Meditations - Monday in the Second Week of Advent: The Eternal Decree of the Incarnation
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
In order better to appreciate the mystery of the Incarnation, the object of the devotion of this holy season, we will meditate tomorrow on all the love and goodness contained in the eternal decree: first, to redeem man after his fall; second, to redeem him by the Incarnation. We will then make the resolution: first, carefully to avoid all sin, since such is the gravity of sin, even if it be only venial, that it was not possible to expiate it, except by the Incarnation; second, not to neglect any means of salvation, however painful it may be, since God became man for our salvation. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Gospel: “God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (joh iii:16).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us raise our souls to the utmost heights of the Most Holy Trinity; let us assist in thought at the Council held by these three adorable Persons, decreeing together what they will do with man after his fall. Let us prostrate ourselves in spirit before this august Council; let us adore, let us love, let us bless their decrees, so full of love and goodness.
The Goodness of God Decreeing from all Eternity to Save Man after his Fall.
There is in this decree of God a fathomless abyss of love. The angels fell before men; they remained without redemption, condemned forever to hell. Man sinned, and he is redeemed. Wherefore this difference? Man was unworthy of it in all respects; for his nature is very inferior to that of the angels. They are the eldest born of the creation; their nature is noble, excellent, incomparably superior to ours; and we, taken from the earth, are but a little clay made into the fashion of a man. The angels were guilty only of a proud thought, whilst we, enriched with the most beautiful gifts of God, spite of our baseness, revolted against our Benefactor, and that in a circumstance in which obedience was so easy and where the precept was given under such terrible threats. Wherefore, then, this preference of man over the angels? O mystery of love! is the only answer we can make. Man, by the thousands of his sins which were clearly foreseen, appeared in the sight of God as nothing more than a being despoiled of the grace of original justice; an object of horror to divine justice, a criminal driven away from the terrestrial paradise, a creature condemned to death here below, and to eternal death in the world to come, if he were not redeemed; and it is such a being as this that God redeems in preference to the angels! Wherefore this? O mystery of love! that is the whole answer. And this being, favoured by God with so marvellous a predilection, will not be grateful; God knows it well: he will have a hard heart, insensible to so much love; he will be a traitor who will recommence his offences, and will multiply them beyond the number of the hairs on his head; the majority of men will even refuse to accept redemption and will desire to damn themselves; there will be only a little number who will profit by this benefit. And yet, spite of all this, God decrees the redemption of man, preferably to that of the angels! Oh once more we exclaim, What a mystery of love! to which we can only answer: God so loved the world, because He so willed it! It is for us to adore, to admire, to thank, to love, and to bless.
The Goodness of God Decreeing from all Eternity to Save Man through the Incarnation.
God had two means by which to save man; the first to pardon him gratuitously and without redemption; the second to furnish him with means whereby to pay the whole of his debt and to offer to the Divine Majesty whom he had offended a reparation equal to the offence. God did not will to avail Himself of the first means, because if it were a means of making His mercy shine forth, it did not cause either His holiness or His justice to shine forth on the enormity of sin. He therefore chose the second means; but the gravity of the fault being infinite, since the greatness of an injury increases in proportion to the superiority of the person offended, a reparation of infinite value was necessary: and where find such a reparation? It was not in Thee, O my God, since Thou couldst not abase Thyself or suffer, which were the two conditions necessary to the expiation of sin; it was not in a created being; it could not give to its abasements and sufferings anything more than a limited value, the value of a homage decreasing in proportion to the superiority of him who receives it over him who renders it; it could only then be in the hypothesis of the hypostatic union of the two natures, which once realized, human nature could be abased and suffer, and the divine nature communicate to these abasements and these sufferings an infinite value. God accordingly adopts this admir- able plan, and the decree of the Incarnation is declared. O Holy Trinity, a thousand times thanks! Thy decree ravishes and transports me. It is the triumph of justice which is fully satisfied, the triumph of mercy which pardons, the triumph of goodness which sacrifices itself, the triumph of wisdom conciliating that which seemed incapable of being conciliated, the triumph of the power which unites in one sole person extreme greatness and extreme lowliness, the triumph of prudence which, showing man what it cost a God to expiate sin, teaches him on that very account to abstain from it. In my powerlessness to appreciate so great a be- nefit, I offer to Thee, O adorable Trinity, the praises of all creatures in heaven and on earth, begging them to bless and exalt Thee throughout eternity. I offer Thee the thanksgivings which the Man-God offered Thee in our name from the first moment of His Incarnation; and I conjure Thee through Him to pardon us our insensibility and our ingratitude for so great a mystery of love. I offer Thee my life, and in particular this day, which I desire to employ entirely in loving Thee.
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.