Octave of Mercy
A week ago we were still reveling in the Octave of Easter; reveling in its culmination, even, in Divine Mercy Sunday. This morning I had a brilliant inspiration that in order to keep our Easter enthusiasm stoked, we can celebrate today as Sunday in the Octave of Divine Mercy. It's always a perplexity how to "keep" Easter with the same intensity as we "keep" Lent . . . granted the latter is (for me), at least in the last couple of the six weeks, with an intensity of irritation and fed-upped-ness at the seeming unending character of those 40 days, but talk about unending! Jesus will not be outdone in generosity, and the Easter season really seems to go on forever. Okay, actually it does, with each Sunday of the year a little Easter and Heaven the fulfillment, but the Easter season proper at 7 weeks easily surpasses Lent.
Speaking of Jesus' generosity, I have to tell you the latest good news, the word from St. John Chrysostom that came to me earlier this week. I have the inestimable blessing of continued contact (thank You, Jesus, for email!) with the priest who married me and my husband, and then too the priceless gift of friendships with other priests as well. So just two days ago, a new priest friend recommended St. Basil's treatise on the Holy Spirit in which St. Basil says the Holy Spirit speaks to us in 3 ways. First, through the Fathers of the Church (of whom St. Basil is one!); second, through our thoughts; and third, through the events of each day. Wow! Years ago I heard the marvelous and too little known truth that the early Fathers of the Church are inspired by the Holy Spirit to a degree surpassed only by the Holy Scriptures . . . and the combination of these endorsements of the Fathers serves to heighten my joy at the Word of God that came to me (as I say, earlier this week) from St. John Chrysostom, sent to me by the dear priest who married us. Are you ready? This is such good news!
In a Paschal Homily, St. John Chrysostom tells us - well, he tells us a lot, and I'm only sharing part of what he says, but even this is quite a bit for little ones, so do your best to read it through, and I'll bold the punch line:
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Ah, most merciful Jesus! How compassionate, how condescending, how kind and sweet You are! Here You speak to us in words reminiscent of those You spoke to us through Marcel: "Let no one bewail his poverty . . ." You are forever gentle of heart, and so You have a gentle word for those of us whose Lenten fasting was less than intense - You always encourage us again and again to come without delay to Your Feast!
I find this an important reminder because, as I said, keeping Easter, continuing to feast, can be a bigger challenge than keeping Lent. Let no reader imagine I've scaled great heights of sanctity in Lent, nor descended to great depths, unless we so identify the new depths of weakness and powerlessness I've discovered within myself. Nonetheless, when it comes to feasting, we're equally pathetic. By the end of Easter Sunday, the children (that would be all of us) are surfeited with treats, and there's still the Octave remaining, not to mention the rest of the Season, in which we are called to use our little feasting to aid our attempts to join in the Great Feast the Church offers.
As Jesus said to Marcel (and I quoted in a previous post - but His truth bears repetition) -
“Come, come, little brother, the goodness of your true Father is without measure, as I have told you many times already. Even if, in His Love, He indulged you in everything, filling all your desires, He would never find it enough for His Love; He would only be afraid that you might not have the strength to receive all His treats. Whatever I do to spoil you, I consider it all as being nothing.” (492)
Ah yes! That's the challenge of Easter: to buttress our strength to receive all His treats!
Hence my inspiration to add to our liturgical feasts in addition to our chocolate fests.
The Church has already added Divine Mercy Sunday.
Privately, I'm adding the Sunday in the Octave of Divine Mercy. For this year, anyhow.
(I'll likely have forgotten by tomorrow, let alone next year; I have a shorter memory than the Church.)
On this new feast I've invented, I'm delighted to report that Jesus' words to Marcel (and us) on this date in 1946 (and 2018) brightly illumine our image of His Mercy. And why not take advantage of all that hard work our little brother did in writing down Jesus' words for us? Returning again and again to Conversations, we will continually find new words and explanations to light our Little Way. And then, instead of Easter glory beginning with a burst of Resurrection Joy on Easter but fading like a beautiful firework that ends too soon, we can find ourselves, as the Season progresses toward Ascension and Pentecost, in the midst of a kind of spiritual firework finale, each sparkling vision more exciting than the one before and surprising a continuous stream of Oohs and Aahs from us.
Take today, for instance. After a charming colloquy between Jesus and Marcel on precisely how Marcel is feeling (his little physical pains, his tiredness, the fish he ate that was full of bones), we come across this dazzling exchange:
Marcel: . . . Little Jesus, I love You a lot. I read in your Gospel a passage where You say: 'If you have faith the size of a grain of mustard, you will say to this mountain: move from here to there and it will move itself . . .' Little Jesus, on that score, I certainly have faith as big as a fist; since without being able to move mountains, I have, however, the power to move even my Father in heaven. My faith is, without doubt, very great to be able to work such a marvel. Is it not, little Jesus?
Jesus: Little brother, what you say is quite correct, but one must understand that the words that I have addressed to men do not apply to material things but solely to spiritual ones. In this text I intend to say that if anyone really has confidence in Love, he will obtain from it all he wishes . . . (445)
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I know it's not Christmas, but do you hear what I hear? (Sorry, I couldn't resist! Awesome spiritual truths, like everything else, seem to bring out the laughter in me as well as in my brother.)
Jesus is treating us to a Divine Commentary on Matthew 17:20, that great saying of His that faith the size of a mustard seed allows us to tell mountains where to park themselves.
I once read a fun novel by Bruce Marshall - Father Malachi's Miracle - about a priest who takes Jesus' words here literally and actually moves a mountain to assist his tending of the flock, but I don't think it was based on a true story . . . And now, just to be sure we're relying on fact and not only glorious fiction, we have Jesus Himself explaining exactly what we can expect. Though He tells us, "The words I have addressed to men do not apply to material things but solely to spiritual ones," we needn't be disappointed or fear that His payoff will fail to satisfy.
Thank you, Marcel, for being alert at your post! What would we do without the next words Jesus told you?
Or better yet, what will we do now that you've written them for us, Fr. Boucher has translated them into French, our good Jack K. has given them to us in English, and the Holy Spirit has dropped them into our laps on this Octave of Mercy? For Jesus continues:
"In this text I intend to say that if anyone really has confidence in Love, he will obtain from it all he wishes."
Holy Moley! This is big news! And yet it has a familiar ring to it. Yes, I know I just quoted it a few lines up (my memory is weak, but so far not that bad), but Jesus' words here are reminding me, rather, of something St. Therese loved to repeat. She often said, “We can never have too much confidence in the good God; He is so mighty and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.”
Okay, then. we've got our Divine Mercy Mandate. It starts, simply enough, with the words Jesus wanted printed below His feet in the Divine Mercy Image: Jesus, I trust in You. And now, as we mine Marcel, we find Our Lord, who is all Mercy, all Love, instructing us that we will obtain all we desire from Love, from Him, if only we offer Him our confidence.
My biggest problem is I forget He is Love, and so I'm grateful that He's being very specific here. He doesn't say, "If anyone really has confidence in Me, He will obtain from Me all He wishes." Of course that is what He means, but He says, so gently, like a father bending down to his child's level, that if we have confidence in Love, then Love will give us all we wish. Oh, I have confidence in Love! Love is patient; love is kind; love is all those other great things St. Paul enumerates in 1 Corinthians 13.
But I could go on forever without saying anything nearly as spectacular as what Jesus says, and He is, after all, the Truth. So then, once more - 3 times will give each Person of the Trinity a chance to tell us how very much we are loved - here is our Divine Mercy Mandate:
If anyone really has confidence in Love, He will obtain from it all he wishes.
And now that we know, triply, that our confidence will obtain all things, let's go for it. Take it as a dare from Marcel and Therese, who said "It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love." Mercy's arms are outstretched to us - let's cast ourselves into them and sigh that we are Home. Then, embraced by Love, we'll whisper our petitions one by one. I'll start.
Jesus, bless the person reading this blog right now - and extend Your blessing, Your Love, to all those in our reader's heart and mind.
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There! I have full confidence that Truth speaks truly and Love will never fail us, so you're good to go.
It's your turn now, and He's ready to give you every good thing, so feel free to ask lots. And speaking of lots, let's not forget to add with Marcel and with a big smile:
Jesus, I love you a lot!
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