Nella festa della Madonna della Mercede, posto questo bell'articolo, in lingua inglese, dal blog Rorate coeli.
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Mercy True and False
The Prodigal Son
I’ve been thinking a lot in the past year about “mercy.” One could legitimately call it the very heart and soul of Christianity: Our Lord came down to save us out of His unspeakable mercy. Notably, St. Thomas Aquinas holds that mercy is the greatest of the divine attributes. The traditional Latin Mass gives consummate expression to this consoling truth:
It has often struck me just how saturated the traditional liturgy is with mercy, —far more so than the modern Roman rite. Leaving aside the few texts shared in common between the two forms of the rite, here are some of the many invocations of God’s greatest attribute that are prayed each time the old Mass is celebrated—and at the old Mass. I will also cite the Roman Canon, because, although it is permissible at the new Mass, it is rarely used in most communities.
One could also mention how the penitential litany of is repeated nine times, and the with its beseeching “miserére nobis,” is said far more often, usually several times a week. There are many other texts, too, that speak of salvation, remedy, favor, and forgiveness in such a way that the note of mercy is strongly sounded.
Perhaps the reason so few are aware of this magnificent liturgy of mercy is that so few are intimately familiar with the spiritual riches of the traditional Mass—even, one regrets to say, Catholics who may attend it but who take little care to become acquainted with its prayers. It only gets worse when we step outside the traditional enclave. To a large number of Catholics, this outmoded and superseded “Latin Mass” is supposed to be the refuge of intolerant social misfits, judgmental cranks, misogynists, and who knows what other kinds of worn-out relics—a world in which there can be no mercy, because it still clings to absolute dogma, to strict morals against which it is easy to sin, and to a time-honored way of doing things that draws a line in the sand. That the traditional liturgy is, in fact, a veritable school and reservoir of divine mercy is the very last thought that would occur to them.
Having been reminded of the authentic Gospel by the liturgy that is its flawless mirror, it is difficult not to be reminded, with a sense of betrayal, of members of the Church’s hierarchy who today are preaching a false Gospel of pseudo-mercy. Today, the contrast between true mercy and false mercy confronts us everywhere. What the world is really clamoring for is not mercy, but indulgence in sin. The sinner wants to be told that he is good, he is fine, he’s doing well, he cares about the poor, he tolerates everyone, and therefore it doesn’t matter what he believes or how he acts. Moreover, he wants to think that the way to show mercy to others is to tolerate or applaud anything and everything they think and do, because “who am I to judge?”
Although many Catholics have refuted this postmodern feebleness—especially in their vigorous defenses of the indissolubility of marriage, contra Cardinal Kasper and his minions—I find the clearest and most concise:
As we know from Scripture, Tradition, liturgy, and the lives of the saints, God’s mercy is quite different. He demands conversion, repentance, abandoning the sin, embarking on the hard road of virtue, embracing the Cross—and doing this as many times as it takes, stumbling, falling, and yet getting up again, until God is truly the One loved above all things and in all things. His is a mercy that heals by cauterizing the wound, removing debris, resetting broken bones, taking away self-indulgences that are fatal to us: it is, in the famous phrase, a severe mercy. God’s mercy is bound up in His penetrating judgment of our souls, which, says T. S. Eliot, “questions the distempered part” (East Coker).
St. Augustine never tires of reminding us in his that he himself did not want to be healed, he was running away from God, and yet the divine Lover of souls chased after him and intervened decisively in his life. And he had to change, completely. As he says: “You are ever close upon the heels of those who flee from You, for You are at once God of Vengeance and Fount of Mercy, and You turn us to Yourself by ways most wonderful” ( IV, 4, 7).
We will never be vessels and ambassadors of mercy to the world unless we act from a right understanding and acceptance of strong and demanding mercy towards The traditional liturgy is constantly invoking that awesome mercy, which is our salvation, our consolation, our hope against hope. True mercy heals because it is radiant with the light of truth and so restores us to our Christian dignity. As St. Leo the Great preached:
Let us fittingly give the sacred liturgy the final word: