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THE HISTORY OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

PART 6

The life of the Precious Blood upon earth after the Ascension was, as we have seen, in one sense an actual life, and in another sense not an actual life. We have lessons also to learn from this, or, at least, fresh proofs of the character and disposition of the Precious Blood. Its life upon earth may be divided into natural and supernatural, or into direct and indirect, or into religious and secular, according to the point of view from which we may regard it. For our purpose no strict division is necessary. It is enough for us to speak of it as it concerns the world and as it concerns the Church. On the first head we need not say much, as we have already seen in the second chapter what the world would have been without the Precious Blood. Nevertheless, there is still something to be said. There is not, and has not been since Christianity was preached, a state or government which has not been materially influenced by the Precious Blood. History shows us that there is an obvious unity of life in states, of which they themselves are scarcely ever conscious, or at least conscious only during transient intervals. They do God's work without knowing it. They serve the Church at the moment they think they are thwarting it. After centuries of self-praise and pride they lose their positions and sink into something narrower and smaller, and find that they have all along been the unintelligent and unintentional servants of the Holy See. Sometimes individual states - men make an impression on their age and country; and it is curiously borne out by history that in this case the impression is for the most part adverse to religion at the time, but turns out to be for its advantage in the end. More often the state makes the statesman, who follows rather than leads, while the state itself is filled with a life it does not understand, and, like a tree growing in a particular position, works out its instincts unconsciously. In both cases it is the interests of the Precious Blood which are found at last to have presided over the revolutions of
states.
 
Civilizations and customs are also modified and controlled by its genius, character, and influence. Its work in individual souls is in the aggregate such an enormous power, that it cannot help making itself felt in all social movements. To literature it has contributed fresh forms and new ideas. In art it has been a fountain of beauty and inspiration far surpassing any other both in the quantity and the excellence of its production. Philanthropy owes more to it than it will acknowledge, and morality has hardly any independent practical life without it. In what is called the progress of humanity it has been at once a curb to restrain, and a rudder to guide, a light to see by, and a compensation enabling us to endure.

But, while we must never forget that the outer world is always owing all that is good in it to the influence of the Precious Blood, we are rather concerned with its life in the Church.
We have already seen that the laboratories of its life are in the wonderful Sacraments, which are the living present actions of Christ, the actual going on of the Thirty-Three Years on earth. We have seen that all processes of justification and of sanctification are in reality operations of the Precious Blood. We have remembered its ubiquitous activity in those veiled triumphs of death-bed graces, which will rank among the sweetest astonishments of heaven. But its principal and most characteristic occupation upon earth is Conversion; and, as its energy in the Church is so broad and so incessant that it is difficult to comprehend it in one view without becoming vague, we may select this particular occupation to which it is so specially addicted, as a favorable illustration of its spirit and method, and as conveying to us by a single instance the most faithful idea of its life upon earth since the Ascension. But, while we put forward the phenomenon of Conversion as the best exponent of the normal life of the Precious Blood, we must not forget that it is only one out of many specimens of its fertility. Let us then think of what is implied in the Conversion of a soul, and what that agent must be like whose main and favorite occupation is Conversion.

It is not possible to exaggerate the importance of the Conversion of a single soul. As single souls, we feel lost in an overwhelming multitude. We are nobodies in the great grand world, and in the huge overmastering progress of human destinies. If we died, we might leave a temporary ache in some few hearts, and that would be all. But we are never lost, we are never nobodies, in the dear world of God's all-seeing love and all-loving providence. According to His standards, an empire is a less thing than a single soul. The empire will not last so long, nor can it effect so much. Even upon earth the Divine importance of its history lies simply in the amount and kind of its influence upon single souls. In the next world, the truer world, it has no representative. It is as though it had never been, or at least it is a mere item in the sanctification of the saved. The fortunes of earth's most gorgeous empire cast no shadow upon Heaven. God appears to make fewer arrangements for empires than for souls; and, when He occupies Himself with nations, it is for the sake of souls. The degree and manner of Divine interference are less for an empire than for a soul. Heaven's interest in an empire is less than its interest in a soul. The consequences of an empire are less than the consequences of a soul. This is the estimate which the Precious Blood takes of a single soul.

Now let us look at the machinery of Conversion. What is wanted, what is actually put forth, to convert a man in mortal sin? The Three Divine Persons work as one in all external works. Yet the Father represents in our imperfect views the power of the Godhead; and this power is wanted to convert a soul. Nothing short of omnipotence can do it. Mary's sceptre only reaches so far through the omnipotence of prayer. When I think of enormous power, I think of St. Michael; but he is too weak to convert a sinner: or of the choir of Thrones; but the magnificence of their repose cannot cleanse from sin, or infuse peace into a sinful soul. Secondly, it needs the wisdom of the Son. The Cherubim are very wise, and our dearest mother Mary is a very abyss of science. But they could not have invented the needful ingenuities for the Conversion of a sinner. Indeed, they are so far from being able to devise them, that they find it hard to understand them, and they are adoring them to this hour with unabated astonishment. Then, also, it needs the love of the Holy Ghost. The magnificent Seraphim live in the Divine fires, and are themselves vast and huge abysses of burning love. THE IMMACULATE HEART HOLY CARDYet they are but sparks from the furnace of the Holy Ghost. His love is simply incomprehensible. They can but fall down and tremble before the unutterable conflagrations of His uncreated fires. Many things are hard to understandin God, but, most of all, the excesses of His love. Yet this power of the Father, this wisdom of the Son, and this love of the Holy Ghost, this threefold compassion of the Most Holy Trinity, have been engaged for the Conversion of souls through the exquisite pleadings and beautiful constraints of the Precious Blood.
  
It is part of the ordinance of our Blessed Lord that the prayers and dolors of His Mother should also go to the Conversion of a
soul. But the power of those prayers and the merit of those dolors came from the Precious Blood. The whole of Mary, and all the benignity of her queendom, and all the glory of her exaltation,and all the splendor of her graces, and all the mystery of her
motherhood, are because of the Precious Blood. No part of creation has been made so white by its redness as her unspotted heart. She is the creature of the Precious Blood, its daughter, its mother, its servant, and its queen. The angels of heaven must be stirred for the Conversion of a soul. Numberless ministries, each one of which is a heavenly wonder, are put forth by them. They plead in Heaven. They visit earth. They do Mary's bidding. They conspire with the Saints. They procure the Sacraments. They prepare. They co-operate. They confirm. They warn. They defend. They cross each other betwixt earth and Heaven, like royal messengers on the highways in time of war. It is the Precious Blood which has merited these ministries for the soul. It is devotion to the Precious Blood which fills the angelic realms with jubilee when a sinner is converted. Our Lord loved to think of that jubilee, and spoke of it with pleased affirmation and tenderest delight.

The Conversion of a soul requires that a multitude of circumstances should be providentially ordered, and times, persons, and places made to fit each other in some one peculiar way. This harmony of circumstances is providence doing honor to the Precious Blood. There must be, ordinarily speaking, the knowledge of the Gospel; and the bringing of this to the neighborhood of each soul is a distinct act of love on the part of the Precious Blood. Much has to be merited for the soul by the good works of others; and no works merit except through the Precious Blood. The goodness of others has to influence the soul; and goodness only influences because the Precious Blood makes it so attractive. The moment of contrition is the moment of revolution in the soul; it was a moment foreseen and foreordained from all eternity in view of the Precious Blood. It is part of God's eternal complacency in that redeeming Blood. The Sacraments, which are the resplendent instruments of Conversion, are the application of the Precious Blood to the soul in a manner which seems to intensify that which is already infinite. The actual shedding of the Blood on Calvary was the far-off preparation for this individual Conversion. The revival of old merits, and the restoration of forfeited rights to reward, are only instances of the energy of the Precious Blood, and of the completeness with which it does its work. This vitality of merits, this power of a resurrection in them when mortal sin has killed them, is only because it was the Precious Blood which made them merits at the first. Indulgences are the loving ministers of the Precious Blood, which understand its ways and enter into its spirit, and so go about picking up the fragments that remain after the Sacraments have had their fill.The joy of God, of Mary, of the Angels, of the Saints, of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and of God's priests and servants upon earth, is only an emanation of that joy of which the Precious Blood is the universal and incessant fountain. Moreover, all through this process of Conversion there is a marvelous hiding, a Divine extenuation, of sin's affront against God, which can only be because it is inundated by the Precious Blood, while at the same time there is such a revelation of the sinfulness of sin as can only be made by that same Blood, which is the beautiful reparation of God's sanctity.



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