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§ 7. The Sacred Humanity of Christ.
Remember, I pray thee, what thy sweet Jesus (who is thy God, thy Lord, thy Father, and thy Brother) has done for thee, and devoutly give Him thanks. He was made man for thee. He was always and everywhere mindful of thee, and had thee before the eyes of His mind, doing and suffering all things willingly for thy salvation. Behold, and in thy measure imitate, His humility, resignation, patience, charity, gentleness, modesty, continence, sobriety, and the other holy virtues which shine forth most perfectly in Him. The Life of Christ is a most excellent book, common to the learned and unlearned, to the 180perfect and to the imperfect who desire to please God. He who studies this book well, becomes extremely wise, and easily obtains the forgiveness of sins, the mortification of evil passions, enlightenment of mind, peace and tranquillity of conscience, and firm confidence in God with sincere love of Him. Even if all the writings that are in the whole world were to perish, the Life and Passion of Christ would abundantly suffice to teach all virtue and truth to every Christian Consider and receive each thing that Jesus did and endured, as if He had done and endured it for thee alone. Nor are these things of less advantage to thee than if thou alone hadst been redeemed by Christ. And if thou alone hadst been to be redeemed, t would for thee alone most readily have been incarnate have suffered and died; so greatly does He thirst for thy salvation, and so ardently does He love thee.
Keep His worshipful Passion hidden like a precious pearl in the casket of thy heart, and reflect upon it with a grateful mind. Behold, thy Lord out of His excessive charity willed to undergo unworthy and cruel things, that He might satisfy for thy sins and redeem thee. Fill thy mind with sweet images of His Passion, and plant in the midst of thy heart the flowering tree of our Lord’s Cross. Choose for the most dear Spouse of thy soul the same Lord Jesus crucified and pierced with wounds, and lovingly contemplate and embrace Him. For out of His roseate and life-giving Wounds now mellifluous streams of graces. He who is able to apply the lips of his soul to His 181open Side and to dwell there, and who has reached the depths of His Heart, he assuredly tastes the wine of eternal life, and perceives how sweet a paradise Jesus is. It can neither be written, nor comprehended in thought, how much fruit a humble man of good-will gains from pious meditation on the Passion of our Lord. Although he may with but moderate affection read or meditate on any point of the Life and Passion of Christ, he cannot but derive great benefit from it; as he who handles flour must of necessity have his fingers sprinkled with it. But he who contemplates the same Passion of our Lord with many tears, but yet neglects true humility, patience, resignation, and charity, will certainly reap little or no fruit from his meditation.
Be not cast down if God does not in this life raise thee to high degrees of contemplation; but beseech Him earnestly to give thee a good, humble, and resigned will, and to keep it in thee to the end; ask of Him that thou mayest ever live according to His gracious good pleasure. And since thou hast not strength wherewith to take a lofty flight, do thou remain under the wings of the most loving eternal Wisdom incarnate for thee, as a little, chicken remains under the wings of the hen. Hide thyself and repose in the sacred Humanity of Christ. This will be indeed to thee, as it were, a secure vessel in the stormy ocean of the present life, in which thou mayest reach the haven of salvation, even though thou mayest not attain to the fuller knowledge of the Divinity here, where doubtless “the body is a load upon the soul, and the earthly habitation presseth 182down the mind that museth upon many things” (Wisdom ix. 15). But thou wouldst have a clearer perception of the Divinity, if the most High God were to irradiate thy mind with frequent Hashes of light and to transform thee into the divine; brightness.
Thou shouldst however, (as we have elsewhere admonished thee), look upon Christ with the eyes of thy mind not as Man only, but as true God and true Man; look upon Him as the noble gem of divine excellence, and the surpassing flower of human dignity. Albeit thou art unable more perfectly to behold the brilliant rays of the Divinity; thou canst nevertheless believe that the same glorious Divinity dwells in the Humanity and Body of Christ as in a worshipful temple. If thou believest this, and thus considerest the Humanity of Christ, thou wilt not wander far from His Divinity, but wilt sufficiently and profitably remember it.
When for the salvation of the world the only-begotten Son of God was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He assumed what He was not and remained what He was. For He assumed a body and a reasonable soul; He assumed, I say, complete manhood and remained God. The Divine nature and the human nature (which are very different) were marvellously united. The God head was not changed into flesh (for the Divine nature is unchangeable), but the manhood was assumed into God. Each nature remained whole and unimpaired, with its own properties. Then, therefore, the Eternal Word, the rational soul, and human flesh were united 183in one Person; so that those three are one Person, one Christ. Because of this admirable union the Most Holy Soul of Christ from the first moment of its creation ever clearly contemplated the glorious Trinity.
Wherefore during the Passion and while Christ hung upon the Cross, He. in the higher portion of His Soul, enjoyed the Beatific vision of the Godhead, as He now enjoys it in heaven; yet at the same time in His Body, and in the lower and sensitive powers of His Soul, He was afflicted with the direst torments. And that His Passion might be more cruel, He permitted not any consolation to overflow from the superior portion of His Soul into the inferior and sensitive portion. Hence seeing Himself on the Cross so afflicted and destitute of consolation, He as man exclaimed:—“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (St. Matth. xxvii. 46). He the Son of the Living God, the Word and Wisdom of the Father, the true and uncreated Light, is everywhere present according to His Divine nature, and is equal to the Father and the Holy Ghost; but, according to his human nature, He is less than the Father and the Holy Ghost, and even than Himself; for that which is created cannot be equal to the Creator. And, indeed, the Manhood of the Lord Jesus is the very gate by which we can enter into His Godhead.
Perchance thou wishest to hear more expressly, when God the Trinity created the Body and Soul of Christ; listen therefore. The instant that the Blessed Virgin Mary, by her humble resignation, gave her consent, 184saying to the Angel who announced to her the Incarnation of the Son of God, “Behold the hand maid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word” (St. Luke i. 38): the Holy Ghost descended upon her, and in a moment He with the Father and the Son formed, out of the most pure Mood of the same Holy Virgin, a little human Body, perfect and complete in all its members; He created at the same moment a rational soul which at the same instant of time He united to that little Body. The bodies of other infants have their members formed, not at once, but by degrees; and when they are perfected in their mother’s womb, God in a moment creates a soul, and in creating it places it in the body.
As we have said, the Humanity of Christ is the way and the gate, by which we reach the Godhead; nor can any one safely aspire to the repose of sublime contemplation and divine union, unless he strives diligently to imitate the most holy virtues of Christ, and by devout meditation to impress upon his mind the beloved image of His Humanity.185
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