Friday, June 24, 2022

“Till He Send Forth Judgment Unto Victory.”

“Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul hath been well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not contend, nor cry out, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. The bruised reed he shall not break: and smoking flax he shall not extinguish: till he send forth judgment unto victory.” – Matthew 12, 18-20, citing Isaiah 42, 1-3, the first of the Suffering Servant passages.

St Francis Xavier with the Sacred Heart, painted in Japan in the 17th century, now in the Municipal Museum of Kobe. The Jesuits were traditionally great promoters of devotion to the Sacred Heart. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
NLM is not about politics or social issues, and that is not going to change. But it is about liturgy, which is part (the most important part) of the Church’s prayer life, and today’s events in the United States coincide with two liturgical events in a remarkable demonstration of what Dom Mark Kirby of Silverstream Priory once very nicely described as God’s liturgical providence. The horrific evil and injustice represented by Roe v. Wade and subsequent confirming decisions has been overturned on the feast of the Sacred Heart, which the Church, commanded by the Lord Himself, instituted to remind us of His everlasting love and mercy for all of mankind. Although it is transferred in most places this year, today is also the date on which the Church celebrates the Birth of St John Baptist, who when he was alive in his mother’s womb, recognized the presence of the Redeemer, in whose living body that same Heart was already beating, and leapt for joy. And lest anyone suspect that this might just be a happy set of coincidences, it is also the anniversary of the birth of Nellie Gray, the noted pro-life activist and founder of the annual March for Life, who passed away in 2012; she would have turned 98 today. (Gray regularly attended the traditional Mass at St Mary, Mother of God in Washington, D.C.
There are, I think, some good lessons to be had from this moment of liturgical providence.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade does not mean that the scourge of legal abortion will end in the United States; far from it. As any informed person already knows, the matter is returned to where it stood 50 years ago, to be dealt with legally by the individual states, so this battle is far from won. And, things and times being what they are, much of the anger that this decision will provoke will be directed at the Catholic Church. (Since the decision was leaked last month, there has been a notable spike in vandalizations of churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and such; the church I most often attend has hired armed security to be present for all large public Masses.) The Church may well have much to suffer now, in order to bear witness to the self-evident truth that there can never be any such thing as a “right” to kill the innocent. Devotion to the Sacred Heart calls upon us to be meek and lowly of heart as Christ is, and that may well mean to bear injuries in this world as He did, but (as the sermon I heard this morning very wisely noted) meekness is not the same as weakness. Let us therefore commend our lives as Christians to the Sacred Heart of Him who said that they are blessed who suffer for righteousness’ sake, and in It, find the strength to bear these sufferings.
Sad to say, many members of the Catholic Church, some of them very prominent in public life, will continue to aggressively support the fictitious right to kill the innocent, and sadder still, many of them will be tacitly supported in doing so by the silence or dissimulation of some of our own prelates. It is easy enough to allow the righteous anger one feels over this state of affairs to kill within us that charity which the Lord commands us to have towards all men. But as Pope Pius XI wrote in his encyclical on the feast of the Sacred Heart Miserentissimus Redemptor, Christ instituted the devotion to His Sacred Heart precisely because “the charity of (his) faithful was becoming less fervent.” Let us therefore also remember to commend all those who awake within us sentiments of righteous anger, especially if they are either civil and religious leaders, to the Sacred Heart, so that our charity and theirs may increase and not decrease in these difficult times.
The Visitation of the Virgin Mary, by Giotto, in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, 1303-6.
Lastly, in regard to the Birth of St John the Baptist, let it not be forgotten that it is intimately connected with the Visitation of the Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, an act of charity towards a pregnant woman. Tomorrow, the day of the week dedicated to the Virgin Mary, will be the feast of Her Immaculate Heart in the post-Conciliar rite; the next Saturday will be the traditional day for the feast of the Visitation, then July 9th will be free for Her Saturday Office, and July 16th, the feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel (which has now become, for the time being, an anniversary of lamentation for another great injustice.) These days should all be used to commend to the Virgin Mother all those women who stand in need of help and charity because of a pregnancy, and to God, the final and lasting victory against all injustice.

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