I am, for the first time in recent memory, unsure of where to begin speaking on this beautiful topic. I am currently amid an ever-growing stack of writings, perusing a cavalcade of medieval and ancient texts, and therefore my mind is surrounded by the idyllic truths of thousands of years ago. Just as Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles,
hoped that he could remain on Mount Tabor with the Transfigured Christ, so too do I wish that I could remain in a haze of olden languages and stalwart philosophers. Yet, this day beckons us to go out into the world and share what we learn.
Though our daydreams may end, our hopes do not likewise need cease. Assuredly, the majority of our country is disgusted at the demands of a boisterous few, and most of us likely wish that we could live once more in a time when it was acceptable to be Christian, to have a large family, or to simply hold to our beliefs. Jesus, however, reminds us that a life of faith is going to be inconvenient at best and externally despised at worst. Always, though, we remember that “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us” (Rom. 8:18). Even when it seems like no answer is forthcoming, “The righteous cry out, the Lord hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed” (Ps. 34:18-19).
Bishop Augustine, addressing the words of this Psalm, notes that “God is High: let a Christian be lowly. … [Y]ou raise yourself and do not touch Him; you humble yourself
and He descends into you” (Ennar. in Ps., XXXIV.XXII). When we allow Him to raise us up in our hardship, He does so with unimaginable mercy. He gives to us what we most need when we’re experiencing heartbreak and seek His love. Though illness and disease are evils in this mortal existence, God has mercy on us as we endure such afflictions and reminds us that He has not abandoned us by offering to us His solace and comfort.
This Divine Mercy perdures even after death, in the form of Purgatory. To add an enjoyable quote from a class I taught this year, even the cautiously Protestant author C.S. Lewis wrote: “Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, ‘It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will [scold] you with these things…. Enter into the joy.’? Should we not reply, ‘With submission, sir, [but] if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first’” (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 20).
Whether in this life, stained with burden and difficulty, or in the next, awaiting the triumphant entry into the heavens (for those in Purgatory, that is), we are surrounded
by a Divine Mercy more powerful than any inconvenience, affliction, or suffering that might futilely threaten to draw us from Our God.