CHARITY TOWARDS THE NEIGHBOR
An act of Charity performed towards a neighbour will be accepted by Jesus Christ as done to Himself. I say to you, says the Redeemer, as long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren, you, did it to me -(Matt. xxv. 40). St. Catharine of Genoa used to say our love of God is to be measured by our love for our neighbour.
To love God without at the same time loving our neighbour is impossible. The same precept that pre scribes love towards God imposes a strict obligation of brotherly Charity. And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God love also his brother - (1 John iv. 21). Hence St. Thomas teaches that the love of God and the love of our neighbour proceed alike from Charity. For Charity makes us love God and our neighbour, because such is the will of God. Such, too, was the doctrine of St. John the Evangelist. St. Jerome relates that being asked by his disciples why he frequently recommended fraternal love, that holy Apostle replied: “Because it is the precept of the Lord, and the fulfilment of it alone is sufficient."
St. Catharine of Genoa once said to the Lord: “My God, Thou dost command me to love my neighbour; and I can love none but Thee.” “My child, answered Jesus, "he that loves Me, loves whatsoever I love.” Indeed, when we love a person we also love his, relatives, his servants, his likeness, and even his clothes, because we know he loves them. And why do we love our neighbours? It is because God loves them. Hence St. John says that if any man say I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar - (1 John iv. 20). But as hatred towards our neighbours is incompatible with the love of God, so an act of Charity performed in their regard will be accepted by Jesus Christ as done for Himself. Amen, I say to you, says the Redeemer, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren you did it to, me - (Matt. xxv. 40}. St. Catharine of Genoa used to say that our love of God is to be measured by our love for our neighbour.
Ah, my Redeemer, how unlike I am to Thee! Thou wast all Charity towards Thy prosecutors, and I am all rancour and hatred towards my neighbour. Thou didst pray with so much love for those who crucified Thee, and I immediatdy seek revenge against those who offend me. O God of love, give me Thy love.
Oh. what a Paradise where Charity reigns! It is the delight of God Himself. Behold, says the Psalmist, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity - (Ps. cxxxii. 1). The Lord looks with complacency on the Charity of brethren and sisters who dwell together in unity, who are united by one will of Serving God, and who seek only to sanctify one another that they may be all united one day in the land of bliss. The highest praise bestowed by St. Luke on the first Christians was that they had but one heart and soul. And the multitude of the believers had but one heart and one soul - (Acts. iv. 82). This unity was the fruit of the prayer of Jesus Christ Who before His Passion besought His Eternal Father to make His disciples one by holy Charity, as He and the Father are one. Holy Father, keep them in thy name ... that they may be one as we also are - (John xvii. 11). This unity is one of the principal fruits of Redemption, as may be inferred from the prediction of Isaias: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill at all in my holy mountain - (Is. xi. 6, 9). Yes, the followers of Jesus, though of different countries and of different dispositions, shall live in peace with one another, each seeking by holy Charity to accommodate himself to the wishes and inclinations of the other. (And as a certain author has well remarked, what does a community of religious mean but a union of many by will and desire so as to form but one person?) It is Charity that maintains union; for it is not possible that all should have congenial dispositions. It is Charity that unites the hearts of all, and makes them bear one another's burdens, and conform to the will of each other.
St. John Climacus relates that in the vicinity of Alexandria there was a celebrated monastery, where, because they loved one another so cordially in holy Charity, all the Religious enjoyed the peace of Paradise. In general the first that perceived a disagreement between two of the Religious was able to restore peace by a mere sign. But if they could not be reconciled, both were sent as exiles to a neighbouring house, and were told at their departure that the abode of two demons in the monastery could be no longer profitable to the Community.
O Lord, abandon me not to my passions. Give me strength to love and to do good to all who injure me. For the sake of Thy Blood, O Jesus, permit me net to be separated from Thee. O Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me.
SALVE, REGINA, MATER MISERICORDIIE! HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, MOTHER OF MERCY!
II. - HOW GREAT SHOULD BE OUR CONFIDENCE IN MARY, WHO IS THE QUEEN OF MERCY.
The Eternal Father made Jesus Christ the King of Justice, and consequently universal Judge of the world: and therefore the Royal Prophet sings: Give to the King thy judgment, O God, and to the King's Son thy justice - (Ps. lxxi. 2). Here a learned interpreter takes up the sentence, and says: O Lord, Thou hast given justice to Thy Son because Thou hast given mercy to the King's Mother.” And on this subject St. Bonaventure, para phrasing the words of David, thus interprets them: “Give to the King Thy judgment, O God, and Thy mercy to the Queen His Mother.” Ernest, Archbishop of Prague, also remarks, “that the Eternal Father gave the office of Judge and Avenger to the Son, and that of showing mercy and relieving the necessitous to the Mother.” This was foretold by the Prophet David, for he says that God, so to speak, consecrated Mary Queen of Mercy, anointing her with the oil of gladness: God hath anointed thee with, the oil of gladness - (Ps. xliv. 8), in order that we miserable children of Adam may rejoice, remembering that in Heaven we have this great Queen, overflowing with the unction of mercy and compassion towards us: and thus we can say with St. Bonaventure, “O Mary, thou art full of the unction of mercy and of the oil of compassion."
And how beautifully does not Blessed Albert the Great apply to this subject the history of Queen Esther, who was herself a great type of our Queen Mary!
We read, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther, that in the reign of Assuerus, a decree was issued by which all Jews were condemned to death. Mardochai, who was one of the condemned, addressed himself to Esther, in order that she might interpose with Assuerus and obtain the revocation of the decree, and thus be the salvation of all. At first Esther declined the office, fearing that such a request might irritate the king still more; but Mardochai reproved her, sending her word that she was not to think only of saving herself, for God had placed her on the throne to obtain the salvation of all the Jews: Think not that thou mayest save thy life only, because thou art in the king's house, more than all the, Jews - (Esth. iv.13). And so can we poor sinners address our Queen Mary, should she show any repugnance to obtain of God our delivery from the chastisement we have justly deserved: “Think not, O Lady, that God has raised thee to the dignity of Queen of the world only to provide for thy own good; but in order that, being so great, thou mightest be better able to compassionate and assist us miserable creatures."
As soon as Assuerus saw Esther standing before him he asked her, with love, what she came to seek. What is thy request? The Queen replied: If I have found favour in thy sight, O King... give me my people, for which I request - (Esth. vii. 2, 3). Assuerus granted her request, and immediately ordered the revocation of the decree. And now, if Assuerus, through love for Esther granted, at her request, salvation to the Jews, how can God refuse the prayers of Mary, loving her immensely as He does, when she prays for poor miser able sinners who recommend themselves to her, and says to Him: “My King and my God, if ever I have found favour in Thy sight give me my people for which I ask. The Divine Mother well knows that she was the blessed, the holy one, the only one of the human race, who found the grace lost by all mankind; well does she know that she is the beloved one of her Lord, loved more than all the Saints and Angels together. Is it possible, then, that God should refuse her? And who is ignorant of the power of the prayers of Mary with God? The law of clemency is on her tongue - (Prov. xxxi. 26). Each of her prayers is, as it were, an established law for our Lord, that He should show mercy to all for whom she intercedes. St. Bernard asks why the Church calls Mary "the Queen of Mercy"? And he replies that “it is because we believe that she opens the abyss of the mercy of God to whomsoever she wills, when she wills, and as she wills; so that there is no sinner, however great, who is lost if Mary protects him."
THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
VJII. - HOW MUCH JESUS CHRIST DESERVES TO BE LOVED BY US ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN INSTITUTING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR.
Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father; having loved his own ... he - loved them unto the end - (John xiii. I). Our most loving Saviour, knowing that His hour was now come for leaving this earth, desired before He went to die for us, to leave us the greatest possible mark of His love; and this was the gift of the most Holy Sacrament. St. Bernardine of Sienna remarks that men remember more continually, and love more tenderly, the signs of love which are shown to them at the hour of death. Hence it is the custom that friends, when about te die, leave to those persons they have loved some gift, such as a garment or a ring, as a memorial of their affection. But what hast Thou, O my Jesus, left us, when quitting this world, in memory of Thy love? Not, indeed, a garment or a ring, but Thine own Body, Thy Blood, Thy Soul, Thy Divinity, Thy whole Self, without reserve. "He gave thee all,” says St. John Chrysostom; “He left nothing for Himself."
The Council of Trent says that in this gift of the Eucharist Jesus Christ desired, as it were, to pour forth all the riches of the love He had for men. And the Apostle observes that Jesus desired to bestow this gift up on men on the very night itself when they were planning His death: The same night in which he was betrayed, he took bread; and giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat; this is my body - (l Cor. xi. 23 - 24). St. Bernardine of Sienna says that Jesus Christ, burning with love for us, and not content with being prepared to give His life for us, was constrained by the excess of His love to perform a greater work before He died; and this was to give His own Body for our Food.
This Sacrament, therefore, was rightly named by St. Thomas, "the Sacrament of love; the pledge of love.” Sacrament of love, for love was the only motive which induced Jesus Christ to give us in It His whole Self. Pledge of love, so that if we had ever doubted His love, we should have in this Sacrament a pledge of it: as if our Redeemer, in leaving us this gift, had said: O souls, if you ever doubted My love, behold I leave you Myself in this Sacrament; with such a pledge you can never any more doubt that I love you, and love you to excess.