Posted by: Paul | 03/26/2010

“A Mysterious Tree”

Only a week to go until Good Friday. As usual, I wish I had done more to mark the season of Lent.

I did, however, recently finish re-reading “The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ” by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. It’s quite a book. It certainly takes one a step beyond, “He suffered, died and was buried.” A step-by-step detailing of our Lord’s suffering, to be sure, it’s also a treasure trove of insights into what that suffering means and how we can grow spiritually by meditating upon it.

One passage in particular also strikes me — Emmerich’s account of our Lord’s descent into Hell. It concludes thus:

Our Lord, by descending into Hell, planted (if I may thus express myself), in the spiritual garden of the Church, a mysterious tree, the fruits of which — namely, his merits — are destined for the constant relief of the poor souls in Purgatory. The Church militant must cultivate the tree, and gather its fruits, in order to present them to that suffering portion of the Church which can do nothing for itself. Thus it is with all the merits of Christ; we must labour with him if we wish to obtain our share of them; we must gain our bread by the sweat of our brow. Everything which our Lord has done for us in time must produce fruit for eternity; but we must gather these fruits in time, without which we cannot possess them in eternity.

The Church is the most prudent and thoughtful of mothers; the ecclesiastical year is an immense and magnificent garden, in which all those fruits for eternity are gathered  together, that we may make use of them in  time. Each year contains sufficient to supply the wants of all; but woe be to that careless or dishonest gardener who allows any of the fruit committed to his care to perish; if he fails to turn to a proper account those graces which would restore health to the sick, strength to the weak, or furnish food to the hungry! When the Day of Judgment arrives, the Master of the garden will demand a strict account, not only of every tree, but also of all the fruit produced in the garden.

A sobering perspective, to say the least. But also greatly consoling.

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