpful except to console those who are forward to be deceived for the sake of those they love - theories often very fatal by keeping our charity in check and interfering with that restlessness of converting love in season and out of season, and that impetuous agony of prayer, upon which God may have made the salvation of our friends depend. Alas! the more familiar \ve ourselves become with the operations of grace, the further we advance into the spiritual life, the more we meditate on the character of God, and taste in contemplation the savor of his holiness, the more to our eyes does grace magnify itself inside the Church, and the more dense and forlorn becomes the darkness which is spread over those outside. Yet not indeed to this state-God forbidl-but to a painful partial resemblance of it, should we be brought, if God's tender considerate love had not as it were localized the Precious Blood in his stupendous Sacraments. Truly the Sacraments are an invention of love, yet are they not also as truly a necessity of our salvation, not only as applying the Precious Blood to our souls, but as enabling faith to ascertain its application? Would not the divine assurance of our salvation be a very heaven begun on earth? Yet the Sacraments are the nearest approach to such a sweet assurance as the love of our heavenly Father saw to be expedient for the multitude of his children.

The Precious Blood, then, is the greatest, the most undeniable, of our necessities. There is no true life without it. Yet, and it very much concerns us to bring this home to ourselves, all creation could not merit it. Necessary as it is, it is in no way due to us. It is not a right. God's love toward us had been a romance already. It was wonderful what he had done to us. It is almost incredible even now when we think of it. We know the unspeakable tenderness of our Creator, how placable He is, how soft of heart, how prone to forgive, how easy to be persuaded. We know that the needs of His creatures plead with Him more eloquently than we can tell. Yet no necessities could have claimed the Precious Blood, no merits could have won it, no prayers could have obtained it. In truth, no created intelligence of Angel or of man could have imagined it.

Were Heaven to be filled with Saints in endless millions, as holy as St. Joseph, the Baptist, or the Apostles, and were their holiness allowed to merit, not in millions of ages could their united merits have earned one drop of the Precious Blood. If all those starry spirits in the godlike realm of Angels had consented to sink their grandeurs in the penalties of Hell for thousands of revolving epochs, or even had they consented to be annihilated in sacrifice to the justice of God, never could they have merited the Precious Blood. If all the merits, graces, gifts, and powers of our dearest Mother had been possible without the Precious Blood, they might have ascended as sweet incense before God forever, and yet in no possible duration of time could they have merited the Precious Blood. Not all these together, Saints, Angels, and Mary, with all their glorious holiness, growing yet more glorious in endless ages, could have bought one drop of Precious Blood, or merited that mystery of the Incarnation whose wonderful redeeming power resides in the Precious Blood. Oh, how this thought overwhelms my heart with joy - to have to rest upon the free sovereignty of God instead of my own wretched littleness, to be always thus thrown upon the gratuitous magnificence of God, to be forever and forever owing all, and such an all, to Jesus! Merciful God! this is the joy of earth which is nearest to a joy of Heaven!


--------------CHRIST THE KING