Friday, March 21, 2008

Wisdom from… (20 Mar)

AELRED OF RIEVAULX (1109–1167): Always ready to forgive

Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of affection, love, and imperturbable calm—Father, forgive them—and not at once embrace his enemies with all his love? Father, he says, forgive them. Could any prayer be more full of gentleness and love?

Yet he added something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wished also to excuse them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little understanding. Therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is they are nailing to the cross. If they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. Therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognize my glory. Therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

If we wish to experience fully the joy of loving our brothers and sisters, we must embrace with real love even our enemies. To prevent this fire of divine love from being cooled by the injuries we receive, let us keep the eyes of our soul always fixed on the serene patience of our beloved Lord and Savior.
(Mirror of Love 3, 5: PL 195, 582.)

Aelred was a member of the Cistercian Order who later became abbot of Rievaulx and was noted for his theological and spiritual writings.

History is the temporally extended mode of Christ's kenosis as God incarnate. Lessing's ditch, namely, that the vagaries and distances of history render it impossible to place faith in Christ, is but the historical form of the same protests against faith which faced the Apostles when they saw Christ face to face. The humility of Christ "hiding his face" extends even into the vagaries and lashings critical historians might like to give Him. Father, forgive them, they know not the inner glory of history, Christ hidden and given in the Eucharist, the one true axis of past, present, and future.

ST AUGUSTINE: Help for a Complete Conversion

When we transform our old life and give our spirit a new image, we find it very hard and tiring to turn back from the darkness of earthly passions to the serene calm of the divine light. We thus ask God to help us that a complete conversion may be brought about in us.
-- Commentary on Psalm 6, 5

Prayer. Because of your Name may you have mercy on me according to your great mercy, Lord, and by no means abandon the work you have begun but complete what is imperfect in me.
-- Confessions 10, 4


To receive Holy Communion every week we must be free of mortal sin and have no affection for venial sin. We should also have a great desire to go to Communion. To go to Communion every day it is necessary, in addition, that we have overcome most of our evil inclinations and that we have consulted our spiritual director.
(INT. Part II, Ch. 20; O. III, p. 118)

Never take the Mass for granted! Otherwise you are only taking yourself for granted! To spurn a great gift is in fact to spurn one's own capacity for love as a human being created in the image of God.


I HAVE no sympathy with international aggression when it is taken seriously, but I have a certain dark and wild sympathy with it when it is quite absurd. Raids are all wrong as practical politics, but they are human and imaginable as practical jokes. In fact, almost any act of ragging or violence can be forgiven on this strict condition––that it is of no use at all to anybody. If the aggression gets anything out of it, then it is quite unpardonable. It is damned by the least hint of utility or profit. A man of spirit and breeding may brawl, but he does not steal. A gentleman knocks off his friend's hat, but he does not annex his friend's hat.
('All Things Considered.')

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