Jonah - by MICHELANGELO Buonarroti - from Cappella Sistina, Vatican
|God allows the Youthful Jonah, the Seer-of-Nineveh, to-Challenge Him in his Bold Nakedness. Michelangelo 'Conceived' Jonah as an Old Testament Prometheus, Touched-by Grace, and Presents us with a Solution-to the Riddle-of Good and Evil. The Rebellious Prophet, whom God would not have otherwise, Looks-up Directly-at his self-Begetting and Affirming Maker. In his Expression, Scorn and Rebellion are Giving-place to Joy, Delight, Love and Filial Response, and the Ecstatic Contemplation-of God.|
And now, do not Mock, lest your Bonds be Tied Strait - Isaiah 28:22.
God Commands Jonah to-Go, and Preach-to Nineveh. Jonah, instead-of Obeying God, 'Flies' by-Sea towards Tharsis, in Spain. But, Behold! a Great Tempest Threatens-to Sink the Ship; and Jonah, knowing-that the Tempest was 'Raised' in Punishment-of his Disobedience, Said-to the Crew-of the Vessel: "Take me up, and Cast me into the Sea, and the Sea shall be-Calm to you; for I Know that for my Sake, this Great Tempest is upon you" - Jonah 1:12. And they actually did 'Cast' him into the Sea, and the Tempest 'Ceased' thereupon. "And they took Jonah, and Cast him into the Sea, and the Sea Ceased from Raging" - Jonah 1:15. Then, if Jonah had not been Thrown-into the Sea, the Tempest should not have 'Ceased'. Consider well, my Brethren, what we are to-Learn from this. It is, that if we do not 'Cast' Sin out-of our Souls; the Tempest, that is, the Scourge-of God, will not 'Cease'. The Tempest is Excited-by our Sins; the Tempest which is-Hurrying us to-Destruction. "Our Iniquities, like the Wind, have-Taken us Away" - Isaiah 64:6. Behold, we have Penitential Exercises, Novenas, and Exposition-of the Blessed Sacrament; but to what Purpose are Those, if we be not Converted, if we do not 'Rid' our Souls of Sin? The Subject-of our Discourse is:
External Devotions are Useless
It is said that the Pain is not Removed, before the Thorn has been Plucked-out. Saint Jerome writes that God is never Angered, since Anger is Passion, and Passion is Incompatible-with God. He is always Tranquil; and even in the Act-of Punishing, His Tranquillity is not in the least Disturbed. "But Thou, being Master-of-Power, Judgest with Tranquillity" - Wisdom 12:18. But, the Malice of Mortal Sin is so-Great, that if God were Capable-of Wrath and Affliction, it would Enrage and Afflict Him. It is this, that Sinners do, as-far-as in them lies, according-to that of Isaiah: "But they Provoked-to Wrath, and Afflicted the Spirit-of His Holy One" - Isaiah 63:10. Moses writes, that when God was about to-Send the Deluge, He declared Himself to be so-much Afflicted, by the Sins of-Men, as to be Obliged-to 'Exterminate' them from the Earth. "And being Touched Inwardly with Sorrow-of-Heart, He said, 'I will Destroy Man, whom I have Created, from the Face-of the Earth' ". - Genesis 6:6-7.
Saint-John-Chrysostom says that Sin is the only Cause-of all our Sufferings and Chastisements. Commenting-upon these Words in-Genesis, which the Lord Spoke-after the Deluge, "I will place My Bow, in the Clouds", - Genesis 9:13, Saint Ambrose remarks-that God does not Say I will 'Place' My Arrow, but My Bow, in the Clouds; giving us thereby to-Understand that it is always the Sinner, who 'Fixes' the Arrow, in the Bow-of God, by Provoking Him to-Chastisement.
If we Wish-to be Pleasing-to the Lord, we must 'Remove' the Cause-of His Anger, which is Sin. The Man, Sick-of the Palsy, 'Besought' Jesus Christ to-Restore the Health-of his Body; but, before 'Granting' his Request, our Lord First (1st) 'Restored' his Soul's Health, by giving him Sorrow-for his Sins, and then Saying-to him: "Be of Good Heart, Son; thy Sins are Forgiven thee" - Matthew 9:2. Saint Thomas says that the Redeemer, First (1st) Removed the Cause-of his Infirmity, namely, his Sins, and then, 'Freed' him from the Infirmity Itself. He asked for the Health-of the Body, and the Lord gave him the Health-of the Soul; because, like a Good Physician, He Wished-to take-away the Root-of the Evil - (in Matthew 9). Sin is the Root-of every Evil, as we find in Saint-Bernardine-of-Sienna. Hence the Lord, after having Healed him, Warned him against Sin, in these Words: "Behold thou art made Whole, Sin no-more, lest something worse, Befall thee" - John 5:14. Ecclesiasticus said the same, before our Lord: "My son, in thy Sickness . . . Cleanse thy Heart from Sin, . . . and then give Place-to the Physician" - Ecclesiasticus 38:9-11. You must First (1st) Apply-to the Physician-of the Soul, in-order-that He may 'Free' you from your Sins, and then to the Physician-of the Body, that He may Cure you of your Disease.
"There is no Creature", says Saint-John-Chrysostom, "which will not feel-Anger,
when it sees its Lord in-Anger".
In a Word, the Cause-of All our Chastisements, is Sin; and still more than Sin, our Obstinacy in it, as Saint Basil says. We have Offended God, and are, notwithstanding, Unwilling to do Penance. When God Calls, by the Voice-of His Punishment, He Desires-that He should be-Heard; if He be not, He shall be Compelled-by Ourselves, to Curse us: "But if thou wilt not Hear the Voice of the Lord thy God . . . all these Curses shall Come-upon thee; . . . Cursed shalt thou be in the City, Cursed in the Field" - Deuteronomy 28:15-16. When we Offend God, we 'Provoke' all Creatures, to Punish us. Saint Anselm says that, in the same Manner-as a Servant, when he Offends his Master, draws-down upon him the Wrath, not only of his Master, but of the Whole Family; so we, when we Offend God, Excite-against us the Anger-of All Creatures. And Saint Gregory says, that we have more-especially Irritated-against us, those Creatures which we have made use-of, against our Creator. God's Mercy 'Holds'-in those Creatures, that they may not Afflict us, but when He sees that we make No Account-of His Threats, and Continue-to Live-on, in our Former Way, He will then make use of those Creatures, to take Vengeance-on us, for the Injuries we have done Him: "He will Arm the Creature, for the Revenge-of His Enemies . . . And the Whole World shall Fight with Him, against the Unwise" - Wisdom 5:18-21. "There is no Creature", says Saint-John-Chrysostom, "which will not feel-Anger, when it sees its Lord in-Anger".
If then, my Brethren, we do not 'Appease' God, by our Conversion, we never shall be Free-from Chastisement. What Folly, says Saint Gregory, could be more-Extreme, than to Imagine-that God should Cease-to Chastise, before we should have Ceased-to Offend? Many now Come-to the Church, and Hear the Sermon, but go-away without Confession, or Change-of Life. If we do not 'Remove', the Cause-of the Scourge, how can we Expect-to be Delivered-from the Scourge itself. Such is the Reflection-of Saint Jerome. We continue to-Irritate God, and then Wonder-that God should Continue-to Chastise us. "Impure as we are", says Salvian, "we wonder why we should be so-Miserable". Do we think that God is Appeased-by the mere Circumstance-of our 'Appearing' at-Church,
without Repenting-of our Sins,
without 'Restoring' the Property or Character of our Neighbor,
without 'Avoiding' those Occasions-of-Sin,
which keep us at a Distance-from God? Ah, let us not Mock the Lord! "And now do not Mock, lest your Bonds be Tied Strait"- Isaiah 28:22. Do not Mock God, says the Prophet, lest those Bonds which are-Securing you for-Hell be 'Tied Strait'. Cornelius-a-Lapide, in Commenting-on the above Passage-of Isaiah, says that when the Fox is Caught-in the Snare, its Efforts to-Disengage itself, only Serve to-Entangle it the more. "So also will it Happen-to Sinners who, while Mocking at God's Threats and Punishments, become more-and-more Involved-in them". My Brethren, let us have done; let us no-more Irritate God; the Chastisement is Near at-Hand: For I have Heard-of the Lord, the God-of-Hosts", Continues the Prophet, "a Consumption, and a Cutting-short upon all the Earth" - Isaiah 28:22. I am not the Prophet Isaiah, but I can say that I see the Scourge which is Hanging-over us, if we do not be Converted.
Hear how the Lord says to you: "Who Required these things at your Hands?" - Isaiah 1:12. Who 'Required' your Perpetual Exercises and your Visits-of-Devotion, to the Church? I will have Nothing-from you, unless you 'Abandon' Sin: "Offer Sacrifice, no more in-Vain" - Isaiah 1:13. Of what use are your Devotions, if you do not Amend your-Lives. "My Soul Hateth your New Moons, and your Solemnities" - Isaiah 1:4. Know, says the Lord, that your Homage and 'External' Devotions, are Hateful-to My Soul, whilst you Think by These to-Avert your Chastisement, without 'Removing' your Offences: "With Burnt Offerings, Thou wilt not be Delighted; . . . a Sacrifice-to God, is an Afflicted Spirit" - Psalm 50:18-19. No Devotions, or Alms, or Penitential Works, are Accepted-by God, from a Soul in the State-of-Sin, and without Repentance. God 'Accepts' the Acts-of him alone, who is Contrite-for his Sin, and Resolved-upon a Change-of-Life.
"Be not Deceived, God is not Mocked!" - Galations 6:7. I never Commanded you, He says, to-Perform those Devotions, and Acts-of Penance: "For I Spoke not to your Fathers . . . concerning the matter of Burnt Offering and Sacrifices, but this thing I Commanded them, saying: Hearken to My Voice, and I will be your God" - Jeremiah 7:22. What I Wish-of you, says God, is, that you 'Hear' My Voice and 'Change' your-Life, and make a Good Confession, with Real Sorrow, for you must Know yourselves, that your other Confessions, followed-by so-many Relapses, have been Worth Nothing. I Wish-that you should do Violence-to yourselves in Breaking-with that Connection, with that Company. I Wish-that you should Endeavor to-Restore that Property, to make-Good to your Neighbor, such a Loss. Hearken to My Voice, Obey My Command, and I will be your God. I Will then be to-you, the God-of-Mercy, such as you would have Me to be. Cardinal Hugo, in his Comment-upon these Words-of our Lord, in the Gospel according-to Saint Matthew: "He that hath Ears to-Hear, let him Hear" - Matthew 11:15, says: "Some have Ears, but Ears which do not Serve them, for Hearing". How many attend-Sermons and receive-Admonitions from the Confessor, in which they are told All that they must do in-order-to Please God; but they Leave the Church, only to-Live Worse-than before.
How can God be-Appeased by-Such? Or how can such be Delivered-from the Divine Chastisement? "Offer-up the Sacrifice-of Justice, and Trust-in the Lord" - Psalm 4:6, says David. Honor God, not in-Appearance, but by-Works. It is that which is meant-by "the Sacrifice-of Justice"; Honor Him by-Bewailing your Sins, by the Frequentation-of the Sacraments, by a Change-of -Life; and then Hope in the Lord; but to-Hope, while you 'Continue' the State-of-Sin, is not Hope - it is Rashness, it is a Deceit-of the Enemy, and 'Renders' you more-Odious in the Sight-of God, and more-Deserving of-Punishment.
None can Escape the Wrath-of-God
"Who hath Showed you to Flee from the
My Brethren, you see that the Lord is in-Wrath, that He already has His Hand Lifted-to Strike, with the Scourge, which Threatens us; how do you think to-Escape? "Who hath Showed you to Flee from the Wrath to-Come?" - Matthew 3:7. Bring forth, therefore, Fruit, Worthy-of Penance, says Saint-John-the-Baptist, Preaching-to the Jews-of his Day. You must do Penance, but Penance Deserving-of His Pardon; that is, it must be 'True' and 'Resolute':
Your Anger must be Changed-into Meekness, by the Forgiveness-of those who Offend you;
your Intemperance must become Abstinence, by Observing the Fasts Commanded, at least, by the Church;
and by Abstaining-from the Immoderate Use-of Intoxicating Drinks, which 'Change' Man into a Beast; therefore you must 'Avoid' the Public House;
Impurity must Give-way in you to-Chastity, by not Returning-to that Filthy Vomit, by 'Resisting' Evil Thoughts, by not using Bad Words, by Fleeing-from Bad Companions and Dangerous Conversation.
You must Bring-forth Fruit, Worthy-of Penance, and the Bringing-forth of such Fruit, Implies-also that we Attend-to the Service-of God, and Endeavor-to Serve Him more-than we Offended Him; "For, as you have Yielded-to your Members, to-serve Uncleanness and Iniquity, . . . so now Yield your Members to-serve Justice, unto Sanctification" - Romans 6:19.
Thus have done a Saint-Mary-Magdalen, a Saint Augustine, a Saint-Mary-of-Egypt, a Saint-Margaret-of-Cortona, who by their Works-of Penance and Sanctification, 'Rendered' themselves more-Dear to-God, than others who had been less-Sinful, but more-Tepid. Saint Gregory says: "For the most-part, a Fervent Life after Sin, is the more-Pleasing to-God than a Life which, though Innocent, is Tepid". And thus does the Saint explain the following Passage-of the Gospel: "There shall be Joy in-Heaven, upon one Sinner that doth Penance, more than upon Ninety-nine Just, who need not Penance" - Luke 15:7. This is Understood-of the Sinner who, after having Arisen-from Sin, sets-about Serving God with more-Fervor, than others, who have Long-been Just.
This is to Bring-forth Fruit, Worthy-of Penance, not 'Content' one's self with 'Hearing' Sermons and 'Visiting' the Church, without Abandoning Sin, or Avoiding the Occasions-of it. To Act thus, is rather a Mockery-of God, and Calculated-to Excite Him to Greater Wrath. And think not, 'Pursues' Saint-John-the-Baptist, "Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham for our Father" - Matthew 3:9. It will not do to-say, we have the Mother-of God to-Assist us, we have our Patron Saint, to-Procure us Deliverance; because if we do not Abandon our Sins, the Saints cannot Help us. The Saints are the Friends-of God; hence they not only have no-Inclination, but they would even feel- Ashamed, to-Succor the Obstinate. Let us Tremble, because the Lord has already 'Published' the Sentence: "Every Tree that bringeth not forth Good Fruit, shall be Cut-down and Cast-into the Fire" - Matthew 7:19. Brother', how many Years have you been in the World? Tell me, what Fruit-of-Good Works have you hitherto 'Borne'; what Honor have you Rendered-to God, by your Life? Sin, Outrage, Contempt, such are the Fruit you have 'Borne', the Honor you have Rendered-to God. God now, in His Mercy, Gives you Time for-Penance, in-order-that you may Bewail the Injuries you have done Him, and Love Him the Remainder-of your Days. What do you Intend to-do? What have you Resolved-upon? Resolve at once to-Give yourself to-God. What do you Expect? Unless that if you do not at once Turn to-God, you shall be Cut-down and Cast-into the Fire-of Hell.
But let us now bring our Instruction, to a Conclusion; the Lord has Sent me to Preach here Today, and has Inspired you to-Come and Listen-to me, because He Wishes-to 'Spare' you the Punishment which Threatens you, if you do-Really Turn-to Him: "Leave not out one-Word, if so-be, they will Hearken and be Converted, every one from his Evil Way, that I may Repent Me of the Evil which I think to do, unto them" - Jeremiah 26:2-3. The Lord has Desired me to tell you on His Part, that He is Willing-to Relent, and Withdraw the Scourge which He meant-to Inflict-upon you: That I may Repent-of Me of the Evil which I Think-to do unto them, but on this Condition, if so-be, they will 'Harken' and be- Converted, every one, from his Evil Way, if they Truly Reform, otherwise He will put His Threat in-Execution. Tremble then, if you be not yet Resolved-to Change your-Life.
But, on the other-hand, be Joyful if you Mean-to Turn-in Good Earnest, to God. "Let the Heart of them Rejoice, that Seek the Lord" - Psalm 104:3, because God is all Tenderness and Love to those that 'Seek' Him. "The Lord is Good to them that Hope-in Him, to the Soul that Seeketh Him" - Lamentations 3:25. Neither does the Lord know how to-Reject a Heart, Humble and Contrite for its Offences. "A Contrite and Humbled Heart, O God, Thou wilt not Despise" - Psalm 50:19. Let us be Joyful, then, if we have the Good Intention of-Changing our-Lives, and if, on seeing ourselves Guilty-of so-many Sins before the Lord, we Stand very much in-Fear-of the Divine Judgments, let us have Recourse-to the Mother-of-Mercies, the most Holy Mary, who 'Defends' and 'Secures' from the Divine Vengeance, all those who take Refuge-under her Mantle. "I am the Citadel, of all those who Fly-to me"; thus is she made-to Speak-by Saint-John-Damascene.
Aftermath of Tropical Storm Sandy - Fall 2012. How few, Listen to-God, or have Recourse to-Mary
O Jesus, my Redeemer, I Return Thee 'Thanks', for not-having Taken me out-of this Life, whilst I was Thy Enemy. How many Years have-Passed, since I Deserved-to be in-Hell! Had I Died-on such a Day, or on such a Night, what would have become of me for all Eternity? My God, I Return Thee 'Thanks'. I accept-of Death, as a Satisfaction-for my Sins, and I accept-of it the Manner, in-which it may Please Thee, to-send it to-me; but since Thou hast Waited-for me until now, oh, Wait-for me yet a little-Longer. Suffer me, therefore, that I may Lament my Sorrow a little. Give me Time to-Weep Over my Offences against Thee, before Thou comest to-Judge me.
I will no-longer 'Resist' Thy Calls. Who knows but these Words, which I have just-Read, are Thy Last Call to me? I Acknowledge that I do not Deserve Mercy: Thou hast Pardoned me so-often, and I have again, Ungratefully Offended Thee. A Contrite and Humble Heart, O God, Thou wilt not Despise. Ah, Lord, since Thou canst not Despise a Humble and Penitent Heart, behold the Traitor who, Humbled and Repentant, has Recourse-to Thee. Cast me not away-from Thy Face. Thou hast said, Him that Cometh-to Me, I will not Cast-out. It is True that I have Offended Thee more than others, because I have been Favored more than others, with Light and Grace; but the Blood Thou hast Shed-for me, gives me Courage, and Proffers Pardon to me, if I 'Repent'. Yes, O my Sovereign Good, I do Repent-with my whole Soul, for having Insulted Thee. Pardon me, and give me Grace to-Love Thee for the Future. I have long-enough Offended Thee. As for the remainder-of my Life, no, my Jesus, I will not spend it in-Offending Thee; I will spend it wholly in Weeping-over the Displeasure I have given Thee, and in Loving Thee with all my Heart, O God, Worthy-of Infinite Love.
O Mary, my Hope, Pray-to Jesus for me.
Ancient Miraculous Prayer to Saint Joseph