Tuesday, March 26, 2013

They Crucified Him: Station XI

This series is not my own work, but all taken from Rev Robert Nash, S.J.'s reflections on the Stations of the Cross: They Crucified Him. I will post one Station a day in these final days before (and concluding on) Good Friday. Here is the Eleventh Station.
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The following extract is from Songs in the Night by a Poor Clare Colletine, and it will serve to introduce the eleventh station in which Jesus is nailed to the cross and raised up upon it. “What each soul is interiorly, face to face with God, unknown to anyone, is of vital consequence to all the human race, and every act of love towards God, every act of faith and adoration, every mute uplifting of the heart, raises the whole church, yea, the whole world, nearer to God. From each soul that is in union with God and at rest in the divine embrace, radiates a spiritual vitality and strength and joy which reaches from end to end of the universe, a source of grace to those least worthy of it and knowing nothing of how and whence it came.”

Thus, the more a soul grows in holiness the more grace it draws down upon other souls. And what is holiness? Is it necessarily saying long prayers or performing frightening penances? No. Such things we find in some of the saints indeed, because by these means they make contact with Christ, the source of holiness, and ease their own cravings to atone to Him for sin. But it is “what each soul is interiorly” that really matters most. Each soul is to come “face to face with God,” and from this source to be filled with God’s own very life and energy — which sharing in His life we call sanctifying grace. The more fully the soul participates in this divine life the more it grows in holiness, and the more widely diffused will be its “spiritual vitality and strength” to save and sanctify other souls.

But before the soul can be filled in this marvellous way with God’s own life, it must first of all be emptied of sin and sinful attachments, and in this eleventh station, Jesus shows how this is to be done. For here, He is crucified, and the soul that would grow in sanctity must be crucified also. “They that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences.” Why? Is it that God delights in seeing His servants and friends suffer? Not at all.

But the gift of His grace can be communicated to a soul only in the measure in which the soul is capable of receiving it, and as long as sin and deliberate sinful desires reign, the streams of the divine life are held in check.

If you want to sow flowers in your garden, you must first uproot the weeds. If you want to pour gold into a vessel already full of mud, you must first make space by throwing the mud out. Now the life of sin is transmitted to us as a sad heritage from Adam, and that is why suffering — “crucifixion” — is necessary. The “space” so to say, in our souls which should be occupied with the life of God is filled with the life of sin and selfishness, and before the divine life can be established and consolidated, the other must be put to death. Every act of self-conquest, every effort to push back the confines of the life of selfishness leaves more “room” for the divine life to expand, and so we pray, in a pregnant phrase put on our lips at Mass, that we may become “capaces sanctae novitatis” (made capable of new holiness). (Final prayer in Mass for Tuesday in Holy Week.) May we deepen the capacity of our souls to contain more and more God’s gift of grace!

That is a thought which we may profitably ponder and examine ourselves upon, as we kneel and watch Him being crucified.

But there is more. Our Lord said: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all things to Myself.” He is crucified first and we have seen the application to ourselves of this first incident in the eleventh station and, after He is nailed, He is elevated on the cross. In the measure in which the soul learns to withdraw by penance from what is sinful, in the same is she too raised nearer to God. She begins to relish the things of God — prayer, especially, and works of zeal. The mind is now absorbingly interested in what concerns God and His glory, so absorbed indeed that it is difficult for her to bother about anything else. The news of the day, the ways and means of making money, the pleasures which were formerly such a source of delight and excitement — these things have lost all their charm, for the soul has discovered other interests which are dearly perceived to surpass immeasurably in importance the trivialities upon which many men pour out their time and affections. Through the force of God’s grace, the soul too is “lifted up” into the bracing air of the supernatural.

Just as the trembling little thrush lying in your hand, will spring, by the very force of its nature, into the glorious freedom of the open sky the moment you release your hold, so the soul delivered from the bondage of sin, soars swiftly into the light of God. And just as Our Lord promised to ‘draw all to Himself’, so too the soul, when freed herself and exulting in her new-found happiness, must needs share her treasure with other souls. Perhaps, like the Little Flower, it will be the soul’s vocation to remain near to the source of this divine life and by prayer and sacrifice to open the sluice-gates of grace and in this way bring salvation to men. Perhaps the soul, intoxicated with divine love, will “leave God for God,” by engaging in the works of the active apostolate. Which it is to be is God’s will to decide, but in either case the object is the same — to be “a source of grace, reaching from end to end of the universe.”


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