Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In an infinite furnace


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The very nature of the love of God is that it must suffer in the face of sin; for it consumes, perfects and purifies all that it touches.  If we surrender to this love then we shall come to share in its qualities.  To abide in Christ, then, is to endure the trials that He in His love and wisdom deigns to give to our souls.  It is to enter into the crucible of His Heart - an infinite furnace.

The love of God is as incomprehensible and mysterious as God Himself. In truth, God is love: Deus caritas est. When we surrender ourselves to this God of love, when we rest on His fatherly bosom, we find ourselves in an infinite furnace. “Our God is a consuming fire,” a fire which tends to consume everything that stands in the way of union. When, therefore , this fire comes into contact with imperfection, it produces suffering. Weighted down with the sins of men (“ Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows”), Jesus became “an accursed one” and “sin” itself for our sake: “Being made a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” From the first moment of the Incarnation, He flung Himself onto the bosom of the Father with love and perfect abandonment. And the Father loved Him with a perfect love: “The Father loved the Son and gave all things into His hand”— Pater enim diligit Filium et omnia dedit ei in manu. Christ is “the Son of His love.” And yet, see how the God of love dealt with Him, delivering Him up to be spat upon, scourged,  crowned with thorns, steeped in the anguish of Calvary. Thus will it be with us if we surrender to Love. Jesus, however, has gone before us. He has carried the greater part of our crosses and has left us only the small part required by the wisdom and the justice of His Father in order that, by our sufferings, we might be able to fill up those things that are wanting to the Passion of Christ. Our dependence upon the will of the Father is the homage which is due to Him as the First Principle of all things. God needs no one; He can raise up instruments to carry out His plans as He pleases. Still, our utter dependence upon Him— in everything He wills or permits—honours Him. That is the one thing He asks of us. All who seek God sincerely sooner or later endure trials. That is necessary in order to be able to make progress of any kind. “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit.” “And every branch that beareth fruit My Father will cleanse, that it may bear more fruit.” “Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” It is with us as with nature, which must die, in a sense, every year and remain in the icy grip of winter. It seems to die, but that death is necessary before spring can come. So it is with your soul because God has found pleasure in it. I shall pray every day that God may make you submissive and humbly abandoned into His hands and so be able to realise the designs which His love and His wisdom have over your soul.

Marmion, Blessed Columba