Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Precious Blood

Anita (V for Victory) called and suggested I post this excerpt from Father Fredrick William Faber’s “The Precious Blood or The Price of Our Salvation.” It’s a good section to guide a bit of self reflection upon my soul; thank you, Anita.

In quiet times good men can love the Vicar of Christ, and look at him as their venerable father and monarch, ruling over all the best affections of their hearts, with a loyalty which the hereditary sovereigns of the earth can never obtain, and which is a far more heavenly thing than a patriot’s love of the land which gave him birth. But when the clouds gather round the Sacred City, when the pressure of self-seeking potentates again begins to crucify our Lord afresh in the person of his Vicar, when the coils of diplomacy twist themselves round Peter’s throne, when wellnigh all the world, schism, heresy, unbelief, ambition, injustice, and catholic states world-tainted, league together against the Lord’s Anointed, then to the saints the face of Christ’s Vicar becomes like the countenance of his Lord. It grows more majestic in abjection. The anguish on it is divine. It is more worshipful than ever, at the very moment when it is calling out our tenderest love and our keenest sympathies. This too is a time rife in victories to the Precious Blood. Rome is saved, and man has not saved it. They were bearing the papacy out to burial, and lo! A glorious resurrection! When deliverance was furthest off, then it came.

But these great historical triumphs are not the only victories of the Precious Blood in evil days. It wins many in the secrets of hearts. The spirit of the age is forever tainting the minds and hearts of the elect. There are few who do not end by going with the multitude, few who are not imposed upon by the pompous elation of science, but the juvenile pronouncements of an improved literature, but the complacent self-glorifications of temporal prosperity, and by the pretension to an unparalleled grandeur which each generation makes as it struts out upon the stage of life. It is fine to innovate: it is refreshing to be audacious: it is a cheap victory to attack: it is comfortable to be on the same side with the loud-voiced world around us. Few men have clearly ascertained their own principles. They admit into their inconsequent minds wandering ideas of the times, without seeing that they are in reality hostile to the holy things which occupy the sanctuary of their hearts. Hence they get upon the wrong side, specially in middle life. It is not youth so much as middle life that falls in this way. While the generosity of youth makes early life to err in questions of degree, the same generosity keeps it incorrupt in questions of kind. It is the egotistical self-importance of middle life, which makes apostates, reformers, and malcontents. It is then that men get upon the wrong side. They fight under wrong banners. They frustrate the promise of their better years. They become out of harmony with the Church. From that hour their lives are failures. They grow querulous and contentious, peevish and captious, bitter and sour. Their old age is extremely solitary; and it is a great grace of God if the do not die on the wrong side, they who seem to have raised up to be the very foremost champions of the right. Now it is bad times which open men’s eyes. They see then how the spirit of the age has been nigh to deceiving them, how they mistook its loudness for wisdom, and how near they were to losing the simplicity of their devotion in the unhelpfulness of an intellectual demonstration, which has passed away, and has done as little, and is remembered as much, as the popular novel of a season. Many are the victories of disenchantment which the Precious Blood gains in times like those. Souls, that are won back to the old ways and the antique fashions, may yet be saints, whose promise of holiness must soon have withered, cankered, or dispersed in the vanity of modern attempts and innovations.

Nay, though we may be unable to see it, we cannot doubt that there are triumphs of the Precious Blood in the spread of heresies, in the schism of kingdoms, and in similar catastrophes of the Church. Souls seem to perish, and it is hard to bear. But the life of the Church is very vast, and is ruled by immense laws; and when her Spouse comes at the end, the Precious Blood must needs present her to him “a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” [Eph 5:27] We must remember always, therefore, that the Church is the empire of the Precious Blood, and that that Blood will be the law of its life, and will govern it, not at all in the world’s way, not at all in the spirit of an age, but altogether after its own spirit and altogether in its own way. Souls soon lose themselves who chafe because the Church is not wise with a worldly wisdom.

Fr Faber, known to most by his song "Faith of our Fathers", was an Anglican clergyman member of the Tractarians with John Henry Newman, and with him, entered the Church after study led him there. He eventually wound up in the London Oratory, a member of the Oratorians founded with Newman. Fr Faber wrote a series of spiritual books and a fair bit of poetry and music as well. (if I'm not getting this quite right... there's the comment box.

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