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tion which raises it to the rank of Holy of holies. Finally, it is the worthy dwelling-place of the Word of God; and in beautifying, adorning, and perfecting it, the Eternal Father lavished with liberal hand all the treasures of His omnipotence, the Son those of His wisdom, and the Holy Ghost those of His love.
Moreover, the beauty of the body of Christ is ravishing because of the perfect symmetry of its parts, because of the amiability expressed in the countenance, the tender sweetness that beams forth from the eyes, the serene majesty which is stamped upon the forehead, the sweet melody of the voice, and that holy ray of love which lights up all, and proclaims the Redeemer to be all mildness, all gentleness.
II. But if the body of Christ our Lord is so beautiful and so lovable, what must be the beauty of His soul? It is so great, that to place it in comparison with the beauty of all the angels and all the saints, would be as absurd as to compare the dazzling brilliancy of the sun to the flickering light of a taper. His memory is the living mirror which ever reflects, retains, and contemplates the Divine perfections. In His intellect "are hid all the treagu.ru of wisdom and knowledge" (a); for from the first instant of its creation it contemplated the Divine essence and all its infinite perfections "face to face"; that is, with an intuitive and most sublime knowledge. His will is the continual exercise of the most sublime virtues, and a torch ever burning with the most intense love of God. This blessed soul is adorned with all the other gifts of the Holy Ghost, and with a habitual grace, so excellent and sublime
(a) Colossians ii, 3.
that it surpasses the comprehension of men and angels. Who is it, then, that will not feel himself melting with the fire of the love of the most sacred humanity of Christ, in which were united a body so beautiful, and a soul enriched with every precious gift?
Consider the excellence of Christ by reason of His Divinity. Nothing elevates and ennobles the most sacred humanity of Jesus, so much as the Divine nature which is united to it. This is that sublime excellence of the dignity of Christ, which the blessed spirits in heaven, lost in bewilderment, are ever contemplating. For what can be more stupendous than that the human nature should subsist by means of the Divine person; should be substantially united to the Word; and form one whole with the Divine nature, in such manner that, by the "communication of idioms" (as theologians say), whatever can be predicated of God may be also predicated of Jesus Christ; and again, that the qualities which are proper and natural to man, may be also predicated of God? Thus, we may say that God is weak, in sorrow, in agony; and we may also say, that man is immense, omnipotent, infinite. And who will not be lost in amazement, when he reflects that the humanity of Christ is penetrated by the Divinity more thoroughly than the red-hot iron is penetrated by the fire, the air by light, and the crystal by the rays of the sun?
Moreover, Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God, sitting at His right hand; He is all things, and by Him and in Him all things exist, and without Him all things are nothing. He it was that established peace between God and man; He is our advocate at the tribunal of Divine justice; He "blotted out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross" (a). How ardent then ought to be our love for Jesus, the prodigy of Divine omnipotence, the compendium of every excellence, the beginning and the end of our salvation It—and yet, who would believe it! Neither this ravishing beauty, nor such surpassing excellencenor the great love which He has exhibited in our regard, can induce us to love Him! Ah, Jesus! Thou art all inflamed with love of us, and we are so ungrateful as not to love Thee in return!
The love of Christ towards us. Now examine who it is that loves, whom He loves, and in what manner He loves him. (1.) 0 man! He who loves thee is the Son of God, the King of glory, the Lord of heaven and earth. (2.) The being whom He loves is nothingness and sin, rottenness and ashes, an ungrateful and rebellious monster, a slave of hell and of his own vile passions, who by his repeated sins is ever crucifying anew the Son of God. (3.) The manner, finally, in which He loves you, knows no measure; it is immense, infinite. Through love of you He made an entire sacrifice of Himself, and of all that He possessed—the comforts of home and of riches, the pleasures of soul and body, His reputation and His honour, His health and even His life. Through love of you He endured the most gross contempt, the direst poverty, the most excruciating
(a) Colossians ii. 14.
torments, and, finally, a most cruel death. He offered up for you that life which He did not offer up for the sins of the angels, thus preferring your nature to that of the heavenly spirits.
Moreover, Jesus loves you with a continual love: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (a). With a constant love: "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (b). With a love that showed forth His excessive benevolence towards you, for "when as yet we were sinners, .... Christ died for us" (e). With a gratuitous love, for He foresaw that we would repay all His love with the most enormous offences. Still more, He issued a command that everyone, were he even your most bitter enemy, should love you, saying: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you " (d); and He threatens eternal punishment in hell to such as do not love you. Moreover, He has entirely given you Himself in the Blessed Eucharist; He has made Himself your food, your drink, your medicine. And shall we not love Jesus in return for such boundless love? and shall our heart love the most vile creatures, and not burn with love for Jesus? Shall it be cold as ice, and harder than bronze or the diamond, only in the case of Jesus t Ah! we will exclaim with the apostle, "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema" (e).
(a) Jeremias xxxi. 3. (6) John xiii. 1.
(c) Romans v. 8. (d) Luke vi. 27.
(e) 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
I believe, 0 my Lord Jesus Christ, that you are God and man, constituted by the Eternal Father heir of all things, by whom and in whom all things were made. I believe that as God you are endowed with all the Divine perfections; that as man you possess all graces and virtues; and that as Redeemer you are enriched with the most sublime gifts and prerogatives. I adore Thee with the most profound humility, on account of Thy infinite perfection. Oh, King of kings and Lord of lords; I recognize in Thee my supreme master, and I lay at Thy feet my devotion, submission, and dutiful services, desiring that, in union with me, "all the earth should adore Thee, and sing a psalm to Thy name" (a).
I rejoice with and congratulate Thee, O Lord, with all my heart, because of the wisdom, the holiness, the power, the beauty, and the glory with which Thou art adorned; and, also, because of that honour which is reflected on Thee by so many generous martyrs, by so many holy confessors, and by so many virgins who emulate the purity of the angels. Oh, would to God that I, too, following Thee, my leader and my king, in the third degree of humility, might be able to add even ever so little to Thy happiness and Thy glory! Oh, would to God, that all men knew Thee as their Creator, reverenced Thee as their Lord, loved Thee as their Father, listened to Thee as their Master, followed Thee as their Leader, and imitated Thee in the love of poverty, of sufferings, and of humiliations.
(a) Psalm Ixv. 4.