A Homily by Abbot Philip Anderson

Abbot Philip Anderson

The Right Reverend Philip Anderson will present two spiritual conferences for Lent, “Paradise Lost: The Rugged Road of the Beatitudes.” The talks will be presented at Annunication Church, (1618 Texas Street  Houston, TX 77003) Saturday March 12, 830am-1230pm. The event will include a celebration of the Mass (extraordinary form, per the custom of the Congregation of Solesmes). The following is a homily given by the Abbot on the Sunday after the Abbatial blessing (Mercy Sunday, April 11, 2010) (Find this homily and other homilies on their website, here)

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Your Excellency,
Right Reverend Fathers,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My very dear sons,
             Mercy is the most divine of things.  Like the living and acting Word of God, but more piercing even than any double-edged sword (Hebr. 4:12), mercy has a double action: it blesses both him who gives it and him who receives it.  It is the virtue proper both to kings and to the pauper, the virtue that crowns justice and consummates the work of peace in Heaven and on earth.
             In his distress the psalmist cries out to God, “Remember not our former iniquities: let thy mercy come speedily to meet us” (Ps. 78).  When God’s goodness has brought him aid, he says again, “The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever.  I will show forth thy truth with my mouth to generation and generation.  For thou hast said: Mercy shall be built up for ever in the heavens: thy truth shall be prepared in them.” (Ps. 88).
             In his Rule for monks, Our Blessed Father Saint Benedict asks that the abbot act mercifully with his monks, in such a way as to be “more loved than feared”.  The great abbot of Cluny, St. Odilo, would say in answer to critics who found him to lenient: “I would rather be condemned for being too merciful than for being too severe”.  From the beginning our monastic family of Solesmes received from its founder, Dom Gueranger, a particular devotion to the most-loving and merciful Sacred Heart of the Incarnate Word.
             The Pascal mystery represents God’s greatest and definitive work of mercy.  For ever more the Cross has been traced over the world, and from the Cross mercy has flowed in such abundance as to fill the entire universe.  And yet, the effects of Divine Mercy are not complete: they have hardly begun.  The treasures of mercy are available, but mankind seems largely to ignore or to disdain the offer.  Accepting God’s mercy seems to be one of the most difficult things for fallen man, one of the great enigmas of the history of salvation.
             In his incomparable encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, the servant of God, Pope John Paul II mediated deeply upon mystery of Divine Mercy.  Having himself lived through the horrors of World War II and under the tyranny of the Communist oppression of his native land, he was well able to sound the depths of this Divine attribute, of this thing the world so longs for in fact.  It is no wonder that this Polish Pope canonized Saint Faustina Kowalska and instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, following the directions the Saint had received from Heaven.
As we continue to celebrate the Year for Priests, the reality of Divine Mercy is a most fitting subject of meditation.  There is, in particular, a very special relationship between the Sacrament of Penance and Divine Mercy.  In Saint Faustina’s diary, she recorded that Jesus also indicated that He Himself is there in the confessional.  He told her,
“When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you.  I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul.  Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.  Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust.  If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.”
In Sister Faustina’s diary there is also this message from Our Lord concerning the Feast of Divine Mercy we are celebrating today.
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open.  The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.  Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion.  I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy.  If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity…tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near. 
             In the end, no man or woman can afford to refuse the offer of God’s mercy: we all stand in need of this Divine treasure.  Let us ask Our Lady, Mater Misericordiae, Mother of Mercy, as we call her in the Salve Regina¸ to teach of the ways of mercy—how to obtain mercy for ourselves; how to give mercy to others. This is our duty and our joy. Regina Coeli Laetare. Amen. Alleluia.

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