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Brookline Carmel Bulletin                        

April 2, 1961

 

Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)

 

He is Risen

 

Open to me the gates of justice; I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord.  This gate is the Lord’s; the just shall enter it.  I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior.  The stone, which the builders rejected, has become the cornerstone.  By the Lord this has been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.  This is the day the Lord has made, Let us be glad and rejoice in it.  (Psalm 117, 19-24)

 

These verses recall a story they tell of Michelangelo, the greatest genius of the Renaissance.  One day he happened upon a block of the very finest marble.  Because it had been hacked into a misshapen mass by some clumsy would-be artist, it had been judged worthless and was discarded.  Unwilling to see that beautiful stone unused, Michelangelo set his genius to work upon it.  The piece of sculpture that emerged was his very famous statue of the young David, a work that excites the wonder and admiration of all who gaze upon it.

 

When He created human life, God had wrought a truly noble work, making it in His own image and likeness.  By the gift of free will that likeness was given into man’s custody; he was charged with the task of fashioning it into an even more perfect, a supernatural, image of God.  Adam, our common father, to whom fell the necessity of making the first few master strokes, bungled miserably.  So badly, that the natural image and likeness of God in us was badly disfigured, and, practically speaking, the possibility of effecting His supernatural likeness all but destroyed.  Ever since then the profane history of the world has been the record of man’s unaided attempt (though he may not have been aware of it) to restore that image to its pristine splendor, and to deify it.  The dream of every conqueror, empire-builder, or what have you, has been to refashion society into a Paradise of their own devising.  Even the atheistic Communists think that their madness can lead to that ideal, eventually.  But we who are familiar with sacred History (the Scriptures) know that all merely human methods are doomed to fail.  The reason, too, we know.  Human builders have rejected what alone can serve as the cornerstone, the Cross.  The Cross is the key to the gate of justice.  It alone brings peace and the Kingdom of Heaven into the soul.  The just alone shall enter therein because they alone are just who conform themselves to the suffering Lord.

 

In a burst of exultation the Church in her Easter liturgy cries out:  This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us be glad and rejoice in it.  What does she mean, ‘day’?  It does not mean, obviously, the twenty-four hours of the Feast of Easter, but a period of time characterized by a special set of circumstances.  We speak of George Washington’s ‘day’ as the time during which he was alive and active.  More particularly, we speak of his day’ as the time during which he accomplished his most notable deeds.  It was the time in which his special genius held sway.  The ‘day’ which the Lord has made is now.  It began with the Resurrection and is still working its marvelous effects.  Its power and efficacy lives on in the Mass, the Sacraments, in everything that brings with it an increase of divine grace.  What Jesus did for the whole human race by His Cross (because He is the New Adam) we do for ourselves with Him and in Him.  We restore the natural image of God in us to its original beauty, and we go on from there to holiness of life.  We can rightly say to Him and to the Cross:  I will give thanks to you for you have answered me (have we not cried out to Him in our helplessness) and have been my Saviour.  We found it impossible, unaided, to satisfy our hunger and thirst for Justice.  We bungled miserably every time   we refused the Cross.  The suffering sent us by God is the divine ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ which transmutes the basest metal (our wretchedness) into the purest gold (supernatural virtue).  It is truly marvelous in our eyes.

 

This ‘day’ of the Lord is eternal, since the Cross will never lose its power and virtue.  A true Christian is, therefore, a joyful man.  He can’t be anything else because he has in his possession the key to eternal life and peace and nobody can take it from him.  How can anyone?  First of all, the Resurrection of Jesus is an accomplished fact.  No distortion of history can efface it.  And again, no one can take suffering from us.  It dogs our heels as closely as our own shadow.  We bear in our bodies the very cause of all suffering; we are fallen men in a fallen world.  Only the loss of Faith can separate us from the Cross.  But by Faith we hold it fast, we identify ourselves with it.  We can, therefore, cry out with St. Paul:  O death, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting?  Yes, this is the day the Lord has made, and it is wonderful in our eyes.  Let us rejoice and be glad therein.

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