Simcha Fisher thinks sacrilege hurts only ourselves…
Novus Ordo Blogger on WYD Sacrilege:
‘You can’t hurt Jesus’
The conservative and trad outrage on social media about it triggered Novus Ordo blogger Simcha Fisher to pen the following piece:
- When complaints about World Youth Day veer into irreverence (The Catholic Weekly)
In her write-up, she agrees that World Youth Day should not have had distribution of [Novus Ordo] Communion if it could not be done with the necessary decorum and respect due to the Lord. However, she also takes issue with the “most sneering, jeering, rage-filled invectives against everyone involved in World Youth Day” she says she saw on social media by people protesting the sacrilege.
Then Fisher proceeds to “tell [us] something”:
Let me tell you something. You can’t hurt Jesus. He’s alive, he’s risen, he’s glorified. The sacrifice of the Mass is an unbloody sacrifice, and the pain of the cross, where he took on all the sin of the world that ever was, is, and will be—that’s been accomplished. Jesus is unhurtable.
When we treat a consecrated Host, which is Jesus, with disrespect, we are only hurting ourselves.
Mrs. Fisher would do well to remember that, God being outside of time, any sins committed today were very much felt by Our Lord in His Sacred Humanity during His most holy Passion, especially in an all-encompassing and most vivid fashion during His Agony in the Garden.
Fisher appears to concede as much when she says of our Lord that “he took on all the sin of the world that ever was, is, and will be”, but she doesn’t draw the right conclusion. What this means is that, as St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, observed so contritely in one of his beautiful meditations on the Agony, our Lord would have suffered less if we (had) sinned less:
Ah, my loving Jesus, I do not behold in this garden either scourges or thorns or nails that pierce Thee; how, then, is it that I see Thee all bathed in blood from Thy head to Thy feet? Alas, my sins were the cruel press which, by dint of affliction and sorrow, drew so much blood from Thy heart. I was, then, one of Thy most cruel executioners, who contributed the most to crucify Thee with my sins. It is certain that, if I had sinned less, Thou, my Jesus, wouldst have suffered less. As much pleasure, therefore, as I have taken in offending Thee, so much the more did I increase the sorrow of Thy heart, already full of anguish. How, then, does not this thought make me die of grief, when I see that I have repaid the love Thou hast shown me in Thy Passion by adding to Thy sorrow and suffering? I, then, have tormented this heart, so loving and so worthy of love, which has shown so much love to me. My Lord, since I have now no other means left of consoling Thee than to weep over my offences towards Thee, I will now, my Jesus, sorrow for them and lament over them with my whole heart. Oh, give me, I pray Thee, so great sorrow for them as may make me to my last breath weep over the displeasure I have caused Thee, my God, my Love my All.
(St. Alphonsus Liguori, ed. by Rev. Eugene Grimm, The Passion And The Death Of Jesus Christ [New York, NY: Benziger Brothers, 1887], pp. 67-68; underlining added.)
Thus it is clear that the sins we commit today have made Jesus suffer very much. Conversely, it follows that if we choose not to sin today, we have kept our Lord from suffering to that extent. In other words, the nature, number, and gravity of our sins today determine how much suffering was endured by Jesus Christ.
Surely Simcha Fisher would respond by saying Christ’s suffering took place in the past, it’s over now, and our sins can no longer cause Him pain. That may be true as far as it goes, but it’s not the whole story, for Jesus Christ is a Divine Person, and God, being eternal, is outside of time. There really is no past and future with God in the way there is for us men.
Let us console the Sacred Heart so grieved by the sins of men!
(image: Shutterstock/Renata Sedmakova)
When Our Blessed Lord revealed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), He presented It as a Heart that is wounded, still wounded now, even so many centuries after His glorious Ascension into Heaven:
Since … the love of Jesus manifests itself to the devout soul as a love despised and outraged, especially in the Eucharist, the love expressed in the devotion naturally assumes a character of reparation, and hence the importance of acts of atonement, the Communion of reparation, and compassion for Jesus suffering.
(Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus”)
It is not clear how these beautiful truths would fit into Fisher’s concept of the Atonement as a simple historical event of the past. A Protestant-like attitude of “it’s all done, it’s over!” surely has no place for reparation or for “fill[ing] up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24).
Let us listen to Pope Pius XI, who wrote an entire encyclical on making reparation to the Sacred Heart. For if Fisher is right in saying that since Christ cannot suffer anymore, our sins today cannot hurt Him, then by the same token it must be that our works of reparation and gratitude cannot console Him today either, since no human consolation could come close to the Beatitude of Heaven:
And truly the spirit of expiation or reparation has always had the first and foremost place in the worship given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and nothing is more in keeping with the origin, the character, the power, and the distinctive practices of this form of devotion, as appears from the record of history and custom, as well as from the sacred liturgy and the acts of the Sovereign Pontiffs. For when Christ manifested Himself to Margaret Mary, and declared to her the infinitude of His love, at the same time, in the manner of a mourner, He complained that so many and such great injuries were done to Him by ungrateful men — and we would that these words in which He made this complaint were fixed in the minds of the faithful, and were never blotted out by oblivion: “Behold this Heart” — He said — “which has loved men so much and has loaded them with all benefits, and for this boundless love has had no return but neglect, and contumely, and this often from those who were bound by a debt and duty of a more special love.” In order that these faults might be washed away, He then recommended several things to be done, and in particular the following as most pleasing to Himself, namely that men should approach the Altar with this purpose of expiating sin, making what is called a Communion of Reparation, — and that they should likewise make expiatory supplications and prayers, prolonged for a whole hour, –which is rightly called the “Holy Hour.” These pious exercises have been approved by the Church and have also been enriched with copious indulgences.
But how can these rites of expiation bring solace now, when Christ is already reigning in the beatitude of Heaven? To this we may answer in some words of St. Augustine which are very apposite here, –“Give me one who loves, and he will understand what I say” (In Johannis evangelium, tract. XXVI, 4). For any one who has great love of God, if he will look back through the tract of past time may dwell in meditation on Christ, and see Him laboring for man, sorrowing, suffering the greatest hardships, “for us men and for our salvation,” well-nigh worn out with sadness, with anguish, nay “bruised for our sins” (Isaias liii, 5), and healing us by His bruises. And the minds of the pious meditate on all these things the more truly, because the sins of men and their crimes committed in every age were the cause why Christ was delivered up to death, and now also they would of themselves bring death to Christ, joined with the same griefs and sorrows, since each several sin in its own way is held to renew the passion of Our Lord: “Crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery” (Hebrews vi, 6). Now if, because of our sins also which were as yet in the future, but were foreseen, the soul of Christ became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that then, too, already He derived somewhat of solace from our reparation, which was likewise foreseen, when “there appeared to Him an angel from heaven” (Luke xxii, 43), in order that His Heart, oppressed with weariness and anguish, might find consolation. And so even now, in a wondrous yet true manner, we can and ought to console that Most Sacred Heart which is continually wounded by the sins of thankless men, since –as we also read in the sacred liturgy — Christ Himself, by the mouth of the Psalmist complains that He is forsaken by His friends: “My Heart hath expected reproach and misery, and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none” (Psalm Ixviii, 21).
To this it may be added that the expiatory passion of Christ is renewed and in a manner continued and fulfilled in His mystical body, which is the Church. For, to use once more the words of St. Augustine, “Christ suffered whatever it behoved Him to suffer; now nothing is wanting of the measure of the sufferings. Therefore the sufferings were fulfilled, but in the head; there were yet remaining the sufferings of Christ in His body” (In Psalm Ixxxvi). This, indeed, Our Lord Jesus Himself vouchsafed to explain when, speaking to Saul, “as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter” (Acts ix, 1), He said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts ix, 5), clearly signifying that when persecutions are stirred up against the Church, the Divine Head of the Church is Himself attacked and troubled. Rightly, therefore, does Christ, still suffering in His mystical body, desire to have us partakers of His expiation, and this is also demanded by our intimate union with Him, for since we are “the body of Christ and members of member” (1 Corinthians xii, 27), whatever the head suffers, all the members must suffer with it (Cf. 1 Corinthians xii, 26).
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, nn. 12-14; underlining added.)
When he issued this encyclical in 1928, Pope Pius XI included a solemn prayer of reparation to the Sacred Heart, which can be found appended to the end of the text. Furthermore, he established that “every year in perpetuity there should be made in all the churches of the world a public act of reparation for all the offenses that wound that divine Heart” (Encyclical Caritate Christi Compulsi, n. 30). Notice the present tense: “wound”.
In Sacred Scripture, when we see the Heavens opened at the end of time, we behold “a Lamb standing as it were slain” (Apoc 5:6), reminding us that the Sacrifice of Calvary is mystically ever-present to the Holy Trinity. It is not simply a historical occurrence of the past — as if the Mass were simply the memorial of a bygone event (as it may be in the Novus Ordo, although the event being commemorated there is really the Last Supper, not Calvary).
In his own encyclical on the Sacred Heart, Pope Pius XII taught:
As “in the days of His flesh” [Heb 5:7], so now victorious in heaven, He makes His petition to His heavenly Father with equal efficacy, to Him “Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” [Jn 3:16], He shows His living Heart, wounded as it were, and throbbing with a love yet more intense than when it was wounded in death by the Roman soldier’s lance: “(Thy Heart) has been wounded so that through the visible wound we may behold the invisible wound of love” [St. Bonaventure].
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Haurietis Aquas, n. 87)
It is a most beautiful and comforting but also sobering truth to know that what we do (and fail to do) today was present very vividly before the Mind of our holy Redeemer on that first Holy Thursday night. No less present, of course, is it to Him at this precise moment.
Hence these holy words of our Savior during His Agony are not simply confined to the past but are meant as an exhortation for us not to neglect our Holy Hours of reparation in the present: “Could you not watch one hour with me?” (Mt 26:40).
Title image source: composite with elements from Facebook and Shutterstock (stephendra)
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