BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
The Sin of Friends
“I have been wounded in the
house of those that loved Me.”
THE idea of reparation is as old as Christianity. However, with the great revelations at Paray-le-Monial it has assumed a prominence which it did not previously possess. Reparation is always implied in the teaching of the Sacred Heart and, given the abnormal and unstable situation created by sin, it is also inseparable from perfect charity. Indeed we cannot here on earth fully love God without expiating the offence which sin inflicts on Him, without giving consolation to His Sacred Heart, which is wounded and sorrowful unto death because of sin, and without making amends for, or repairing, as far as lies in our power, the evils caused by the rebellion of sin. In other words, reparation is a love of compassion, of satisfaction and of penance for the irreverence committed against Our Lord.
Leaving aside for the moment considerations relative to great sinners, the executioners of our day, who with cruel hate scourge and crucify Our Blessed Lord anew, I prefer to put before you another sin, crueller even than the point of the spear with which Longinus pierced the Savior’s Side, I mean the indifference and coldness of those who call themselves Our Lord’s friends. This is the sin which hurts Him most. It pierces His adorable Heart, not because it is graver than that of the wicked, but because it is the hand of a friend that scourges Him, because it is a heart on which grace has perhaps been poured in abundance that wounds Him with ingratitude and disregard. And in this sense we may say that one drop of gall from such a loved one is bitterer to Him than all He suffered during Holy Thursday night.
When speaking of the offences of His own people, of those of His household, of His friends, He said to St. Margaret Mary: “This is what is most painful to Me,” and for this sin He asked of His confidante and apostle a special act of reparation. We certainly cannot shut our eyes to the thousands of very grave transgressions by which the sacred Majesty of God is outraged, especially in our large modern towns, which are so many Ninevehs and Babylons. But I have abundant reason for saying that many of these transgressions would not be committed if we — the children of His predilection — loved Him as we should. Let us not begin by mourning and making reparation for the sins of the wicked, but rather for the slackness and apathy, the indifference of those who, like ourselves, are the work of infinite love.
Oh! if we but loved Thee, Jesus, as we love creatures, when we squander our affections on them! For it must be admitted that, in spite of our pettiness, we all have a reserve of nobility hidden in the depths of our souls, a store of generosity, much unsuspected courage and self-abnegation and in time of danger or misfortune these treasures are suddenly discovered. We know how to love when we want to do so, but we rarely desire to love Jesus ardently. He is so neglected that we shut our hearts to Him, while we open them wide to others far more exacting than He is. Poor Jesus!
During the war, I witnessed, among soldiers and nurses, innumerable acts of the most amazing heroism which — though performed but yesterday — will soon seem to have been fabulous and legendary. How often, when wondering at their marvelous patriotism, at their exuberant martial spirit, I have felt my soul oppressed by great sadness, for I thought within myself, “Never in my life have I done for Jesus the thousandth part of what I am admiring in this soldier or this nurse, and I am a priest and call myself an apostle!” One’s country, the national honor, the family are sacred ideals which always call forth noble sentiments in the solemn hour of danger and Jesus Who created these exquisite feelings, Jesus, the most lovable of Kings, fails to touch us, fails to incite us to doing splendid deeds of virtue, and His country, our Heaven of tomorrow, is less alluring to us than this earth on which we live.
I am not addressing the indifferent, or unbelievers, but the virtuous. I believe in their sincerity, I know they have true and sterling faith, but I fear they do not love with all their hearts. Can you otherwise explain the fact that in many countries where neither the faith nor competent Catholic organization is lacking, the hosts of Satan have made a formidable advance, have been able to plan out the paganization of society, and above all, are actually realizing it with complete impunity, or almost without resistance. I am convinced that good people disapprove of this disgraceful state of affairs, yet they take no step against it. They should erect an insurmountable barrier against the enemy and organize a firm resistance, they should be ready to die rather than see their churches, schools and homes desecrated by the enemies of Christ. In these hours of trial and danger, their hearts should awaken, but they remain unmoved and indifferent when Our Lord’s rights and interests are involved, for Jesus is not loved. Our faith is languid. Our love is measured out grudgingly to a God Who loves us without measure. That is a great sin which much retards our spiritual progress and that of the souls among whom we labor.
Without ardent charity the true Christian spirit gradually dies out, or brings forth but a scanty harvest, for no other virtue can produce, or make perfect, what love alone begets. Wherever I go, meet with complaints among superiors and inferiors. In the Convent, as in the world, when listening to them, I draw my own conclusions, namely that, as the love of God becomes cooler, people become more and more unhappy and I may declare with St. Paul that the whole perfection of the law — whether in social or in religious circles — consists in charity and charity alone.
Lack of spirit of sacrifice.
The unanimous opinion of the clergy and all who deal with souls is that the spirit of sacrifice is dying out among the rising generation and the idol of self is being set up in its place. “Self” rules supreme. This is only logical, for there is but one Master of self-abnegation, namely, Jesus Christ! The Cross is the only forge in which the metal of personality can be given a Christian shape. Either we passionately love that Master with His Cross, or we replace Him by the idol known as “Self.” And we cannot forget Self unless we greatly love Him Who alone can overcome our selfishness. Those who really love Our Lord always rejoice in their sufferings whatever they may be.
Lack of zeal.
The needs of the Church are growing, but apostles do not come forward to meet them in sufficient number. Many of the faithful take no interest in their brethren’s souls and, although, as we have shown, the movement towards the Heart of Jesus has drawn many to join the ranks of the apostolate, there are others who resist and care nothing for the interests of Our Lord. This is because, in spite of all their pious practices and retreats, they have not really grown in the love of Jesus. They are content to vegetate, satisfied with refraining from all that is not really wrong. If we wish to increase the number of true apostles, rather than the number of workers, let us teach the heart to love.
Lack of Eucharistic fervor.
There is no doubt that, since the days of Pius X, we have gained much in Eucharistic spirit and fervor. What that great Pope did for the God of the Tabernacle will endure and continue to develop. Nevertheless, we have not profited as we might have done by the impetus given by this great Pope. His decree relative to Holy Communion has not yielded the results it should have produced. The words of Pius X, “I desire that the faithful partake frequently of Holy Communion,” can only be realized by love; the fact that we are invited to the banquet is not sufficient, there must be hunger for Jesus! there must be love before, during and after receiving Holy Communion. Let us draw ever closer to Jesus by putting our whole confidence in Him. Intimacy with Jesus should be more widely preached and we should train ourselves in self-abandonment to the Heart of Jesus, exciting within our souls a great hunger and thirst for sacrifice and souls, all for love of Jesus. Real lovers of Jesus cannot let even a single day pass without receiving Him in the Sacred Host.
Scourging by friends.
Here I should like to bring to a close this talk on reparation; but it would be cowardice on my part if, when speaking of the sins of friends, I were silent about that one which has provoked sorrow and righteous anger in our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI. I refer to the great sin of immodesty, of shamelessness among many Catholics and even, as the Pope says, among the pious and devout.
I think, nay, I am certain, that the indignation of the Vicar of Christ exactly reflects the deep wound inflicted on the Sacred Heart, a wound rendered crueller still by the fact that so few have obeyed the Pope by changing their behavior in this matter. This canker is eating away the best elements of Christian society, insensibly perverting and paganizing families which are by tradition Christian and religious; immodesty and frivolity mask a true carnival of sin.
I fear the wanton disregard shown by many Christians for the Pope’s grief — and for his explicit pronouncements on decorum in dress — will bring a curse on those who are still grieving the Sovereign Pontiff. I hope I am mistaken, but I feel that I am not. Woe to those women who incur the responsibility of many a grave sin by going about insufficiently and immodestly clad! Woe to those mothers who tolerate these abuses in their daughters and let their little ones go about half dressed, thus accustoming them to a nudity which the Church condemns and who — on the pretext that their children are innocent — culpably disobey the Pope and Bishops. If such mothers only knew what they are laying up for themselves later on! But they foolishly imagine they know better than their Pastors. Today they smile, careless of the consequences; tomorrow, alas! their tears will choke them!
I am not alluding to evil-minded, worldly people, I am lamenting an inconceivable aberration on the part of persons who are actually frequent communicants. May Our Blessed Lord pardon them! How are we to explain this incredible blindness, this tenacity in following indecent fashions, in a professedly good Catholic woman? Is this depravity on her part? No, but she loves herself much more than she loves Jesus Christ. Hence the absurd anomaly of her wearing an immodestly low-necked dress and yet displaying a medal of the Immaculate Virgin or bearing within her heart the Sacred Host.
Ahl Jesus, did they but truly love Thee with the passion of a bride for her newly-wedded spouse, or the rapture of a mother for her little babe, they could never thus offend Thee. A wife who truly loves her husband will never dress in a manner displeasing to him. But how few fear to offend Thee, Jesus, the Love of loves.
O Immaculate Queen, of thy mercy work a great miracle in Christian homes for the glory of Jesus and to close the gates of hell to many souls. Tear away the thick veil which blinds so many women to this evil which the Roman Pontiff deplores so bitterly. But above all, O sweetest Mother, instill into their hearts a passionate love of Jesus that will lift them above the follies of the world which incites them to set even the lowest passions before Thy Jesus, His Heart and His law.
As you see, I have but one idea: “to make Jesus loved.” This is my solution to all difficulties. Christ loved and much loved is the infallible and divine panacea for all evils. You may remember the simple and profound words of the Little Flower: “For my part, I do not want to be little, mortified and humble that I may learn to love. That is not my way. I wish to love in order to be little, I wish to grow in love that I may be mortified, I wish above all to love much that I may be very humble.” The surest method and the shortest way in the spiritual life is to begin by love, to go on by love and to reach the crowning point by love.
Beginning with ourselves, dear apostles, let us make reparation for our want of true love and meditate upon the first commandment of the old law and of the law of grace: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength.
Love, and you will be good Catholics. Love, and you will be faithful friends of the Divine King. Love, and you will be His heralds and apostles.
Parce Domine! Spare O Lord !
Adauge Amorem! Increase our love!
← Prior Chapter 17 – The Spirit of Apostleship
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Next →: Chapter 19 – Mary, Mother of Fair Love and Queen of the Heart of Jesus